This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going home

Going home tomorrow morning. Back to India after 2 years. Pretty excited, yes I am. I notice that I haven't blogged for a long while. Hmm, I was occupied with my course work and also spiritual reading, which contrary to what some might think, is pretty exciting and thought provoking. Why do many people like fantasies, science fiction (LOTR, Harry Potter, et al) etc? They would like to believe that there is more to the world than the routine stuff.. Spirituality is also a fantasy, except that it is not out there, but right here, related to our daily lives. Anyway, might blog again next month after getting back.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Running and Spirituality

These two words are probably ones that I cherish the most these days (there are many other words too, as you will see later on). Now, how the heck is running related with spirituality you ask?
I had a friend come up to me during my undergrad and tell me, "You seem to be very spiritual. By the way, can you tell me what exactly is spirituality?". It was a funny moment, I told him that I was not sure.

If you have noticed, I started out into the blogosphere with this blog, Musings of a runner. I then added, Musings of a grad student, when I became a graduate student to capture some intriguing ways of life I encountered/was encountering.
And then came along, Musings of a seeker, my official spiritual blog.

My point is that I have only recently realized or better understood the link between running and spirituality, or for that matter what spirituality actually is.

Here's my definition of spirituality:
Activities, processes, attitudes that uplift your spirit. As simple as that.
People also refer to spirituality as a process of growth - growth of the self. Now, what this self/soul is, etc is a topic by itself and out of scope of this blog.

By the above definition here are some things that I find uplift my spirit:

a) Running (there you go)
b) Nothing like good old laughter
c) Meditation
d) Lack of worries and care. Notice that, it is a conscious choice whether you choose to worry or not although people make it a subconscious process without realizing its effects on body and mind. Also, worry doesn't help decision making. I find I make my best decisions when I am clear, confident and relaxed.
e) At the end of a weary day, relaxation techniques (shavasana et al) to revive myself or equivalently running or:
f) Music
g) Hiking: Most of my recent blogs have been on hiking. There is something about hiking in nature that is soothing and calming, but at the same time refreshing. This again, by our definition, is a spiritual activity. I have indeed come to realize that hiking rejuvenates me, and gives me time to think on things clearly.

(What are some activities that uplift you?)

Now, you can become cheeky and say that, psychedelic drugs also tend to uplift the spirit and cause euphoric experiences. I don't deny that, they would definitely be spiritual experiences, but considering the side-effects on health and the risk of addiction, I would rather avoid them.
I mean if there is a healthy way to 'get high' wouldn't you opt for it?

Running and spirituality
Running is something that seemed a natural thing to do when I was a kid. You have nothing to do? Run around the house, wreak havoc, get scoldings. Get kicked out of the house - Then you run around in the streets playing cricket or whatever. Get called in for dinner. Go to sleep. Running for me was synonymous with being free: An elder person could you stop you to give advice, but you could just dash away if you are bored!
I used to participate in 100 metres dash every year and that was also fun.
I seriously started pursuing long distance running when I entered college. Initially it was a drag, I had to push my body to keep doing the rounds. I would get injured. Get back to running, become faster. Get injured. And so on. But, once running become a regular thing to do, I found my running to be 'effortless' at times.
Whenever my running was effortless or rhythmic, I would feel pretty good, it was akin to a 'high'. Long slow runs would also produces patches of this 'high'.
This is not some 'psychological high', it is actually a 'physiological high' - Read
this blog to know more.
So by our definition of spirituality, and because of this 'getting high' due to anandamide, running is definitely a spiritual exercise!

Religion and spirituality
People might tend to confuse religion with spirituality. Here's my take on it:
Religion is a set of beliefs and activities that you have/do because you identify yourself with a particular religion.
On the other hand, spirituality is a set of activities that you do because you like to do them!
Ofcourse, spirituality and religion can intersect. People can be both spiritual and religious. These days, it has become fashionable to say that one is spiritual but not religious. Whatever works.

On being spiritual
Spiritual experiences needn't be esoteric, mystical and 'out there'. Spiritual experiences can happen right here, right now if we recognize and choose them to happen. You can always choose to take a break from a busy schedule and go hiking or walking, for example and feel refreshed or recharged. You can notice times when you are really tense and take a break by relaxing your body and/or breath. It is a matter of simple observation that, the breath, the body and mind are linked. Whenever you are tense, agitated or angry, notice your breath - It would happen in short, arrhythmic quick bursts. Also notice your breath when you are relaxed, calm and peaceful. The breath would be deep, slow and rhythmic.
This link between, rhythms of breath and states of mind is the basis for certain breathing practices (Tai chi, Pranayama, Chi Kung, etc). The idea is that when you can't control your agitated mind, you can control the agitated breath and make it more rhythmic and this has an effect of calming down the mind. Hence, breathing practices are one way to stay centered and be equanimous.

Ofcourse, the range of spiritual experiences that can happen are really broad - It can be a plain simple 'spacing out' while having a shower to 'out of body' experiences that change your perspective on life and death.
The focus is not on having these spiritual experiences, but on doing things you like. Experiences will follow suit in time and space.

I would like to end this article with two quotes I believe in: "We are not human beings having spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having a human experience".
"Spirituality is all about getting high, the natural way".

Would be interested in your views/experiences related to this topic - Feel free to pass on a comment or email me at

Monday, September 08, 2008

Little Si

Second trip to Little Si. Little Si, is a 'small' part of Mount Si and gives good views of surrounding mountains - Mailbox Peak, Mclellan Butte, Rattlesnake ridge and maybe even Tiger mountain. Little Si on a sunny day also sees quite a few rock climbers with all the gear climbing up one of the many vertical faces near the Little Si trail.
I went off the main trail and tried one supposedly secret route to the top of Little Si.. It was quite dangerous because of the steep incline and slippery mud/stones. I didn't go all the way up..Might have gone halfway up. While coming down this route, I had my heart in my mouth.. A huge sigh of relief when I touched base. This route is between two steep climbing faces and is kind of hidden by small bushes.

On my last trip here, the wind was howling at the top. Today, with the sun shining bright, everything was peaceful at the top.

Getting there by bus
i) 271 from University district to Issaquah. 209 from Issaquah to Northbend. Get off at the Bendigo blvd and 2nd street. Find the snoqualmie valley trail by taking a left on main avenue and going forward a few streets. Follow the trail east till you get to Mt. Si road. Take a left, cross the red bridge and keep walking till you find the trailhead onto the left.
ii) 554 from Downtown to Issaquah. 209 from Issaquah to Northbend and same as above.

I find it atleast 10 minutes faster and more scenic to go downtown and catch 554 to Issaquah than catching the direct bus(271) from university district!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Discovery park

Discovery park is the largest among the 400 parks in Seattle. Usually, when I think of a park, I think of lush green lawns with flowers, some natural artifacts, rocks, etc.
But this park, I discovered (ahem) is more like a forest, that is close to downtown Seattle. It has lots of old-growth trees, ferns, and beautiful beaches with rocky slopes that also remind me of marine drive, mumbai.
Getting there:
As I usually do, I took the bus route. 71 from my place to downtown. And from there a 33 takes you right to discovery park - A total of 45 minutes of travel.

I hiked from the entrace to the north beach of the park. It was sunny/cloudy to begin with, but as I got into the hike, it started drizzling and then it was proper rain getting me thoroughly drenched - I had no protection whatsoever, but I didn't mind that my t-shirt was totally soaked when I finished my hike or that I was getting some curious smiles from passerby's.

Here's a video:

Some pics:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Some webpages with visual treats

The following webpages have amazing photographs taken on trails while hiking or travel. Makes me want to improve my photography skills.. big time.

John and Kristie
Misha Longvinov
Jayson McIvor

Let me know if you know of other pages with good mountain/nature pics...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Second trip to Mt. Si

Boy, what an adventure I had a week back. I usually take the metro bus on my hikes, and that gives me a lot of room for adventure (doing funny things so as to not miss the last bus for example).But bus adventures aside, hiking is always an adventure. This time I made it to the top (not the haystack) in 1hr 50 mins, which is pretty amazing, for me atleast. I paced myself steadily over the climb - a total of 4 miles. The first 3 miles were decent, the last 1 mile was a killer. 4miles and 4000ft, that's some climb.
After getting to the 4 mile mark from where you get a good view of mountains nearby, I decided to go to the top of haystack, a very steep monolith, from where a slip could mean death. The climb to the top was itself very steep and my heavy bag of supplies didn't help me. I decided to ditch the climb, when I was half-way through to the hay-stack...this gives me another opportunity to come back to Mount Si.
Over all it was 15 miles of hiking + climbing in around 6 hrs.. phew. And the last 20 minutes, I was running at a steady 8:00 minute/mile pace so as not to miss the MT 209 bus at 8:43pm from North Bend.. talk about adventures..this was one till the very end. This hike really gave me a feel for endurance hiking. I took a lot of supplies including cookies, fruit juice, and 1.5lts of water.
I will post one or two pics maybe. My next hike would probably be next weekend to Rattle snake lake, again a long hike of around 15 miles (round trip).
A video I took near the top:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Over the top of Tiger mountain - Hiking Tiger 1 + Poo-poo point

So the hiking season has begun for me. And that's because the spring quarter came to an end last week. This summer is probably going to be rocking. I am going to have a relaxed work load during sumemer - some teaching duties, some exciting research work and ofcourse outdoor stuff including running and hiking.

So yesterday's hike was my first in 2 months. It's a tough strenuous (due to the length) and close to a 9 mile hike. It took me 5hrs to do it all.
The hike basically follows this documented hike with modifications towards the end of the hike. The previous link also gives a map of the route with description and that was pretty useful since there was one place where I had to search for a trail that didn't seem to exist.

Hike description
I basically hiked to the top of Tiger mountain 1, which is 2900 ft above sea level. From there, I moved on to poo-poo point.
Below is a video taken at Hiker's hut at 2800 ft asl.

Below is a video taken at poo-poo point which is a popular spot for para-gliding.

Since this was my first hike this summer, this hike was exhausting but hikes being hikes, exhaustion is a given. I wouldn't mind getting thoroughly exhausted after a hike if the hike had some great view points along the way. Even if there aren't many viewpoints, just being out there in the green rejuvenates you.
I am intoxicated by the greenery that I encounter during my hikes and below are some pictures along my hike that might explain this phenomenon :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer's coming up

Or I hope so. This year, according to many Seattleites is not a typical Seattle year.
It's been too cold and rainy for too long this past year. I hear June end is where summer starts kicking up and that's when my physical activities should start kicking up too!
I have no plans as of yet for summer. It's going to be a natural transition into lot's of hiking, running, rock-climbing, and maybe some biking.
But off the top of my mind, I wish to hike the following mountains:
1) Mount Si a.k.a the beautiful sigh.
2) Rattlesnake Ridge
3) Mount Pilchuck (Bike + Hike).
4) A kutty mountain in Enumclaw that gives an awesome view of Mount Rainier.
5) One or two back-packing trips into the wild-wild west - oops!, east.

Ofcourse there is also going to be the ramped up running (summer special). And the rock-climbing (outdoor and maybe some indoor too). Rock-climbing is amazing. It's a skill ofcourse, it's a skill you enjoy learning. It sharpens your mind too, I might say, since you need to focus on precisely which thin edge of the rock-cut to rest our hands and feet on.

Also, I am going to bring in more picture/videos into this blog. Since summer in Seattle is particularly beautiful and extremely enjoyable once you are outdoors.

My quarter ends by the end of this week. So my vacation starts next week. Totaal enthu max put its vonly.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Running progress

I am running every weekend, that's currently my time committment to running. Sadly, this is 1/3rd of the time I used to put into running during my undergraduate days. But, that doesn't matter. What matters is that I am running regularly, though it's been a slow progress.
I had stopped running in March 2007. I began running again in December 2007 and to my astonishment and dismay, I wasn't able to run more than 1.6kms to begin with. That was my fitness level - 10 minutes of running after 9 months of no running. I wouldn't say I have progressed a lot since then, but right now I am able to run 5kms at close to 8min/mile or 5min/km pace. I just want to keep running atleast once a week.
The growth in running mileage is usually exponential. So I should be able to run 8 kms in another 2-3 months and 15 kms in another 4-5 months.
The easiest part about running is you just have to get your 'regular' runs in.
The hardest part is 'getting' your regular runs in. This basically requires a lot of committment at the start of your 'running career', but as you progress and keep getting better at your runs - better in terms of pace, stride, rhythm, etc, you look forward to your next run, you look forward to the progress you are going to make. And in case you also run on trails, you look forward to connecting with nature.

Today the run was totally rhythmic from start to finish. Well, at the start I had some cramps, but they wore off as the run progressed. Rhythmic running is an amazing thing - it reminds you why you love running.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Different modes, different experiences

What modes of transport do we have for travel ? - Trains, buses, cars, bicycles, motorbikes, ships,
aeroplanes, roller blades, and last but not the least 'human power - a.k.a walking or running'.

Travel has different purposes, but I am restricting this post to short distance travel (within 50 miles) for leisure or for sight seeing.

Let's consider two modes: cars vs walking. Let's say the destination is 10 miles away and you just want to travel to that point and come back. On a car, that would seem a trivial distance. No matter how beautiful the surrounding scenery is, you would be back in no time and it wouldn't seem like you spent a lot of time - unless you stop at some point in between.

Let's consider the same distance covered by walk: That's what I did today. I went to a Place called Ernie's grove by walking to that point from North Bend, WA - a round trip of 10 miles. It took me 3 hrs. And the experience was totally unlike what you would have if you were "shut-inside" a car. Here are some experiences on the walk:

- North Bend, located around 30 miles from Seattle is home to many cascade mountains - Mount Si, Little Si, RattleSnake ridge, Mailbox Peak, Mclellan Butte, Cedar's Butte, Round table mountain, etc. So when I alighted form MT 209, I could identify from that point 5 mountains in the vicinity, towering tall and presenting a majestic sight all around. Hence, you can imagine what a wonderful walk I had going to Ernie's grove 5 miles away:

- Ever seen never ending green fields full of golden yellow flowers gently caressing the foot hills of mountains?
Now Mount Si, which formed the backdrop for most of my walk is a massive mountain with an incredible slope. It's 4000 ft tall and it seems like a huge piece of rock rather than a mountain that starts somewhere and peaks elsewhere. I was essentially going around Mount Si, by walking on that road.

- Add to that rivulets which present themselves when I cross a bridge or two.

- Add to that "Llamas", animals with elongated necks:

- Add to that a glorious sunny day (kind of rare in Seattle)

- And also dogs that attempt to chase you while being within the fence.

- And the fact that it was a 3 hr long walk - I have never walked 3 hrs on a flat road before. Agreed, I have hiked for that much time or even more, but just walking and for 3 hrs? This is amazing. I mean, I can right now run for not more than 20 minutes. But walking for 3hrs? Seriously says about the yawning gap between running and walking fitness.

- Add to that the different heat and wind conditions during the walk, the tiredness towards the end, the cows staring at you all the way until you are out of sight, and the exhilration at reaching the bus stop just on time.

I am sure you wouldn't get the above experiences by taking your car out and going on a 2o minute drive from North Bend to Ernie's grove and back. Similarly, other modes yield different experiences:

Bicycling: Bicycling on a road bike on a flat stretch of road is awesome, more so when the surrounding scenery is breathtaking. Biking is also another way to combine activities and be efficient: For instance if I had my bike today, I could have biked to the end of the road and hiked a mountain nearby. But then, I wouldn't have noticed the details that I noticed during my walk. Nevertheless, biking is a more richer experience than driving a car on the same stretch of road.

Trains: Trains are again amazing. They present a different travel experience. You don't have to worry about the road, about cramped legs or fuel. You just get in, take a nap or watch the passing scenery as the train whizzes by.

Personally, I prefer a combination of biking and walking for travel to nearby places (within 50 miles). Beyond that, ofcourse I would need to use a car or I could use a train if available. Cars are also useful, when you want to conserve time because you would want to hike at the destination.
But if you have the time and want to have a wholesome experience, do a bus + bike + walk multimodal trip.
My point here is that, biking and walking provide a much richer and enjoyable travel experience than just going the same distance by car. Ofcourse, you need to put in a lot more effort physically, but the experience is worth the effort, right?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where are you going sir?

A few possible answers:
"I am going places".
"I am going to hell".
"I am going to heaven (because my punya (good deeds) is greater than my paapa (sins))".
"I am going for a run (that's me)".
"I am headed nowhere in life(grad student)"
"I am going to buy groceries (dutiful husband)"
"Going going gone".
"I am going to downtown and to the back of the bus (Multitasking)".

Now the last answer is not typical, is it? Here's the story behind it:
I was comfotably seated in MT 73 that goes to downtown Seattle one (of the many) cloudy afternoon last week. The bus has just stopped at a bus stop in the university district and the door opens.
One long-haired guy with baggage gets in and announces proudly to the driver in a sing song manner(read: Nana naNa Nana): "I am going to downtown". The driver asks him for his pass and he moves into the bus, close to where I am seated. He puts the bag onto the seat next to me, gets his dollar and 25 cents out, looks at me and says, "I am going to downtown". I am like, yes sir, you are, have a good journey - I don't say that ob, I acknowledge. He goes to the driver,
pays the fare, gets his ticket, comes back to me and says, "I am going to the back of the bus" - again in a "Nana Nana" tune. Longhaired guy looks to be in good spirits. I acknowledge again and he is gone.
I was pretty amused by this, I mean you don't get live entertainment everyday. As I reach my destination and was about to alight, I let the driver know - longhaired guy Nana Nana style: "I am getting off here". As I get off and look back, I see the driver is highly amused.

So when someone asks you where you are going, reply in a "Nana Nana style" and pass it on :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hiking at Wallace falls state park, Gold bar

So I was looking towards North to North-East of Seattle after my little trip to windy Little Si.
I narrowed down on Wallace Falls state park - Infact, almost all places I am hiking at this spring break is from this webpage. Mr. Pinyon has done a great job of putting together places that you could go to for hiking or backpacking with the added condition that they be accessible by the bus-system in seattle.

{\Diversion into bus-systems in Seattle}
So far, I have used the following bus-systems to go around Seattle on different hikes/road trips:
1) The good old King County Metro - Serves the heart of Seattle and also touches the outskirts of Seattle such as North Bend, Carnation, Kent, Bothell, etc.
2) The Sound Transit (named after the Puget Sound River system that form the backwaters of the Pacific): Good point to point service. For example: University district to Everett takes just 32 minutes - a distance of around 25 miles.
I have used the Sound Transit on a biking trip to Lake Kapowsin, where I travelled to Tacoma by bus and biked from there to Lake Kapowsin.
3) The Community Transit: Serves most of the northern outskirts of Seattle with a Hub at Lynwood. Can be used to get to places such as Granite falls and Gold bar.
I took CT 271 to get from Everett to Goldbar (wallace falls state park located here)
Other Transit services I have noticed:

4) Skagit Transit: Used to get around Skagit County with places including Bellingham and Mt. Vernon.
Skagit Connector: This bus (90x) connects two counties: Snohomish County (Everett) and Skagit county.
I could use this bus to access places such as Mt. Vernon or Caymon islands (through a transfer bus), both wonderful places to visit and ot hike. But the only problem is this bus is available during weekdays. This bus also has limited service from Everett Station- early mornings and late afternoons.
5) Island Transit: Can be used to get to beautiful islands North and North-West of Mt. Vernon such as Caymon Islands.

{\End Diversion}

I started out at 12:30 pm from Seattle. Caught the ST 510 to get to Everett. From there I caught CT 271 to get to Goldbar, this bus takes 1.5 hrs and gives you great views of the infinite mountains that crisscross across this region. Only problem was that it was raining and I had to contend with rain drops on the window of my bus!

Once at Gold Bar, I had to walk for 30 minutes to get to Wallace falls State Park.
Below is a video that describes the walk:

Inside the state park, the first awesome view was of the roaring Wallace river that begin as Wallace falls from the heights of this park. A few rapids on the way made for a delicious and delectable scenery :d

Moving ahead, I went to hike the falls. It took me close to an hour to hike all the way upto the upper falls. I liked the middle falls best, below's a video of the middle falls:

Coming back, I got some great views of the mountains near Goldbar as the sky cleared up. Unfortuantely I screwed up my digicam settings or the camera itself got screwed, so the pics didn't come out well. Suffice to say, this was a great trip despite the persistent rain I had to endure during the trip.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An ode to Mount Si

Mount Si (pronounced sigh) is an extremely beautiful mountain located at North Bend, around 15 miles from Seattle.
This short poem was inspired by its beauty:

Oh Mount Si
Your beauty makes me cry
The breath taking views you offer
Will not make me defer
My pending trip until next summer
Coming soon, yes I am, to take back wonderful memories over and over

Last weekend, I made a trip to the Little Si, the younger sister of Mount Si. The views from Little Si are breathtaking too. The howling wind at the top made it a little difficult, but what the heck it was amazing all the same. Posted a short video below (not great quality):

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Life update

It's been a long time since I have updated this blog....on anything :-) So, thought I had post an update on running and life in general:

1) I have been running regularly (2-3 runs/week) over the past three months. But the runs aren't anything to brag about distance wise or time wise. All I can say is, I am on a comeback trail and its different!
2) I have been sleeping earlier and more regularly over the past two months than I have during the past two years.
3) Right now, my spring break has begun with 10 days break. I am going to catch up with hiking, climbing and ofcourse running. In fact, this saturday, weather willing, god willing, and my willing, I should go climbing up Tiger mountain (3rd time around).
Last quarter was pretty useful as I took some pretty nifty courses that added to my database and web skills.
4) Life in general is more smoother than it has been in the past few months. I know you can't make out much from the previous statement, but suffice to say that I had some real tough times out here in my personal and professional life, and I am glad I managed it well.
5) I am moving out from a 5 bed room house to a 1 bed room apt. Huge shift in both costs :( and environment :)

Ok, that's it folks. Will post something on hiking or running the next time. Meanwhile take a look at this video, if you haven't already.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Racism experience

So I was waiting at the bus stop at the campus for bus MT 65 that would get me to campus parkway from where I would catch another bus. I arrive at the bus-stop at 7:05pm and the bus comes at 7:09 pm as scheduled, but hold it right there.. The bus doesn't stop, it slows down, the bus driver knows I am waiting to get in to the bus, but he doesn't stop.
This is not the first time that a bus has skipped the bus stop and on both ocassions I was the only guy at the bus stop. And on both ocassions it was the same driver.

How do I know? On the first ocassion, the bus driver slows down but doesn't stop. I run after the bus and wave to him to stop. He stops after going some distance and asks me as I get in, "If I knew English" and that I am supposed to "wave my hand" to stop the bus. Wow, that's a new rule right. I mean, I am standing at the bus-stop looking towards the bus, you damn well should stop.

The second time, that is the incident that just happened, the bus slows down and speeds away. I am totally incensed, and since I know that the next bus-stop, the "HUB" is not far away, I sprint after the bus and catch the bus as it stops. And why does it stop at the bus-stop?? Because someone is getting down there. I get in and surprise surprise, it's the same guy. I give him a long stare and decide to complain against him to the King county Metro guys.
As I get down at the last bus-stop, I ask the bus-driver for his name and he ofcourse doesn't give it to me. But guess what, according to him, I could note down the bus number and go ahead and complain. You can clearly see his intentions here, "I don't give a damn about you, I am going to be the way I am". And I do just that. I report him to the King county Metro guys.
I am going to be here for a while atleast until I complete my phd. I am being peaceful here, going about my work everyday and contributing to the research and to my department. I don't see why I should tolerate such incidents and I won't.

Monday, January 07, 2008

US medical system - A perspective

I had a bike fall on November 8th 2007. I was taking a turn and the roads were really slippery and I somehow lost balance and crashed. The right half of my body took most of the impact, since that's how I landed onto the ground.. I had deep cuts on the right side of forehead, a few bruises on the right cheek and minor abrasions on my right shoulder. I lost consciousness for a few moments, but then was admitted to the University of Washington Medical center, thanks to "American Medical Response", a private ambulance service that has billed me $612.25 for picking me up, ascertaining my whereabouts, checking my condition and dropping me off at the medical center, a kilometer away. Anyway, my "insurance" is supposed to offset such monstrous costs.

The medical center conducted various scans - CT head scan, CT angiography for the neck, CT head scan 2 and Xray for cervical spine to check in detail if vital organs of my body that took the impact during the fall were unaffected. I am told that I am allright - Great. Now, they stitch my cuts up which is wonderful and I am sent off, less than 12 hrs in the hospital. When I reached home, I looked into the mirror and realised that despite the stitches and ointment application, a dressing would have helped, since blood was oozing out here and there and an overall patch up would have made me get on with life. I went back to the medical center and the nurse there was reluctant to give me a dressing. I am baffled, I tell him that the least he can do is patch up the wounds. Finally he gives me a few bandaids and says that he is not supposed to give this, but that he is doing me a favour.
I just wanted to get over this injury and get on with life, so I didn't give much thought to that.

Two months later, I get a bill. Get this: the Xrays and CT scans, etc cost 662$, which is supposed to be "fine" if you have insurance, but I am charged $4283 for "hospital usage"??? What the heck. Even if I were to have insurance(covering 90% of the cost) , how the hell can you charge $4283 for hospital usage, I was in the hospital for hardly 12 hours. Does it make any sense?
Can any one tell me how in the world this cost could probably be accounted for? Assume for the present that there is no such concept as insurance and people pay from their own pocket the costs incurred for medicare. Also assume that the hospital charges came out to $428.3(10% of the original cost), people will find this cost to be simply too much. They can't resort to, "Do you have insurance? It should take care of most of the cost". And if the hospital charges did come out to $4283 as in my case for a trivial treatment of minor injuries (we are not talking of bypass surgeries here), they will instead simply rebel. Insurance just makes the costs look better. As another example, I was asked to come back a week or two later to get the stitches removed. I went to the medical center at 9 pm, since the waiting room seemed crowded I asked the receptionist if I could come at say 11 pm. She told me that there would be an extra charge for emergency room check in beyond night hours. I asked her how much that would be, she just said, 'oh don't worry about it, it would come in your bill and the insurance would cover it'. Well, it was included in the bill and I was charged $120 for that. So if I were to say that insurance would cover 90% of that cost and I need to pay only $12, it makes the overall picture rosy and beautiful, but it fails to explain how they came to charge $120 in the first place.

I recently heard in a lecture that institutions in US including universities and medical centers have to pay negotiation teams hefty fees to prevent people from sueing them million dollar suits for whatever reason (improper medical care, etc). So that, these fees are passed on to people using these institutions, students paying hefty tuitions in the case of universities and patients paying astronomical bills in the case of hospitals. I am not sure on the credibility of this reasoning but I can't come up with a better reason(or let's say other reasons) for the medical center charging me $4283 for hospital usage.
I just came across this article that reflects a trend for American patients seeking medicare abroad for the same reason I posted this blog. Hmm.

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'