the long search

When you have nowhere to go, go back to yourself.

White Noise

There is something about hospitals that I could never quite bring myself to like. Not that I am one among those who dread the place because it reminds the grim realities of sickness, pain, old age and death. Some even don’t like the smell of medicine that hospitals are so typified with. Some are scared of catching infections. Not me. I believe hospitals are where people get new life and, new ways for life. But something about hospitals always bothered me.

As I sat by M inside the intensive care unit, I started pondering about it all over again. I could see the trace of pain in her lovely face as she tried to get herself some sleep – she was almost wired up – with the oxygen mask, catheter, drips and a dozen other pipes entangling her. She looked considerably weak and I spoke next to nothing. I just looked at the walls, the ceiling, the curtains and the bed-sheets. There is this whiteness about hospitals that always got me.

Why are hospitals mostly coloured white? Is white not monotonous and gloomy? And depressing too? Why can’t vibrant colours – or even soothing ones – be in place of white? Or is it because white symbolizes peace, innocence and purity that health facilities are painted so? Medical science probably does not overtly endorse white for hospitals but the colour stands for cleanliness and hence so much in practice.

Interestingly, in Western culture, the bridal wear is white, while in India and in many Asian countries, white is associated with mourning and death. For someone whose favourite colour has always been white, I was always unsettled by the whiteness in the hospitals. I am yet to find out why.

I would have liked to ask M if she liked the never-ending white all around her. I didn’t. In her 60s, M has not been keeping good health lately, and my question, I am sure, would make no sense to her when she is struggling even to breathe. May be I will find out when I am there.

I know my friend Sonya (that's what I addressed her as, much to her chagrin) would say that I am looking at the wrong side of it. But it's not as if I hate hospitals. Tell you something? It's here in the hospitals that I had found some unforgettable persons. Hey, I love hospitals, people.


Agnes 19 October 2008 at 20:17  

Beautifully written.

Hospitals are places when new lives begin.... I like that concept very much.

I believe hospitals are white for hygiene reasons: white sheets are easier to wash, you can just bleach them. Here in the US, hospitals are not white, in fact some look like fancy hotels.

White is my favorite color, it's so pure.

Talking To My Soul 19 October 2008 at 20:55  


Thanks, Agnes.

I completely agree with you. White is so pure.


Keshi 20 October 2008 at 09:51  

Lovely post Soul! u said stands for Purity and Cleanliness I guess. White kinda soothes the mind too than bold bright colors like red and green. wut say? I mean when someone is ill and needs rest, I guess white is BLANK and does nothing much to irritate or stress the person out. I guess thats why most hospitals use White.

Yeah Western brides wear white, and hindus and buddhists wear white for funerals :):) Its all TRADITION.

D u work in a hospital? Interesting.


Talking To My Soul 20 October 2008 at 14:14  


Thanks, Kesh.

You are right. White soothes the mind but sometimes it is so clear that the colour can trigger strange feelings.

BTW, I don't work in hospitals, Kesh. What made you think I am one? I am a journalist.


Trevor Penn 20 October 2008 at 15:30  

White is pristine. It's the virgin color (and hence the color of the bridal gown). In India (I suppose) we wear white to pay homage to the pristine soul. It probably has something to do with the variant and derivatives of the Greko-Roman philosophy that caught on in various cultures.

I do agree that white makes hospitals very grim.

Talking To My Soul 20 October 2008 at 17:26  


So the Crooner is back.

Thanks, Trevor. I am in complete agreement with you about the philosophy of colour white. You are on target. As always.


Keshi 21 October 2008 at 04:41  

We all like different colors and r stimulated by em at varying levels...

** Tell you something? It's here in the hospitals that I had found some unforgettable persons.

that made me think u must be a doc :)

so ur a journalist...nice!


Talking To My Soul 21 October 2008 at 12:44  


Right, Kesh. Colours have different effects on different people.

It's during attending near and dear ones and giving company to buddies doing the same that I found some who I describe "unforgettable persons."

Thanks, lady.


Soni 21 October 2008 at 23:58  

I was recently admitted in hospital for five days. And yes, it was a life-changing experience. I had always taken pride in saying I never fall ill. But there I was, suffering from dengue and my platelet count at menacingly low levels. There were moments when I was scared and I felt a huge relief when the doctor told me everything was fine. I now know how truly precious life is and how precious are the near and dear ones who nursed me back to good health and prayed for me.

Talking To My Soul 22 October 2008 at 00:28  


I know, Soni. Hospitals can change the perceptions about life. I have not fallen ill yet but I am on the edge, I know. So, will tell you my story someday.

Yes, I have been on attendance duty so very many times. So I can know.

Thanks for coming over, dear.


Keshi 22 October 2008 at 05:17  

**It's during attending near and dear ones and giving company to buddies doing the same that I found some who I describe "unforgettable persons."

u hv a beautiful heart, thats why.

4yrs ago, I went to a Hospice on Christmas day...with a bag full of pressies for 54 patients, waiting to die. Its the most unforgettable day in my life.


Talking To My Soul 22 October 2008 at 13:34  


Tell you what, Keshi? Empathy is the greatest virtue in a person. And you have it aplenty.

God will always bless you for that.

Thanks for visiting again, lady.


Keshi 23 October 2008 at 09:54  

Same goes to ya mate. HUGS! :)


Talking To My Soul 23 October 2008 at 16:34  


Thanks, lady.


Keshi 25 October 2008 at 17:31  

hows ur wknd going? :)


Talking To My Soul 25 October 2008 at 18:02  


no luck on weekends, lady. working. as usual. what about you?


Keshi 27 October 2008 at 10:08  

I had a very busy one..I went to a beautiful food festival by the was great!

Working on wknds? a big no-no for me! :)


Talking To My Soul 27 October 2008 at 13:40  


Lucky you, lady. No work on weekends.

So, howz the food fest? Can we expect something about it in your blog? I am sure you would have "seen" and "found" a lot to write about.


Keshi 27 October 2008 at 14:08  

I did :) and yes I hv so much to say but so lil time haha!


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If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed