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Sunday, August 28, 2011


                Love-a lot has been said and done about it by others. But, here I narrate an incidence where I came closest to biting the forbidden fruit. The story goes back to February this year. Second year was over, third year had just started. The enthusiasm of the honeymoon period was still in full strength.  Almost everyone around me had bitten and tasted the forbidden fruit. Whether they continued to finish the fruit or got nauseated by it, is a different issue. But yes, everyone had flexed their arm at least once for sure. And here I was, feeling left out with not even leftover to make do with. Not that I felt the need to taste the fruit, but when the mob psychology takes charge, you can’t control yourself.
          Come February, come AAVISHKAAR. My street play was just over and we had stood second in the competition.  I was loitering around the food stalls. (They had overpriced everything so heavily, that I was actually looking out for something that suited my pocket, and rather than what menu they had to offer.) It was then that I glanced at her. There she stood in red, smiling. At first I only glanced and moved on. But then I don’t know why I turned around to get her a second look. She wasn’t a regular in college. I looked on carefully; I noticed that she had a really wide smile, something like mine (The one you see in the background). And I wondered who she was. I had seen her somewhere before, but couldn’t quite recollect where. Whose picture was it in that like size cut-out? None the less, I walked towards the stall. It was of some bank (I know which bank, but I will NOT name it. I do not advertise for free). There was a handwriting analyst there doing an analysis for free. FREE!!! Go for it! As he read through my sample, which was the personal information form, I thought he got a fit. I signalled to my colleagues to get a stretcher ready to take him to the EMS as he rolled his eyes upwards and started making jerky movements in the air. Then when his seizure activities subsided he made statements and predictions of things about which I anyways was aware. Just as I felt that I should get up and leave, came a prediction for which I wasn’t ready, “Love is in the air”.

          I blushed as a lot of people had assembled around us because of the gestures I had made earlier. It was embarrassing, not for me but for others, ‘LOVE IN THE AIR AROUND JAYESH VIRA.’ And I got up and left blushing for I could not have done anything else. It’s almost September now. Six months on. Nothing has happened. Perhaps the winds got blown away in March or whatever happened. That thing in the air remained so high up in the stratosphere that perhaps it has replaced some part of the ozone layer. Point being, it never settled enough for me to even feel how it smells.
          But that fellow was stating all the obvious facts, so the likelihood that he would be wrong is quiet low. Perhaps I should make an effort to decipher and snuff out the love out of the air. It has already rained heavily today (Sunday 28th August, 2011, Colaba 35mm rains), chances are it should have settled down somewhat. So let’s snuff out the past six months.

          Over the past six months, I’ve been to an all expenses paid trip to Delhi. I’ve taken a Rs. 10,000 course for Rs. 1500. I’ve learnt a language which I had always wanted to learn, but never got an opportunity to do it. The language is called HTML. I’ve got that one more website ready on which my photo appears twice. I’ve managed to keep at least 180 people on a ransom almost daily. I’ve got to attend the legendary lecture series by a legendary orator by the name of Dr. O. P. Kapoor.  And most importantly, I’ve got the coveted job which I had been eyeing since my entry to college, that being the Editor-In-Chief of GOSUMAG.

Over the course of time, I have got the chance to come in contact with many great personalities, and felt inspired. I’ve taken my chances and succeeded. I’ve made newer friends. Reconnected with some old ones. I’ve learnt. I’ve grown as an intellectual. I have met patients, real people. I’ve seen fighters. Seen miracles. And I have understood life better and to a greater extent than all those previous years put together. Boy, am I loving it! And haven’t I been falling in love in even greater proportions with each passing day days with this field called MEDICINE! Haven’t I been lucky! It has been such a lovely time.

          Oops! I just said it.
 That drama master was indeed correct, love is in the air! Love is, when you love what you do.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands.

        Each of us some song or one-liner associated with an important event in our lives. And that is what makes it all the more so special. Well, for me as I realised today, it is a chapter in my textbook that too has evoked euphoric memories. I have my share of songs also, my favourite ones being “Yaad sataye Teri” from Phir Hera-Pheri,

“Paisa-Paisa karti hai” from De Dhana Dhan

and the most recent being “Saibo”.

Anyways, talking of this special incident, it isn’t one that is all happy happy and goody goody. Still, it is a unique one.
         As I decided to start “revising” my ophthalmology as the prelims are around the corner, I opened “that” chapter after about 6 months. (Actually that’s the duration after which I have actually opened my ophthalmology textbook.) With the noise going on outside it is anyways difficult to concentrate. Then again, there is the England India test match going on. Not that it is any great, but my favourite cricketer Rahul Dravid 
has just hit a century and I hope that India are able to save their face in this test.  So, the best thing to do in such a situation is to enjoy those memories that flash back and relive those moments.
          After some days about six months ago, when it suddenly dawned onto me that I was in the last ophthal post and will have none before the exams, studies began. It felt good to be reading again. The teacher that I was posted under is perhaps the most dreaded in the entire college. For, one, her very shrill voice. Two, her taunting comments. Three, her bad memory. You may be following her as a shadow for two weeks. She’ll ask you your name. You’ll be happy that finally you’ve been noticed. And the very next day, she’ll demand the attendance sheet and will want to mark you absent for the entire two weeks for “she hasn’t seen you!!!” Four, her unpredictable temper and mood. You never know what to expect from her! And fifth, for herself.
        But, still, some gutsy personalities such as myself who are fond of going against the tide and “taking ‘em on” will try our luck and chances. I had heard stories about her even before my first post last year. And as a very good student asked her on my very first day,” Madam, I am a second MBBS student. This is my first ophthal post. I don’t know anything and won’t have the time to read everything as I am appearing for completely different subjects. Hence, what are the things that I am supposed to know by the end of this term?” She was taken aback, shocked perhaps. Squeezing her eyes she gave me” that” look and frowning her brow bluntly and rudely replied, “You are supposed to know everything.”
        That was then. And I thought how she forgot that she too was once an undergraduate who knew nothing! Then, during this last post, when she was in one of her good moods and relating to us instances from her residency days recollected how she had given a tight dressing to a patient that had caused a collapse of the anterior chamber and how her bosses got mad at her. But, she defended herself saying that “No one told her what to do and it was her first time”. Doesn’t it ring a bell madam, I thought. If you know how bad first time experiences can be and you definitely did not like it, you could have been a little more “considerate”.
        Anyways, that was a good week for she was in a good mood the next day also. She called me and asked, “Do you know maths?” I said,” Yes!” I always take pride in declaring where ever possible that even though I have taken up medicine; my knowledge of maths is as intact as ever. I can still solve those trigonometry, differentiation and integration problems! So, I thought that she’ll give me a simple arithmetic to do at the most. But, the task she entrusted to me was to “teach counting and addition” to our canteen boy. Hmmm, canteen boy, how old can he probably be? Well, he was 35.
        As it turned out, this professor had a humane side to her as well. I don’t know how but she had found out that this fellow was uneducated. Not only that but he was also keen on learning. So, she had been sending him to tuitions to learn basic things which most of us have learnt and forgotten since our nurseries. So, while 35 year olds residents at one hand pursue super specialties in our college, we mug up from books which are at least 3500 pages
and no less than 5 kgs in weight as a rule and this fellow at the age of 35 still had to learn to count up to 3500!
        And, I forgot to mention that, she had been paying his tuition fees as well. Extra fees also, for he was a “special” student. The man was intelligent, but there are ages at which you learn certain skills the best. You cannot learn them before, and definitely not later. But, this that tutor did not know. So, he/she was always frustrated why this fellow won’t grasp things and concepts which even a seven year old would grasp easily. And, so my professor felt that “the tutor was being harsh on him”. Hence she wanted me to teach him addition of three digit numbers. And to do that explain to him the concept of “Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands”.

        Well, the next day the fellow brought a 2nd standard maths textbook. Other patients in the OPD may have thought that it would be for his child, but it actually was for him. So, for about a couple of hours I tried to teach him. How well I taught I do not know. But, I did give it my best. I have taught maths to standard 10 students, but that was first experience teaching standard 2 stuff. It was difficult. Things that we take for granted, are not. It is difficult to understand, how that person is unaware to simple things. But the fact is that he is and you have to try and make him aware. That remains a very memorable experience and learning in itself for me, “Never take things for granted”. We live in very cosy homes and easy lives. There are situations starkly opposite in the society.
 Then when he came to take her leave, she told him to teach others all that he had learnt today. Knowledge has to be spread. It grows only by sharing. “You know no body taught them.” She told me. “Yes ma’am”, I replied. “No body has taught us either!!” (This I did not tell her). “Do not expect us to solve great riddles and puzzles with knowing the basics. We too need to be taught the “Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands”.

What surprises the most is this human behavior. The person considered to be tyrannical, actually has such a huge heart. She knows what the difficulties are. Yet, again they are identified only in some, and in others it is taken for granted. I am not complaining. Our problems are nothing compared to that man. And we are smart enough to fend for ourselves. I have been lucky to post this. And you have been lucky to read this.
Just making an observation. Food for thought perhaps.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Unanswered Questions.

             I was in the ward  at around 8.00 in the evening, taking a "case" to present the next day. Just a terminology, but surprisingly, how easily it takes away the feelings and emotions attached when you interact with a patient! And after that, around 9.00 went to collect a donation cheque. I was happy, cause the case was excellent with good findings and I had some money in the Bank, and walking happily in the corridor, when I heard something that felt like some one calling out to me from behind. I turned to see an old lady sobbing loudly, "Ae BABA ...... AE". No, she wasnt calling out for me. Neither to anyone else in that fairly crowded corridor. She was calling out to some one more powerful . After sparing her a second, I continued to walk on. For, two reasons, I di not know why she was sobbing, second, I did not know how I could be helpful to her.
            The next morning rounds were no better. As the rounds were going on in the female ward, two of our servants brought in a stretcher. Behaving very freely, the experienced one said to the novice, " मेरे साथ रहेगा तो सब सिखा दूंगा . दो दिन भी नहीं लगेगा.  ये अपना रोज का काम है ."
 At first I thought they were probably taking someone for an X-ray or something, but as my vision followed course, they nicely picked up the body, and wrapped it in the same bed sheet on which she was lying, covered up the face, and took it away as if it was a bundle of रद्धि. I was shocked at this lax attitude, but then again I was reminded that the previous night I was chatting with the sister-in-charge the previous evening and unknown to her an old man had come up behind her to ask for some cotton wool. She casually asked me, "कुठल्या गावातून आला तू?". And the old man, thinking that she had asked him, said "Kolhapur'. But she was so embarrassed that the old man thought she called him "TU". She kept on appologising to him and as far as I remember, told him about a dozen times,"आजोबा में तुम्हाला 'तू' कशी म्हणू?", even though he had no objections. Yet in the morning, a lifeless body, had no value. So, it is life only that garners respect. And as we will be celebrating our 65th Independence day today, we will be remembering and celebrating the martyrs and their contributions. No, then it means death garners respect. Complex!!!
            On the way out from the wards, we found a woman fallen unconscious in the corridors. In all probability she had an epileptic fit. The HOU directed us to take to casualty. On enquiry, the relations informed me that her husband had just expired. 
            Such is the beauty of medicine, it enriches you. There are innumerable such experiences that keep on happening every second. Every moment here you have to make a decision, are you supposed to be happy or be. Should I be happy for I have seen a patient with a rare disease and learnt some great things. Or am I supposed to be sad, that this individual is going to suffer a slow painful death, and in our setting not even perhaps afford the cost of his treatment, even after all possible donations and concessions.
               I strongly remember,  my HOU in surgery telling the houseman not to delay the discharge of a patient and in his own words, "For you this cost may be nothing, but for him, he may have to sell his farm and house." That dictum I want to remember and follow.
                But, as people fall sick, and sometimes the situations are such that despite wanting, you cant do anything, and then death becomes a daily affair, you try your best to preserve life, but death takes the upper hand. I think if you remain overtly sensitive, you will not be able to survive. You need to distance your self a bit. But, there are also complains now of doctors losing their personal touch. So, there is a fine line between attachment and detachment. Till where it extends, I do not know now.
              These are just thoughts in my mind, to which I think only time shall provide the answer . Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps after a decade, or perhaps even later. Whether I will comply with the dictum I now have set for me, or will I be forced to surrender to other forces and stresses, I do not know. I know some, but much I do not know.
             But, this is what medicine is: striving to find the answers. There will always be some questions unanswered. And on an personal note, that is precisely the reason, why I enjoy medicine- it gives you the opportunity to be a student for life.
            And that is why a doctor is always a practitioner, and never a perfectionist, because perfection marks the end of learning! These are some unanswered questions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why people hate Jericho

        For a long time, WWE was a must watch for me. It was only till some time ago, that I realised it was all drafted and fixed. (And I have a feel that soon I will develop a similar belief for our cricket matches.) Of the last few episodes of WWE that I can recollect I do vaguely remember Chris Jericho taunting the audience and labeling them HIPPOCRATES and surely the audience booed him like anything. Then he went on further to say that all of us sitting in front of the TVs were equally Hippocrates! Now, come on “DUDE”, don’t you dare call Jayesh Vira a HIPPOCRATE. True, that in a couple of years I will be taking the Hippocratic Oath, but that does not give a liar, street smart individual and profound actor who makes unsuspecting people believe in yourself,  like you any right to label me a HIPPOCRATE. I oblige you be lending valuable hours of life (which by the way I am never going to get back), and you label me a HIPPOCRATE.I turn on the TV for some crafted action, not to be labelled a Hippocrates. Totally unacceptable! But then that’s what happens, a man is known by the company he keeps. And for him I was in the company of all those other Hippocrates and so I shared the tag.
        But what that incidence did, was that it got me thinking. And I realised, that instead of spending time watching such non-sense artificial stuff, if I write more blogs, I can help the world come to a better equilibrium with their “Inner voice”. What that ignorant human spoke on TV, would have been a great achievement for his level of intellect, but then again, it was all drafted.
        Hmmmm, you’ve got it right, I’ve been entangled in something bad once again! Fame just seems to follow me where-ever I go. That is precisely that reason why hell is so famous. Ever heard or told to someone “Go to heaven”. No! It’s always “Go to HELL!” See how famous I’ve made it. Anyways that’s not our point today. It’s time now, for the main story.
        It has got some relation with what our role models of the Century viz. Shri Kalmadi,
Shri Raja,

Shri Karunanidhi’s daughter कनैमोज्ही

  and those of the past centenary Shri Azharuddin

  and Ajay Jadeja.

Just going a little off at a tangent, how would the Kalmadi’s be feeling reading this piece? I mean you guys have become a household legend! बच्चा बच्चा जानता है, की, आप कौन हो !  Every time, any one is suspected of mismanagement of funds he is christened as a Kalmadi. Every time, an honest (dumb) officer rejects a bribe, he says “इतने के लिए क्यूँ मुह ख़राब करू. कुछ  Kalmadi के level का होगा, तो सोचेंगे.” You’ve set national standards and records even better than the games you organised. But, then again why are you being so chastised? Perhaps because of this HIPPOCRATIC society, whose guilty conscience now pricks them? In you, they see themselves! And, what you suffer is called a LEADER’S CURSE. By chastising you, they try to prove their dissociation from you and hence try to settle their Inner Voice. (But, you can’t, because you know exactly who that Inner voice is. So, it’s all a lame effort. Just on a personal note, he derives great pleasure by pricking you, and making your life hell, because that is his favourite destination.)
        I always have a hard time with those type A personalities. Seriously speaking, they are too aggressive for a soft and kind hearted person like me and frighten me. And then I end up being defensive and end up shattering them. I do not like it, but they leave me no other option. Finally survival is a basic instinct and the best survives! A very irritating quality of theirs’ is their insistence on special treatment and they do not mind breaking the queue if the need be. I mean, come on its fine, you wait for your turn. I am not refusing you food. I have sufficient for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed!! The earlier you learn it, the better for you.
        And then on some days, I am in a little mischievous mood. So, their inner voice pricks them a little more. I love to see that struggle for independence which they launch against that oppressor and finally when they cannot win, just say that everyone is equally bad! GRAPES ARE TRUELY SOUR, AREN’T THEY?
          Talking of prickly consciences, some have a dysfunctional prickly conscience. It starts pricking them whenever they do not get an opportunity to do the wrong thing. Just as is the case with everything that’s dysfunctional in medicine, it’s abnormal and harmful. So perhaps you would feel bad, if you haven’t had a fight with your mother early morning or are not being a menace to someone, or not making a fool out of yourself! There is no cure. आपको सिर्फ दुआ की जरूरत है!
        So how did this condition arise? It arose because of lack of self control and timely intervention. Just as Nana Pathekar described in “Ab tak Chappan”,

it becomes a habit. And old habits die hard. They are like tuberculosis. They kill you, but do not die, as you would probably have transferred them to someone else by then. Probably, the first time you did it, it was out of necessity. Then it became a fun activity. And now it has progressed to a point of no return. It has become a full blown habit. A very scandalous analogy (I love scandals) would be to say, that all students are criminals. Coping in exams is a crime! No one makes a fuss about it. But, when some gangster gets elected in UP/BIHAR/HARYANA/MP/ANYWHERE, we surely register our protest. But, they will continue to get elected, because deep within, we are one. Birds of the same feather flock together.
        So, when Anna Hazare has started a revolution against corruption, and we all are backing him, because we want everything else to be right. Yet, whenever we want our work to be done, skip the queue for instance, we will do what we have always been doing and expect all others to be decorative pieces. And when someone else skips a queue, take a morcha to Azad Maidan. Everything else should be right, but us.

        Truly, Mr. Jericho, such HIPPOCRATES.