Friday, December 30, 2011

Remembering Bhutto and Thanks giving

I don’t know why I began calling him Bhutto, after that famous India hater Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Those of you who are interested in the recent history of India and Pakistan will remember that he was Pakistan’s able representative in the UN and later became the country’s prime minister and later was hanged by the military. He excelled in debates and was an effective counter to our own Krishna Menon in prolonged and effectively boring speeches. In one of these speeches he called us Indian Dogs! And this infamous or famous statement must have made me call him Bhutto when he first adopted me as his friend and my home as his. Had I known what a wonderful being he turned out to be, I certainly wouldn’t have called him by this name. But call I did and the name stuck. After all what is in a name, the person is important. So it proved.

Bhutto was a stray dog and must have been a two year old when he came into our home. He was of indeterminate pedigree and as mongrels go, a good looker. He never got fully domesticated and would visit us when his mood took him to do so. He was essentially a street urchin and the street in front of my home was his territory. He never was short of food as he had many friends like me who fed him. But I felt he had a special liking for me.

Deepavali is a noisy festival with nonstop sound of crackers bursting. These days were dreadful days and he took refuge in our home. He would neither eat nor drink and my dislike for the use of crackers as a method of celebration, be it a festival or a wedding goes back to those days when I saw him in absolute dread. He would not leave the house for a few days after and only did so when there was no more of this noise.

Being a street urchin it was not possible to really get him to a Vet to get him immunized but I did try once and he jumped out of the car and ran away. But strangely, when he fractured his leg and was hopping on three legs, I with the help another dog lover friend of mine managed to take him and this time he gave no trouble at all! But the Vet told me that there is no point in attending to him as he would not allow the leg to mend and the cast he is going to put will not stay as he would tear it apart. He felt Bhutto’s days are numbered as he would not survive as a lame dog in the streets. He reluctantly applied the cast and I couldn’t believe that a dog could be so cooperative when the procedure was being done! Even the Vet was surprised. I kept him home for a few hours till the cast dried and after wards let him go.

Next day he came back with yards of plaster of paris smeared bandage trailing his lame leg. He had tried his best to chew the nuisance off and wanted my help to get rid of the remaining. This I did and put a bit of crepe bandage instead. Even this did not remain long. He hopped about for a week or two and then began bearing weight on the lame leg and in a month became normal. Another of my beliefs,’ leave it to nature and often you will see miracles happen’ proved right.

Another time he came when he was ill and took refuge inside the house. He would not eat and only drank water! I opened his mouth and found it full of small eruptions and when I asked my friend he said it was a common viral infection and gave me some pills to try. With great difficulty I managed to get him to eat these pills and in a week’s time when I forced open his mouth there was not a trace of this infection! He was also going out and eating grass and someone told me that dogs do this as a way of healing mouth sores! I don’t know which one did the trick but he became normal and resumed his antics.

He was fond of fried dosa and would know by the smell that this was being made in the house and invariably come to the dining area and sit on his haunches with an expectant look on his face. My old mother who was alive then and who was no great dog lover just could not resist liking him and would feed him one dosa after the other.

For a street dog he was clean, but I felt he needed a bath once in a way. He would have none of these and my attempts elicited a howling response. I gave up using water and would use a brush once in a way but surprisingly did not find much dirt on him despite all the mud he came in contact with on the streets.

Being a street dog, he would get into fights with other dogs especially when the females were in season. Again it was my job to treat him. Many an occasion he would report with injuries and allow me to clean and apply antiseptics and never once did he object and would lie down quietly often licking my hands or giving me small bites when I was cleaning his wounds which must have been quite painful. He knew that what I was doing was for his good.

I remember one day morning when I woke up late, only to see him sitting with an upturned anxious face. Normally he would not come into the bedroom but this time he did and was sitting there god knows how long. None of my family even knew he was there! No sooner I woke up his anxiety vanished and before I could touch him he ran down the stairs and disappeared down the street. Did he think, I wonder, looking at me sleeping form that I was dead and thus the anxiety on his face?
He lived a charmed life of may be seven or eight years and died after eating some poison from the street corner dust bin. He came home one evening vomiting blood. One look at him I knew he was too far gone to be saved. He died a few hours later and we buried him inside our compound.

Normally when a human being dies some rites are performed, priests are fed and poojas are performed to send the soul safely to the other world. The evening when he died, we put some flowers on his grave and lit some joss sticks and stood in silent prayer for a few minutes, just then an elderly man unknown to us came and asked for help. He did not look like a professional beggar. It is considered auspicious to give to charity and no one deserved it better than what I thought this emissary of just departed Bhutto,

Another year has gone by and we are entering 2012 and I thought the best way to usher in the New Year is to pay homage to a soul which left me some 20 years ago, but whose memory is still fresh and even after all these years I still miss him!

Like I did last year this year too I thank all of you, my patients, family and friends who have kept me going and for all the love and affection that you have given me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fire test

Our revered epic Ramayana has an episode where in Lord Rama tests his wife's chastitiy by making her walk through fire [even in those days there was no need to test the male's chastity]

So this was considered to be the best way to separate the noncorrupt from the corrupt. The first ones to be tested were the ruling party memebers. One by one they were made to walk through the fire pit.

The first to emerge unscathed by fire was Antony. Next to emerge was Manmohan singh holding his backside which was singed but not burnt.After anxiously waiting for a while Antony tells Manmohan,'I donot think we should wait any more, there is a lot of work that we both have to handle' Manmohan says, ' You go, I will wait, I am sure next one to emerge will be madam!

At the time of writing he is still waiting!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hazare and the whip

I imagined the scene where Gandhian Anna Hazare is going around the country with a whip in his hand looking for persons who like their drink. What would I do if faced with this spectre? I would humbly request him to taste thimble full of wine before he takes up his whip. I am quite confident of winning him over.

Why is he so anti wine? Easy to understand. He has seen addiction to drink ruining families and thinks flogging is the answer. While not advocating that one should take to drinking, I am totally against this kind of thinking. This kind of puritanical attitude is going to draw people away from his movement to eradicate corruption. Instead he should advocate moderation and educate people not to become alcoholics. There is overwhelming medical evidence that small doses of alcohol is good for health!

The question is how small is small?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nature’s culling

Authorities in national parks allow hunting of wild life if they find one form of life exceeding the limits. This is called culling. This however doesn’t apply to us humans. We are at liberty to breed and multiply and test the resources of mother earth. This over populating the earth is in a way insulting nature. If you go by this yardstick human life is the most dangerous form of life ever evolved. Is there a scheme of things behind this profligacy? I wonder. There are different theories for the disappearance of earlier life forms. For example the Dinosaurs and the Woolly Mammoth. The dinosaurs became extinct after major upheaval die to meteor hit and the woolly mammoth because of rapid advance of ice age. If we are to believe there is an in built wisdom in nature which is not conditioned to safe guard human life, then I am afraid we are in for some form of correction which may well mean disappearance of humans. From the point of view of mother earth nothing much will be missed by the disappearance of this none too attractive a species. How will this be brought about?

Many centuries ago Rev Malthus propagated a theory that natural calamities like famine, fire or floods will correct the balance and the population gets naturally culled. This may still happen if you go by what is happening in Ethiopia where millions are dying or going to die if the rest of the world sits back and watches. A more likely event will be mutation of a run of the mill virus into a killer with widespread deaths uniformly spread throughout across all nations. Next possibility is nuclear explosion which will kill selectively and therefore unjust!

Going by the life span of stars and planets, earth has few more million years left before it gets blasted to smithereens. Therefore when doom is inevitable why worry? Get on with our wasteful ways and hell with coming generations of life forms.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Corporatization of health

Indian government seems to have washed its hands off of providing health care to its citizens. Going by the evidence of measly allocation of funds in the budget for health and its acceptance of corporate hospitals to provide health care to its employees, the trend is firmly set that we are going the American way. What then is going to happen to the existing health infrastructure, the vast network of primary health care centers and secondary and tertiary care hospitals? If the present trend of encouraging corporatization of medicine continues it is inevitable that these institutions will gradually go to seed and one day will altogether disappear. Imagine the situation where in excellent institutions like AIMS [Delhi] PGI [Chandigarh] NIMHANS and Jayadeva at Bangalore deteriorating and becoming places where only destitute go!

Nations are spending a considerable percentage of their GDP on providing health care. As the population ages health care costs are going to go up and India is no exception. But neglecting government run institutions and encouraging private clinics and hospitals run by corporate and health management funds is the right way of providing health care?

Far from it, it is the worst way, especially for a poor country like India. Some you who are not Indians may wonder when I use the word poor to describe India. What you read or hear about India in the news and electronic media is all about the doings of the 5% of Indians who have done well for themselves.

This 5% is what the corporates are interested in. This 5% consist of the upper middle and the rich. Our politicians [even the grass root ones], beurocrats belong to this class. These are supposed to use the health facilities of the government. Hardly anyone does this and all of them with rare exceptions make a beeline to corporate hospitals when they fall sick or even for their routine health checks. If the top echelons of the government have no confidence in their own institutions how can one expect the ordinary citizens to have any confidence? They too will and have to go to these privately run institutions.

With increasing play by the private sector, falling ill has become a risky proposition. Let me explain. As the private players are mostly businessmen/venture capitalists/health management funds, the end point of their venture is to make money. They are not doctors who are supposed to think of patients welfare first and money next [many doctors too are becoming money first and health next thinkers]. They think of maximum and quickest return on their investment. If the investment is on building they will look at how much a square foot of the building will earn, if it is bed how much a bed will earn, or if it is human in the form of a doctor how much this doctor will earn for them. That is how they look at each item as money earners. Let us say the expected return on a bed is x amount in a year and the year end sees that bed earning is less, then the hospital administrator is pulled up and he in turn will pull up the doctor. The doctor who is so pulled up for not providing the hospital with enough business will either has to quit or adopt methods which his famous Hippocratic oath forbids him to. Most doctors are not in the real sense businessmen to begin with but they become one due to this kind of pressure. So what happens is this. When a patient goes to a corporate hospital and sees the doctor the first likely thought that comes to the doctor is how much I can get out of this patient and not what might be wrong with the patient. This attitude I am sorry to say is widespread and leads to lots of unnecessary investigations and procedures and needless hospitalization.

The sucker is the hapless patient. If he belongs to middle or lower income group, these institutions will make them feel that death would be preferable than the torment of raising sufficient resources to meet the expenditure that a hospital stay brings on.

This fear has led to the mushrooming of health insurance industry. This is another sordid story. Between corporate hospitals and insurance companies there appears to be a cozy relationship. It is not uncommon to hear the hospital reception asking the victim whether he is insured or not. If he is uninsured the smile of the receptionist is likely to be replaced with a frown. This is because you are likely to opt for less paying bed and at the time of discharge haggle, ask for concession, create a scene or as it happens occasionally, simply abscond!

So what is the solution? May be in the next write up.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ganpathi Bhat Hasanagi

There are some who strike you as brilliant at first meet. Most don’t. Meet could be personal or distant. In music, art, sport, it could be distant. I have written about personalities whom I have met personally and those whom I have not but have close relation through their work and performance. One such field where though I lack personal knowledge I have gotten close is in the field of classical music. I have had occasion to write about Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal [both of them no more]

Another such who is still relatively not so well known is Ganpathi Bhat. I am no exponent of Classical music. My knowledge is primitive but what I know is heartfelt. Many brush Gangubai off as singer with shrill voice. But to me she was manifestation of great talent and her voice played a minor role when I listened to her. When I first heard Ganpathi Bhat some ten years ago it was like a shock wave of pleasure hitting me. He has a rich voice, brilliant control and the variety he brings in without much ado is breath taking.

Those of you who love Hindustani classical music must listen to his music. It will be a divine experience.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parsimony

I got trained in the old school of thought as far as patient care is considered. There were several dos and don’ts that were dinned into our heads. Some of these were, don’t prescribe an expensive drug when an alternative cheaper one is available. The other is don’t investigate unless absolutely necessary. Always listen to the patient then proceed to examine and always try and come to a clinical conclusion. If you have to confirm do the minimum lab and other tests. When you are in doubt get another opinion.

These principles have stood me and my patients in good stead over the years and saved us lots of head ache and money. But occasionally it has backfired, to give an example or two.

I am against routine annual medical examinations and investigations to all and sundry and with valid reasons. I consider these a waste of money. But when there is a definite indication to screen a high risk patient I do order the required tests. In this case the Youngman’s company does many tests as a part of the employee benefit and an electrocardiogram is one of them. He knows that I am against routine screening for heart disease in low risk groups and the youngster was one such. He reluctantly came and apologetically asked me to have a look at the reports. The company and done many tests which included an ECG.

The ECG was abnormal. Though the rhythm was alight the rate was very high. Even if one gives margin to the fear of doctors and machines many have with the resulting increase in the heart rate, this kind of increase was a cause for concern. The report just said sinus tachycardia and the physician who signed it had not bothered to see the patient. There was also a marginal increase in the levels of thyroid hormone.On talking to him I realized he had lost weight, had been having some diarrhea and when I examined him he had a heart rate of 130 beats per minute. A repeat test for thyroid function revealed he had increased activity of thyroid gland and this was duly treated. Had he not done the annual tests would he have come to see me? Probably not immediately but would have because he was concerned with his loss of weight. He would have come much later when treating him may have become tougher than it did.

Another patient this time a friend of mine, who by nature a thrifty sort of a fellow [there is a very thin line between thrifty and miser].He tries his best avoid consulting me [read paying me]. He also treats himself with some success. He had symptoms of hyperacidity a year ago and as his usual antacid failed to help he sought my attention and I advised him to take a course of different class of anti acid drugs and get back after six weeks. He got better and did not get back to see me. When I met with him on the golf course he said he was well but once in a way he has to take the medicine. This worried me as at his age one should not have recurring symptoms like this. As the golf course is not the ideal place for a professional consultation, I asked him to see me in my chambers. This he did when his wife came to see me, he sort of hitched a ride.

I found he has been taking the medication prescribed and managing. Though there was nothing much detected on physical examination I told him to get an endoscopy done to have look at what his stomach looks like [this meant going to the hospital and getting a flexible tube thrust down the throat right up to the stomach, a not very pleasant procedure but was needed]. He said alright and went away. He did not go to the hospital. He came three months later with worsening of symptoms. I had no doubt about the diagnosis. He had cancer of the stomach and further tests including the endoscopy showed the cancer had spread all over. He does soon after.

Looking back I feel guilty for not having insisted that he get the tests done. I could have told his wife and she would certainly have succeeded in getting the tests done. Would he have survived had the tests been done six months earlier? Yes he would have.

There is a saying that you can take the horse to the water but you cannot make it drink it. Sometimes it is difficult to force the issue. But difficult or not I should have done it and he would have probably few more years of life. Now I am carrying this burden and it will be with me and his face will keep coming to haunt me, may be, till I die.

Another patient and another time. This person was a medical shopper. He saw many doctors and I was one of them. He had painful sensations on the skin of his thighs extending down to the calves. Only sensory involvement of pain sensation carrying nerve fibers may be due to many causes and cancer is one of them. He was a smoker and on testing he was found to be a diabetic. I was happy because diabetic neuropathy is very common and good control of diabetes will help. He was told the diagnosis. He appeared happy that a cause was found and went with the diet sheet and prescription. For three months I did not see him. When he did come he had with him records of three other doctors, one of them a homeopath. His diabetes was under control but his neuropathy [pain] had worsened. A neurologist who had seen him had done a scan of his spine and brain with no abnormality. Now he also had weakness and loss of weight which was attributed to diabetes. What is this patient’s illness?
I expressed my worry about cancer to the patient and told him to get a PET scan [an expensive test but will reveal cancer activity] of his whole body. After much deliberation and visit to another doctor [fortunately he too advised the same] this test was done. A tumor was found in the patient’s intestine [ceacum]!
Though nearly six months had elapsed from the onset of pain in region far removed from the place where the cancer was, it was found to be operable. The patient lived few more years but died due to recurrence. Here again if we had forced him to do this test and the diagnosis had been done early, may be, he would have lived his normal span of life. All of us [many doctors whom he went to] thought that diabetes is the cause when all the time it was cancer. This episode too has remained in my memory but does not haunt me as the other one does.

Despite this experience I stick to the principle of investigating only when necessary. But as you can guess, I have started forcing and even threatening them with dire consequences if they don’t follow my advice. Once bitten twice shy, that is what I have become.

Medicine is, in many ways, a cruel profession. You may be right 99 times out of 100 but you remember the 100th because willy nilly, you were responsible. And to the patient who suffered it is 100 percent.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blood sport

In ancient times Romans would set humans against animals and watch the resulting gore from specially built stadia. Next came the era of gladiators who fought against each other to the merriment of the audience. That tradition is even now seen in the form of bull fight. The bulls don’t fight; they are killed after getting them so tired chasing a red cloth being waved by the modern day gladiator called a matador. Bulls occasionally behave in a wayward manner and succeed in attacking not the red cloth but the matador. This element of danger is what interests the audience and the ultimate killing is done by piercing the brain of the animal. One of the most brutal of sports practiced in modern times is this so called bull fight.

Next in order is boxing where two humans fight each other. Elaborate rules and gear makes this less bloody than killing the bull but fighters can get killed or maimed for life. The famous Mohammed Ali suffered such severe brain damage that he became a cripple in his middle age. But the sport is quite popular and even Olympic games have this and that too in many categories depending on the weight of the participants.

Next comes car and motor cycle racing. I just cannot understand the popularity of this sport. If impending death is what one wants to watch and call it sport you have a perfect example of this in motor racing. The recent tragic death of two young men, one in motorcycle racing and another in car racing seemed to have heightened expectations and popularity. In our country, the land of ahimsa, a huge track has been built in Noida and we are going to have this bloody sport pretty soon. The likes of Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and co seem to think that this s sport they should support by buying teams!

Horse is wonderful animal. In grace and bearing I don’t think there is any mammal which is as good looking [including humans] as a horse. What have we done with this animal? We train it to race with a man sitting on the top and urging it to run faster by beating it’s haunches with a specially made strap. And thousands throng to watch. Society women use this as an occasion to show off their costumes and head gear. But again the popularity is partly due to the element of danger where in, the horse as well as the rider may come to harm.

Of course there is an element of injury risk in most sports except probably in table games. Most sports need skill, stamina and fitness and provide pleasure of a different kind. The pleasure is that by taking part in the sport you are actually experiencing pleasure which is based on skill and stamina. The perfect example of such a sport is Badminton. One should watch the likes of Dan of China and Wie of Malaysia playing against each other. It is impossible to believe that a human being can be so fit and agile. There is hardly any threat of someone getting killed playing Badminton, ping pong or Tennis.

As sport loving people we should stop watching motor racing, horse racing and boxing and shift to watching other sports even if it is twenty twenty cricket !

Nostalgia

I miss lot of things of yester years. I wrote about the joy of cycling without the fear of being run over. We could go to concerts and plays without worrying about the traffic, parking problems and the hassles of returning late in the night.

The concert in my very young days was a kind of musical dance drama called Yakshagana. The characters would dress in the gaudiest of colors and costumes with elaborate head gears. They would have bells tied to their ankles.There was an accompaniment of song and storytelling with the beat of drums. The performance would begin late at night and go on till early hours of next morning! It combined elements of song, dance, theatre, music and storytelling all in one show. It was superb and held us enthralled for more than 8 hours! The truncated from is still widely prevalent in the coastal districts.

The same applied to classical music, it would start late and end may be six hours later. The singer and the audience were one in appreciation of each other. Such spectacles which were common 50 years back have virtually disappeared now. Modern day classical concerts last not even three hours and in one performance some time ago the artist Amjad Ali spent more time tuning his instrument rather than playing it! I thought with the advent of MP3 CD I would be able to get music which lasts for many hours. By this I mean, a single or two ragas elaborated over three to four hours. My search so far has not succeeded.

Foot paths were foot paths then. They were even and one could walk on them. Now they are either used to park vehicles are dug up and we have to walk on the streets and run the risk of being run over. Many, especially the elderly are forced to stay home and rot. Even the simple pleasure of a walk is denied to them.

All this, we call progress and this consumerist economy is driving this society crazy.

Unsafe Nation

A senior police officer, who was a patient of mine, once told me how easy to hoist a case on any citizen in this country. He even told me how. ‘Suppose I don’t like you and want to trouble you, I will tell my subordinate to book a case of traffic violation on you, that you have not even taken your car out is not the issue. To prove that you did not violate the rule you will have to prove this in front of a magistrate and the case cab drag on for years’. Worse still, he said, he can get me involved in more serious cases of violation of civil and criminal law and the onus of proving innocence is on me. Therefore most people don’t want to even remotely to get involved and if they do they will some have to pay a heavy price in terms of money, time and mental torture.

This is what is happening to Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and co who are fighting the UPA government. Swami Agnivesh, who I thought was a man of character, proved to be such a disappointment. I liked best Anna Hazare’s statement,’ you cannot get a bunch of roses without the thorns’

I hope the vilifying propaganda by the likes of Digvijay singh and likes will not succeed and the common man will, when the time comes to cast his vote against the UPA.

But then who will he vote for?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rural hell to urban hell

I remember the days when I could cycle from one end of Bangalore to the other end in 15 minutes. That was 50 years ago. Today I cannot do it at all by the bicycle. At this rate of monstrous growth, this city is going to kill itself in another twenty years. It will be impossible to provide the basic civic needs to this large number of people spread out in 50 km radius by our none too efficient civic body, the BBMP.

Many so called people of vision see the inevitability of our towns and cities growing bigger because of migration of people from rural to urban locales and they even recommend an urban based economy. These include the likes of Nandan Nilakeni and the illustrious Narayan Murthy. This inevitability is due to ambitious youth whose numbers make 70% of our population. These young men are migrating to towns and cities in search of better living and more opportunities.

What is the result? Our towns and cities are becoming quagmires of dirt and decay. Our rich and the powerful are hiding behind huge fortress like compounds with security guarding their privacy away from the environmental muck that surrounds them. Most migrants end up as labourers of one type or the other serving these powerful few.

Is this what we want for our country? Is there no way to prevent this migration? Or is it inevitable or even desirable that people move out?

I am not an economist or a town planner. I only write about what I see and observe. I observe the development of a greatly demeaning society because of this migration. My gut feeling is that if we don’t reverse this trend, our towns and cities will die due to lack of resources and poor management.

How can we reverse this? There are some thoughts. These may not be original ones but they keep on occurring to me whenever I think of the rural poor. The minimum wages must be guaranteed as it is being done in the cities. Increasing the job opportunities in the villages will help to reverse the trend. This can be done by major changes in our agricultural policies. The farmer must not suffer and farm produce must get the right price unlike now where the middleman gets most of the money. Rural overpopulation leads to migration of excess labor. Limiting numbers must be our relentless drive. No one in right sense will leave a comfortable rural life to a life for a poor quality urban life merely because of the so called attractions of urban living. They are coming to the towns and cities because our rural economy is failing to provide jobs.

They leave and make the rural economy suffer and clutter and destroy the cities. Bangalore is one such prime example how this can happen in one's life time [mine]

Monday, October 3, 2011

Relevance of Gandhi

Yesterday was Gandhi’s birthday and country celebrated it the usual way. Another holiday to the burgeoning list, no alcohol sold, processions, speeches, garlanding of Gandhi statues and the like. Came evening all were back to their typically ungandhian ways of living.

If there is one country where Gandhian values are practiced least, that is present day India. Let us take one by one. He preached nonviolence as the credo of his life. We have become violent and growing more violent by the day both in verbiage and action. Our movies preach violence and our politicians condone it. Mafia dons and Goonda bosses are given tickets to contest elections by major political parties.

Next in the line of importance of Gandhian teachings was communal tolerance and harmony. He gave his life for this cause. Many are not aware that he was a deeply pained man at the time of Indian independence. He did not want this kind of independence where men of different religious faiths butchered each other. Now not only this intolerance exists but has extended to different sub sects and languages. The major political parties, in Gandhi’s name are actually fostering this and today the country is deeply divided on communal cast and language lines.

He preached minimal needs and manual labor. What do you see around now? Conspicuous consumption and possession of materilals.No one wants to use his hands which include all classes of people. Everyone wants a white collar job. Man who walks wants a bicycle, a cyclist wants a two wheeler, a two wheeler guy wants a car, a car owner wants two of them and better ones. Same applies to money, clothing, jewellery, house and what have you. He advocated spinning yarn as the best mode of providing millions of jobs. Today who wears Khadi? It has become a dirty word as our politicians wear it to show off!

He did not believe in going to temples to prove his piety. But he led the socially oppressed to gain entry into our sacrosanct temples. Untouchability still exists if not visibly but in the mind of people.

Gandhi’s dislike of alcohol was more to do to its capacity to destroy and degrade human life and not because it was bad [it is bad, like too much of food]. In fact his close followers, Maulana Azad and Pandit Nehru were not averse to an occasional tot. Where are we now? every nook and corner we have a liquor shop and Hooch is freely available.

He advocated personal and environmental hygiene and practiced it and preached. We have the worst sanitation and environmental pollution in the world.

Of course he had his quirks. The major one was his advocacy of celibacy as a method of limiting family and was against family planning methods. I am sure he would have changed his views had he been alive.

He probably would have agreed to industrialization where ever it was absolutely required. He would certainly have objected to the loot of our natural resources. Had he been alive he would object even to the export of stones, let alone mineral ore.

So, year after year we celebrate the birthday of this man and venerate him. But follow his teachings, we shall not or will not. As one of my good friends said half in jest and half mocking my stupid idealism,’ he is irrelevant in today’s world’

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

√Član

This is the only word that aptly describes Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. The title nawab sat lightly on him. I remember him as a cricketer and gentleman who taught Indians to fight to win. He groomed the likes of G.R.Viswanath and helped them become great cricketers. He did not know how to play politics and could never do zee Huzoor to anyone. He had this in built flair and style and it showed in his cricketing and personal life. I don’t think he did any work at all after he left playing cricket and our board which is busy politicking did not find it necessary to make use of his services. Not that Pataudi minded.

His passing away brings to an end an era of gentlemen playing cricket.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shot that pleased golf gods

Each year the US PGA golf tour culminates in Federal Cup, the richest prize money event in golf. This year it was for a purse of ten million dollars [How much it is in rupees? Fifty crores?]. It is not the money that provided the excitement but the way the final holes were played. When the 18 holes were played out there were two players who tied at minus 8. Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas. They had to play a sudden death playoff. The designated holes were 18th and the 17th. It did not matter if Hunter Mahan won, he would get the cup but not the money, but it mattered to Bill. If he won he would get the cup and money as the accumulated points would put him in the first place.

The Drama began with the first playoff hole; the 18th is a long and tough three par. Bill was first to tee off and his shot went right to the right side of the green behind a bunker and landed in light rough. Mahan was next. His shot too went right into a bunker. Both hit great shots and parred the hole. They walked [buggy ride really] to the next playoff hole 17th. This is a difficult par four with water on the left and bunkers on the right. Bill’s drive found the right side bunker and Mahan’s long and perfect drive found the fairway and he was just 100 yards from the green. Advantage Mahan. Bills shot from the sand hit the sloping green and rolled over the edge to sit in water, half of the ball visible. Bill only knew that his ball had gone to the water and maybe he would have to take a penalty drop and thus lose the match and everything else. Mahan’s shot ended some 20 ft from the pin. Both players walked to the green and Bill to where his ball lay.

He now had a shot some twenty feet to the pin. The ball is sitting half in and half out surrounded on all sides by water. Facing him, a steep up slope and then five feet of green and then the pin. He now had to play one of the most difficult shots in golf. Even to get it up on to the green would be considered a great shot. Bill went down with one foot in water and the other just out, hovered his club face and then hit the water. The replay showed a sheet of water propelling the ball up and out in a beautiful arc and landing two feet away from the pin and stop dead. He got his par and so did Mahan and then in the next play off Bill got his par and Mahan a bogy and thus Bill Hass watched by his illustrious father Jay Hass won the trophy and prize money.

I have seen many great golf shots but this one is probably the best I have ever watched.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Full Circle

‘No, it is not he, it is I who wants it’, she said. A statement of bare fact which took my breath away though this was uttered 35 odd years ago when the age of permissiveness had not as yet set in. I thought then [now I know better] that it was the boy who wanted it more than the girl. So I asked this 17 year old that does she know the consequences. She replied,’ yes I know. I have to have it. I think of that day and night and it is interfering with my sleep, my studies and I am snapping at everyone around me, and I don’t want to become pregnant’.

So this teenager has come for advice on contraception and not to listen to stupid moral advice. Like a good lawyer who accepts briefs with the belief that all are innocent till conviction, I too offered her the advice. She went beaming.
Miss K is from a fairly orthodox Iyyer Brahmin family and they were my patients for some years then. A few months later Mr S father of Miss K, came to see me. He was obviously was very worried. Though I could guess the reason for his coming to see me, I kept silent as to the meeting his daughter has had with me. Doc,’ I am very worried about my daughter, she is into bad ways’. I thought the next thing that he will tell is that she has become pregnant. Instead he said she is moving around with a Christian boy.

Patients come to us doctors not necessarily for medical advice. Often we act as counselors to the family. I knew then that Mr S has two worries. One is that his daughter may land in trouble and second is that the boy is a Christian, a major disaster for an orthodox Brahmin [vice versa is also true].’ Is he a bad person,’ I asked him. ‘No doc he is nice and well mannered and we all like him, but she is too young for this sort of thing’. ‘What sort of thing? I asked. He kept quiet. I wanted to reassure him that there is no possibility of her getting pregnant but did not want to let the cat out of bag, so kept quiet. He requested me to talk to his daughter about the danger and after getting an assurance from me, he went his way.

Couple of months ago a middle aged lady traditionally dressed, came to see me. She could make out that I did not recognize her. She said.’ I am K. daughter of Mr S, we used to see you many years ago, remember’. Of course I remembered. Obviously she had not married that Christian boy [I could make out by the typical Hindu style of her bearing]. Still I asked her. She said,’ that useless fellow, he had no guts, I did well to break that relationship’.

I did not ask any further questions about her past. After a momentary pause she said.’ I have a teen aged daughter, who is going around with a boy, and I want you to give them advice as you did for me, it was a great help’. Unlike her father, K had not a bit of worry on her face.

I became a witness to a full circle of similar events.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The problem is food

Man domesticated animals and plants [animal husbandry and agriculture] between five to ten thousand years ago. Till then he did not know where his next meal was and when. Most of the food needs were met by gathering wild fruits, edible leaves, flowers, tubers [edible roots] small life like ants, flies, moths and bigger life like fish, birds, rabbits, deer and occasionally bigger animals. At that time the food was eaten raw. Cooking was the earliest form of food processing and probably it came into being only about 20,000 years ago.

Till the advent of Industrial revolution man ate more or less unprocessed food. Gradually over the past three hundred years the food that we eat has undergone a gradual change from unprocessed mostly cereal based diet to mostly meat based diet. This is true to western nations and not so much in eastern nations. The idea that meat based diet is healthy and cereal based diet is not healthy has taken deep roots in our thinking.

If you look at historically how the chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, cancers and autoimmune illnesses have evolved, one can see a more than casual relationship to these changing food habits. In societies which eat more grain based, mostly vegetarian diet, the incidence of these illnesses is much less. Even in these societies one sees these more commonly in the affluent sections than in the less affluent. Take one example. Breast cancer. I have seen breast cancer rarely in a poor woman, whereas I have seen this in many in mid and high income group.

Why are we facing a sudden epidemic of diabetes in our country? Answer is in the changing food habits. There is a sudden increase in the consumption of processed, ready to eat food. People are also eating more that what is needed for them. 40 years ago, seeing a fat youngster was a rarity. Today every other boy or girl is fat. Too much food is poison.

Adding insult to injury there is hardly any exercise. We are obsessed with the scourge called automobile. Our life revolves around this ‘convenience’. That wonderful mode of transportation, bicycle, has almost disappeared from our roads. Even the poor no longer cycle to work. Even they are becoming victims to chronic disease and diabetes is not uncommon in the urban poor. In the earlier era when men walked or cycled to work, and women spent time washing, cleaning, preparing food without any mechanical aid, they kept good health.

There was no television then and people did not sit staring at TV [aptly called idiot box]. Those who watch TV should be called idiots.

Instead of changing our dietary habits and going back to grain based occasional or no meat diet with little or no processed food we seem to be hell bent on increasing our intake of ready to eat food. Food industry is a major player in keeping our bad habits growing. Ads for wafers, oils, butter, spreads, cheese and meat burgers, pies, biscuits and confectionaries, beverages, health drinks etc , bombard us day in and day out. Even us doctors don’t spend time in trying to change the dietary habits. We are more interested in treating the illness after it occurs than preventing it. Preventive medicine and epidemiology has hardly any takers.

Therefore my friends, if you want to remain healthy and enjoy life, change your eating habits. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, limit your intake of diary and meat products, take an hour’s exercise daily and avoid watching television.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Attacks of sophistication


‘Doctor, I have sophistication in my chest,’ she said pointing to the middle of her ample chest.

I have realized in my rather long life of patient listening, not to interrupt. ‘They come and attacks, I cannot work, I feel my legs arms die, I shiver and shake and I no get sleep’ she stopped. I was about to ask her for some details of this weird set of complaints, when she said, ’han, I also have bumps here pointing to a bit lower part of her chest.

I found her to be recently married and she was being treated for polycystic ovarian syndrome. For the past twenty days she has been taking 500mgs of Metformin daily. Metformin is a drug given to bring the blood sugar down in type2 diabetics and also in women who have polycystic ovaries. Though dietary measures, exercise to reduce obesity are better and more successful methods of treatment, doctors are wont to prescribe this medicine instead of the laborious process of counseling to get the weight down which is the culprit.

All her complaints were due to the blood sugar lowering effects of metformin. Her suffocation [sophistication], dying of legs and arms, shivers, bumps [belches and a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach] were all due to hypoglycemia [low blood sugar levels]

Fortunately she was not fasting like Anna, that would have been a disaster.

She became normal soon after she stopped metformin and her attacks of sophistication and bumps disappeared.

Anna's victory?

Amidst the din of euphoria following Anna Hazare breaking his 12 day old fast, if one looks closely one would realize that the civil society has not really won its battle. Its demand that only their version of the bill be passed was not agreed to. Their demand that the bill be passed without reference to the standing committee was also not acceded to. So also was their bill to include the PM. All that the government did was to agree to consider the Jan Lokpal bill along with the other versions and then bring in a comprehensive bill which will be placed before the committee and then before the parliament to make it into a law. The demand for a time frame too was not agreed to.

Then what did the movement and Anna Hazare’s fast achieve? It showed the government that the people of this country are indeed fed up with the poor governance and the indifference that they are being treated with by the beurocracy and politicians. That is what made the likes of Manish Tiwari and Kapil Sibal disappear from the scene in a hurry.

I was witness to the JP movement which Madame Indira Gandhi ruthlessly suppressed in the seventies. Popular sentiment was against her and she lost the elections. Then what happened? The stalwarts of the JP movement took the reins of power [Janata party rule]. Within two years they proved to be worse and Indira came to power again. Hopefully we will not have that again.

Having said this I don’t want this anti establishment [anti corruption, effective delivery of services, electoral reforms, decentralization of power] movement to lose its tempo and die down.

Aside: How is it that Anna with hardly any resources, managed to get so many followers? It is because of the congress spokes persons. Every time Manish Tiwari spoke 20,000 volunteers joined, when Kapil Sibal spoke, 50,000 did and when Ambika Soni spoke 100,000 joined. Saving grace was that Jayanthi Natarajan did not speak. Otherwise the whole country would have been on the streets!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anna's fast

Occasionally it gives me great pleasure to be proved wrong. It has happened in the past like when, the huge lump I felt in a patient’s abdomen was proved non malignant or when the patient with a strongly positive treadmill test had normal coronaries [arteries that supply blood to the heart]

When Anna Hazare began his fast, I felt it will not succeed because the masses of this country [aam admi] are so emasculated by the 60 years of stifling rule by the Kalas [to use Anna’s famous words, Gora gaya Kala aya]. It is the 10th day of this remarkable man’s fast and it appears as though he is succeeding in achieving his immediate goal of getting the parliament to debate his Jan Lok pal bill. When the bill becomes a law I am certain it will not be the same as his version.

The Kalas [meaning beurocrats and politicians at all levels] who are enjoying the power of corrupt rule and feel safe with the prevailing regulations not able to get after their ill gotten wealth, will move earth and heaven to prevent an effective deterrence to corruption. It is not just this, there are so many more. Delivery of health care, basic sanitation and water supply, conservation, building and maintenance of our roads and rails and host of others. It is just not enough if one is honest [a la Man mohan Singh]. One has to be efficient and decisive, qualities sadly lacking in the present day rulers.

There is a long and hard struggle ahead to change the basic character of the people of this nation.

[Gora is the Hindi term used for white and Kala is for black. What Anna means is when India became Independent whites left and blacks took over and the country has remained suppressed, now by blacks [Indians]]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Frightening

‘Doctor, one new problem’, she said with a beaming smile as though she has won a trophy. ‘What new problem,’ I asked with concern that must have been visible on my face,

‘Don’t worry, it is just a little BP’, she said. She had found it out when she went her doctor in the neighborhood for having felt dizzy.

Esther Nirmala is now a 50 year old grandmother. She is 5’2” and weighs 90 Kgs. Unlike other obese women she is solid and carries this weight with unusual grace. I first came to know her when she was a schoolgirl 35 years ago. She belongs to a family which has a mixture of Hindus and Christians. Her parents were Hindu, her uncle and aunt Christian, her elder sister Christian, brothers Hindu and she married a Christian, Magnus Chetan. Nirmala herself is more Hindu and becomes a Christian when circumstances so demand. Like when her child should get admission or when she has to go a hospital. Most of the good schools and hospitals in the city are run by Christian organizations and she gets preferential treatment. But in day to day life she likes to be a Hindu. She usually wears bright red colours and on her forehead a circle of red kumkum [trade mark of a married woman]. This dual existence comes easy for her as it is a very mixed community she lives in. Once I had asked her about the church taking objections to her way ward behavior. She dismissed me with one word, they understand.

She could not finish her matriculation and soon enough found Chetan, another mix like her. After a few years Magnus alias Chetan moved away to gulf [where he still lives]. Nirmala lives in Bangalore and for years they have been meeting twice a year. This has resulted in two children.

35 years ago as it is now, the parents would get worried if the girl did not menstruate at a given age and it was a concern for the mother that at 16 Nirmala had not menstruated. Those days we did not have Ultrasound to diagnose but we could clinically recognize polycystic ovaries as the cause in fat girls. Nirmala was one such and I had cautioned that if this continues she may have problems. This bothered the mother a bit but not Nirmala. She went ahead and married her friend Chetan and even before the year was over became the proud mother of a baby daughter and in the course of next 5 years produced a son. Marriage causes problems for many but it corrected the errant ovaries of Nirmala.

She became a diabetic some 15 years ago. I don’t think her diabetes was ever under control. Her philosophy was very simple, go to the doctor when in trouble, Blood sugar readings mean very little to her. What she felt was more important. When I asked her what her blood sugar was. She said it was o k. knowing her I insisted, what is ok? 200 she said with a coy smile. [Meaning 200 mgs percent, way above normal but not threatening] I told her it is abnormal. She said a week ago it was 380! This is her usual defense, things could have been worse. Her whole attitude to life has been like this and I have given up trying to make her see reason. That she has lived 50 years without any major disaster is itself a surprise. But her wayward attitude worries me and whenever she comes to see me my heart beats a bit faster because I expect her to have some serious problem, given her background.

Now she is here with blood pressure. Raised BP and uncontrolled diabetes complement each other to destroy one health. I told her that and asked her to get some tests done. She had them already and showed the lab reports. They were not good. When I told her she should take additional drugs and diet more seriously, she conceded reluctantly. ’ alright, I will give up sweets’ she said as though she is making a big sacrifice for my sake.

Did it also mean she was happily eating sweets all along? You will never know with our Esther N.

Not once she showed any concern or worry and took my leave saying, you will see I will be alright in two weeks time’

This I felt was more to reassure me.

I wish I could have written all this in Tamil, the language between us, that would have been so much more fun.

Adithi Ashok

Some time ago I write about our ace tennis player, Rohan Bopanna [Thursday,sept9,2010]. Now it is time to write about another special talent, her name is Adithi Ashok and her sport is Golf.

Golf unlike many other games is a game played against the course and sometimes yourself. It is also a game in which it takes many years to become a mature and complete player. This is because mastering the game, according to me is extremely difficult and needs lots of time and practice. Added to this, golf course designers are building courses which are more testing then ever and these are also playing much longer than ever.

Given this background Adithi’s performance is astounding. She came on the national scene just a year ago when she won the national amateur championships for all age groups. Two days ago she competed against the top professionals of the country and almost won. She lost in a five hole sudden death playoff. The pro tournament was held in one of the toughest championship courses in the country, KGA Bangalore, and I was one of the privileged witnesses to this remarkable performance.

Why is it so remarkable, it is so, because Adithi is only 13 year old, thin built, waif of a girl.

My reckoning is, if she keeps on like this, she will play the world’s ladies PGA when she comes of age and turns a Pro. I hope when that happens in 5 years time, my faculties will be sharp enough to appreciate her feats.


Pregnant women and exercise

My friend Sunder sent me the following one and my fellow golfers will understand and agree with the man, but other readers, I am not so sure.

The room was full of pregnant women with their partners. The class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly and was telling the men how to give the necessary assurance to their partners at this stage of the pregnancy.

She said "Ladies, remember that exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. It strengthens the pelvic muscles and will make delivery that much easier." Just take several stops and stay on a soft surface like grass or a path.

She looked at the men in the room, "and Gentlemen, remember - you're in this together - it wouldn't hurt you to go walking with her".

The room suddenly went very quiet as the men absorbed this information. Then a man at the back of the room slowly raised his hand.

"Yes?" answered the Instructor.

"I was just wondering if it would be all right if she carries a golf bag while we walk?"

This kind of sensitivity just can't be taught.

It kind of brings a tear to your eye



Thursday, August 18, 2011

TV Brainwash

Ordinarily if you are watching any TV programme you are spending [wasting] an equal amount of time watching commercials. These try and sell products which we may or may not need in day to day use. I sat through a three hour programme and counted commercials which advertised absolutely necessary products. Don’t be surprised, they formed only ten percent. Most were unnecessary and some positively harmful.

Let me list the harmful ones. The pride of place goes to food products. These range from soft drinks to chips and chocolates. All contain refined sugar and fat or sugar alone with additives. Packed with easily absorbable calories they are tailor made to get you to become obese and if going by available evidence predispose you to cancer and cardiovascular disease. [The China Study: Colin and Thomas Campbell] Packaged foods, ready to eat mixes, frozen preserved meats are no good for health when compared to the naturally available fresh food. These are rarely advertised. Have seen a cabbage or cauliflower or tomatoes being advertised except when on display in a supermarket? There the ad is for the chain of supermarket and not for the product.

Next in the list are the body lotions and sprays. Human skin produces sweat and this secretion has antibacterial properties. The smell is odor is unpleasant is a phenomenon that is culturally motivated. Of course you don’t want it to crust and irritate the skin, so periodically one has to have a wash. But removing the sweat and worse spraying the skin with deodorants and scented chemicals [with a flock of woman rushing after the sprayed man] is positively harmful. This may cause skin allergies and invite other organisms like staphylococcus to colonize and cause furuncles and abscesses especially under arm. There was a time when one shot of penicillin would make these disappear but now this common garden variety of germ has become a killer.

Whitening the skin creams take the pride of place in commercials. This is specially targeted at women. Why is it considered that a woman with pale skin is good looking beats me. Again it is culturally driven and the ads only help to keep this myth grow. It is nauseating to see this advertisement. So is hair growth and conditioning tonics. Mostly useless. But look at the number of men and women buying these products. As one senior marketing executive once told me that he can sell even a packet of saw dust with the right idea and image. This is true for most of these products. Saw dust is innocuous but I cannot say the same with these products listed above.

There is an obnoxious advertisement for skin itch in the groin area. This is usually due to a fungus common in the groin area. Though difficult to eradicate it is easy to treat with antifungals. But to advertise like this is positively in bad taste.

We are blessed with abundant health giving sun light and dark skin to counter the effects of excessive sun exposure. We are not satisfied with this nature’s protection. We are forced to use sun protection creams. Except when one has sun sensitivity or when there is danger of sun burn, one should not use sun screens routinely as it will stop production of much needed vitamin D. As it is we are seeing vitamin D deficiency syndromes in many office going men and women especially those who live in apartments.

When you have a perfectly working vehicle why do you need a new one? You need it because the TV ad tells you that your neighbor has one and your wife is goading you to buy one.

This list can go on and on.

My take home message to you is, if you have a gadget which deletes all the advertisements from the programme you are watching, please use it. Even better don’t watch TV at all. It will do your mind, body and pocket, a lot of good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Return of Anna

Anna Hazare is a rare human being. Such men and women got us our freedom from the British who knew that they have to leave sooner or later. British rule was for the benefit of Britain and not of India. The design and purpose of rule was to exploit the country’s resources. The institutions they built had one single purpose, which was to serve the mother country. This they did with active connivance of us Indians. Indians never in their history thought as one nation. There was no unifying force or a common cause which united us against the three hundred years of British rule. For majority of Indians it was just another ruler out to exploit them. That some good came out of the British rule is not to be denied. We got the railways, unified system of currency, Banking, an administrative machinery, survey of the country and records, a system of revenue and judicial administration, thanks to the British. All this was done in reality to benefit not Indians but the British. History is replete with examples of how methodical and ruthless this exploitation really was. But they were helped by our own people. The person who was financing the East India Company in its early years in Bengal was Marwari called Omi Chand [considered to be the richest person in the known world those days]. If one reads the well researched book, ‘Sea of poppies’ [author: Amitab Ghosh] one will come across innumerable examples to support this fact of Indians helping the British. Why did they do it so willingly? The answer is that they have done it since time immemorial. British were for them no different from others who invaded this country.

What this has got to do with Anna Hazare? What he is trying to do is what Gandhi did in the first half of last century. Make us think as one nation and object to exploitation. Corruption is one form of exploitation. Gandhi used communal harmony and nonviolent civil disobedience as unifying forces. Anna is using corruption. Is he going to succeed? Is it going to be a mass movement and change the politician and the beurocrat?

I very much wish this will happen. But my gut feeling is that it will not succeed. This is because corruption has come to be accepted by most that matter. These form the top ten percent of Indians. The rest are so emasculated that they are incapable of rising against the rulers just like it happened when the British were ruling us.
Still it is good thing that we have left in this country a few persons who have the gumption to fight, even if it is a losing cause.

Cricket Ignominy

As I write this Indian team is on its way to its third humiliating defeat in the four test series in England. Most of us cricket lovers who enjoy watching test cricket are dismayed with this kind of pathetic, dismal performance from a team which boasts of five world class batsmen and quality swing bowlers. Why did they fail?

Among other reasons, the main one is that there is no hunger to win. As I have written on earlier occasions, fat cats don’t fight. These players are a pampered lot with all the fame and money showered on them. There is no need to win when you are guaranteed a fabulous income. The Indian cricket board has used these players to make money is the common complaint, but then what about the players? Should they not object to this too much cricket? Why do they acquiesce to the unreasonable demands of the board? They do so because of greed.

These defeats should make the board and players realize that they cannot take us, the viewing public and patrons of cricket, for granted. The first step would be to stop the silly form of game called the twenty twenty cricket. This is destroying the true format of the game which is test cricket. Players who play twenty twenty cricket will not know how to play test cricket or if they do know then they will soon forget. This is what has happened to the test cricketers.

Injuries are a part of any sport. The more you play the more injuries you suffer. The greed makes them hide their injuries or declare them too late. This is why our bench strength is so thin.

I, though unhappy with the defeats, see a silver lining. This should make the board sit up and take notice of the deterioration of standards and the reasons why. I hope the paying and viewing public will boycott cricket matches and teach both the board and players a lesson.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eventful afternoon

It began with a game of badminton played with [against really] my regular partner Suresh James. Normally we play two games of singles and lately he has been winning. Getting beaten by a better and younger player is no shame if the games are well fought.But surprisingly this noon the story was different in that I played such a nice game that I ended up winning the two closely fought games lasting wellover 45 minutes.

Soaked to the skin with honest sweat and on a high [happens after a gruelling bout of excercise],I came home and casually switched on the sports channel,just in time to see Saina Nehwal playing against an Irish girl in the world Badminton championships.In two superlative games she comprehensively beat her opponent.This added to my high.

Went upstairs to the room to have a shower and change. Heard a rather strange fluty song. My bay window over looks a slender flowering tree with a crown of leaves and branches laden with flowers.This provides me with a daily dose of pleasure and today on it sat the singer, a Bulbul. I had written on an earlier occassion of my sighting and hearing the song of a Bulbul.But this one was different both in song and appearence. It had side red whiskers and a red vent with black brackets below the whiskers. This veriety of Bulbul is called the Red Whiskered Bulbul not ordinarily seen in urban areas.What a pleasnt surprise! My wife has been telling me that she has been seing a multicolored small bird hopping around and wanted to know it's name. Thinking that this was the one, I went down and called her to come up quietly and have a look. The bird was still there preening himself. Though fascinated, she said this was not the one she had seen.[I wonder if it is the common warbler that becomes coloured during breeding season, that she had seen?]. All of a sudden his mate [less colourful] appeared and both of them flew away.

Savouring this fantastic sight which added to my already high mood we went out and sat on the terrace to watch a display by a flock of pegeons which had landed on the terrace.She said,'there is so much we humans can learn from birds'. In one sentance she summarised the essence of bird watching.

This done, I did the set of muscle streches to ease the aches in the tired muscles and had the much awaited hot bath.

Topping it all, fixed a large single malt Scotch and listened to Bhimsen Joshi singing Rag Kedar for an hour.

Who is that fool who said life is not good?

Sonia and her cancer

Sonia Gandhi is the most powerful person in India today. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is the president of the ruling congress party and thus effectively the ruler of the country. She is also the wife of the erstwhile Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi. In a country where your family antecedenents matter often more than ability, whether it is by birth or marriage, it is no surprise to see the rise of Madam Gandhi in the congress hierarchy. As I said ability apart, her son Rahul Gandhi is being groomed to be our next PM after the term of the stooge PM Man mohan Singh comes to an end.

She was diagnosed with cervical [uterus] cancer some months ago at Lady Gangaram hospital in New Delhi. This hospital is considered as the best in our capital and world class care is provided here. Then why did Sonia and her retinue choose to go to Newyork for the surgery and subsequent therapy?

There by hangs an unsavory tale. We have still not gotten out of the bias in favor of anything foreign is superior to what is available here. Be it a simple cataract surgery or an ordinary removal of uterus, we rush to US or UK for attention when these are done in our hospitals by the hundreds every day. In fact advanced care in all super specialties is available in out hospitals both in public and private sector. Sonia’s choosing to be treated in the US not only reflects poor national character but also is an insult to our doctors especially those who treat cancers.

What surprises me is that not one institution, political party, doctors organizations have criticized her!

My letter to the newspapers was not even published.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cricket watch

As I write this, the number one test team, India has suffered two comprehensive defeats from the English in England. I watched the matches. There were several reasons for the dismal performance. As captain Dhoni put it, the team was jaded with too much cricket and injuries to several top players. This is true but not entirely. The reason why is that Indians do not know how to play the raising fast delivery that goes up above the left shoulder next to the left part of the head. It is difficult to leave the ball and sway the head away from being hit. The only way is to duck under or hook it. To duck under is ugly but can be done if the ball is seen early and the batsman is quick enough. This we did not do well and some like Yuvraj Singh got hit and became non players for the series.

Next option and an elegant one at that, is the hook shot. To see the shot played to perfection is a rare treat not available in international cricket these days. The last batsman who was an effective hooker was our own Mohinder Amarnath. I remember way back in the early seventies when the West Indians toured India, there was a batsman of Indian origin called Alwyn Kallicharan. In the Bangalore test played at the makeshift Chinnaswamy stadium, I was sitting way up in the built up stands behind the fine leg. I don’t remember who was the hapless Indian fast bowler was [they were not really fast]. What I remember was the hooked six over the fine leg and the way it was done. Kallicharan went down on his knee and the next I saw was the ball coming towards where I sat. The shot was also played by swiveling on the left foot when the ball came up shoulder high. Another West Indian who hooked the ball was Cammie Smith. Smith’s carrier was cut short in an automobile accident. The great Garry Sobers too was involved in this accident but survived to play for many more years.

One does see a semblance of this shot played occasionally and the one who did play this recently was again another West Indian, Chris Gayle.

Kallicharan kept visiting Bangalore in later years, not to play cricket but to see Sathya Sai Baba!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Watching Cricket

Experience of watching a cricket match is very different from that of watching any other game. In other games the excitement is constant as the players constantly strike the ball and thus the watcher too shares the excitement. In cricket the excitement is watching and waiting for something to happen. When that happens once in a while say once in a hour or sometimes once in a day when there are two set batsmen t who refuse to get out, the audience is left to fend for themselves. That is the secret of watching a cricket match. How one does it. Different nations do it differently and the ones I like most are the West Indians. For them it is fun time. Let the cricketers do what they want in the centre here we will have fun is their motto. As dance and music comes natural to them this is what they do and to see them swaying to music with a drink in their hand with happy grins on their faces is indeed a pleasure. Next best are the British. For them the waiting is in itself fun. I watched with fascination two women sitting with a contraption in front which held a bottle of Champagne and two glasses, oblivious to the others around. No jumping up and down or screaming for them. When a good shot is played the best they do is to mildly clap, that is, if the hands are free.

The worst, you have guessed right, are the Indians. They suffer the game. When their team is batting every run scored is cheered and when a four is hit they fall over with excitement. When the opposite side does well and scores there is deathly silence. Only an Indian can score well and play cricket and the others are there to provide opposition.

Sri Lankans too enjoy their cricket and are parochial but not as bad as Indians
I have not said anything about Pakis. They are even worse than Indians

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Printer's devil

We Indians love ostentation and pageantry. I have written about this on earlier occasions. This love is across the board. Poor people if unable to have the artifacts that make up the show would like to watch the wealthy and powerful decorated in them. One has to only look at the bejeweled Indian bride or Indian army general in his full regalia or a person about to receive a diploma from a university to appreciate what I am saying. The stage set for these ceremonies too reek of vulgar ostentation [vulgar to my eyes, of course].Talking about degrees and diplomas; there are two verities of these. One variety is that the person who is getting them deserves it because he has slogged and worked for it and passed rigorous examinations and has thus earned it. The other is that he has been awarded one. Those who belong to the latter class are interesting persons. They need to have one single qualification. That is they should have the proper connections, preferably political. Most vice chancellors of universities and each state has several universities, are political appointees and are thus amenable to pressure.

Let me give an example. Mr B is a two bit poet. But he thinks that having published few poems in the local daily and having given some lectures on the place of poetry in modern day life, thinks that he deserves to gel a hon. doctorate. He has his classmate, Mr C, who has become the state’s education minister. So he pesters the minister to recommend his name. For The education minister, this probably is the least troublesome request. He gets many more which are very tough to oblige. This one is too easy. So he shoots of a recommendation to the vice chancellor who is beholden to the government. So among the many, Mr B too is given a Hon Doctorate [D’Litt]. On the appointed day, an emotional Mr B accompanied by the admiring family and few friends goes to the venue. He is made to wear a ornamental gown and a head gear and the chancellor makes laudatory remarks on the literary achievements [speech written by an underling], calls him over to receive the scroll. To register the momentous occasion photographs are taken from many angles.

Mr B, then on becomes a firm believer in his literary merits and makes it point to drive home this to all and sundry who cares to visit him. His conversation begins with,’ you know when I was awarded to doctorate---.’ We have a flood of these doctorates. Film stars, politicians, social workers, artists and even professionals have become doctors of literature or Philosophy, and proudly display [prefix and suffix] these ill gotten letters with their names.

Some years back, a well known social worker’s name was recommended for an honorary doctorate. He was an exception to the rule; in the sense he really deserved it. He came to know of this. Instead of being happy he got worried and wrote to the university to please not to honor him. Those close to him told me that he felt that the work he is doing gets downgraded if he accepts this award!

Talking about earned and unearned degrees, we doctors are no exceptions. We know a large section of our clientele get impressed with our qualifications. We also know that hardly any one checks what the letters in front or before the names really mean. Usually, M.B, M.D, M.S D.M, MCh, DNB, PhD are earned qualifications in India. M.B. MRCP. Phd are earned ones from the UK. In the US one’s qualifications are rarely displayed. For them a simple MD will do. But here we can get any number of degrees and diplomas by virtue of being in the profession for some years or by paying a fee. FRCP,FCCP. MCCP etc .etc. Some doctors have a penchant for acquiring these hon. diplomas in addition to their real earned ones.

35 Years ago I was an office bearer of the local medical association and we had a president whom I will call Dr P. This doctor P was a well qualified specialist with both Indian and foreign [earned] degrees. But he like the others also had a string of other diplomas next to the ones earned. These letters occupied the top line of his letter head.

We organized a major conference and I was the organizing secretary. We had to get some stationary printed giving the conference details etc. Those days printing was primitive compare to the present day. Composing was a laborious process and was done by hand. Based on the recommendation of the president who used to get all his work done by a particular printer, I went to see him with my order. Before placing the order I wanted to see samples of his work. He knew I had come with recommendation from Dr P. So he began showing the samples and the first one he showed was Dr P’s recent letter head. It read, Dr P………….M.B.B.S, M.D, M.R.C.P, [UK] F.R.C.P, F.C.C.P. F.U.C.K [UK] F… etc etc, occupying the whole top line. Intrigued, I asked the printer what these letters F.U.C.K meant. He said.’ I don’t know sir, I have been doing work for doctor for many years and don’t know the details, you should ask the learned doctor, he has so many of these.’

After a few days, I had to meet with Dr P in his chambers in connection with the conference work and I asked him about this special qualification of his, that too from UK. Taken aback, he took out his letter head and there it was for all to see, F.U.C.K [UK]. How many years this printer’s devil had gone unnoticed, even the good doctor did not know.

I leave it to your imagination what followed.

Recollecting this brings on a smile even after so many years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Female feticide

Readers of my blog are aware of my irritation whenever a mention is made of my country is progressive and is going to be a super power in the years to come. I have often written the reasons for this. One more addition to this disgust.

Couple of days back the newspaper carried an item of finding ten dead female fetuses. Imagine this scene where a mother agrees to kill/abandon her own baby just because the baby is female. Ten mothers must have done this at one time and apparently it must have been from an institution based facility. This attitude is not confined to economically and socially poorer section of the society but is spread across the board. The rich and well off resort of feticide in utero by getting the sex of the child determined by sonography. The law does not permit determination of sex this way. But who cares for the law in this country?

Why is it so? The reasons are mainly economic. The girl child is a burden as she is not going to be economically or educationally empowered. She will remain illiterate or semiliterate and will await her marriage [ultimate doom or salvation].The rich too feel the female child a burden because of the same reasons. They spend enormous amounts of money in getting the girl married and often even educated girls are victims to this malady.

What is the solution? Economic empowerment and a movement to boycott ostentation in performing marriages is required. Women should learn to say no and should not consider marriage as an end all of life.

The best example of social empowerment of women is seen in Kerala. Matriarchal society, women’s education and employment have resulted in their social and economic emancipation and there is no reported case of female infanticide in Kerala.

There is already a skewed sex ratio in the BEMARU states. If you take the census of younger people it must be worse. There may come a time when like Draupadi [one of the main characters of Mahabharata] a woman may have to manage many husbands. Worse still is the scene where like water wars, women wars may be fought amongst men. Will the status of women get better then?

I wonder.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reminisence-4

It is nice to write about nice things and events that happened in your past. But it is not so when you write about unpleasant events. Also one has to be dispassionate which is difficult if have witnessed them and also suffered the consequences of such events. Most of the years between 1966 and 85 have been years of suffering for us Indians. When I say Indians I mean law abiding, taxpaying ones. The one person who is most responsible for this suffering was Indira Gandhi.

I have vivid memories of many of her misdeeds. The outstanding one was not her declaration of emergency but of my old mother standing in the long queue for daily necessities such as soap and tooth paste in front of the so called fair price shops. She coined many catch words which she used liberally to hood wink all of us. One of her favourite one was called garibi hatao. Garibi hatao is a Hindi sentence for removing poverty. Who wants to be poor? So when she said that all the poor persons, and their numbers were much more than it is now, felt here comes a savior who is going to get them out of their misery. They even went to the extent of calling her Indira Amma [mother]. But what this amma succeeded in doing was to spread the poverty and not remove it.

She considered that ends are important and not the means. This led to wide spread corruption and probably she was responsible for institutionalizing corruption and what we see today as the greatest danger to our lives began during her regime. Another scene that haunts me is the hordes of slogan shouting hired persons [hooligans] ferried to where ever she was speaking. The going price then was ten to fifteen rupees. Now I believe it is two hundred! This paid crowd gave an impression of her immense popularity. Our entrepreneurs, businessmen soon realized that only way to survive and prosper is to tow the line which strengthened the license and permit raj and a pliant corrupt beurocracy helped her do what she wanted in the name of socialistic progress. A fledging business house which knew the ropes managed to import an entire factory as scrap metal and get away with it. Many who had no scruples prospered at the cost of those who could not or would not do this. Many of the big names in Indian business today owe to the policies of the then Government of Madame Gandhi for their success. The beurocrat and the politician ruled the roost at the cost of common man. Poverty was visible everywhere. It was common to see nearly naked people going about [less common now].Nutrition status was worse than it is now [even now it far from satisfactory]

Was there no one who protested? There were and the frustration of the people took the shape of Sarvodaya movement under an old Gandhian and erstwhile friend of her father called Jayaprakash Narayan, It succeeded in ending her rule but her rule had so emaciated the opposition that no sooner they came to power they forgot their objective of good governance and began fighting with each other. Can one imagine, the JP experiment lasted two years and the people chose Indira Gandhi once again to head the nation? We were back in square one.

Indians have been good sycophants. This was so under the Hindu Rajas, Turkish Sultans, Mogul Nawabs, and the British. It is easy for us to say yes than no. When we say yes it may mean no as later events prove. We also are very prone to bribery both in giving and taking. This has deep roots in Indian Psyche. It was common in the past to go with a gift when you went to see a dignitary. The raja then reciprocated with some reward. It may a gold coin, a necklace, a bangle or a piece of land. This gift giving and taking has continued over centuries and got institutionalized even when the gift taker is being paid handsomely by the government. It reached its zenith under Indira Gandhi [some who are keen observers of present day politics may say it is worse now]

The name congress I is not to be confused with Indian national congress. It actually stands for congress Indira! The old Indian national congress was killed by madam and her supporters in a very undemocratic coup and the present generation of congressmen are not bothered about history and behave as though they are the inheritors of Indian national congress.

Was there nothing right with Indira Gandhi? Of course there was some. Like her father she was non communal and very brave. She also took some historic decisions with far reaching consequences. One such was sending troops to liberate East Pakistan [now Bangladesh].This she did despite the threat from the US not to do so. The other was nationalization of Banks. Today if you see banks at every nook and corner of the country, the credit should go to her. That certain degree of inefficiency too came in with nationalization is another matter.

The most unethical of all actions was probably was abolishing the privileges [privy purses] of the erstwhile princes. A solemn promise made by the constituent assembly was undone by an act of a puppet parliament. That they any way were an anachronism in a modern society and would have vanished in the course of time is a different matter. But the act was unethical to say the least. To her what mattered was the end and means really did not matter.

What we are witnessing today in the political scenario where the powers are afraid of enacting a law to get hoarded money back to the country is the direct result of those policies of license Raj. The beneficiaries who have stashed away their ill gotten wealth have direct links with this generation of businessmen, beurocrats and politicians and therefore the reluctance.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Master check up/Annual medical/general physical and such other frauds

Screening for disease is big business. When one needs screening? Does one go and screen the general population? And if so what ailments you screen them for?
These are important questions not only from the point of people’s health but also from the larger issue of economics of health.

Let me illustrate this by a case story which motivated me to write this piece.
He was a 34 year old man whom I will call Mr S, who came to see me two days ago.
Mr S said without any preamble. ‘Your friend, Mr Y asked me to see you,’ he said. This friend of mine is an unavoidable evil [wrong metaphor to use, matter of fact he is very good human being]. He continued without interruption,’ I have liver disease and also high fat in my blood and doctor wants to put a tube down my throat’

I could see he was very agitated and very anxious. Just to put him at ease I asked him who is the doctor who has said so and asked him for some details.

‘Sir, I went Hospital M for my annual medical examination and they found out I have these problems. And they want to admit me. I know Mr Y, your friend and he asked me to see you before getting admitted’.

I went through the annual medical examination reports.

The following tests were conducted. The reports were all in an eye catching folder with all the details of the hospital’s virtues prominently displayed on the envelope.
Complete blood study, ESR, CRP, Chest X-Ray, Abdominal ultrasound scan, Urine analysis, Liver function tests, Blood urea and Creatinine, Blood lipids, Sugar both fasting and after food, EKG, Echo cardiogram, Lung function tests, Audiometry, Eye examination, A physician’s sport and a dieticians consult.

The liver function test showed a marginal rise in blood bilirubin [1.6 instead of 1.4] and his cholesterol levels were marginally high. I found no need for him to undergo and endoscopic procedure, neither a need to take any cholesterol reducing medication as advised by the physician. What he need was a regulated diet with an hour’s exercise and a redo of liver function after 4 to six weeks. Most of the tests that were done on him were unnecessary to say the least. What was the hospital’s screening programme was trying to do?

The answer is very simple.

It was designed to create patients and also is easy pickings. The patient had spent a packet on these tests.

Then was there nothing wrong with the patient? There was something wrong. He had bilateral Hydrocele [collection of fluid around his testicles].This might need surgery at a later date. How was it that it was missed in all this gamut of tests?
Again the answer is simple. None bothered to pull his trousers down to check his genitals!

So what is the lesson to be learnt? Is screening for disease absolutely unnecessary? I would not say so. It is unnecessary in the sense it is not cost effective and detects very few treatable illnesses. Instead there should be what is called selective screening. Let me elaborate. Cancer breast has a strong hereditary bias. If there is a strong family history then the screening for breast cancer in the siblings is worth the effort. Doing mammography for all women is astronomically expensive. Other examples are Heart disease and diabetes. If there is a positive family history then the children should be screened periodically. Probably the most cost effective tests are a blood pressure check and a blood check for diabetes. All others are waste of good money. A normal lipid profile [blood fat study], liver, kidney, lung, eye, ear function will remain so for many years. Then what is the rationale of doing all this, year after year?

The answer is again simple. Keep this farce of a programme gong and create patients whenever it is possible.

What is the final line?

Screen for disease in the susceptible and leave the rest alone. They will be better off without our interfering.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rajiv Gandhi

Most people, including many Indians think that Rajiv Gandhi is son or grandson of the founder of the independent India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi [Mahatma Gandhi].In fact Rajiv is no relation of M.K. Gandhi. He is the first son of Indira Gandhi, Indias prime minister [nemesis?] for 15 long years. Indira was the only daughter of our blue eyed boy, the first prime minister of independent India Jawaharlal Nehru. Then how did Rajiv become a Gandhi? Indira Priyadarshini Nehru [Indira’s full name] married a Parsi called Feroz Gandhi. Feroz and Indira could not get along and the marriage did not last long but succeeded in producing two boys, Rajiv the elder and Sanjay the younger. So by a different route both the daughter and grandson of Jawaharlal acquired the sir name Gandhi. This no doubt did them some good as many ignorant Indians thought them to be old man Gandhi’s relatives and so can do no wrong and thus voted for them!

Indira Gandhi was assassinated 25 years ago and bereft of leadership the congress party roped in Rajiv Gandhi who was then a happy airlines Pilot, and made him the prime minister. For few days after the assassination, the country was in chaos and that is the time when the country was literally burning and Sikh’s were being targeted and murdered [Indira’s assassins were Sikhs], Rajiv made the now infamous statement, when a giant falls the earth tremors’ meaning that the riots were a consequence of the giant[Indira] falling. I have not come across a more stupid statement to make given the situation in the country. I still remember the shock I went through when Sikhs who have done so much for this nation being murdered in cold blood by the mostly Hindu riff raff. And here was an important person, future PM of the country making such a stupid remark.

It is twenty years since the fall of Rajiv Gandhi. He too was assassinated. This time the dastardly act was done by Tamil militants whose case Rajiv stoutly and rightly had opposed. I had admired Nehru and he was my child hood hero. History made me revise my opinion. His daughter came to power when I had grown up and began my life as an adult. I went through the pains as a result of her terrible rule and came to dislike her and that dislike still stands. The dislike was carried forward to his son too and I took to looking anything that Rajiv did as a prime minister with suspicion. Now with 20 years gone since he died I have come to believe that he was the best of the three Nehru/ Gandhi’s in prime ministerial performance. He was not exceptional but was better than the mother and grandfather who did nothing to improve the country and in fact steadily took the nation down the economic slide. My generation bore the brunt of their policies and therefore the grudge.

His freshness at looking at problems helped in his performance, He was unlike his mother and grandfather, not taken up with socialism and had a healthy respect for enterpreunership.He knew that he country can only progress if the economy opened up and the beginnings of what we see today started when he was the PM. Nevertheless his tenure was none extra ordinary and he could not shake up the ponderous and corrupt beurocracy and was forced to get along. He also made some blunders and the one which ultimately cost him his life was the unwanted interference into the affairs of SriLanka. Sending Indian army to fight Tamil tigers was his worse blunder. The other was the stink of Bofors gun deal. That it helped his Italian relatives is public knowledge though successive governments have tried hard to obliterate the traces to keep the Gandhi honor going.

But when he lasted he was different especially when compared to his mother.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pulled tooth and the eyelid droop

If you ask anyone what is required to live one would normally answer air, water and food. If you were to ask me I would add one more item, gossip. For many, gossip is even more important than the first three. Without gossip they would not be able to spend their time. The communication revolution has greatly contributed to the spread of gossip and has become a very important aspect of our lives. While most gossip is innocuous, some can cause lot of problem. Here is a real life example.

My friend Dr Ravi Rao, practiced dentistry for four decades and recently gave it up and went back to work for his first love, Moral rearmament movement [MRA]located at Panchgani. This incident narrated here involving Ravi occurred many years ago and as the main actors are dead and gone it is safe to tell the story.

There is a fairly large Syrian Orthodox Christian community settled in Bangalore. Originally from Kerala, they are now fairly prosperous residents of this city. They trace their origin to Thomas, one of the first disciples of Jesus. [For more info go to Google search].Their ancestry is not important to the story but the closeness of the members of the community is. They are concentrated in the east Bangalore where Ravi Rao’s practice was located [incidentally mine too]. They have their own church and this acts a centre point of all their activities and needless to say also to share information related to each other, in short gossip.

Mr Joseph George and Sophia were important members of this community. Joseph held an important position and was influential and Sophia was a social bird. They were my patients and needed my help frequently. Sophia was nearing sixty when this episode occurred. She came to see me with a pain and swelling near her upper lip and I found it to be due to a root abscess of one of her teeth. I called Ravi rao and fixed an appointment for her. She went and got her tooth extracted and then after a course of antibiotics she became normal. Just about this time when she was returning to her normal self, she noticed that her left eye lid was drooping and she was not able to raise it. Right eye was normal. This was investigated by a neurologist and a CT scan of the brain showed a tumor pressing on the nerve which had resulted in the drooping eye lid. She underwent successful surgery. But the droop did not completely go. This became a talking point in the community. The conversation began like this between Aleamma and Sosamma, two important women members of the community. Aleamma phones Sosamma, ‘You know Soosi, what happened to Sufeee?’ Sosamma knows all about Sophie’s surgery but feigns ignorance and says no.’ You know that dental doctor Ravi rao, ‘Yes, yes, I know’ replies Soosi. ‘Sufee went to him for tooth pain and you know what he did to her?’ Now properly excited, Soosi replies earnestly in the negative. ‘He pulled her tooth out and along with it he also damaged the nerve that keeps her eye open.’ This piece of anatomical knowledge of shared nerve supply between the tooth and the eye was avidly shared and Dr Ravi Rao was branded as someone who did great wrong to their dear Sophie. ‘That is not all, she continued, they had to go in and operate on her brain, all because of some simple tooth pain’ she stopped.

This conversation took many shapes and turns and went round the community and reached my ears by another patient of mine. Joti sees me once in three months for her diabetes and blood pressure and when she came this time she asked me if it is true that my friend Dr Ravi Rao did this to Sophie? Should she continue to see him for her teeth problem if one were to come up? I was taken aback by this stupid accusation. I had to tell her that the nerve to the tooth and eye are differently located and even if he had tried hard out of some hidden anger against Mrs Sophia Joseph he could not have done it. These two are different events which unfortunately got connected by the twine of gossip. I asked her where she heard it and she told the name of another Syrian Christian woman. I told her to do me a favor. I asked her to make calls to ten of her woman friends and tell them the real events as they occurred and thus start a reverse gossip to exonerate my friend.

Later, much later, I came to know that the culprit was Sophie herself. She would begin the conversation with her visitors with a, ’you know Dr Ravi Rao, the dentist, he took my tooth out and after three days I got this trouble’ and proceeded with her other details. The listener would put two and two together and tell her own version to another friend.

Of course, such stories do little damage to professionally competent doctors and Ravi Rao’s practice did not suffer in the long run but when the rumor was on it did cause considerable embarrassment to me as I was the one who referred the patient to Dr Ravi Rao!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Global warming

My friend H.S.Jayaprakash is a prolific forwarder of mail.Most of the time it is below the belt junk.But on occassions he does send some nuggets.The following one is one such!




ENERGY SAVING/global warming

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she
should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good
for the environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the
green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former
generation did not care enough to save our Environment"

He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its
day...........................

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer
bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to
be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same
bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an
escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the
grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every
time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have
the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy
gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really
did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their
brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back
in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in
every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a
handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the
kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have
electric machines to do everything for you.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a
wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to
cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They
exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to
run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain/Water-Tap when they were thirsty instead of using
a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water.
They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new
pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of
throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took a bus and kids rode their
bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their
moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in
a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal
beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find
the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments
how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back, THEN ??!!