Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Death of a patient

 Mr. Vijay Raghavan Thiruvadi has been my patient and friend for over 15 years. That we had common interests made the bond between us strong. He had multiple health problems and these needed constant care and surveillance. That he lived 82 years with this many serious health problems, a full life, is m itself a lesson for others.

He died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday morning leaving a legion of nature lovers grieving. Vijay was justifiably famous for his encyclopedic knowledge of trees of the subcontinent, especially those one sees in the urban set up such as in the city of Bengaluru. His weekly walks taking a group of enthusiasts in Lalbagh were a must for nature lovers who lived in the city and also those who visited from out side. In one of my recent articles, when I was at a loss to identify a set of trees that I had came across and sought his help. I was rewarded not only with the name of the tree but also with the ancestry and the legend associated with it [ Kauri Pine].

He was also a Historian and based his talks on well researched facts, His walks in the Lalbagh and Cubbon park garden and in the sprawling campus of the MEG center were like history books of the past 300 years opened in front of you. Adding to the knowledge, a flair for story telling and keeping himself in the back ground made Vijay a unique person.

His death is an irreparable loss

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

 Your Taxi driver could be a doctor

This caption appears strange but could be true if not to day it can be in the near future. Consider this. Recent headline in the newspapers revealed that more than 200000 youngsters appeared for the NEET test leading to entry into medical colleges. According to government figures there are nearly 100000 graduate every year. There are about 45000 post graduate seats available. As most graduates want to or aspire to become one kind of specialist or the other, these 45,000 will be taken. what about the remaining 65,000?. These will try and try and most give up. They during this period of trying and later join the unemployed or under employed pool of doctors. Some will get jobs here and there and lucky ones may become medical officers in PHCs. But there are only that many jobs available. One estimate says around 5000 jobs are available in the government sector. There was a time many doctors chose to be General practitioners. To day very few want to be GPs. The reasons are many. One is that the young doctors are brainwashed to become specialists. Another reason is the cost involved in setting up practice and to mange the waiting period that may stretch any where from 6months to 2 years or even more. Another reason is that of being alone and to fend for himself if a situation were to arise. Most like fairly secure hospital jobs. Even these institution based jobs are no longer secure if one goes by the newspaper reports of  assaults on doctors. The profession seem to have lost it's once hallowed position in the society

So what is going to happen to this huge pool of unemployed doctors that is increasing year by year. Its a mystery to some of us that the craze for becoming doctors still exist in this surprising scale! This has to and it will end and many medical colleges will close shutters. When he or she is denied the role of doctor, what should the young man and woman do? They have to relearn another profession and driving comes handy!

Monday, May 15, 2023


It is becoming increasingly evident that communities vote en block, keeping the community/religion interests above that of the over all interests of all citizens. Often it counters development of the region as during elections the persons elected, are not necessarily the efficient ones but got elected because they belong to a particular community or caste or religion. A person belonging to a minority caste, community,/religion has poor chances of success despite being efficient and honest if he contests from an area where he is considered as an outsider just because he is not from the majority. This has been the bane of this country and is becoming worse. It has made Christians and Muslims vote for their candidates and Hindus for their castes and not necessarily for their religion. Attempts are being made to unite them and make them vote for their religion and not caste with some or little success as has been proved in the recently concluded Karnataka elections.

I am awaiting for a day when we vote not because an individual belongs to this or that relegeon or this or that caste but because he is honest, efficient and proven public leader.

 Habitat loss

Loss of Habitat

Recently I was asked to do a piece on the birds and trees on our golf course which has a large number of trees and water bodies and is there fore home to a variety of birds. However the neighborhood which was once a scrub jungle and agricultural land has now become a thriving commercial and residential hub. This has resulted in the loss of natural habitat for the birds and more than 50% of the bird variety has disappeared. Those that were sorely missed are the beautiful Rosy pastors [starlings]. There was a time when they arrived in such large numbers that the whole tree seemed to be covered with these birds. Then there was this bird, Yellow Wag tail which arrived in hundreds all the way from northwest India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Balkans. I haven't seen one since the last five years. Possible reasons could be the conflict in that region/loss of resting areas enroute/ use of insecticides and herbicides on the golf course and the like. Same holds good to others like the whoopo, Bee eater, Indian roller to name a few

Creating a habitat

In front of my house and couple of other houses we have planted some trees. Ficus Benjamina, Behulia, Singapore Cherry, silver oak. These trees attract Bulbuls, Parakeets, warblers, Mynas, Green Barbet and the Koel. Just a few trees have invited this variety of bird life.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

 The reality of Pakistan

Our neighbor is in serious trouble. Debt ridden, with little foreign exchange reserve to pay for essential imports, staring at major social and political instability, the country is on the verge of breaking up and even end up with major civil strife and rebellion from the poor who form the majority in that country. Th disaster was waiting to happen. The ruling class had a simple agenda. Kashmir and religion. Heady mixture and like opium. Generations were addicted to this at the cost of socio economic development.

Should we rejoice at the country's plight? Far from it we should be deeply worried. Like there, here too we have a large population of poor and deprived. We too have been feeding them with false promises of redemption since independence by successive governments. Here too there is a ruling elite which is increasingly becoming more and more wealthy at the cost of the poor. Corruption too is rampant here and we are no better than Paki elite in ignoring the plight of masses.

 The saving grace is that we are a large country with a large middle class and have managed our finances reasonably well in the last twenty years despite the gains not percolating to the poorer sections as much as it should. But what is happening in Pakistan should be an eye opener to us.

We cannot take our poor for granted

Saturday, December 17, 2022


Profligate spending

Despite all the hype which we see ad nauseum in our electronic media and in our movies which mostly reflect the lives of upper class, we as a people remain what can be called poor. May be, we are better off than we were a decade or two back but we cannot say we have come out of poverty and large sections of our population remain poor.

In contrast, we have a section, though small, who are immensely wealthy. And this section of society with few exceptions, like to show off their wealth. And recent phenomenon of destination weddings is one such example. The host plans and excecutes these expensive weddings in destinations located in other countries or expensive hotels and or resorts located away from home in our own country [ for example in Goa], Spain, Italy, Thailand appear to be the favorite foreign destinations. Guests are flown, and that too hundreds of them in specially hired airplanes to these places and they are wined and dined in addition to the expensive stays. This illness is not confined to film stars and rich sportspersons but has spread to others too, and recently I heard a not so wealthy person did this for forms sake!

Weddings down south used to be one day affairs, occasionally spilling over to the next day in most middle income weddings. Its no longer so. Three day weddings are the new normal and display of wealth in some form or the other whether one has the resources or not is the order of the day. It does not bode well that the young participants take this kind of spending on their stride and even seem to encourage their parents.

This seven star culture as I call it, for want of a better term, is detrimental to social progress as those deprived section of the society, trying to emulate these rich, may be encouraged to take to crime, extorsion, robbery as other ways of acquiring wealth is denied to this section of society. I am afraid it is already happening and we are witnessing a steep rise in violent crime in recent times.

The solution is for the rich to temper their spending and try and live a low key life. There are so many useful ways of spending their money.

Three friends depart

Last year saw three of my good friends leave this world, hopefully for better pastures.

Matianda Ganapathi Nanjappa was the first to go. He lived opposite to me and we were of the same age added to the friendship. He returned to India and Bangalore after a 20-year stint in the UK, some 40 years ago, and our friendship which began then, continued till his death. Initially as a patient and then as a neighbor and later as a golfing buddy, the friendship blossomed. As Kodavas go, he was a tall handsome man with a vey fetching smile and I am witness to many women giving him a second look. Easy going, straight forward, often reticent when it came to criticize another person, he naturally made lots of friends and it is no surprise some exploited this quality of his not that he minded it much. Though his end came after a fall and broken hip and a week of suffering, he was becoming mentally and physically slow and we would find it tough to keep a meaningful conversation going in the past year or so. Dementia in his case was not too bad and his wife was a great support in his last days. Almost every day something or the other happens which reminds me of this friend and I miss him


Dr Kota Subbanna Hande was the next to go. Dr Hande hailed from where too are my roots and this may have to some extent contributed to our friendship. More importantly though, his contribution to the growth of the family physician’s association which he served two terms as president and his being a regular member of the doctor’s club probably contributed much more. His stint as a family doctor in rural Yellapur and later briefly in Sri Lanka helped him to become a true family doctor. His practice in western Bangalore, in Magadi road area was large and covered across all strata of society. His case presentations were varied and always interesting and he had a unique style which often was tinged with subtle humor. Ethical to the core, compassionate, available to patients at all hours, he was an asset to the community. His death was untimely as he had many years of active life ahead of him. But then cancer is no respecter of age. His last days were full of unavoidable suffering and death came as a relief.


Dr U Suryanarayana, popularly known as Soori was a real-life character. His life was like that of a proverbial cat which had many lives. When he was a house surgeon, he was found unconscious after a motorcycle accident and remained so for several days before making uneventful recovery. Many a time I have wondered if his care a damn attitude was due to this accident and some form of brain shake. Another time he was involved in another accident on a highway and survived mainly because of efficient ICU service at St John’s hospital. Another time he escaped a heart attack and timely recanalization and stenting saved his life. A severe diabetic, he never believed in dieting and couldn’t resist another helping of ice-cream. Never very serious about the profession, he held many a small job and did not care much about updating. I felt his regular attendance at our doctor’s club meeting is more out of friendship and the high tea that followed rather than to any pretense at learning. He too suffered severe septicemia following a wound infection and passed away due to multi organ failure. His son told me that he remained cheerful till the last day of his death.