Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Mercies for Old Ms. Mercy !

I was 26 years old when my husband died all of a sudden at the age of 35 after a bout of fever. I was totally devastated. I had grown up in a protected environment and till his death, my husband had given me and our children total security. And suddenly I was all alone with three children aged 5 years, 3 years and 9 months. 

That was 1949. He was a supporter of Gandhiji and had donated a lot of his ancestral wealth to the cause of the nation. I had studied only till 7th standard. Fortunately for me and my children, my husband still had left enough landed property and we wouldn't have starved. 

I came out of the shock after some time. I had to come out because I could not have ignored my little sons. I began going to his lands and started managing the house and his agriculture. Since I was a young and rich widow, a lot of people came with proposals for a second marriage. I refused and lived only for the sake of my children.

My eldest son is 68 years old today. He has settled down in Bangalore after retiring from Bank. My second son 66, is an advocate in Kochi. I used to stay with him until 6 years ago. Youngest son is in America. I haven't seen him for 9 years now.

6 years ago, my second son wanted me to share all our property equally between the sons and he wanted bigger share because he was looking after me. His wife was instigating him to get the partition done immediately. I refused and said, "I shall make a will and all that is due to them will go to them after my time". 

That day, both of them held me by the hand and pushed me so hard, I ended up with a swollen wrist. I moved to a convent the next day and I stay with the nuns today. I don't want to blame my daughters in law. But my sons, how can I forget all those difficult days I spent bringing them up ? How can they forget their mother ?

It is possible I was and still am a little strict and a bit finicky. But is that a reason enough to leave me on the roads at this age ? Would it have been possible for all three of them to be so well off if I had not taken care of them well and educated them ?

Lonely in the twilight of life
This is Ms. Mercy, an 89 years old patient in our ICU who is happier to be in the hospital. She has no complaints with her convent life. She still feels bad for her eldest son who is suffering from cancer. She sold off all her agricultural lands in and around Alleppey in 2007 and has deposited all the money in Banks.She has made her will and says she has made 4 equal shares and left a quarter each for her 3 sons and the last quarter to the convent.

India in general and Kerala in particular harbor thousands of these ladies whose children have no time for their aged parents. It appears to me that the world is full of these old Ms. Mercies with children who have very little Mercies !

Dr. Punned-it

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Doctor, a Conduct Certificate and the Final Diagnosis !

Those who think Medical field is all serious business and Doctors are a humorless brand ought to see the inside life of a hospital. From paining piles to brimming files, hospitals often produce volumes of humor. It just is that often, the wit can be shared between Medical professionals only because the humor is often lost in translation. I still have some nice stories to tell that can be understood by everyone. I must admit I am inspired by Richard Gordon in my humor on the hospital. It helps to know such a funny Doctor existed long before us.

Dr. A is the Hero in this compilation of short stories inspired from a real life character. Let me introduce him first. Dr. A is a knowledge freak. He took ten and a half years to complete the MB; BS course which most of the Doctors finish in a hurry within five had a half years. He did his own experiments with drugs and narcotics during this period. He attended all exams at least twice and was a 30 year old veteran by the time he was completely satisfied with his stint at Calicut the Medical College.

His first job was with a Cooperative Hospital. He worked for a whole of two months there and was a self proclaimed pet of his Boss. A senior Physician from that hospital called up our hospital recommending Dr. A for the post of Junior Registrar in the Department of Cardiology or in Medicine. It was believed to be a technical problem with some of the seniors that was responsible for his resigning the job there.

He joined us with a lot of fanfare. Three days into his job with our hospital, Dr. A had surpassed all expectations. My senior colleague Dr. V told me, "Hey GR, Now I know why those b-s-a-d- shunted him out. This is a Moron !". Without any more elaboration, let us move on to the stories.

Terrible Sweating

This was almost a dozen years ago. Every single morning during rounds, Dr. C our Boss used to indulge in some interesting talk with the three of us; Dr. V, Dr. A and myself Dr. G. One day he said, "All of you are 30 now and must know the importance of exercise to keep yourself healthy. Do you people walk at all ?".

Dr. V said, "Yes Sir, both myself and my wife are members of a health club here and we do at least 4 days a week". I said, "Sir, I have a manual treadmill at home and do it 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week". Dr. C was pleased and said, "Good, very good. Keep pushing at it and avoid gaining weight and eat healthy. Well, Dr. A, how about you ? To be honest you look a little too overweight. So what do you do about it ?"

The gem of a reply from Dr. A: Sir, I like to exercise. I really love to. But I find very little time to exercise because of work. And I also get terrible sweating when I walk. I really hate this sweating. Much worse is the problem that I become hungrier after walking and eat quite a lot. That is why I don't exercise. But I am planning to start walking as soon as I find a solution to this sweating problem"

I was wondering which was more funny; the blank look on the face of Dr. C or the smirk on Dr. V's face. Then I settled for the absolutely clueless grin on the face of Dr. A !

The 'Final' Diagnosis

I was in the Stress Test lab on ground floor when I had a frantic call from the Intensive Care Unit on the second floor. It took me three minutes to finish the ongoing test. I rushed to the ICU wondering why did they call me in spite of the fact that Dr. A was there on duty.

As I huffed into the ICU, I saw Dr. A cooling himself under the fan and in front of the AC. Seeing my urgency, he said with a cool assurance, "Nothing to worry. I have seen the patient. Taken a complete and detailed history and done thorough clinical examination and come to a conclusion that the final diagnosis is Non-Cardiac Chest Pain". Since the nurse on duty gestured me towards the bed, I went over and found out to my utter dismay that the ECG monitor showed a straight line. The patient was dead !

The nurse's version of the story: Dr. A had examined the patient who came with chest pain and then went to cool himself before the air conditioner and under the fan. He promised to to see the ECG after recovering from the ordeal of detailed examination. He found no need to call anyone else saying, "It is alright. I can manage this. No need to disturb Dr. V or Dr. G. We will comfortably handle this".

The ECG showed evidence of an Extensive Anterior Myocardial Infarction [Massive Heart Attack]. I cursed myself for those three minutes, but I was helpless. We decided that day that Dr. A will not be left alone in charge of ICU anymore.

Certificate of Conduct

Dr. C, our Boss was extremely upset after the 'Final Diagnosis' and wanted to get rid of Dr. A. Right opportunity came calling when Dr. A decided to get married. A girl 11 years younger and doing LLB in Kochi was to be his bride. We all did attend the after wedding party at his residence and wished the girl a great future.

Dr. A came back after honeymoon a month later. By this time, Dr. C had made up his decision and he politely told, "Dr. A, I don't want to hurt you but I think we don't have a place for you here. You will have to find a suitable hospital for yourself and work in the wards and Casualty to gain enough experience before you can aspire to work in an ICU again. I wish you all the best for your future as well as married life. Thanks you".

Dr. A was crestfallen but pleaded with Dr. C for a certificate of experience and conduct. Dr. C, a man of extremely immaculate principles replied, "Again I am sorry Dr. A. But what kind of a certificate do you want ? I can't give you a glowing certificate about your exploits. I don't want to issue a false certificate. If I give you a truthful certificate, that would hurt your future rather than help you. I believe you'd be better without a certificate from me".

Dr. A came and talked at length to me and Dr. V and wanted to know why Dr. C didn't want him in the department. He wanted to know what was the meaning of a certificate hurting his cause rather than help him.

Dr. A never liked Dr. V and Dr. V too never missed a chance to reciprocate the same feelings. So Dr. V decided to write a copy of a certificate for him inspired from Richard Gordon's Doctor series.
The Certificate
To whomsoever it may concern or may not:

This is to certify that Dr. A claims to have worked in the Department of Cardiology of this Hospital for some time between 2 January 2000 to 1 April 2000. He believes he has gained enough experience during this period to manage any emergency in the Intensive Care Unit. We are yet to understand his real capabilities because he hasn't shown any of that as yet.

Dr. A is quite an overconfident young Doctor who believes he knows everything and that should help him if not his patients. His conduct and character during this period were entirely satisfactory to himself.
We wish him all the luck in future and more luck for his patients.


Dr. C
Catheterization on the first day !
Dr. A subsequently joined a bigger hospital claiming to have gained enough experience working under two extremely Cardiologists, Dr. AK and Dr. C. He was immediately posted in Cardiology because both these gentlemen had such enormous reputations. His first day in the Trust Hospital threw up perhaps his greatest challenge. Just two hours into his new job, he was relaxing in Duty Doctor's room with two more seniors. A Nurse from ICCU requested any one of the Doctors to do a catheterization. The senior said, "Well Dr. A, let us begin. Can you do the catheterization ?"

Dr. A replied, "Oh my God, do you really think I should try that and that too today ? I can't do Cardiac Catheterization on my first day. I don't have the experience. Give me about one week and I shall do all that"

Now it was the turn of his senior colleague to be shocked. He said holding back his laughter, "Dr. A, I am quite pleased with your determination to do Cardiac Catheterization within one week. I am here for past one year and haven't done one myself. But if it pleases you, can you go and do the urinary bladder catheterization of this patient for now ?"
PS: Cardiac Catheterization is that process where a Doctor passes a Catheter into the Coronary Artery and heart of a patient to study the blood supply and other things pertaining to heart. People take a minimum of six months of observation and then two to three years of vigorous training to gain some kind of mastery over this technique.
Right man for the Right place

Dr. A had to leave the trust hospital in less than a month. The CEO called him after three weeks and handed over his cheque for the entire month and told, "Dr. A, here is your pay for the entire month. Kindly make yourself unavailable for duty in this hospital with immediate effect. And thank you". Finally we came to know Dr. A had joined a hospital claiming to specialize in 'Piles and Fistula' treatment.

Breaking this news to me, Dr. V told, "GR, our man Dr. Moron has finally found the right job for himself. The arsehole has finally landed with Piles and Fistula. It doesn't get any better than that".

 Status Update: Mentally Unstable Enormous Talent !

I met Dr. A's grandfather about a year ago. He gave me the status update on his grandson. He said, "My grandson Dr. A is now working in a Government Hospital near Kasaragod. He is earning Rs. Three Lakhs now. He is enormously talented and a brilliant Doctor and that is why he got the job. But unfortunately his first wife left him with the child. They made a case of mental instability against him and they won it with money power. But God is with us. He is now married again. You are almost same age as him. Are you married ? And do you get paid as much salary now ? And why did you not try for Government job ? That is very lucrative"

So many questions ! I politely told him, "My daughter is twelve years old. Since I am not very brilliant, I was not selected for Government job. I am not eligible too because I am not from Kerala. I don't get any salary. I am a daily wages worker here and work on incentive basis. They pay me according to the work I do. I somehow manage to feed my family".

He replied, "Oh, that is alright. Even though you and other Doctors here drove him away, he is doing well today by God's grace. His wife also did a lot of harm to him. But he has recovered and living happily with his new wife. Try to be good to people in future and don't harm good people like my Grandson. God will definitely give you a better job and better life in future". Even through this sermon, he looked mighty pleased by my pathetic plight.

I had made a person happy and that is what mattered. I left him there without turning back to see further changes in the expressions on his face !

PS: Rs. Three Lakhs is the annual remuneration of a Medical Officer in Primary Health Centers who work on annual contract basis.

Dr. Punned-it

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Life is a game of Antakshari : There's a song in every moment !

My daughter was in a great mood this morning and quoted some dialogues from a movie and said, "That dialogue about 'We are born to eat' from the movie 'Salt & Pepper' belongs to my father and they have copied him". I just sang these lines to her though my Mom hates to listen me sing this...

"Mujhse pehele kitne shaayar aaye aur aakar chale gaye,
Kuch aahen bhar kar laut gaye, kuch nagme gaakar chale gaye,
Woh bhi ek pal ka kissa the, mai bhi ek pal ka kissa hoon,
Kal tumse juda ho jaaoonga woh aaj tumhaara hissa hoon

Hindi Cinema, especially the old Hindi songs are so deeply ingrained in me, that I often believe I wouldn't have been 'Me' but for Hindi songs. For any situation in life, I somehow have to bring a song. Funny, interesting, happy, sad and just about anything; I end up singing a song that I feel suits the situation. Often it might end up being a mild parody but I always seem to have a song for the occasion !

'Abject Poverty' is how we used to describe our financial status in Medical College, Bellary. Anyone with a hundred rupee bill on him after the first weekend was considered a 'King'. There were more paupers than the Kings but that never stopped us from going out for our favorite Chicken dishes and Cinema. Things somehow always worked out.

On one such evening, we all enjoyed the dinner. Then the final part of the program came. It was time to pick up the bill. That was when none was rushing towards the plate and I had the right song for the moment, "Bill hai ke maantha nahin, Yeh Beqaraari kyun ho rahi hai, yeh jaantaa hi nahin, Oho Oho Oho Bill hai ke maanta nahin".

During another dinner, I piously held out the tray containing the bill before Shiva Kumar and sang, "Bill-aanaam darshanam punyam sparshanam paapa naashanam, aghora paapa samhaaram eka Bill-am Shiva-aarpanam"

Other songs that went with the 'Bill' were, "Bill deke dekho Bill deke dekho Bill deke dekho ji, Bill lenewaalon Bill dena seekho ji" and "Oh Mere Bill ke chain, chain aaye mere Bill ko chuka deejiye".

I have since carried this habit beyond Bellary. I took my fiancee for dinner soon after our engagement. Once the dinner was over, she went to the wash room. I finished the formality of paying the bill before she returned. And as I began to walk out, she gave me a nudge and asked, "Did you pay the bill ?". I sang to her in low volume, "Bill diya hai, Jaan bhi denge, Aye Sanam tere liye, Har Karam apnaa karenge Aye Sanam tere liye". Unfortunately, she didn't understand that and she still doesn't relate to this extempore song for the moment concept !

But my daughter is more than game for this kind of showmanship. In fact, she expects me to break into a parody every time something interesting happens. It all started when she was about 5 years old. She hurt herself after a fall and began to wail. That is something I just can't see and I sang, "Dekha Phoolon ko kaanton pe sote huve, Dekha toofaan ko kashti dubothe huve, Dekh saktaa hoon mai kuch bhi hote huve, Nahin mai naheen dekh sakta tujhe rote huve".

She was too young to understand the words but loved the soothing hug of her Appe. Today, she understands Hindi and loves these instant songs. My fondest nickname for her is 'Piya' and my stock song for her is "Piya Piya oh Piya Piya". It is these beautiful moments that make life worth living !

It isn't as if my wife has no taste for music or she doesn't like my songs. It just is that she has her own favorites and she sticks to them. A few lines my wife likes when I sing for her are, "Tumhe koi aur dekhe toh jalta hain Dil, Badi Mushqilon se phir sambhalta hai dil" and ...

When people were talking about the gay relationship between a famous Superstar and an equally high profile Director; I had dedicated a song for them, "Bas yehee apraadh mai har baar karta hoon, Aadmi hoon aadmi se pyaar karta hoon".

I had an entire Blog-post dedicating songs to each of Team India members during the 2011 Cricket world cup campaign. I believe there is a song in every moment and a moment in every song that defines life. We just have to have the ear and the soul for the music !

I can go on 'linking' songs to everything that happens in everyday life. But this post can't not go on forever. So let me conclude with, "Thanks to Hindi Cinema music, life is a game of Antakshari for me and mine. Hope the songs remain happy ones and continue to flow till last breath. Hope the music never deserts me all life".

Dr. Punned-it

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ouch; Don't pinch, it hurts - I am Indian !

 Ouch; Don't pinch, it hurts: My musings on a special nature unique to us Indians !

Driving back home after another tiring day at hospital, I was trying to grab the two-way pass at the toll booth on my way home. That is when I saw a spectacle that is not at all uncommon to us Indians. A Mercedes E-Class was cruising ahead of me. A boy in his late teens was manning the toll-booth on our side. He waved down the Merc but the car refused to stop. The desperate boy went after the car and came right in front of the car. Yet, the car didn't stop, thus forcing the hapless boy out of the way. I could see him cursing the Merc owner even as I flashed my pass.

It set me thinking. Here was a person traveling on a car that cost upwards of Rs. 25 Lakhs. But he wasn't ready to shell out just 5 bucks for the toll. Even if one buys two way pass every day, the amount would come to Rs. 225/- per month and Rs. 2738 for an entire year. That is not even 0.1% of the money he had shelled out to buy that luxurious monster. The recent murder of a toll plaza personnel by a SUV brat is still fresh in our minds for the horror to fade so easily. Why are we like this ? Why do we pinch when it comes to these small expenditures ?

Lalu Prasad Yadav is a Politician I am not particularly fond of. But once he raised a very valid point. He said, "The vegetables we eat are sold on the roadside and the footwear that adorn our feet are sold in air-conditioned show-rooms". How paradoxical a nation we have come to be !

Sulaiman, a hard-working vegetable vendor comes knocking at our door every other day. He brings his stuff on a cart, pushing it for miles through the overcrowded town to make a living. Often I see my wife and Dad haggle with him about the prices of the vegetables and cribbing about mounting expenditure. Most of the times, they force him to slash the bill after carrying all the vegetables home. And they are happy even if they manage to pinch just 5 rupees from him.

Once I told my wife, "You buy almost 5 - 6 kilos of different types of vegetables and the bill came to just about Rs. 125. You pinch 5 rupees from that poor fellow and feel happy. You people go to Pizza Hut and order a Pizza that contains a little bit of base, some cheese, mayonnaise and a fraction of these vegetables and they charge nothing less than Rs. 375 for for a medium size Pizza. I never saw you haggle with the Pizza Hut fellows. Why do you do this bargaining only with these poor people ?"

So used we are to this 'buy one get one free syndrome' that we always expect the vegetable vendor to throw in a few coriander leaves free with our vegetables. If he doesn't, we never hesitate to pull a few on our own. I believe as a nation, we are suckers for freebies. Bargaining runs is in our veins and arteries. But we also are pretty sure about where to bargain and where not. Seldom do we see people haggle in a jewellery. We routinely witness people who did shopping worth Rs. 25,000/- refusing to pay the parking fee of Rs. 10/-. We believe it is our right to park anywhere without having to pay the parking fee.

"Religion is the opium of the masses" said Karl Marx. I am not a big fan of Marxism but I agree with this. People conduct poojas, havans and rituals in temples spending Lakhs of rupees. But same people find it extremely difficult to part with a few hundreds or thousands that can help to educate an orphan. Don't we see people offering liters of milk and honey to stone idols but not even a drop of milk to a starving old woman and a child ?

Poverty Pinches; age no bar !
Western civilizations and even Islamic countries are far ahead of India when it comes to charity and helping those in need. We are a nation of greatest inequality that does humongous preaching and very little else. Just take a look at our icons. A Cricketer was presented with a Monster Ferrari by his friend Schumacher. What did out little big man do ? He wanted the excise duty waived off on the car. There are people who justify even this despicable act by an icon, just because 'He' happens to be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

I don't think any other country or civilization has as many jokes about stinginess and selfishness as we have in India. Every community wants to label the other stingy. 'Marwaris' are branded 'Kanjoos' by every other north Indian. 'Marwaris' joke about the 'Kanjoos Sindhi'. The south Indian version of the 'Marwari' is the Andhra 'Setty'. In Southern Karnataka, my own community is ridiculed for 'pinching'. There are million stories about the legendary stinginess of us Indians.

Often people are proud of such 'Makki choos' nature ! 'Makki Choos' is that person who sucked on a house fly that fell into his tea because he didn't want the house fly to drink his tea. He then declares, "No fly that drank my tea can ever escape and remain alive". Evading tax, toll fee, parking fee and making such 'small savings' is a big thing for a large majority of middle class India.

Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why we are still a developing nation with enormous amount of poverty ! My effort has always been to kick this 'pettiness' and grow up. I put in maximum effort not to bargain with the small scale vendors. For them, even Rs. 5 makes a difference because it can buy them rice for one meal. For me, that is not even enough to pay the parking fees for my car.

I believe it is fine if one isn't magnanimous to donate millions. It should be perfectly fine if one respects the labor of those striving to thrive and be reasonable with them if not generous !

Dr. Punned-it