Mirror, Mirror on the wall!

Body and mind both should be equally beautiful and healthy; so be careful when you achieve it for the body!



There is a common saying that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which means beauty doesn’t exist on its own but is created by observers. This famous quote can help you remember that a beholder is someone who sees or otherwise experiences things, becoming aware of them.

Even at my age, if someone says “Pramod, you don’t look your age and  look smart”, I feel nice from within! It is a natural human tendency and expectation to be a looker. Of course, everyone’s definition of looking good is different and humans try their best to achieve it by means like make up, exercise and some try to follow crash diets. Some of the common factors of defining beauty are height (more the better), Colour (fairer the better), Long Hair (not so sure these days what is better!), white teeth and so on. But most important aspect that I observe these days, has become a person’s weight in proportion with the height. Too fat a person or too thin a person is looked down! This is the point that came to my mind today, when I read a news item in today’s newspaper.

A 33 year old woman, got herself treated for obesity. She was treated by a doctor in an institute. During this period, she was regularly given enema, which she was told to continue even after going back  home. The process was called naturopathy! She was on a diet of jaggery and lime water for two months! During this period, she was also given a potion and her last 35 days were only water! End result, now she cannot walk, talk or even sit properly. The naturopathy doctor when asked, said that the patients who don’t follow treatment properly at home, can have issues and brain damage is possible! No lime water, water or secret potion containers mentioned these side effects about brain damage! The woman is now afflicted with brain damage. Irreversible? Only time can tell.

Is each person’s body same? Is each persons metabolism rate same? Are their values like blood-sugar, hemoglobin, BP same? Are their weights same? Then how the same treatment can be given to different people. When someone questioned if the potion was poisonous, the doctor said potion consists of lemon grass and water. So, what was so secretive about the potion? Why was the family not told about the contents of the potion?  She was already being given lime water, lemon grass tea could have been given separately. But one can charge any price when you call it a secret potion. Are people so desperate, that they do not understand that surviving on lime water and such things for two months is almost impossible. Is becoming a person with normal weight that important? If your weight is causing serious health issues, then it is essential to control it drastically, under “proper” medical guidance. Unknown remedies should be not be attempted.

These days, I see a trend where there are diet experts by dozens, guiding people to become slim, trim and beautiful. But are they real experts, some are great at marketing, and most of them are not doctors. Do they really understand the meaning of the treatment they are suggesting? I know about a person who was ill with kidney related issues. He was told that he should weigh certain food items he was expected to take every day, to maintain the salt levels. He initially did not understand the meaning of this. He deviated slightly but the deviation resulted in body water being retained and in seven days his weight grew by a kilo each day. He then went to the hospital where the doctors explained to him the issue. They corrected things and sent him home. He over corrected what he was doing. End result was he started losing weight by a kg a day! He again went to the hospital and doctors again, corrected things. They explained to him the importance of salt levels which needed exact weighing of certain food intake. Finally, he managed to eat and drink exactly as suggested by the doctors. He overcame his health issue, finally. Ok, this is an extreme case but this is just to show you what can go wrong when you do not follow instructions given by experts; as against this we follow instructions of non experts, to the last T, many times.

There is another theory circulating. To have glowing skin, and in general to have smart skin, and to remain healthy one must drink at least three liters (or some such figure) of water, every day. This theory is told by some people very emphatically. It again boils down to the same thing. Our body is designed to handle body requirements correctly. In summer, we drink more water and in winter less. Due to certain body conditions, we feel thirstier, even in winter e.g. diabetes. So where did the figure of 3 liter come from? How can it be same for everybody? A friend of mine who has recently gone through a heart event, has been told by the doctor to ensure that he does not drink more than one liter of water every day. Should everyone go by 3-liter theory?

To remain healthy there are methods that need to be followed; these are complimentary procedures to looking beautiful, looking smart, good and healthy. But being good and healthy in mind and as a person is equally important if not more! A person who is always smiling looks most appealing! For a lady with a beautiful smile, she need not bother to wear her jewelry, her smile is her best ornament! A little plump woman with a beautiful small is lovely! A person’s good deeds and mind  are that persons best friends along with that persons healthy body.

So whatever physical methods one follows, should be under medical advice. If not, the results sometimes can be devastating as in case of the lady mentioned above. Doing exercise and following healthy life style is no doubt very important. But sometimes, people overdo it, do it incorrectly, do it very rigidly. Life is beautiful, don’t get stressed out in pursuit of becoming beautiful. Because crash diet courses are done for ¾ months. Once they are over, many people binge on food and come back to their normal self, physically! And the vicious circle continues.

So, don’t worry too much! People are going to judge you by your overall demeanor and not if you are fat or thin! So be a good person and feel happy about it. There is no crash course for being a happy person! So, there is no reversal of how you are!

Friends, now you decide which category you are in, the saying at the beginning or the saying below!


How much downtime is enough?

Give enough time recover from illness!

We all go through health issues during our journey of life and recovery depends on seriousness, duration of the issue, and many other factors, the downtime needed by humans to recoup is decided. Doctors of course advise about the same but such advice is given based on needs of the average population. In some cases, it may vary to extreme ends of pendulum swing. But the fact of life is that, we and our body need time to recuperate!

I remember a case of two ladies, who were required to go through Angiography, both were  from similar age group on either side of 50. This is a comparatively minor procedure and 2/3 days is said to be enough for individuals to come back to normal. But in this case, there was a vast difference in the time required to come out of the situation. One of the ladies, a professional, had a meeting outstation. On third day she traveled and attended the meeting. I am sure she must have borne the discomfort and a bit of pain too! But the other lady also a professional but with less hectic schedule took one month to come out of it! Why does this happen? Is it about pain barrier levels? Is it about general fear? In the first case, doctors had said that there is no problem to travel. I am sure the lady would not have traveled against doctor’s advice. Other lady was also advised that 3 to 4 days is more than enough but she did not feel comfortable going back to routine!

Over a period, our body develops its tone, but there is a limit how much we can flog the body, and its energy stores. In normal routine, the body probably functions at 65 to 70% of energy level. Our body has its storage system to store the balance energy available. We have certain situations in life where additional energy is drawn from this storage system. This happens in “abnormal” situations which are quite normal in our life. These can be work or family related stress situations, these can be physical situations where fight or flight decisions are required to be taken. There can be illnesses. These also sap our energy. During sports events we always try our best as everybody wants to win. This is achieved on adrenaline drive. Adrenaline drive is nothing but accessing the reserve energy! Various events or adrenaline drives sap our energy! Downtime needed is decided by how basic energy plus excess energy is used by our body.

Years back I was down with sciatica. It was quite painful initially. After ¾ weeks of treatment plus bedrest, I was permitted to move out of the home. I walked to a vegetable vendor with Jaya, he was about 50 meters from home. I was so sapped of my energy, I could not stand there even for five minutes. After that I called my doctor and he said, “Pramod, the rest helped you to come out of sciatica issue but since you could not perform normal body activity like walking, your muscle tone is totally gone. You will have to walk slowly and build it up step by step.” Which of course I did. This took me about ten days. Mind you I was in thirties in those days! Later on, about twenty years later, I had a minor surgery, I could climb staircases just after 3 to 4 days. This shows that surgery had not sapped my energy, as much as sciatica did!

But about five years back when I went through radiations for cancer treatment , things were quite different again. First one month of treatment was quite ok. But then from second month onwards, the body started having side effects, my throat started swelling due to radiations. I had to switch over from normal diet and had to be fed using Rice Tube. The side effects started different bodily reactions, by the time the treatment was over in about two months, I was totally zapped. But surprisingly even all through the treatment, I could concentrate and read, e mail, I could drive to go to hospital, most of the time. Once the treatment was over, I really felt low. Probably, I was holding my flag high on adrenaline! It took me almost three months to come back to normal!

So, every event which zaps our energy should be treated with due respect! First and foremost is of course the doctors advise. Based on the advice, we should slowly try and come back to normal. This process is not as straight forward as I write. Other factors like age also play an important role! Especially, the regime that we normally follow helps to recoup faster. If we keep on doing exercise suitable to us, regularly, recovery is bound to be faster!

What should all concerned do in case of such events? The person who had that event should follow whatever we have already discussed; but relatives and friends are also equally important in the recovery!  First and foremost, if the illness is serious, let the patient be! We have tendency to try and meet the patients, even in ICU’s. Please don’t do it. These days there is another issue. Many surgeries are done using probes! What this does is to get a false feeling that some minor procedure was done. This is because there are no outside cuts and stitches and bandages, post-surgery. But let us not forget that the “probing” surgeon does same work as before, on the organ, without visible damage! Basic surgery remains equally serious and tough. Due to use of probe, we do not visualize the seriousness. When a heart patient undergoes angiography and angioplasty, it is a very serious ailment that is treated by a simpler looking method; hence everybody including patient may feel that the event was not major, especially if this is done after an attack!

So, friends, face life as it comes, but do not forget seriousness of events. Give these events due respect. Start with yourself and help others understand it!  There is no shortcut to recovery! In life there no shortcut for anything! It has to be done the hard way! Stay well, and recover fast, sensibly.

Cancer Survivors!

Corruption is not Cancer but Cancer is corruption of body!

Eminent cancer specialist and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Dr V Shanta has admonished the managing director of Punjab National Bank for misusing the word “cancer” in the context of the recent banking scam. In a letter to PNB managing director and chief executive officer Sunil Mehta, Dr Shanta shared her “outrage” at the scam being equated with cancer. “Corruption is a crime and something to be ashamed of; cancer is not,” wrote the Magsaysay award-winner, a pioneer in the field of cancer care.

Someone will say that is it not a matter of semantics? How does it matter if corruption is called cancer?  The meaning of cancer is “a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”. With advent of technology and improvements in treatments for cancer,  humanity is fighting its war against cancer; now people discuss cancer openly. Others need to be very sensitive to what they say and how they say it.  

Probably in olden days, only cure for cancer was to remove the cancerous growth by surgery and hope for the best. Now, cancer gets detected much earlier than what it used to be. With better medicines and improved treatments available, prognosis can be much better than what it used to be. Cancer was a dreaded “C” word and was treated as a dangerous disease. Hence those who overcame cancer have been called “Cancer Survivor”. Anyone who overcomes a tough situation is a survivor, so why not heart attack survivor, why not stroke survivor? Maybe because in case of cancer, the cure rate 25/30 years back was very low. Hence someone who did not die of cancer was called “Cancer survivor”.  Friends cancer is still a difficult disease to manage but the society is slowly changing its mind set and facing it upfront!

This has changed for better during last 10/15 years, cancer detection has improved than before because of the awareness and imaging technology progress. I strongly feel that term “Cancer Survivor” needs to change. The term feels like a stigma; it is as if that person did something wrong and survived. I went through cancer treatment in 2013 end, 2014 beginning. When asked about the same, I don’t call myself “Cancer Survivor”. I tell people that I was treated for vocal cord cancer! This is a positive way of explaining things. People undergo bypass surgeries, people undergo brain surgeries. People have gone through bone marrow replacements. You don’t call them survivors! Whenever such “operations/procedures” are done, you start on a positive note by saying that the patient has undergone so and so operation; you don’t call the patient a survivor. The term “Survivor” smells of a defeatist thinking. 

Dr. Shanta has rightly communicated to PNB Managing director that what happened in the bank was corruption and/or a criminal act. Having cancer and going through its treatment is abnormal body process which some of us have to unfortunately undergo. There is a vast difference in these two events. The use of the word cancer is not right with reference to the fraud, because what happened in bank is crime and having cancer is not a crime, it is nothing to be shameful about. For that matter having any disease is not a shameful matter. Consider the case of AIDS! In initial phase of Aids occurrence, there was stigma attached to the person having Aids because of lack of knowledge. One can get aids because sexual relations with people who have this disease or maybe due to complex sexual behavior. One can also get it during blood transfusion, a mother can give this disease to her child during birth. Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend caught it during blood transfusion. All these acts are not criminal acts, there is nothing to be ashamed of having Aids!  

Human race should be proud of people who go through cancer treatment, tackle it in a very positive manner. I have friends who are being treated for cancer for ten to 20 years. They are setting an example that tough things in life can be handled, one can fight back. Yes, there will be some of these valiant people who may not make it. But these people’s cancer can never be compared with bank scams, corruption and all such ills in the society. It is insulting to compare disease fighters, maybe unknowingly, with corrupt practices prevalent in the society.  

This type of thought process will bring people out of closets, they will discuss things openly. Some of them can become torch bearers of a movement to guide people to handle so called “hidden” diseases in open. Their experience can create positivity and maybe people will start taking things in stride. We handle many aspects of life in a similar way; someone has financial set back, take it in stride fight it back. Some persons can have issues in love life, they overcome it and move on! Life is always full of pluses and minuses, supporting people to handle tough calls better will help them to take things on the chin and will help them to move on!  

So, friends, call your cancer, heart disease, stroke “corruption” within your body, about which we need not be ashamed of, it is not amoral, it is not illegal. This “corruption” in the body needs to be weeded out. In our gardens we do weed out the plants which affect the growth of plants and shrubs that we want to keep. Is it not a similar thought process? Change thinking, help each other. Remove corruption from your body and society; we don’t need to remove cancer!  Dr, Shanta ji, thank you very much for showing us the right direction. 


Friends, those devils!

Try and fall into the potion of friendship and have greatest joys of life .


Vijay keeps on sending interesting stuff to me for viewing, observing, commenting and he also hopes that I will also curse him, once in a while. Today he sent me a poem about friends. The poem is nostalgic ride through our lives! What are friends? To me they are god’s gift to the mankind! How do you make friends? How do you become friends? The process of making friends starts in one’s childhood. The other day I went to drop my granddaughter Rhea for gymnastics. She is four and half years of age. She has joined gymnastics about ¾ months back. As soon as I entered the arena, I heard a couple of shrieks, couple of shouts and shrieking and jumping from Rhea! She saw some of her friends whom she meets five days a week. The reaction made me so happy, that I wished I were her age. This is what one feels when we meet friends. The unnecessary limitations created by age, and society norms come in the way of expressing our real feelings. The photo above is one showing me with my friends Ranga and Pravin! We managed to reach Rhea’s age, hopefully!

Good old friends are as rare as the treasure lying on the ocean shores! Friends are those gems which come out of our life’s churning! Those who are lucky will have many friends, long term friends, very close friends and friends who have hardly changed due to life’s passage. There can be outwardly changes in how they look, how they drink but basic core of such person does not change with time!

How does one define a friend? Friend is that person, with whom we are very comfortable. That person is one with whom we will share mundane details like how you enjoyed peanuts the other day, which reminded you of school times. The person, who will know looking at you, that you are having some churning in mind! You are all alone at home, you have some minor or not so minor health issue; the person calls or you call the person and say there is something important that needs to be discussed. The calendar for next hour is immediately cleared and the next sentence is “Tell me!” Another friend, had some major issue in his life and that suddenly. He called his close friend and told him, ” You both cancel all your stuff for today and come over!” They were both professionals but within next 30 minutes they reached their friends home.

The friend is a good listener and has sympathetic body language! With friends you will always feel that there will be only suggestions, no admonishment, no judgment! The person will give you opinion and suggestion only when you ask him. Many a times we need only a sounding board, a friend who absorbs everything and keeps the small secrets you shared, hidden deep in his mind! You can discuss your business issues, office issues and family issues! But I always hope that everybody’s spouse is their ” The Best” friend! In absence of such relationship, sometimes your best friends may find it difficult to absorb and may ask you. ” Did you discuss this with your spouse?” You can tell your best friend that you are simply bored with life and don’t know what to do! In most cases, letting your steam off solves half the problems. Your friend may not be the smartest guy in the world but is concerned about you, and is worried about you. The person always has your best interests in mind.

Does your friend like you? Is he willing to give you sufficient time and energy? Do you feel invigorated in presence of that person? Do you feel relaxed in the persons presence without having tea or alcohol? For me just presence of some persons gives such a feeling. Do they exude any special energy? Do you feel comfortable in their presence, when they shake your hand, do you feel the warmth, when they hug you do you get the feeling, ” Finally we have met”! Is there freedom in your relationship of expressing displeasure, openly?

You and your friend may have some different thoughts on certain subjects; but in case of such issues, the friend will not tell you mend your ways, as he respects your views. You are accepted as you are. At the same time if you are doing something illegal or unethical the person will go out of the way to meet you from busy schedule to warn you about such things! Friend the great listener, will listen to your details till you have completed what you want to say. Only after that the person will start probing you about your issues. The person will give pointers only at the right juncture! The most important aspect during this discussion will be that there will no prejudice!

Coming back to expression of joy by the kids like Rhea, when they meet their friends every day. Why do we not act like kids? In fact, it is not only about friends, in every aspect of life we should try and ape the children. Especially if you are in my age group near 70, we can do whatever we want, people expect you to be senile! But by remaining serious minded, by trying to follow social norms in everything we do, we are killing the child within us. The usual cliché is so right, “do your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously”!

I see many positives these days when we friends meet. We fight like kids, we argue like kids, we complain like kids (to WhatsApp admin), we exit the WA group in a huff! These are all signs that many of our friends have remained young in mind. Probably our pool of “close friends” may not increase but there is a larger pool of friends who are available as a sounding board. We reach this stage because we have gone through tough phases in life, major illnesses in life. I have met some friends after a long time, I became friends with some of them late in life. But the hitting the right chords is important, like it is important for perfect performance of musical instruments!

Like everybody, I also have some very close friends. Jaya of course is my best friend! I do not want to write the names of these friends as these are such fine people that they will get embarrassed, later when we meet, they will thrash me too! I am lucky to have such a large pool of friends; what do I expect from them? Nothing! I only hope that they will remain in my life all the time.

Alcohol taken moderately has a great effect on humans; you feel light in mind, you get a light-hearted feeling and you feel that everything is right with this world. But this is not essential. Friendship is such a potion. It is like Obelix from Asterix comics who had fallen into container of the magic potion, giving him unlimited strength. Try and fall into the potion of friendship and have greatest joys of life .

Human reactions!

Greed or abnormal thoughts over come normal humans!

It is impossible to predict how humans will act, react and behave. We expect that the human behavior will be more rational in developed countries but it does not appear so! This thought came to my mind when I read a news item today about death of Jeff Murphy in Yellow Stone National Park in the USA along with other news items. 

A guy called Fenn has written a memoir where he talks about treasure hidden by him. Fenn claims his treasure chest contains 265 gold coins, ancient Chinese jade figurines, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs. He estimates tens of thousands of people have gone looking for it, sharing their experiences on blogs and treasure hunting forums. One of his motives in hiding it, he told an ABC affiliate in 2015, was to “get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine.” 

A mysterious 24-line poem in his memoir is supposed to hint at the location. It ends with the following lines: “So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and, in the wood, I give you title to the gold.” 

In last few years, beside Murphy 5 to 6 more people have died looking for this treasure. I just cannot believe, that just because someone has claimed to have hidden some treasure, people are getting killed to look for the same. Fenn appears to be a person who has done this for some purpose, with all the trappings of treasure hunt where hints are hidden in a poem he has published! What makes people, in today’s times, with so much technological advancements, to fall into such traps? Do their families not stop them? Amount involved is not such that one should get himself killed. The place where the treasure is supposed to be hidden is from southern most USA to up North! From whatever little I could understand, the people who attempted and died, did not appear to be “crazy’ persons!  

Another news item I read today’s newspaper is about an ex Minister from the Indian state of Bihar! His tenure in the ministry was completed and was required to vacate his bungalow as a normal practice. As a real world normal practice, the politicians squat on the property and prolong their stay as much as possible. Suddenly, he vacated the bungalow. He claimed that the chief minister has sent some ghosts in the bungalow to ensure that he will vacate! Can you believe such statement?  This person was a minister the government, he was supposedly running a department. In the year 2018, the claim that ghosts have been sent to the bungalow is ridiculous and bizarre to say the least! How do such people become ministers? How do they get elected? It is said that the society is governed by the people it deserves? Are we such a bad society? Or maybe I see only a miniscule part of society that appears modern!  

In United States, there has been a trend in last 20 years of random shootings in schools where innocent children are killed. Till today, in 2018 there have been 18 deaths and 40 plus injuries. All over US, there are  lot of discussions and protests going on. Finally,  US President felt that it is important enough to meet the families of the kids who died. All have demanded that the Gun Laws in the US should be tightened. A young person cannot buy beer in US till he becomes 21 but he can buy a Gun when becomes 18!  

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights  Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right, per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights. 

This was adopted in the year 1791 more than 200 years back when there was wild west, carpetbaggers and gold diggers! The country itself was like the last frontier. This amendment was suitable for those days! In between the gun lobby and industry has taken over the thought processes. National Rifle Association was founded in the year 1871 and the same thought process continues! Their motto is “people kill people”, guns don’t! This lobby just does not allow any changes in the law. End result is that we see the random killing of innocent kids! American authorities including their President have come up with a beautiful solution. The President finally had listening meeting with parents of the children killed. He suggested that teachers should be provided with weapons to handle random gunmen who come with rifles! Currently teachers try to hide in the classroom along with the students. Now they will be exposed as they have guns and there can more killings in crossfire. The officials in Florida have suggested that their officers will attack the gunmen with assault rifles! Wow! What a solution! How these people’s minds work? Gun lobby should not be disturbed! That is a sacred cow giving donations to political parties! How can you disturb the bandwagon? Will this ever change in the USA?  

Friends I have shared some random examples of human behavior. The first one is about individuals who got themselves killed because of their greed. The second one is about a minister in the government who believes in paranormal stuff and was supposedly running a department. Third example is about killings of innocent kids due to adamant behavior of authorities in the society. Why do such reactions happen? Is greed so bad that that people don’t bother about their own death or deaths of innocents due to an irrelevant law which came into being 200 years back and was relevant at that point of time! I am writing this with a great anguish and sadness! What do you feel about these issues?  





Checklists! Do you make them?

My dear friend Vijay, sent me a book by Dr. Atul Gawande, “Checklist Manifesto” and I read it right away. Dr. Gawande thought of the idea about the book, based on the errors/ mistakes that happen during surgeries. http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/

These errors are sometimes avoidable, or some steps are simply missed out. Then there are some issues/problems that may crop up unplanned, during or post-surgery. In our lives also, such things can happen. But in my experience, I have found that issues/problems can crop up also because “problem statements” are not defined correctly.

Dr. Gawande has also discussed examples from construction industry as well as aviation industry. As usual, everywhere when humans are involved actions, decisions and reactions become too individual. Different persons react differently to the same problem. Additionally, real experts in any field can have large egos and/or may be over confident, about their abilities to take “correct” steps or decisions than those suggested by others. This sometimes leads to disastrous situations. In surgery for example, in rare cases it does happen that wrong patient may come on the table, wrong side of the patient may get operated upon, left instead of right! Dr. Gawande felt that such and many other errors, mistakes are avoidable by introducing “Check Lists”.

How to define a Check List? A Check List, is a list of items required, things to be done, or points to be considered, are used as a reminder; this is to be checked in sequential manner. In anything and everything that we do, there can be a check list. What is the need for this, you may ask! It is needed or not needed based on one’s view point. I am an expert in my field, I have been doing this for ages, why do I need a check list? But we forget that this is not the only thing that we do in life. Sometimes we may be in a hurry, sometimes we may be doing a few additional things in parallel! Sometimes we may have some other important stuff going on in our mind. All this can lead to avoidable errors. Ok! Check List may not be cure all for all the problems in the world! But they do help.

During surgery, many a time, antibiotics are given to the patient. The correct time for it to be effective is sixty minutes before start of surgery. It can so happen that correct procedure is followed, and the antibiotic is given 60 minutes before the starting time of surgery. But Surgery can get delayed sometimes as previous one may not be over. 60 minutes can become 120 minutes! So, the checklist for giving antibiotics during & before Surgery says, ask this question before patient is given anesthesia! This means that patient is already on the table and chances of delay are minimal! 

In every situation Professional, Personal, home, office or for that matter anywhere, problems do crop up! Creating check list for anything and everything may not be necessary but can be useful. When we work, we do create our checklist for things to be done and how to do. We have our own methods. With computers and cell phones creating and managing check lists has become much easier.

I can tell you that in today’s times why check list is essential. Maybe in day to life checklist maybe same as to do list!  We are now expected to link our Aadhar card to Bank Accounts, Credit card Account, Cell phone numbers, Investments and so on!  It is mandatory to do so before 31st March. Linking these is not as easy as it sounds. So, making a check list for these makes sense. We have passports, licenses, paying the bills and many such things to do. Wont check lists help us tracking them?     

I will share an incident where not having proper check list, could have led to a disaster. A Boeing was flying on Toronto- Ottawa-Vancouver route. When it got down at Ottawa for quick check for the long-distance flight, dip stick was used to check fuel volume as an additional check since pilots had some doubts about instruments on board.  Thumbs up was given and flight took off. At approximately half the distance, the fuel alert indicators started buzzing for all tanks. The theory is that a plane can glide 16 times the height at which it is flying, without fuel. The pilot sent Mayday signal. They were flying at the height of 7 miles. Luckily, he was from the same area where this incident took place. He remembered an abandoned airport about 70 miles away. He took the clearance for landing and was cleared asap. It was a Sunday and at the airport some fun stuff was going on including car rallies. Suddenly, the guys below saw a huge plane coming in for landing. People ran helter-skelter and somehow moved out of the harms way. The expert pilot managed to land safely. Inquiry was conducted, and it was found that there was an error in using dipstick. Those were days when people were just switching from FPS to MKS system. Dipstick was FPS but people measuring thought that it was MKS, so they gave green signal to the flight. Hence the issues started at midway distance of the flight! Checklist about type of dip stick to use would have avoided this error.   

I feel that in life there are two types of lists, checklist and to do list. It is possible that we may swap these two lists in personal life. Check list is detailing of to do list. Or it could be doing certain procedure or following a process; we need to have a checklist. I have seen an accident almost happening in front of my eyes, while working in factory. An electrician was working on a 440-volt circuit. I asked the electrician, who was working on the issue, if he had followed the checklist. He said of course. He used a big screw driver to open a screw in the box; in an instant the screwdriver melted fully. Though he told me that he had followed the check list he had not done it. There is a simple check; when working on high voltage circuit, remove the fuses for that area and keep them in your pocket. This can avoid such incidents. The electrician almost got electrocuted.

Check lists followed are mainly for safety and to ensure quality of work. I am sure women know how to mentally use them during  cooking. Though cooking looks easy, it is the proportion of ingredients, timing, sequence, temperature and many variables that need to be checked all the time. Ladies look to do things automatically, but they do have their checklists.

Friends, in our day to day lives also, we have many things which we should follow. There are birthdays, anniversaries. Then there are marriages, opening ceremonies. There are events galore in our lives. There are deaths and funerals. Of course, we are busy with our work and family and our financial planning. So, it is a good idea to have to do lists/ cum checklists. All of these points may not be life threatening but they do have effect on relationships. Ultimately, series of mistakes and errors with same group of people can lead to catastrophic results. Try forgetting your wife’s  birthday for two consecutive years! You know what I mean!

Bravado or Truth!

Accept the tough situation in life and face it upfront!

The other day my niece’s husband Dr. Makarand asked me a very pertinent question. He said, “Kaka when you were going through treatment for cancer, we all could see that you were very positive during and after the treatment. Can you share with me if this was Bravado or that is what you really felt?” It was a very valid question. In the face of tough situation as the cliché goes, “Tough get Going”! It is all fine to mention clichés, make a show of not being bothered or nor showing any concern. 

Makarand’s question got my thought process going and I went back four years, to 2013 Dec 1st, when my cancer was detected. This detection was done by Dr. Sant in his clinic and set the wheels rolling. Raju was with me; when we came out from the clinic Raju said, “You don’t worry, I will drive the car.” We had taken my car. I told him, “Oh, come on! What has diagnosis got to do with my driving the car? In fact, first let us eat something as I am hungry.” Our next step was the hospital where Atul was waiting for me to get the CAT scan done, to check the extent of spread. What were the thoughts in mind, besides deciding what to eat? Honestly, I did not feel worried, afraid or did not have a question in my mind “Why me?”. In the CAT it was found that there was no spread and the growth looked local. Was I relieved. I don’t remember having any specific feeling of relief.  

It was decided to perform the biopsy on 7th December. We took a family decision that managing newly born Kittu and my cancer treatment cannot be handled together, in our regular home. We had already hired one condo next to Priya’s. We took a decision to move stuff to the new condo. Next 4/5 days we were busy moving our stuff to this condo. That week was very busy, and I did not have time to think of anything other than shifting furniture. Did I have apprehensions about the result of the biopsy? Not really because Dr. Sant was very confident that growth was cancerous. I had totally believed in his judgment and did not get unduly worried when Lab confirmation was received on 10th Dec. 

Another ten days in deciding the logistics and getting the drug from Pharma Company. Jaya and I were busy setting up the new condo, plus my work continued. When I was told that the first immunotherapy was to be given in an ICU, I did feel apprehensive. What is the reason for ICU? What can happen? What can go wrong? Somehow, I had a feeling that cancer had luckily been detected at a very early phase then why this sudden change in threat level? I asked my Onco surgeon. He said, “Pramod, this is just a precaution we are taking. Once in a blue moon some patients have reaction against the drug hence this step.” I was relieved and was back to my normal mood.  

Ignorance reduces your anxiety levels. When the cancer was detected, I was told that there would be Radiation therapy along with Immunotherapy. My lack of knowledge prepared me for a couple of radiation sittings. When we had our discussion with Radiation Oncologist, the doctor told me that there will be 32 to 34 sittings. For a moment, I was stunned. But when the doctor explained, I understood the process. He said that 1 or 2 radiations are given in case of patients who have tough cancer and need palliative treatment. He also said that when chances of overcoming the cancer are good, number of sittings are more and depend on different factors. Knowledge acquired, I was back to normal way of thinking.  

Coming back to the question asked by Makarand. Was I truly not much concerned or was it my bravado? I can safely conclude that it was not my bravado. Why was I not worried? Why do people get worried? It is natural to get worried, anxious, it is ok to get terrified also. There are some situations in life which tend make even tough people panicky! In my case, I do not know why I was not worried. Maybe I have learnt to take things in stride. Maybe my mind is such that I move on. I am a normal human and I also get anxious, worried but somehow, I never remember being afraid of a situation. Maybe I have never faced a situation which can scare me,yet. Rather than being brave or tough, I feel that I am a normal person who is little luckier than others, who was never required to face a situation where I was almost required to give up. Another possible reason could be that I am pragmatic and accept situations which are not under my control.  

Am I the person to preach people how to handle the difficult situations? Definitely not! But I can share my experience with others. Did I pray to god? No, I believe in some high-level spirit which can be called God. But I am not into prayers, since childhood. I have always seen my father doing Namaskar to God but he was never into prayers and pooja! This was imbibed in me from childhood. Other than this, I always had great support from Jaya and my children, especially during my tough phase. Positivity of the whole family including my nephews and nieces went a long way I keeping me balanced.  

Makarand, yes, I was really not afraid, nor did any of us panic! It was not bravado but overall managing the whole situation as a project, keeping emotions in control, when it was necessitated. Thank you for asking me this question which made me introspect about the tough phase in our life, it was not only my life! I have not done something great that I can advise people but I have suggestions for all who get into any tough situation; it could be illness, it could be family issues, it could be money issues. Be in it together, face the situation upfront. Acceptance is the key to fighting back. Every fight is winnable to an extent. Leave rest to Him!