Cricket World Cup 2015 final!

Today the 2019 cricket world cup has started. The event took me back to 29th March 2015 the day on which the final was played for that world cup. It was played at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. For the records, Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. I had been planning to see the live final for a long time, and we could finally make it to MCG. This is neither a blog nor a travelogue. I am just sharing my memories with you.

It all started in an unplanned way, as usual. It was the end of February 2014, and I had just completed my cancer treatment. Since I had nothing to do, I was surfing on the net. I looked at world cup cricket details and found that the ticket window had just opened. I asked Jaya, “Should I buy tickets for a Cricket match.” She said, “Let us not rush into it. First, you recover from the treatment, and then we will see.” I said, “The match is much later.” She gave a go ahead. I bought the tickets for MCG for the finals. She was surprised but happy. She thought I was talking of an IPL match!

Well, I informed Ranjith, who lives in Melbourne about the tickets. He sent a message to me that one of his bedrooms was booked for us! We decided to take Delhi-Melbourne, Air India flight. At the immigration, when they saw that we were travelling to Melbourne, there were no questions but a great bonhomie. The folks told us to return back with the world cup! Our family friends Dr and Dr Mrs Harshe had also travelled for the match. On our flight, there were about 40 people who were going for the game.

By the time we reached Melbourne, India had lost the semis to Australia. But our spirits did not dampen; the final at MCG was the calling! Many people had travelled from India with the hopes that India will reach the finals, but it was not to be! The D day arrived. We were about 6 km from the stadium. Two of us, along with Ranjith and his family, decided to travel by Trams. People were encouraged to use public transport to avoid traffic jams. We had to change the Tram at Flinders railway station. All the Trams were jam-packed, but the rush was not “felt”, but the atmosphere was created! Weather was sunny, but Ranjith had advised us to carry a jacket because the weather was expected to turn cool during the second session.

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Our walk to the stadium was about half a km after the Tram ride. But never even once we felt the great rush or any chaos. Everything was very orderly. I was wondering how many people were going to attend the match. Each person had to get the barcode on the ticket scanned for the turnstile. There were many entry points, and it did not look crowded at all. I was surprised to know that the attendance was 93103! So many people, but there was hardly any rush, jostling or pushing anywhere, starting with the Trams, the turnstile, the eateries, the washrooms! At the end of the match, the spillage of beer was the only indication that so many people had attended the game; that too, because people carried six beer glasses at a time! People sitting next to us were New Zealanders and chatted with us a lot as we were also backing New Zealand.

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The match started with McCullam getting out in the first over for zero! He was in top form in the tournament, and his failure led to New Zeland scoring a very non-competitive score of 183 which was overhauled by Australia losing only three wickets. (If you remember, in 1983, India had won against West Indies in the finals, after scoring 183) Johnson and Faulkner took three wickets each. Elliot scored a graceful 83 for New Zealand.

Since us desi folks were hoping that India will reach the finals, 20 to 25% people for the match were Indians. They were fully prepared for the game, musical instruments and all. After the game, a few troupes danced a great bhangda outside the stadium.  During prize distribution ceremony many greats and dignitaries were present. Longest clapping and cheers were obviously for Sachin! He is extremely popular in Australia as he has always given them a high competition even in Australia!

What was my take from this match? Humans are all the same where ever we go in the world. But public discipline in Australia was excellent, as expected, the desis also behaved in a disciplined manner, while in Australia. What happens to many of our brethren when they come back to India is difficult to judge. With ninety thousand plus people, the cleanliness in the toilets at the end of the match, and general cleanliness in the stadium was to be seen to be appreciated. Australian backers were throwing expletives towards the New Zealand players while the match was going on. Those who were a little high because of too much beer were a bit too excited but were kept under control by their friends. But overall, the proper play was appreciated, and the Cricket’s four-year jamboree was celebrated by all!

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On the way back to Pune, we had planned to see the 2019 world cup final, but alas, it is not to be! Maybe in 2023?

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At the peak of happiness!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? This sentence is from the Snow White fairy-tale. Her mother wants the mirror to reply. In the German language, the fair is interpreted clearly as “beauty”. But English interpretation is a little different. Fair in English is about the colour and complexion of the skin. Even in the white race, the “fair” or with the paler skin or blonde is considered more beautiful. But when we talk of the weather, fair means pleasant weather.

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Similarly, a question came to mind, who is the happiest of all? What is the meaning of happiness and what is our interpretation of happy? Happiness is a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. The same question can be asked to happiness mirror. Who is the happiest of all? The obvious answer is the babies. Their primary needs are food and sleep. If they get their feed, on time, they have the least of the worries in this world. They will go to sleep when they feel sleepy irrespective of what is happening around them. But then we don’t remain babies, all our life.

I get a feeling that the older people would be the happiest among all groups. I am sure that you have already thought that Pramod is getting older and senile. But look at the things from the view of old people. Old means old, I am young as I will complete 70 this year.

Thinking like an older person is thinking about resilience and focusing on “what is”, as opposed to “what is not” — accepting your mortality by not being so afraid of it. When you are older, you view the time horizons in front of you differently. You understand that the days are finite, and we might as well enjoy the ones we have left. The waking up in the morning and saying, “Thank God for another day” is an indication of accepting the truth. I had read a joke about old age. A person tells his friend, “Look, buddy, my doctor told me the other day to think positively. He said that if you wake up and find that you do not have a single aching part in your body, safely assume that you are dead. Don’t bother even to get up!”  That was the doctor’s way of telling us to accept the facts of life.

As we grow old, we tend to forget some things, but it is selective forgetfulness. I was treated for cancer from December 2013 to February 2014. I was required to take 34 Radiations along with Immunotherapy. These caused me body rash, cough and a lot of pain in the neck, no pun intended. I took a lot of pain killers in those days. But I don’t remember these things much; I only have a vague memory of the trauma I faced. Selective forgetfulness is the gift given to us by old age. A study says that we become forgetful, but we forget more adverse events from our life. The corollary to the phenomenon is that we become happier. We also learn over a period that bad things in life are not special treatment meted out only to us. Everybody goes through different situations. Knowing this does not reduce the effect such traumas have on us. But it reduces impact knowing that it is a common problem.

You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based on the events of our lives. It’s in reaction to the events in our lives. That’s a useful thing, to realise “I don’t have control over some of the events in my life, like the weather, but I actively have a say in how I respond to the weather.”

Which is the relevant keyword in our thinking? Happiness or Choice, to me it’s “Choice.” It’s declaring that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. You have a say in this. That declaration is liberating. That liberation is happiness. Happiness isn’t just the thing you choose; it’s the act of choosing it that makes you happy.

There are various things that we can do to improve our thinking and quality of life. If someone has depression, it is a condition that needs to be treated and not something that will go away by thought. It also won’t ensure that you will have a better future. But positive thinking will make sure that you look at at your life in such a way, that at your current situation feels happier. We should focus on “what is” and not “what we don’t have”! The younger people always think oppositely, as they believe that life is infinite!

To understand happiness at a particular stage, a person needs to be of that age. We were all children at some stage; hence we know what makes children happy! But when younger people interact with older ones, they don’t understand the real needs of the old people. We say that this old man or a woman talks too much. The issue is that as you grow older, you get less and fewer opportunities to talk.

On top of that, one can have hearing issues. So, the conversation can become difficult. Very few younger people will understand these issues, but many times it is the younger ones who decide the needs of older people. At old age, if people develop the ability to accept life’s realities, life’s experience is much more enjoyable. These people don’t need to fight hard to achieve their targets, as their targets are always short term targets. They know their financial and physical limitations and need to accommodate within whatever they have!

Friends, people of my age group sometimes have family responsibilities. But the older group does not have any such issues. Try and make the lives of older people happier. On my way to the gym, I see an old man sitting in the home premises watching things. Once I went and chatted with him for 15 minutes. He did not want me to go. He is 95 years of age and had most of his faculties intact. Near my home, there is an old people’s home. Once early morning, I had gone out to take some photographs. A group of three old people was chatting outside the gate of the home. I stopped and had an interaction with them. I could get away only after an hour or so. All of them wanted to talk; it appeared that it was their primary need. They called another friend who came out, and also joined the chat. From their face, I could see that they enjoyed the conversation very much. I was only asking a few questions to take things forward.

I am confident that older people are the ones who are the happiest in their lives provided they get the right atmosphere and the proper support. Their needs are minimal; others need to find some time for them! Don’t forget that we are also going to reach that phase at some time, hopefully! So, it will be a good idea to propagate such a thought process in society! Let us make a beginning somewhere !

Dental Gum!

For this blog, I have used the title as Dental Gum (गम in Hindi). गम in Hindi means sorrows. People usually connect dental treatment with fear, pain, and sorrows. First, let me make a disclaimer or two. 

  • My daughter Priya is a Pediatric Dentist 
  • I had my first dental treatment at the age of 65, that too because I went through cancer treatment and had 34 radiation sittings. I was treated for dental caries. 

I somehow have the feeling that a person’s dental health quality is hereditary! My grandmother could eat raw mango (Kairi) easily in her eighties. I have the same ability, but I have a way to go.  

I chose the subject because I read an article about horror stories about dentists, in the US. Well, as in any field some people do not follow the ethics and can be called black sheep. Making a general statement about any whole group of professionals is incorrect. But not that I am not going to tell any horror stories (as I have taken dental treatment only once), but I will share with you some anecdotes shared by Priya with me.  

First things first, I have been brushing my teeth only once a day, I don’t do any flossing. I have never used any special brushes or toothpaste. I have had my share of chocolates and ice-creams, colas and candies. I have a sweet tooth, but now I don’t consume these things. So my heridetary theory should be ok!

Once I asked Priya about her young patients. I asked her, “How tough is it to handle the kids on the  chair?” She said, Baba, once my patients get confidence about me, they are straightforward to handle. It is their mothers who are difficult to handle. 

I am going to share anecdotes about patients, their parents, general situations in dentistry. Sometimes it is funny, many times it is surprising, but probably human behaviour remains very similar in different situations.  

Priya was treating a fouryearboy. He was very cooperative, but sometimes he needed a kid-glove treatment, pun, of course, is intended. One day he came inside, goggles and all; a la Salman Khan. He was a big fan of Salman. He came inside, sat on the chair and Priya started the work. After about ten minutes he signalled to Priya to stop. Priya stopped and asked him the reason. Without replying he indicated her to allow him to get down from the chair. Priya complied, he got down. He put on his goggles, put both his thumbs in the trouser pockets. He danced to the tune of the Hindi song, “Hud Hud Dabangg, Dabangg; after a couple of minutes, he stopped, climbed back in the chair and signalled Priya to restart the work! 

Some patients are too busy to take their kids to the doctor. There was one such lady, the same age as that of Priya. She always claimed that only time she could get her child to the clinic was 8 pm on a Saturday. After all, she was in IT. She would always tell Priya how difficult it was in IT and so on. Once the lady came almost twenty minutes late for the appointment and Priya had her next patient in another clinic. They met on the staircase; the lady started her usual dialogues of being in IT, but her hands were full of stuff bought in the malls. Priya apologised and said that she could not treat her child as her next patient was waiting at another clinic. The lady was upset, and before she could start her diatribe, Priya told her, “Look, I am a doctor, and I don’t know anything about IT. But let me share some personal information with you. My mother is handling Nvidia operations in Pune, my father runs his software business for the last 15 years, and my elder brother is working in Microsoft at Seattle for some time. So, there is a possibility that I may know a few things about IT, by induction. One more thing, when I was a child, my parents used to take me to doctors, whenever it was needed, without bothering about time and the day. Thank you!” The lady never spoke about IT stuff with Priya again. 

One lady came with her child. The child was fitted with a crown, and the child was not supposed to eat chocolates for obvious reasons. While eating the chocolate, the crown came out and was misplaced. Priya told her, “ I had told you not to give chocolates to the kid. Why did you not follow instructions?”  The treatment was done, and the crown fitted again; when she was asked to pay the money, she simply refused to pay saying that it was Priya’s fault, chocolate was incidental. Priya let her go and instructed her team not to give an appointment to that patient again!  

The next episode could be an incorrect diagnosis or was it the socalled horror story; I am not sure! I felt that it was a case of the wrong diagnosis. An eightmonthold child was brought to the clinic; Priya was surprised, as generally such small babies rarely have any teeth. The mother told her the following story. A couple of days back while the mother was cleaning the babies mouth, she saw a gold tooth in the baby’s mouth. She took the baby to three or four doctors, and all of them said that the gold tooth needs to extracted; treatment needed to be done under general anaesthesia. Since the baby was very young parents were not too keen about the procedure. Somebody suggested to them Priya’s name, and they came to the clinic. Priya looked at the child and saw what was inside. She had a small instrument in her hand. She put the instrument in the babies mouth and plucked the golden “Tooth”; it a piece of gold that was stuck in the baby’s gum. Out came a small earring. Priya gave it to the mother. It was the mother’s earring; she had never realised that it was missing. Somehow it had fallen and went into the baby’s mouth and became the “Golden Tooth”! The tears of joy came in the parent’s eyes! The father asked Priya “Doctor what will be the charges?” Priya said, “No charges; I am happy that I could do this without any anaesthesia”!  

How trial by media can affect a professional career can be seen in the following anecdote. A child was being treated by a dentist. He checked up with parents if any medicine was being given to the child. The mother said that they were not giving any other medicines. The doctor gave the local anaesthesia and started the treatment. After some time he felt that the child was becoming listless. They rushed the child, to the next door paediatrician. From there they rushed to the hospital. But the child died. The trial by media started; the newspapers showed the doctors name and the photograph of the clinic. The baby’s parents gave statements and hid the fact that there was another treatment being given to the child! The medical council did its investigations and in the end, found out that the dentist and the paediatrician had followed the correct procedures. But all the media trial and photographs in the newspapers made life very difficult for the dentist. He left Pune and moved to another city!  

Friends, life can be exciting, rewarding and tough at the same time for professionals. But some times, one loses control over the situation, and things do get haywire. Customer is always the king or a queen; the kings and the queens also can go overboard and need to be told so. But at the end of the day, professionals have to remain true to their profession and continue to perform! Don’t forget to show the smiling face, especially when a child is being treated.

 

Our personal ATM!

An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic telecommunications device that enables customers of financial institutions to perform financial transactions, such as cash withdrawals, deposits, transfer funds, or obtaining account information, at any time and without the need for direct interaction with bank staff. These machines came into use in late ’60 s of the last century and proliferated in previous 30 years or so. In India, the penetration started in this century.

But we all have had our personal ATM’s for ages, maybe without our knowledge. What is a personal ATM? We go to bank ATM’s when we need to make some financial transactions without going to the bank. But for living life, humans have HIM as the central banker. Whenever we have some difficulty, we go to Him and request for a solution. Whenever we have troubles, we go to Him and offer him something in return if our problems are resolved. The offering that we make can be termed as interest paid, but it sometimes looks like a bribe to me!

Over a period in our lives, we meet a lot of people; we are acquainted with many people. These people may be friends, relatives, mentors, many different people with whom we feel confident and comfortable. They are our sounding boards. Let us call them Personal ATM as PATM! ATM has specific uses regarding finance, but PATM has many different usages depending on situations. Sometimes these are a sounding board or an advisor. Sometimes PATM can act as a bank. I have seen PATM’s used as someone who gives a pleasant feeling in life when you interact with that person.

Any ATM or a PATM make limited assets available to us. But there is one PATM which makes unlimited assets available to us. This PATM is our parents. You can go to them for emotional support, financial support or any other support. They are always available and are prepared to do whatever is needed to be done, no questions asked. I remember in late ’70 s of last century, Jaya got an opportunity to study in the US; she was offered UN fellowship. We went to my parent’s house in the evening, and we were a bit concerned because the period involved was one year. When Jaya explained everything to them, my father said, “Why did you not accept the proposal today itself? There is nothing to discuss. You are getting a good opportunity, take it. We will look after Sachin for this year when you are away.” Sachin was six years old at that time. Discussion over, the matter settled. We knew that they would support us, but it was not even discussed. Most of us are lucky to have such parents. But some of us tend to take disadvantage of their willingness to go out of the way to support us.

I have read of a story from Canada where a lady had difficulty about looking after her child for a month. Her parents lived 20 miles away. During that one month, her 75-year-old father drove one way 10 miles, so that the lady was not required to detour too much. He would also come every day with a ready meal to make life easy for the lady; the child then would jump into grandpa’s car. I have not mentioned that this was done in January with very heavy snow. Unlimited PATM?

Some are good people, and others approach you only when they need a withdrawal. I have understood one rule in life that asset balancing happens throughout our life. Life does not balance every account. Many accounts remain in debit balance; some stay in a credit balance. I am happy about a few accounts which have remained in debit; I will tell you what I mean. I have a brilliant, balanced minded friend who once came to my house. He looked quite flustered. We went to a lake outside Pune, and he opened out. He said, “I don’t feel like going to my office and a day before, while travelling, I was quite disturbed and felt like committing suicide. My wife convinced me to come back to Pune, and here I am.” He had no problems whatsoever with the job, but he felt as if he was a misfit. We discussed things in details. I suggested to him that he should resign the next day which he did. He has lived an excellent professional and personal life after that event. I was happy that he felt like coming to me for support.

What to do with people who come to you only in need, though they are (or was it were) close otherwise? I don’t do anything; I don’t react. I don’t even feel sad. Have I reached Nirvana? No, I have not. But when people come to you for withdrawal, do you expect them to thank you? I support people because I want to! Period! One thing PATM’s should ensure that whatever people share with them, should remain a secret for a lifetime. Difference between an ATM and PATM is that ATM does not have emotions. It nonchalantly does what is expected of it but not PATM. I will tell why.

I called a young friend of mine on his birthday to wish him. After the usual banter he said, “Sir, I was detected with a patch in the lung which turned out malignant. I was going to call you to discuss this as my wife also suggested that I should take your support.” I had gone through cancer treatment more than five years back. After he shared the details, an emotional storm was created in mind. I wrote the blog shown below and shared it with him.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/from-sir-with-love/

Yesterday, both the friend mentioned in the above blog and his wife came to our home for a social visit. He looked well, enthusiastic and energetic. We had a great chat, and he had plans for the future. Even during his treatment he did professionally very well and shared it with us. Honestly, I had only put in my two cents as support for him. But his mental strength and family support, along with support from his office have helped him overcome the battle. This month will be his final treatment dose. I am elated to see a young man battle it out successfully. I am sure that he will also be an excellent PATM to someone when the need arises.

Then there are tête-à-tête with friends. A very close friend’s daughter was in the process of getting married; the friend requested for tête-à-tête (casual chat). There was nothing formal, but we discussed many things about life in general, the situation in particular. We met many times and finally concluded to let the situation take its course. Rest as they say is history; the couple is happily married! But this situation provided us with a reason to meet frequently; our busy schedules usually allowed us to meet infrequently.

In our case, Jaya and I are PATM’s for each other. We have been discussing each and everything in life, and our varied experiences and thinking came out with excellent solutions most of the times. We will today fight bitterly about non-selection of Pant in India’s world cup team, but when it comes to things directly connected with our lives, we come to a correct solution every time with a smiling face.

PATM’s are very different from ATM’s. ATM’s will do only financial transactions from the finite balance in your account. PATM’s will perform a different type of operations from a sounding board to counselling, just being with you. PATM’s sometimes help financially too, if required; no questions asked! PATM transactions can be infinite!

There are plenty of PATM’s around; we just need to look for them!

I am humbled!

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Friends are going to call me and ask why I have used antonyms in the title. Most friends will pull my leg and tell me that the words Pramod and humble don’t go together. But I am sincerely humbled. I started as a tottering blogger somehow managing to write  400word blogs; what I wrote in those days and what write today are both called blogs! A captive audience of Jaya, Sachin and Priya encouraged me, initially! They would give me a star once in a while, as I was in KG stage of blog writing!  

During a dinner last evening with my college mates, a friend asked me, “You were never a literary type, how did you end up being a serious blogger?” I started thinking about my journey and how I ended up writing. We never know where we are going to end up in life, about the place where we finally settle down, what career is one going to choose, whom we would marry and so on. For my preengineering years, I was in Mumbai’s Elphinstone college. I stayed at the hostel with my dear friend Sharad. One day we just decided that we will move to COEP in Pune. The reason why did this is unknown but it is possible that we thought hostels in Mumbai and Pune would be the same, so why not! In plain English, we still do not know the reason.  

Our stay in hostels changed our view of looking at life. We learnt to absorb shocks while living, without any fuss. One night a friend slipped from the roof of the building and died; he was a stargazer. We had no option but to absorb that shock; we would show brave face as if nothing had happened. After a few months, there was an earthquake which shook the building, literally. Again, we handled this event as if nothing had happened. But we were shocked from inside. Someone or the other would always be short of funds at the month end. Others would ensure that he never felt the pinch. But all were vicious against those who were nasty and would cheat on others to save the money. Some did well in exams, and some did not. Friends and partners were always there to discuss and support while facing tough times. In most cases, we did not even know anything about the background of others; they were simply friends. The hostel has given me life-long friends, and I cannot write the names as the list in real loooong! Along with Sharad, Nayan was my room mate! 

Our stay at the hostels changed the horizon and gave us a different way of looking at life. The similar change I had felt when I moved to live on the 7th floor condo a few years ago. Before this, all our homes were on the ground floor. I had apprehensions about how I would feel by not being “grounded”! But then I don’t know when the perception changed into a broader (and taller) way of looking at life. When we moved to the 7thfloor apartment, I was taking cancer treatment. In the initial phase of the treatment and posttreatment, we had time on hand to sit in the balcony to observe the rolling hills, flying birds and movement of people and vehicles in the small bylane that was visible from the balcony! Jaya had retired just before my treatment started, but did not get even a few minutes of retired life; my granddaughter and I kept her very busy. But when we started sitting in the balcony for tea or chit-chat, we realised that unless we changed our thinking and took a new approach, our vision remained constant. By changing the fundamental approach to thinking, we look at life differently, it provides us a different perspective.   

I found my bearings with the blog “Dance of Civilisation”! It gave me confidence that I could write more and was not feeling intimidated by the thought of writing and publishing. This process of writing and publishing gave me pleasure, and it was enhanced by your comments, phones, WA messages and analysis. Recently people utterly unknown to me have become followers of the blogs. 

Friends, I am honoured by receiving comments from you on my blogs. Vijay gives his thoughts on most of my blogs and shares his thoughts. Vijay has almost become a blogger now and writes long comments and his opinions on what I write. Another friend Pradeep started reading my blogs a couple of months back, and he has read most of them. One great thing about Pradeep is that he does not mince words when he shares his opinions. Pradeep lives in the US and shares with me his views based on his stay in the US for the last 45 years. Some insights that he shares are the result of his extended stay in the US and his analytical mind.  

One comment which I liked the most is by a friend. He minced no words and declared, “You have started thinking that you are an expert in every field, but to me, it is pseudo expertise!” The comment made me think about the way I write. But on the same blog, another friend who met me for breakfast said, “You don’t write like an engineer and keep things very vague.” I told him, “I try to explain two sides of the same subject instead of stressing my viewpoint only.” Such conflicting comments confuse me. A friend is saying that I am a pseudo and I give my strong opinions without considering the other side; whereas the other friend blamed me for being too mild and not writing specifically what I want to say.  

To become a better writer, I have bought software that checks grammar and gives me suggestions and shows my errors. Similarly, I need to locate a software which will analyse the different comments and show me the way forward. One thing is confirmed that people think and talk about the same thing differently. It is like five blind men describing an elephant. The experience has also taught me that people comment about the content and not the way I write.  

In future, I am hoping to take formal training with online courses about creative writing and become a better writer. But the question is better than whom or better than what? As long as I am happy with the way I write, it is ok with me. But please don’t misunderstand. I am not claiming that I am the best blogger in town. I would rate myself as slightly below average on certain days and somewhat above average on a few days. Where would you rate me? 

Thanks a million! I have reached a milestone of the 400th blog which I had never imagined I would!  

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Mediquettes!

Mediquettesis a term coined by me. It is the combination of medical aspects of life and etiquettes to be followed therein. In recent times, life expectancy has gone up. With the increase in life expectancy, people fall sick more times in their lifetime, than they would have, even 70 years back. People died much earlier in those times compared to today. Hence people were taken to hospitals less frequently. Now we are regularly required to meet a relative or a friend who is being treated at a hospital.  

There are etiquettes to be followed during hospital visitations or when we go to meet the persons taking treatment at home. To me, the protocols are to be followed by visitors as well as the medical fraternity. With an increase in life span, people face various illnesses which were not prevalent before. The treatment and the support needed in some cases are quite extensive.  

I will share my personal experience when I went through my cancer treatment five years back. I had to undergo 34 radiation sessions. My oncologists had told me that I would have a problem swallowing, after three to four weeks of radiations. Hence a feeding tube was inserted from day one through my nose to the stomach. After about four weeks, I had to take formula food through the feeding tube (8 feeds a day). Jaya had to handle this with some support in between from Sachin and sometimes Priya and Ashwini. Each feed required an hour, including preparation and cleaning, and there were eight such feeds every day. On top of this our granddaughter, Rhea was two months old; her feeds were also to be managed. Things became very hectic as Jaya had to coordinate other stuff besides my feeds. We took a decision not to receive any phone calls. We informed people that we could not receive phone calls. Most people understood that there must be a hectic schedule; hence calls were not answered. But some people were upset and said so. We informed as many people as possible by mail or WhatsApp messages. 

The first etiquette we all need to follow is to give family space and time. Don’t pressurise people by going to meet them. When in the hospital, there are hundreds of things that need to be tracked. Sometimes staff forgets to give medicines, other times they don’t come on time when the patient needs support. When a patient is in CCU/ICU, we should never go to meet them. In many hospitals, now they don’t allow visitors to meet such patients. If someone has undergone surgery, give the patient a few days to recover before going to meet them.  

WhatsApp groups have created an awkward situation. When alumni groups form, we get in touch with friends from olden times. But at my age, a lot of water has flown down the bridge. We interchange, share posts with each other. We start thinking that we know friends very well. But there are many friends on the group, whom we have never even met during college times. They become our fair weather friends now, because of their alumni contact 

A few of our friends are undergoing treatment for paralysis. In paralysis, physical functions get challenged, and patients physical activity gets restricted. In such cases, some of the patients do not like even close friends to come and meet them. Since WA groups create an atmosphere of camaraderie, many people who were unknown even in college time, go to meet the patient. Such an act is forcing something unwanted. Avoid it. Instead, try to communicate with the spouse and ask if some help is needed and give it when required. 

Some people do not know how to counsel people. In their enthusiasm to help the patient, they share some examples in which the patients worsened or died! Such instances put the patient in a sombre mood. Instead, one should hold a hand and maybe, say nothing.  

Many a time people take some food with them; avoid it. If the patient does not have a separate room, then it can become difficult even to store foodstuff. Patients generally eat food decided by the treating doctor and served by the hospital. One can take the person supporting, for a cup of tea to reduce that persons stress. Sometimes that person may want to share somethings, but the person cannot discuss such things in front of the patient. In the case of paralysis, sometimes the treatment and support are needed for a couple of years or more. During that period the persons whole family is under duress, jumping from one therapy to another, trying something different. Giving them space becomes essential rather than only meeting them. Try and take over a session or two of support, if you can. That is more helpful.  

Medical fraternity and overall hospital systems are under terrific pressure all the time because, during health issues, family members do not understand the intricacies of the treatments. They keep on probing and pushing for more information. Most of the staff and doctors manage smiling faces. But it is not easy. Medical fraternity must understand that the very nature of their job needs them to have a smiling face all the time. But many times it does not happen.  

The instructions to staff are very vague, sometimes. A patient being treated for a severe migraine attack needs peaceful sleep. But other than doctors, many people keep on disturbing the patient. Cleaning team survey team, counselling team and the list goes on and on. Every 30 minutes someone will come and make noise, put the lights on, ask the sleeping patient if she is sleeping well! Come on use common sense!  

The billing process in hospitals is one of the most distressfull methods that creates stress. Whether you are paying cash, or you are covered under cashless medical insurance, they take at least 2 to 3 hours to process your bill. I have seen an accounting staff from the hospital, soliciting the patients relatives to pay cash and the claim the payment from the insurance!  

During my treatment for Cancer, I was given a drug intravenously every Monday. It cost around Rs.6.5/ lacs. The company supplying the drug supposedly provides eight doses at a time. My body could not take more than five doses and then that treatment was discontinued and the primary purpose was served. Balance three doses, worth Rs.2.5/ lacs remained with the hospital; we suggested them to give those doses to the needy when required. No needy patient has yet turned up, even after five years! Ordering more than necessary according to me is a great shame. 

Recently, I came to know the story of a person who died. He had a heart condition and was fitted with the pacemaker. After death, the hospital staff said that they are removing the pacemaker and just took it away. 

Hospital stories can go on and on. In our culture, we feel forced to rush and meet someone who is unwell. This creates an overload on the whole medical system. The crowds that we see in hospitals are unmanageable. Medical fraternity needs peace of mind, and the patient and his supporting team of friends and family need space. We should help to create an atmosphere which will be beneficial for all. I have not touched the subject of children living in foreign countries when their parents fall sick. It would be a subject for a full blog!

 

 

 

It’s Never too late, Pradeep!

pradeepgavankar

Our life is about people. It’s about our family, friends, acquaintances, and business associates. There are of course some people whom you meet during your travels! It is difficult to say how and why these relationships go forward in life. But sometimes you wonder why certain relationships did not blossom! Why did they not go to the next level? As usual, when we can’t explain something, we call it destiny. Yesterday 15th January 2019 was an important day in my life.

A couple of weeks back my friend Ram told me that our classmate, Pradeep Gavankar will be in India; he lives in Houston, Texas. I was thrilled when Ram said that another friend Milind is coordinating a lunch meeting with a group of friends so that Pradeep can meet them. I was, of course, thrilled and decided to go to Mumbai for lunch. I had no other work but to meet friends.

The thought of meeting Pradeep, face to face almost after 45 years took me down the memory lane. I had met him last when I attended his marriage. Later on, we were in touch randomly. A couple of times I talked to him on the phone when I had travelled to the USA. There were a couple of email exchanges, but I was always keen to know what was happening in his life.

It is interesting to know how I got in touch with him pre FB and WA days. One day I was surfing on the net, and I came across the photograph of Amol Gavankar. Amol was a student then. When I saw the photo, I saw some similarity with Pradeep. So I wrote Amol an email, “ If Pradeep is your dad then I am Pradeep’s classmate”. A couple of days later Pradeep wrote to me and as I have said that we have been in touch sporadically. Once we discussed about the death of our common friend Dilip Marathe. But still, the communications has remained on and off type. Honestly, there was no reason for this type of contact, but it continued that way.

Yesterday when we met for lunch, we had a lot talk and discuss and update. Let me tell you why I am thrilled. Pradeep and I go years back! We used to be neighbours, when we were in, now what can be called today, as Lower KinderGarten. If I remember correctly, it was a school run by a lady called, Avantika Kelkar, if I am not mistaken! We lived in the western suburb of Andheri in Bombay. I distinctly remember Pradeep and our homes! In late ’80 s of the last century, I had gone to visit another friend Sharad, in that area.

I made a round of the colony where we had our old homes; I was surprised to find that they still existed as old structures (which made me sad!) From Andheri my father was transferred out of Bombay, and I am sure both of us did not even understand the meaning of losing touch. My father later came back to Bombay, and I joined Ram Mohan School in the 7th grade. I lived in an area Dhobi talao, famous for its cricket maidans, and also renowned for brutal killing police officers in 26/11 attack. I started catching G3 bus for school, early morning at 6.15. Somehow I knew that Pradeep was in the same school. On the second day, I met a guy my age on the bus, he also went to my school. He took the bus before my stop. I asked him if he knew Pradeep Gavankar; I had asked this question to Pradeep! It was again the quirk of the destiny that brought us back. We passed our SSC from the school, and both of us joined Elphinstone College! Pradeep stood first in our school in the board exam. Post Inter Science Pradeep joined VJTI, and I came to COEP Pune for engineering. We used to know about each other on and off! I always have this question how did we keep track of people before the Internet? Pradeep invited me for his marriage. I attended it in Bombay.

While in school and later on during education, I used to go to Pradeep’s home in Colaba. It had a lovely terrace, and we used to have the fun, but I don’t remember what used to discuss and play. Later on, they moved to an area called Bombay Central. I visited that home too! I remember that Pradeep’s father was an art professional.

Though we were not in touch all these years, I had a perfect image of Pradeep as a person. The studious (in school he was known as a scholar!), a gentleman, soft-spoken, mature (even in school days) and of course mischievous. When we met yesterday, we were discussing my cancer treatment. He asked me, “Is rest to your throat not recommended? Oh! Sorry, that is out of the question! Nobody can ever tell you that”, he said with a smile!

Pradeep, let me tell you, now that long lost friends have been found, there is no way I am going to let you go missing again. In Cricket parlance, we did have a couple of innings but did not utilise them to score runs. But now in this new innings, that too in our Golden Period, let us not let go each other and have fun! As usual, I will be boisterous about it, and you will enjoy in your quiet fashion.

For records purpose, Pradeep went to the US and Graduate Studies in Civil Engineering area. He is a renowned expert in harbours and other such areas. I am yet to get a full update on what he did Professionally. Rest assured that I am going to fill your inbox with links for my blogs. Pradeep, I know that a human has to write his quota of words during his lifetime. You did much more than what I am doing these days, during your education and professional work. You know that half the time I used to be in punishment mode while in school, standing outside the class! Destiny seems has caught up with me and making me complete the writing quota!

We got ourselves yesterday connected on WhatsApp when Pradeep sent me our photo (displayed at the top) taken during the lunch yesterday, and he captioned it as “Long lost friends!” My reply to him was

“Hey Pradeep, it was great to meet you and chat with you. But it was like we were given the wine for approval  before giving the go-ahead to serve our Dom Perignon! So let us makeup and finish our bottle of wine. I know the cellar is full of many more vintage bottles. Here is a link for word document where links for many of my blogs are given. Choose what you like.”

https://1drv.ms/w/s!Aq4ckSwupy2SmbgiEwplNlSwoIT0qg

I really mean it Pradeep, and my travel to Mumbai yesterday was really worth it! So long friend till my next message or the next call!