From the COVID Patient’s mouth! 

In English, there is a term used, “from the horse’s mouth”! It means from the person directly concerned or another authoritative source. It is the story of a family living in London. Both husband and wife are in the early ’40s with a ten-year-old child.

The information becomes more authentic because both husband/wife in the medical field,; they are dentists! Another important point is that they are family! Today I chatted with them on the Facebook messenger. He was down with COVID 19 for a couple of weeks! By God’s grace now everything is all right, and he has come out of it. I have given below the chat verbatim. I have removed my side of the discussion as I thought it is not important. Secondly, I have removed the references regarding family matters for obvious reasons.

Unedited comments from the patient are below:

I’m good now, just had the most horrendous two weeks when I was down with COVID 19 along with pneumococcal pneumonia. But now fully recovered.

Nice. All three of us at home as well ….no work, no active school (for the child) for the next three months, except for online teaching/learning

Different times. Make the most of it

Most happy to share, no shame. So started out typically with tiredness and mostly mild fever on day1….fatigue, the malaise started to get worse and felt slightly bunged up from day 2 …no cough though. Fever persistent so was taking paracetamol, and grandmom cures like steam, warm lemon juice etc. Just normal measures boosting Immunity and Vit C. Fatigue, tiredness kept increasing…by day 6 the “lady of the house” and myself felt symptoms were worse and was getting very tired. Obviously, I was self-isolating -stuck in a room. Day 7 called up NHS helpline- went through the rigmarole of talking to call centre, a nurse then doctor. Once doctor Heard- I could not even complete sentences- she booked me at the local hospital as a walk-in emergency patient- From then onwards – I went in- all sorts tests ECG, blood, urine, chest X-ray, swabs for normal flu and COVID etc. I was advised to go home with broad spec antibiotics that day and next day the call confirming diagnosis – noticed patch in the left lower lobe of one lung

Problem was that the fever was not abating despite paracetamol even after antibiotics, but then day 10 onwards things started improving. Greatest relief was the drop in heart rate – so much peace within yourself …throughout the illness due to breathlessness or drop in lung capacity or due to fever – heart rate was above 110-115. So literal palpitations. Also total loss of taste and smell.

It was certainly a ride of a lifetime….never before felt so tired and exhausted. Luckily I was eating and drinking fine…and great care from the wife.

From day 10 everything improved …antibiotics were given for 14 days…finished course. Slowly limping back …still feel tired after doing work…but every day improving.

Braver is the lady of the house …because I think there were a few days when I was in delirium. The wife told me that she was really scared but kept her pecker up

Doctors and nurses – I think are the bravest

About locking down- Us too….for months to come

Especially in this era of ever-evolving knowledge…concepts today debunked tomorrow. Scary times.

Chat ended.

Friends, we have been flooded with a lot of information (or misinformation), most of which are “stories”! I thought that I should share with you the experience from the “patient’s mouth”!  One thing I have understood is that COVID 19 is a serious illness and should not be looked at lightly. If a forty-year-old fit person can suffer so badly, what will happen to older persons? Our friend also did not suffer from any other ailment. But still, the severity of suffering could be felt from what he has shared with me. Imagine the fear and suffering of his wife and his child. Please understand that it is a very difficult situation for migrant diaspora living in other countries. The difficulty is that they do not have any family members to support them. It is both physical and mental support that you need in tough times! A bit of hand-holding, caressing of cheeks can go a long way in helping the patients to handle the illness.

The lesson for all of us is that we should follow all the instructions given by authorities to the last T! Don’t be over smart and definitely don’t be foolish. It is an illness, which consumes you easily as currently there is no cure in sight.

When the going is good, life is good for the diaspora but this unprecedented situation has brought in a tricky scenario. Uncertainty, lack of family support, no clarity about the time frame can make life extremely difficult and uncertain!

It is not only illness but any tough situation that one goes through must be shared with others. People write biographies of people who have gone through life’s ups and downs bravely and smartly. Sometimes one wonders who is bothered about someone else’s life. But people look at the heroes because of what they have achieved. If we did not know about such heroes where will be the beacon for other normal people to take the bull by the horn. There have been athletes, and there have been pilots. We know how Armstrong won the French Road cycling cup despite battling cancer! How Pistorius overcame his birth defect to use Prosthetic on both legs (artificial limbs) to become para Olympic champion is a fairy tale!

Friends, be brave, be open in life. Share how you have achieved great things life but also share how you have overcome the setbacks and the fears accompanying them. It is a great service that you can share with others.

I want to share with you again a blog about my cancer treatment six years back. Falling sick with any illness is not a shame. Destiny gives you a great family, brilliant physique and brains; it also gives you illnesses, accidents and setbacks. You feel happiness in life because the life cycle is made up of happiness and sadness! If one is absent from your life, you may not feel the other! They are a part of the sinusoidal wave of our life.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/23rd-december-2013-to-28th-june-2014/

Next link is about how my friend Prakash Nirgudkar handled a catastrophic event in his life.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/23rd-december-2013-to-28th-june-2014/

Bad news is always true, sadly! A Tribute!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-02 at 11.08.48

Our thinking changes as we mature, at least we think so. When talking to younger people, we say “Oh! I have seen many deaths! You learn to take them in stride as you grow older and mature!” Both right and wrong! Probably what we learn over a period is to overcome the same earlier than other people.

Ullya phoned me last night to check if I knew that Ramya had died in the evening. (Pardon the pet names- we have been using these for more than fifty years so changing that habit is going to difficult.) Ramya is Ramesh Purandare; he passed out of the Electrical Engineering course with us.  Ramya was a friend, but then he was a friend to all. He lived in Sadashiv Peth while in college, and we knew his elder brother Suresh too. Ramesh was our teammate from the softball team. He made all his career in Pune in a company called Mark Elektrics and was their GM.  Vijay, another friend got in touch with the company to get his photo. They shared some photos and other details about him immediately.

 

Today morning when I woke up, I had another three messages from friends who were in our softball team. As per the blog title, the news proved to be true! It made me sad, but at the same time, I went into a reverie! With this, I went back fifty years and remembered my COEP and hostel days. So, pardon me for the second time using the short or pet names!

Ramya was a jovial person, and he had a quicksilver mind. He used to make a pun (not fun) while chatting. We had two or three locations in our college where groups used to have the adda going between two lectures; many times, the sessions continued during lectures too! Ramya had acted in a famous drama called “Zopi Gelela Jaga Zala.” He had played the role of a Parsee gentleman. It was in our college gathering. He had performed well for an amateur. A minor coincidence! I had played the same role in the drama ten years later in our Colony Ganapati festival.

While playing softball, Ramya was aggressive. He used to be the catcher and would control the game by guiding others to perform. He had a clear view of the field, as he was the catcher. But he had a good judgement of what was happening in the game. We would change the tactics in between as per his suggestions. Once in a match, I dropped two catches one after another! He came running to me and said, “Panya, don’t worry, it can happen to the best. Be a little patient, and your confidence will come back.” We finally won that match. Usually aggressive, Ramya was soft and patient with me on my bad day!

When Ramya was in any group, there would always be laughter! He had stories to tell. He would sometimes share stories of how he had goofed up and would laugh about it.

Taking forward my argument about becoming mature in the face of death, I would say that in most of the cases, it is true. But when some close friend from college days dies it hits you. It would be bravado when I say that I can easily handle Ramya’s death. Ramya and I infrequently met after college days, as typically happens. Both of us had settled in Pune, but we were all busy making our careers and raising our families. I would get updates about him from common friends.

Different people handle such situations differently. I had shared the top photo on our WhatsApp group. Sharya, my roommate in the hostel days reacted with a comment, “This is not Ramya as I remember. Will someone forward his picture from Modern cafe where we used to meet. RIP RAMYA! With cancer, Panya has reported I think he has escaped the sufferings and that is what we expect.”

I replied to Sharya, “Sharya whether we like it or not, the years take their toll! I only met Ramya a couple of times in the last 15 years or so. Before that, I went to his office whenever I was on that side. Changes do take place in everyone, but your memory recalled the time when you last saw him , i.e. when we were in college! We also change, but we don’t realise it.”

I remember an incident when my mother died years back. A nephew of mine lives in the US. When we called him to inform him about the death, he just would not accept it. For about seven/eight years, he had not come to India. He said, “Oh, come on! How could she die? She was so healthy and looked hale and hearty!” I told him, “Buddy since you last saw her, she had become weak and had become frailer. She did have some health issues, and she was tapering off!” Finally, he accepted death. Sharya’s response was something similar. He could not imagine that Ramya was also seventy plus and his photo appears to have been taken after his first cancer treatment which had taken toll of his body.

There are some cynical “rascals” of friends. ( I am using the word rascals in the good sense) They were actually shaken but were trying to show bravado by making some funny and awkward jokes. Ramya would have laughed loudly at those jokes.

Ramya, buddy, what was the hurry to go? But I know that you were a disciplined person. When HE called, you must have just said to near ones, “Ok, HE has called me. I need to go!” I know that you must have gone through a lot of pains for the last couple of years. Chemo and Radiations do batter one’s body! (Probably you were not aware that I had gone through the same treatment six years back) If I had known about your illness, I would come to share with you my experiences. We could have discussed some strategy on the home turf! In that field Ramya, I was more senior to you!

I got all the final details from our common friend Dipya. Ramya I am sure you faced the onslaught bravely. We sports persons are used to victory and loss. But in the final “call” there is loss as far as others are concerned. But you must have accepted it bravely. I am sure, if we had been in touch, you would have told me, “Panyaaa, don’t you come for the final rites with pandemic around.”

The philosophers always say that you come alone in this world and go back alone. Ramya you followed the philosophy to the last T! None of your friends could come to see you merge with HIM! Come on, man, you chose a slightly wrong time to go. You had hundreds of friends, but none could say bye-bye to you for the final time!

Don’t worry all of us are outwardly trying to show that we are brave, but in solitude, you know what will happen!

Old is Gold or YOLD!  

My friend Vijay shared with me an article about the concept YOLD, the Young OLD! It reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend and classmate Dhananjay. Once while chatting, Dhananjay said, “In my home, the situation has become tricky. People in the outside world consider me as a senior citizen; but since both my parents live with me, my father sometimes does not realise that I am reaching the age of seventy. So, I am a junior-senior citizen in my home!” That was a terrific observation. We forget these things quite quickly. There is a saying, “When your son can wear your shoes, start treating him as a friend!” Okay, ladies, sorry! “When your daughter starts using your lipstick, start treating her as your friend!” 

In India, people of my generation rarely had parents who worked professionally. Working ladies as a concept was quite rare in that generationWhen and if they reached the age of 70 like me, they were treated with reverenceThey had faced a tough life and had many experiences to share. Financially, how the joint families of those days survived, is challenging to understand. Money available for survival was less and hence the requirements were lesser. The joint family meant that people did not need “space” as people need or expect today! People lived in “Wadas” in those days; reduced “space” included toilets too! There was one toilet for about 30 people!  

As per the article I have mentioned above, YOLD are the people who are now between 65 and 75! They were born just after world war!!! Those who are in professional fields many times don’t retire at all. Retirement in olden days was 58 or 60, and people used to retire. Many things happened during the lifespan of YOLDS! Improvement in cleanliness, better medical facilities and diagnostics facilities are some of them. Better job and business opportunities helped them to work beyond “retirement”. Combination of various factors improved the health and careers of YOLDS. The result was a notable increase in the number of YOLDS around, and they have decent money, time, space. They also show a willingness to try new things, travel around the globe. The number of YOLDS will grow in future to a sizable population with time and money in the pocket. Combine these traits of the community with decent health, and now you will know why they are called YOLD-young old!  

The YOLDS are the marketing person’s dream. The tourism industry is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. Whenever I chat with any friend or acquaintance from this age group, they are either travelling or have just come back from travel. Maybe they are going to travel next week.  

A German study found that people who remain at work after the normal retirement age manage to slow the cognitive decline associated with old age and have a cognitive capacity of someone a year and a half younger. What Jaya and I do is keep our brain sufficiently busy, which holds many health issues at bay. Chances of brain-related problems, like Dementia, can get delayedWhen money and time are not the issues, one can be in perpetual travel mode or try something new. Jaya and I have already firmed up travel plans for the next three months. Another friend Sham and his wife are in this mode since he sold off his business a couple of years back.  

In short, YOLD are not just any group of older adults. They are challenging the traditional expectations of the retired people who wear slippers and look after their grandchildren. The growth in YOLD population will disrupt consumer, service and financial markets. 

Higher numbers of healthy YOLD people will require drastic changes in health spending. Most diseases of ageing are best met with prevention and lifestyle changes. Now the gyms are offering “Golden Hours” for YOLDS. The timings are between 11 am to 6 pm, and I use this timing to go to the gym. I already see some other people from my age-group utilising the facility. My physician has told me to do some trade mill exercises, followed by weight training. Weight training is to reduce the rate of reduction in muscle strength. My physician told me, “This is to ensure that you can stow your cabin baggage on the flights when you travel! 🙂🙂 

YOLDS will help health industry business in the prevention field because many of us want it. We take vitamin tablets, and we buy food supplement which will be gluten-free. To pursue our lifestyle with vigour, we get ourselves checked regularly to ensure that our body functions are in good shape. I was treated for cancer in 2013/14. Every year I get a CAT scan done to ensure that there is no recurrence. These labs will wish that I am around for a long time! 🙂🙂 

The over-60s are one of the fastest-growing groups of customers of the airline business. The YOLDs are vital to the tourism industry because they spend much more on taking a foreign holiday than younger adults. They are also changing education. YOLDs are going to help the education business too! Last year, I did an online course in creative writing from Oxford. Why did I do it? Why not is the simple answer! Another friend told me that he had started work on his second PhD. He completed his first PhD at the age of 69! He loved painting when he was a child; he has started it again. He has now completed about 20 portraits.

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Another friend Sudhakar takes a keen interest in his painting and is as good or better than many professional painters. He runs his business on the side, sometimes. Sample of one of his paintings is displayed above.

Warli

Jaya has firmed up her plans to restart Warli paintings which she had started a few years back but could not continue because of family commitments. Some of her samples are shown above.

Another area where the business is going up is finance. YOLDS have money and are going to be around for some time. For companies, they did not exist once they passed a certain age as they were not going to buy any Life Insurance. But now YOLDS want to invest some money in annuity returns and sometimes in mutual funds. They are not interested in long term gains for apparent reasons. That reminds me of a joke, and it is not cynical but practical. An 85 year goes to buy bananas. The seller says, “You buy these bananas, but they will ripe after ¾ days.” The old man smiles and says, “These days I plan for ¾ hours, forget ¾ days. Give me bananas which I can eat right away!  

But there will be societal hurdles because society may not understand the importance of YOLDS, especially the productive ones. The YOLD will demand that companies become more age-friendly and, in the process, help change attitudes towards ageing itself. 

Government policies will have to change, too. The retirement age in many rich countries is still below the age to which many people want to work. The effective retirement age (the age at which people leave the workforce) is usually even lower. Public policy makes retirement a precipice where you fall instead of offering a better exits where YOLDS can smoothly go out of the workforce depending on their capabilities.  

The society should realise that the theme song of the YOLDS is the great poem by Robert Frost. The lines below are the last four lines of the poem. Friends if you need the full poem, try the following link. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 

 

New challenges of the modern world! 

Western World and the Japanese have been handling the challenges with ageing population for some time. In India, this challenge has started coming up slowly. The current generation, those who were born around India’s independence in 1947is ageing well, trying to take care of healthand in general gungho about life in general. Technology is helping them in getting in touch with each other using WA, Facebook, Instagram and such apps.  

India has an old tradition of handling the aged relatives in the family. In my young age, in many families there used to be one or two grannies, lovingly called aajjies! In those times most of the families were joint families. From the “post-independence” generation, people started getting better opportunities for education. A small percentage of the population went to foreign countries and stayed back there. Over a period, this percentage started increasing. Computerisation made technology more democratic; more and more people began getting opportunities to work and live abroad. 

Along with this, opportunities for education and work, jobs became abundant. Pan Indian migration started in a big way. All these things resulted in the formation of nuclear families. The ladies too were not far behind. After education ladies became  career oriented in a big way. Steady and better incomes inculcated a new thought process in families. All this gave birth to a new term, space; everybody wanted their space. It has become the requirement of grandparents, parents and children. But this space created voids in the family. The effect of voids was not understood, initially. The family kept helping and supporting each other in the short term. Better medical treatments and diagnostics helped longevity. All these events together have now created a new requirement in society.  

What happens when someone in the family falls ill and needs long time support. The requirement of long-term support arose when people of the golden generation became old but could not handle many things, physically; and in some cases mentally. There are two distinctive supports available. One is palliative support, and the other is like home support. Those who are seriously ill with cancer, heart issues, renal problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary issues, cerebrovascular accident need palliative care; such treatment cannot be handled at home. But general ageing related issues can be dealt under home care.  

In western countries, especially in the US, palliative care facilities are available. In Japan, there is a shortage of such facilities. In India, these facilities, compared to the needs, are almost non-existent. In India, as a society, we are prepared to provide space to each other, but while this change happened, we had not budgeted for parents who can live longer due to improved longevity. The confluence of all this created turmoil in people’s mind about handling the situation. In the year 1981, Jaya and I were in Ottawa as Jaya was taking some training. During one long weekend, we went to an island on a lake with a Canadian friend of ours; he was almost twenty years senior to us. 

On the way back, the friend said, “Hey folks, is it ok if I take a bit of detour?” We said, “Absolutely no issues.” When we reached a destination, the friend said, “It is an old people’s home, my mother is here. I come and meet her every 2/3 months.” We were sitting at the back-side of the car and were confused. We did not know what we were supposed to do. But our problem was solved by his wife. In the parking lot, she said, “I will wait with Jaya and Pramod; you go and see your mother.” Problem solved. In 1981, our friend was ok with the idea of meeting his mother every 2/3 months, because she was within 50 km from Ottawa. As a society, we are not mentally prepared with this idea. The older people’s homes available are not providing facilities that people have at home.  

There is some progress in creating facilitiesBut compared to India’s population, this number is lowIt is about creating facilities; it is also about young and old getting mentally prepared for such arrangements. Hospices need doctors, trained nurses, and medical facility to handle day to day critical requirements. Whereas in older people’s homes, the need is to create facilities which suit all the pockets. Some may need fivestar facilities, and others may be ok with a couple of stars. But there is a significant need for affordable facilities.  

Some people will ask me why am I writing about all these things. The simple reason is it is a need of times like we have schools, colleges, gardens and so on. I hope people have managed to create a corpus which will last them till they are around. 

I will tell you about some facilities in India that I know. According to me, there is a worldclass facility but I will explain it in the end. Please let me know if you know about such facilities in India. In Pune, there is one facility developed by Paranjape builders called Athashri. It is well developed and within Pune city limits. To my knowledge, they have couple of locations. In these facilities, one can buy a condo or rent it from someone who has bought it. I have heard about similar facility in Talegaon near Pune. In Lavasa near Pune, similar facilities are there. I have read something about such facilities near Dehradun, and I am sure there must be more such facilities.  But they do not provide what is provided by Dignity Foundation.

The best of such facilities for me is one in Neral. It is on a hillock, with gradually sloping covered but open corridors. Golf carts are available for those who need them. The place is called Dignity foundation. 

https://www.dignityfoundation.com/Contact-Us.aspx 

The rooms that I saw were like a standard hotel room, with bath and toilet. It had a small cupboard and kitchenette too. They also provide round the clock nursing service if required. I know all the details because someone very close to us lived there for her last few years. They had an arrangement with Reliance Hospital if hospitalisation was required. When she needed an eye treatment, they sent their person with her for a couple of days to Mumbai for treatment. She used to paint, so they had provided her with a small room. Besides joint celebrations, they used to show movies and had many activities. 

When she died, the family suggested cremation in Mumbai. But their manager suggested that if there were no specific reason to do it Mumbai, they would arrange everything in NeralWe all went to Neral for cremation. After everything was completed, the manager suggested a small tour of the facility because some of the people had never seen it before. In the end, he took us to their dining area.

He said, “Sir, it is already 1.30 pm. The management has suggested that all of you should have lunch with us and know what kind of food the residents is served.” It was a standard home type food for lunch. But what impressed all of us was the gesture they showed and took part in the cremation as if someone from their family had died! We knew her last twothree years must have passed the way she wanted. It is not the facilities but the human touch that is important. After all, people who live there are far from their family.  

A stitch in time!

A stitch in time saves nine! The wellknown idiom tells us that if we act on something in time, it saves many future issues. It is right in every field of life, especially about our health. Some people are lucky that they do not have any serious medical problemthroughout their lifebut others are not so lucky. The luck plays some role in this, but many times it is procrastination that comes in the way, and we delay the actionSuch acts can cause lifelong damage or even death 

But then it is human nature. Another important aspect is what type of treatment should one take. People try Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurved, or some other kind including going to the sadhus in the belief that they will cure you.

It is an individual choice! Though we know the effects of delay, we keep on continuing the same mistakes. 

Jaya and I usually act fast if we find some abnormal symptoms, but that does not mean that we rush to the doctor’s clinic the moment we sneezeSome families have less knowledge about medical things, in general. It can cause delays and difficulties.  

More than a decade backI was diagnosed with hernia. The doctor said that surgery is the only option, earlier the better. He asked when I can find time for the surgery. I said, “Tomorrow morning. Do I get admitted tonight or early tomorrow morning?” He smiled and said, I am already booked for the next two days. Why don’t we do it on Friday?”  

In Nov 2013, I had a bad throat, and my voice changed. I went and saw my ENT doctor. He suggested the usual medicines, gargling in the first week. In the second, he gave me antibiotics. In the third week, he thought that he had no other option but to try steroidsWhen steroids also did not work, he suggested that I get stroboscopy done. I did it on the first of December, and it was concluded that there was a small growth on my vocal cord. The doctor said that there is a 99% chance it is a cancerous growth. Within one week, biopsy was donePatho results confirmed cancer. Within one week of confirmation, the treatment for cancer was started, which included 34 radiations besides immunotherapy! By god’s grace and also because of immediate action, I came out of cancer. I could have easily delayed by going for second opinion, third opinion, and so on. But we took a family decision to start the treatment as early as possible.  

I want to tell you one important aspect. The delay in meeting the doctors is also done by some people who are doctors themselves. will tell you a story about someone  who is a doctor. That friend was having weakness and continuous indications that something was wrong. The friend was getting tired after walking about twothree hundred steps. Another close friend was regularly following up and prodding the friend to see a specialist. Somehow the procrastination was coming in the way. Finally, the friend reached the doctors clinic. After checking, the specialist doctor said, “You need to go to a hospital right awayDon’t even go home. Call your husband and tell him to come to the hospital. I need to start your treatment right away.” After eight days of treatment, the patient went homeIt took almost six months for that friend to come back to normalI met the specialist doctor last week at a function. She said, “If your friend had delayed coming to me by a couple of days, there was a possibility that your friend could have been paralysed below the neck! How that friend of mine, who is a doctordid not understand the seriousness?  

Jaya recently underwent cataract surgery for both her eyes. She is perfectly healthy now. A relative of ours had come to meet her during that period. He had also gone through cataract surgery about one and a half years back. During the discussion, it came out that he cannot read the newspaper except the large headlines. I said cataract surgery is supposed to cure all these issues and he must recheck and take one more opinion. I coaxed him to see Jaya’s surgeon. We went, and my relative was checked. The surgeon found a significant flaw which was in his right eye after cataract surgery. The surgeon advised him to meet the topnotch expert in that field for further action. Now my relative will have corrective surgery. 

In both cases mentioned above, the patients are of my age. With the current improvement of longevity, both are likely to be around for say the next ten years. Imagine being paralysed for ten years. Think of being blind for the next ten years! Why do people not think of going to the doctor on time? What do you achieve by delaying the meeting and treatment? Such delays can land you into serious trouble, and the quality of life could be drastically reduced 

As against this, I had a friend who got a heart attack more than twentyfive years back. He was in a hospital where they did not even check his cholesterol! His financial condition was not so good. I referred him to my nephew, who is an excellent physician. Open heart surgery was financially not possible. My nephew told him that it is possible to get better with medicines which may be needed to be taken lifelong. The friend followed the instructions to the T, and he changed his lifestyle as per the doctor’s instructions. He was a big smoker; he stopped it. He is still following the guidance and well and hearty.  

Getting an excellent doctor is also part of luck, (not all doctors are competent!) but reaching them on time, and following their advice is what we must do. There is no point postponing that inevitable visit if it is neededAnother important point that comes into picture is people ask that question why me? Why so and so disease happened to me? Never ask that question because there is no answer to it. 

Along with this, there is one essential point. Which pathy to follow is an individual choice. But out of all pathy’s, Allopathy is the only pathy in which a massive amount of money is spent on research. So, there is a possibility that it might cure you better and fast. There are some diseases like jaundice which have no medicine in Allopathy. Only Ayurvedic medicine called Liv 52 works. But the overall experience of life suggests that there are some illnesses like heart attack, major kidney issues, cancer are handled efficiently by Allopathy. Strong allopathic treatment also is not able to cure such ailments. So, in such cases, it is not a good idea to go for trial and error. One should avoid another pathy’s in such cases. Side effects of allopathy are going to be part of life, but getting better is a priority, is it not?  

I will end this with a story about a hypochondriac! In my office, I had a person working with me for almost 18 years. He is still less than 40. Since the last ten years he keeps on feeling that he is unwell, sometimes would feel feverish. Sometimes he would feel chest pain, then once a while there would be fear that he might die. My nephew used to treat him. Occasionally he would check his BP, once in a while he would take his ECG. Sometimes his blood pressure was found slightly on the higher side, so BP medicine was prescribed. In last one year, he had four such anxiety/panic attacks. During his last attack, he had chest pain, and his shirt was thoroughly wet due to sweating. So, he was kept in a hospital for a couple of days. All test results were excellent, and he came out of the hospital fresh! My nephew then called me (during this episode, I was in Canada) and suggested that it is time to take him for psychiatric treatment. I have coordinated that for him, and he has had one session. According to the psychiatrist, except for some anxiety and low feeling, there is nothing wrong with him. I sincerely hope this helps him.  

Now my friends, especially those in the Golden phase of life, don’t procrastinate about that ‘dreaded” visit to the doctor. A cat has nine lives; we have only one!  

 

 

 

 

Stop gazing at the chair!

 

Lion1

Historically, the Lion Tamers in circuses died young because at some stage even Lions used to forget that they were tamed, and the instincts took over. In those days the tamers used to have a whip their hands, but the whip was mainly for show. Once the instincts took over, the show was also over! Clyde Beatty was the first Lion Tamer, born in the early part of the 20th century, who died at the age of 60 because of Cancer.

He did something right in his job. Along with the whip, he was the first person to use a chair during the show. He would use the chair, and it’s four legs to divert the attention and focus of the lions during the show. The lions probably were trying to concentrate on pouncing of the limbs- in this case, four legs of the chair; but their concentration was wavering! As Clyde would always move the chair, the Lions became indecisive as they could not focus on their wish to pounce on the limbs. Before the chair, it was the Tamer’s limbs!

Many a time, we are in the same position as that of the Lion. How often do we have something we want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) – only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?

 It is especially true in health, fitness, and medicine, where every person and company seem to believe they must make things more complicated. Every workout routine you find is the best one. Every diet expert says their plan is the optimal one. That frustrates us to no end because while all the experts are busy debating about which option is best, the people who want to improve their lives (you and me) are left frustrated by all of the conflicting information.

The result is that we feel like we can’t focus or that we’re focused on the wrong things, and so we take less action, make less progress, and stay the same when we could be improving.

I will tell you about how I did things. I started walking exercise about 25 years back. Initially, used to walk briskly 5 km every day. A couple of times, I had some issue with my ankles, I took the advice of an Orthopedic Surgeon. Things worked out quite well. Later I started to go to the gym too. During some gym exercise, I started having some issues with my knees. I again went my Orthopedic doctor. He advised me which exercises not to do! I asked him if I should stop walking for some time. He advised me to reduce my speed and the distance for a month. But he said never stop the exercise. Your body starts getting comfortable, not doing exercise, and you start losing focus on what you want to do.

Other than medical advice, he ensured that I did not lose focus on my main aim, to exercise. That is the key to any situation. Whatever we start doing, there is a chair being waved in front of us; this hypothetical chair is the various options we have. Different methods can be followed — multiple means of achieving your goal.

Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing. They have trouble deciding. Those are the famous four legs of the chair. The legs are a metaphor for having different ways of achieving our goal.

Sometimes we need to do some task which must be completed. As per normal tendency, we may procrastinate but ultimately complete the job. Successful people follow this method. Additionally, they get a feeling which is described as a gut feeling. The gut feeling is nothing but rationally comparing various ways and taking a decision at the right time, instead of delaying the decision. The chosen path maybe 80 % efficient instead of a higher %. But since the action starts on whatever we want to do, the work gets completed.

A gut feeling can also be compared with something we usually see on expressways. When we reach a toll booth, there are multiple lines of the vehicles waiting to pay the toll. We use our gut feeling, which lines to follow. You win some, and you lose come. But some people win say 80 % of the times. We call them “lucky people”. We feel that these people are lucky; they always end up into lines which move faster. But these are the people who use the gut feeling; they must be using the same decision method in their work situations too!

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

Nowadays, I have changed my strategies for what to I do in the gym. When I joined a gym recently, on the first day itself, I told the instructors not to worry about what I do; I told them I would do what I want to do. Before joining the gym, I had discussed with Atul, my nephew, who is also my physician. He told me that now the purpose of going to the gym is different. He said, “Mama, at your age, the muscle atrophy starts. What you should do is your warmup, then treadmill which keep feet mobile (I have some dormant knee issues) and then do the weights. The weights may not reverse the atrophy, but weight training slows it down, and you will feel better. Select the weights that your body tells you are suitable for you. Never overdo it.” I follow his advice to the last T! I also do something practical. I take 5 kg weights in both hands and walk for about five minutes. It has helped when I go out and buy things. I can carry my bags easily. I can also remove my carry-on bag from the compartment on flights. I don’t need any help.

If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to become… then make a decision. If you’re clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.

You should think and decide, but there is a goal you need to achieve. Something that’s calling you, something that’s important to you, something that you’re destined to do. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.

Just a coincidence!

complex1

I reached Montreal on the 29th August and published a blog “Home sweet home!” My friend Ram, who is currently in the US, wrote to me, “Hey, you just reached Montreal today, and writing about Sweet Home!” Ram, as usual, it was an incomplete blog, which I had started a couple of weeks back. I just found an appropriate ending when Deepti wrote about missing the sweet home! I simply used the sentence.

Many of my blogs are written based on a sentence or a phrase! Some of these instantly create a chain of thoughts in my mind, and I end up writing the blog. While going through the list of blogs, I found some blogs that matched the way I have described above.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/nisi-nisi-bonum/

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. The long-phrase is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

The phrase was used in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. When I heard this sentence, many thoughts came to my mind. I was confused if this is right or wrong. The first thought that came to my mind was why we should speak badly about anyone! You may not be on good terms with someone, but there is no reason to bad mouth that person. As against this, should we praise someone, who did terrible things in life, ad nauseum after death? As Nisi Nisi Bonum is true, so is praising someone over the top is also not good.

An industrialist in Pune died sometime back. He made his money by manufacturing and selling products which caused cancer. With money, he became a society leader. He opened a hospital to treat cancer patients. On one side, he manufactured addictive products that caused cancer, and on the other hand, he built a hospital to treat them. Cynics called that hospital “Customer complaint Center!” Was it right to follow such a business model? Was it right to glorify such a personality after he died? People could have simply declared sorrow due to his death, but there was no need to call him “Gem of a person”! Or talk about his charitable work.

 https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/turn-into-cotton/

The blog is about a statement made by Raj Babbar. Sometime back he was the president of state Congress in UP. In one of the reorganisations, he was removed from the post and made a plain member. When he was asked his reaction, he quoted from a Hindi poem by Kedarnath Sinhji.

The lines roughly get translated as below.

When I entered my home today, my mattress offered me its resignation — telling me that it wants to become the original cotton, that it was to start with, anyway! It indicated that it wants to go back to its roots.  

It was a beautiful way of accepting life as it came. In sports or job, one retires when the time comes. But in the public domain, it is not so easy. One gets a lot of power as well as affection, (or enemies!). To walk away from it, is not as simple as the lines of the poem.

Humans have inherent and intrinsic capacities and properties within them. No one is born at the top of the heap. People work hard and reach the pinnacle of their life, but life’s vagaries bring them back to where they started. People move to different destinations in the world, physically and by their achievements. But the beautifully solid lines tell you to be ready to come back to roots.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/pet-the-whale/

The blog is about people looking at life differently. I have shared a story of a group of people who went on an excursion to watch the whales from close quarters. As they reached the place where whales could be seen, something different happened. These people could have easily touched or petted the whale; they were so close to the boat. But none did that. All were very busy taking videos and photos of the whales. After coming back to the shore, someone asked them, “Did you Pet the whale?” All had missed the great opportunity. They were busy taking photos and videos. In life, we tend to lose the real purpose of what we are really looking for, but we tend to capture things for posterity. In the false enthusiasm, we tend to miss the happening moment. We lose absorbing The Moment!

We had been to watch Pelican feeding time at the Entrance beach near Sydney, Australia with Pradhans. We did take some photos, but most of the time we observed how the birds arrived and landed like aeroplanes, how all of them raised their neck synchronously to watch fish which was thrown in the air, their feed! What a beautiful sight it was? These memories are etched on our mind instead of on our camera!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/dance-of-the-seven-veils/

Below poem by Oscar Wilde is supposed to be the origin of an erotic dancing style. It is, of course, not true!

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” was a term used by a father, in a book I was reading. The sentence was meant to describe the behaviour or thought process of the 22-year young man while he ogled at a beautiful nurse in the hospital, while recuperating .

It was a veiled way of describing the thought process of a man. The term was also used to describe a dance where the lady’s sensuous body is under the veil of seven layers of clothing. The lady removes these veils during the dance, which could be described both as sensuous as well as erotic. During writing this blog, it brought in my mind many layers of coverings that many fruits have Jackfruit, Coconut, Mango, and many others. The word seven veils also brought out thoughts about the human mind. The complexity of the human mind could be compared with the seven layers, and in many cases infinite layers. Very rarely do we know the real person, though that person may be close to us. Different situations bring our fascinating aspects about humans same as the dance does about the woman’s body in the Dance of the Seven Veils!

Ram, writing of blogs is a complex as well as a simple process. It is like our life. We humans by nature are simple creatures, but our situation, our environments are complex. Each simple individual reacts differently in his own simple way, which on crisscrossing become complex!

See how I converted a simple query by you, in a complicated blog! Cheers!

Quackery! The Modern-Day Phenomenon?

 

Quack2Quackery is a dishonest practice and claims to have specialised knowledge and skill in some field, typically medicine. The World is full quacks for a long time. Along with quackery, we should also combine the word sucker- sucker is a gullible or easily deceived person. Quacks and Suckers are joined at birth. Because there are suckers, we have quacks.

Till about a hundred years back, medicine was not developed by today’s standards. The doctors in those days would merely manage patients rather than curing them. Hence, the doctors were not considered as deities, as some of them appear today. Yes! With modern drugs, diagnostics methods and improved surgical procedures and knowledge, good doctors are like gods, who bring patients back from jaws of death.

Ok, I am not saying that this pathy or that pathy is good! I am talking of many individuals, who though not doctors, claim to cure you of cancer, of diabetes; some promise pregnancy to women who find it a complicated and unachievable process. The latest fad is the dieting industry. Somehow, I am not comfortable with the dieticians who are not doctors by basic training. Similarly, we see trainers in the gym, who have a bit of knowledge about gyming but should not be guiding people with medical issues.

Why do people fall prey to such people and practises? There are several reasons. Some of the quacks are marketing experts with excellent body language and oratory. On top of this, they glibly say things or don’t say things. Consider the case of Mukesh Ambani’s son. He had a significant health issue, and his weight was uncontrollable. Some time back, he moved to the USA for a couple of years, and a whole team of doctors guided the dieticians, trainers and the team to help Junior Ambani to come back to normal. He has come back to normal, but to me, the main reason for success was Ambani’s will and determination. There has been a rumour going on for some time on WhatsApp that he was cured by a celebrity dietician from Mumbai. The dietician has never denied the story! Why would she?

The same dietician offers annual wellness group retreat in Darjeeling. It is a seven-day program of which two are travel days; for balance five days the charges are Rs.2.1/ lacs. You need to reach Bagdogra on your own. As the saying goes, a sucker is born every minute. I am okay even if she charges Rs 5/ lacs for the program but what wellness will you get in five days. It’s a holiday under the garb of a wellness program.

In the dead of winter in Pune when the temperature is around 6 /7 deg C, a Yoga Guru used to have free Yoga camp. People would go there in hordes and attend it for ¾ days. I am okay with this because this Guru never claimed anything, did not charge any money. He was encouraging people to follow Yoga. I checked with a few friends who used to attend the program; they never did Yoga ever through the year! But at least they were not cheated.

Then there is a story of asthma cure in Hyderabad. A family from Hyderabad many years back declared that the GOD had told them that they should offer a particular asthma cure to the general public, free. The family supposedly had a secret potion, a paste, which they would put in the mouth of a tiny fish. The fish was then pushed through the patient’s throat. Again, since it was free and there were no side effects, I don’t care. But I met a friend who was singing paeans of the treatment. He said that he had been going for the procedure every year. I asked him, “If the magic cure is supposed to cure asthma, why do you go every year?” He is still upset with me.

When people have some severe body condition, the quacks try to take disadvantage of the situation. They play with their emotions. They make them follow the incorrect path. The person with difficulties falls prey to glib talks and methods. We read stories of women who go in desperation to some Gurus, as these women cannot get pregnant. The Gurus take advantage and convince the women to sleep with them or sometimes forcefully sleep with them. If the Gurus are lucky, then the women become pregnant. The Gurus become more famous and get more and more women who take “treatment’ from them. Women, obviously, don’t share the rape part with anybody!

Sometimes, some of the quacks advertise miracle treatment on cancer, hypertension, and what have you! Even modern allopathy treatments are not able to cure many of the ailments. But these quacks have a cure for everything. But the suckers go to these quacks, try out stuff for a year or maybe two with no results. In the meanwhile, the body condition has worsened. Some people die! There was a news item of a patient who was taking treatment on piles, from a “doctor”. After a year he got so fed up, the patient went to the “clinic” and stabbed the doctor to death!

Today the medical skills available are unbelievable. After knee replacement, the patient is asked to try walking a few steps within 24 hours. After bypass surgery, the patient is asked to walk on a staircase in a matter of days. When such skills and expertise is available, why people go to quacks? When a doctor suggests to you, about diet, I am okay with it because she will know the effects as well as side effects of the same. But the problem is that some non-doctors make tall claims. These claims are like Ponzi schemes in the finance market. Double your money in next six months. The quacks talk of curing Cancers and Aids; they speak of patients who reduced 50 kgs in two months, and so on. Now there are bariatric surgeries available which help in lowering weights drastically. Why not try these instead of going for a Ponzi scheme? I have no issues about people offering pricey plans at resorts. There are suckers, so why not? But from what I understand, their treatments are not risky, and they do not make tall claims.

I will share an exciting story; not all mass cure schemes are frauds. Near Rishikesh, in Northern India, a “Doctor” was running a mass clinic where thousands of people went every day to be treated for Epilepsy. He would charge them nominally. A team was sent by the Indian Medical Association to check the claims made by the “Doctor”. The Doctor met the team, and he explained his working.

First and foremost, he was a medical doctor who was trained at a renowned Institute in India. He realised that not all epilepsy patients needed modern-day drugs. So he started a drug manufacturing unit. The drugs manufactured were from the era of 1950-60. These drugs had come out of patent issues. He gave these drugs to all the patients. Around 60 % of patients got cured with these drugs. Placebos cure ten to fifteen % of patients, is a proven fact. So at least 70% of his patients got cured. According to me this a good record when we consider hundreds of patients, he was checking every day!

Quack5

Friends, by all means, try alternate methods of cure! Homoeopathy, Ayurved do cure various ailments but remember, they are no cure-alls. But Allopathy has the maximum chance of curing complicated diseases. So, don’t play around when you have severe health conditions to handle. For Jaundice, there is only Ayurvedic cure, so similarly, Allopathy is the treatment of severe diseases. Don’t experiment! Go to dieticians for weight control by all means. But if you weigh 124 Kgs, get yourself treated under medical guidance. One can always try alternative medicine along with the primary treatment! But don’t get driven by Chelation treatment for heart conditions, Magnetic Band treatment for joint issues. These are unproven, and the chances are that these clinics are run by people who are not supposed to handle such difficult cases! One more important thing, to avoid minor side effects of Allopathic drugs, don’t go to quacks. You will be worse off!

Don’t waste efforts on being Happy!

HappyCycle3

World over there is a considerably large industry called Happiness Industry or Being Positive Industry! You must be wondering after reading the title! Has Pramod gone bonkers? He looks like a positive guy; he always writes about being happy. What has happened to him? My usual pursuit of knowledge allows me to read different thought processes and documents from the world over. Initially, I was also surprised to learn some reports which said that our default status is not about being happy.

As per the Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes, happiness is “like a feather flying in the air. It flies light, but not for very long.” Happiness is human thinking, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative effects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis.

Humans are not designed to be happy or even content. Instead, we are intended primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world. A state of contentment is discouraged by nature because it would lower our guard against possible threats to our survival.

Till we became an organised society ten thousand years ago by learning to farm, there was hardly any difference between humans and other species. Let us not say that humans were technically advanced compared to others. Look at the nests built by the birds; they are technical marvels. Look at the gut feelings of animals; many animals understand if there would be an earthquake shortly. Dogs can detect mines and drugs! Each of the species had their specialities. The common aspects were reproduction and survival instincts. Let me assure you the life was not easy then and it is not easy now!

I have recently written a blog about Happiness, and I thought that there is no point in writing details about happiness.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/happy-happy-we-shall-be/

The survival in olden days was from the severe nature, other animals or predators. Humans, with their intelligence, came up with many inventions and found some defence mechanisms, helping them survive more easily. But mind you, you have to endure still or survive. Even in the twenty-first century, we sight tigers and cheetahs in the Pune district. My son, Sachin, was saying that even today they have to be careful about Bears that are sighted in greater Seattle area, especially during winter.

Survival in olden days was from drought and floods. Is the 21st century much different? Today, there is a drought-like condition in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, even though half the monsoon is over. Last week a train full of water tankers was sent to Chennai. Assam and Bihar are facing severe floods due to heavy rains. People have been dying due to floods and may die due to drought too if sufficient monsoon rains don’t come.

So some population is in survival mode all the time. Have we forgotten about poverty on the terra firma? Development does bring prosperity, but still, a large number of people world over are poor! Survival against nature, other species to a small extent, and poverty is the requirement in the so-called modern world. Happiness is there, come on, I am not a pessimist! But it is there like a golden ray of the sun coming through the dark clouds! Happiness is a fleeting moment in our lives.

Friends let us not forget that happiness is that fleeting moment; it is like the flying feather taking a small flight before settling down. Our default status is a bit of struggle most of the times, surviving and reproducing. Is reproduction an easy path to glory? Yes, it is glorified as coming together of two human beings in a sexual act. Then there is that long struggle of nine months for the lady. The sexual act is the fleeting moment of happiness! The expected new arrival is a delightful moment for the couple and the family, with nine months of looming struggle. Morning sickness, too much weight gain in some cases, unexpected medical conditions like diabetes during pregnancy are the tough things the lady has to survive. Have we forgotten birth? It is supposed to be the toughest event in women’s life. If it is not natural birth, then it is the C-section and recovery from the surgery! In the whole gamut of struggle, there is that delightful feather taking the small flight, the newborn!

Each era has its tough times. In the four centuries between 14th and 18th, there were wars everywhere. The relative peace in between this time and the 20th century was a struggle against diseases, the world over. Hundreds of would die of plague, cholera and typhoid. There was no cure. Patients were managed by the doctors and not treated. Modern medicines were yet to come. The relative peace of this period was followed by World War I and World War II! The WW II ended with the dropping of nuclear bombs in Japan. Millions of people died in these wars. But war forced the world to look for cures to injured soldiers in wars. Sulfa and Penicillin were discovered in this period, gave humanity the miracle drugs! These dugs again brought the smiles and happiness back in our lives. Then one after another modern surgical and diagnostics methods have come. Has it brought permanent or long-lasting happiness in our lives? The answer is no! Yes, some cancers are now getting cured, but many new uncurable ones are getting detected. Alzheimer and Dementia are seen more as longevity has become the norm! So in between periods of survival, happiness is achieved.

HappyCycle1

What am I talking? Am I saying that you can be happy or you cannot be happy? Only thing I am saying is that happiness is there in life; don’t be after it. Don’t get driven by slogans to spend your money on books or programs. We are happy and sad in cycles. After a routine life sometimes there are events in life which make you miserable. The sadness does not last forever!

Similarly, after the sadness period, there could be routine drudgery, then there will be a sudden period of happiness! Both happiness and sadness are cyclic, and their cycle will go on. Happiness starts with the arrival of the new one. (don’t forget that the mother has given her nine months of tough period to achieve happy times of her life.)

In today’s parlance, I will give an example of this cycle. Your child grows old enough and takes wings to fly the world over, the way you wanted your child to go! You are happy, but then comes the usual drudgery of their life and their slowly become professionals. A grandchild is born, you are happy! But are not happy that you cannot see it immediately. Life goes on with happy moments, sometimes sad ones too! Then suddenly, your child can come home for a few days (please note that it is your home, not the child’s home) for a few days; there is happiness. Life goes on and on!

HappyCycle2

Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin called life. To your surprise, you will find that this is the only coin that stands on its edge most of the times. Only for a small duration, it becomes flat depending on the which type of event we have in life; happy or sad! Do you know that after some time has passed, the coin automatically stands on its edge, the phase known as routine life?  Don’t worry; I have not gone bonkers. Be as happy as is possible! You cannot tell the clouds to give space for the sunlights to come out; similarly, your mental phase happy or sad comes when its time has come.

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?