Prakash Nirgudkar, the ever smiling Buddha! Part I

We read many stories in mythology, where someone gets a curse from a sage or a king! Then later, the same person is given boon, conditions attached! In today’s world, where everything you do is saved somewhere on a computer server, in text or image format! So, probably 2000 years; hence there will not be any mythological story about Prakash; all hard facts are known and recorded. When humans performed unbelievable things, these turned into stories and fables; and such miracles were explained in terms of curses and boons! To me, such boons can be explained as courage shown by the Nirgudkar family and by Prakash in particular to overcome impossible odds. The curses to me are destiny!


I got my Master’s Degree in Metallurgical Engineering from COEP, the famed 150 plus years old institute from Pune. One thing I learned during those two years of Post Graduate studies was to do everything sincerely and keep the commitments. Prakash Nirgudkar urf Pakya was a one-year senior to me in the Metallurgy department. We used to live in the dormitory. He is a pleasant person with an ever-smiling face. He is smart and very cooperative. After our first degree, there were very few students in the Master’s course. We were both busy and still had enough time. One thing we had decided was to brush up card playing skills, mainly Rummy. We had one more partner in this endeavour, Naidu urf “Todya”! Why he was given this nick name, “Todya” is still a mystery to me. Three of us mostly had our sessions in the afternoon. We had decided that our course timings were flexible, contrary to college rules. Sometimes we erroneously committed to play cards, which clashed with some course. But the commitment was a commitment; nobody ever broke it!

Prakash had so many good things in him, but I had never imagined that he would be a great fighter, a survivor. The main trait that came up during the recent catastrophe in his life was the indomitable spirit. What a human is capable of only comes out during tough times one faces in life. The old cliché of “When things get tough, tough get going” fits perfectly to Prakash and his family. I had written about Prakash in my blog a couple of weeks back, the link for which is given below. 

Yesterday, I read the book written by Kavita, his wife. The name of the book is “Surviving the toxic frostbite.” Below is the e link for the book for purchase.

It needs to download of book reader by Book Ganga. It can not be read on other readers.

The book is captivating; it is about the journey of Prakash when he went for a Himalayan trek; the second part is the horrendous event that happened in his life. He was a victim of severe frostbite; along with that, he caught an extremely rare infection called necrotizing-fasciitis or in common language flesh-eating bacteria attacked his right hand. The link about the infection is given below.

Even though I knew sketchy details of what Prakash went through while reading the book, I felt very tense in the second half. One suggestion! The photos of necrotizing-fasciitis shared in the book are not for weak hearted persons; I am not sure if even many doctors have ever handled such severe infection. The details of the treatment are all there in the book by Kavita. Hence I will not write about the details, but I am writing about human reactions, their behaviour, families, and goodness of people under such trying situations. Such good stories about humans help and support, bring back confidence in us that all is well with this world! Terrorists, accidents, economic crises are aberrations in real life!


Kavita, their daughter Nandita and son Prasanna have handled the major crisis in the Nirgudkar family bravely! Kavita is the person around whom the whole saga was revolving; she was the General. She was pushed into a battle which we will never hope or want even our enemies to fight! Prakash in the initial period was as good as in a trance! Even later, he was so weak that Kavita was the one who held the fort! Kavita Salute! I can also understand the predicament of Prasanna, who lives in the USA. He could rush for some time a couple of times, but worrying long distance is a tough call. Nandita has handled everything with aplomb at a very young age!

The human touch in the saga started right in the Himalayas. The team had gone twenty thousand feet above sea level, in an extremely difficult weather and terrain. At that height, Prakash had started feeling weak, and his stomach problems started. The stomach issue had started draining his reserve energy really fast as it is, at the height of 20000 feet, the body functions on reserve energy. The porters and his colleagues physically lifted him and brought Prakash down to the manageable heights. From there, he was brought him into civilization in trucks and jeeps provided by ITBP. His colleagues were equally tired but had no illnesses, luckily. They rushed him to Delhi airport. During the journey, he had become so weak that his soiled clothing was required to be changed by his colleagues.

His right hand showed a rash and had started swelling, and its colour had become ominously dark. All airlines refused to give him the boarding card. The airport doctor gave him a fitness certificate, but still, he was denied boarding, looking at his hand. It was a blessing a disguise because when Delhi doctors diagnosed him for necrotizing-fasciitis, they said that air travel under these circumstances would have proved fatal. The doctors in the casualty area at the hospital, where Prakash was taken, were following routine procedures. The doctor from the airport came behind the ambulance on his own and told the doctors to treat the case as a serious emergency. Prakash was then put on the fast track, and without even entering his name anywhere, he was wheeled into Operation Theater for emergency surgery. Had this surgery got delayed, Prakash was already having a dialogue with Chitragupt; anything could have happened. It was Prakash’s first close shave with death, with many more to follow later. Airport doctor was the first of many souls who went out of their way to help Prakash.

At this juncture, Kavita was unaware of the seriousness of the situation. She and Nandita rushed to Delhi from Pune, expecting to come back in a few days. They could never have budgeted what they had to go through, even in their dreams! In terms of human goodness, the trek coordinator from Delhi, who was just an acquaintance, but he went out of the way to help Kavita to get a base close to the hospital. Initially, he put them up for a few days with a lady; it was a god-sent a gift for them in the unknown territory of Delhi, that too under really trying circumstances.

Delhi doctors managed to bring Prakash to the level of taking a journey to Pune. Flying was out of the question for medical reasons. They took a twenty-hour journey to Pune by train. Prakash was allowed to travel by Delhi doctors under two conditions. First was that a male nurse must accompany, and second was Prakash was to be taken from Pune railway station to a major hospital! Luckily no events took place during this journey made arduous because of Prakash’s health.

I follow a rule of limiting my blogs to a certain number of words for it to remain readable. But this human saga that my friend Prakash and his family had to go through is making it difficult for me stick to my rules. I will share the concluding part of this event with you in two parts!  Tomorrow, I will publish the second part!

In the second part, I will write about Prakash getting back from the brink (his condition was still very delicate) and rehabilitation, which was another journey for one plus year.


 The link for Part II is below!