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.

 

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Climb out of that hole!

Life is full of ups and downs both in personal and professional matters. The ups give us euphoria and joy. The downs on the other side make us sad, depressed and push our mood down a hole. It is for us to come out of that hole and it is doable. First and foremost is that our downs are because of errors, or misjudgement in what we do. We make errors of judgments, maybe wrong investments leading to a major loss; maybe we take up a job which we did not like. Such events are going put us in a situation where life looks sad and cynical. 

When this happens, we tend to linger on, and we keep on blaming ourselves, flogging ourselves for the errors. “To Err is Human” is an idiom which aptly fits situations in everybody’s life. We always keep on thinking about the missed possibilities, real and imaginary. We feel that if we had done things differently, we could have been better off financially and life would have been more rewarding. If such emotions are kept unchecked, the stress level in life goes up, we are not able to think prudently and are likely to make more errors. We dig ourselves a hole and are likely to remain there. 

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Such regrets, if nursed, can lead to depression and negativity. This could lead to binge eating, and one may drink more alcohol. We may react to persons and situations impulsively rather than giving a thought before responding. There are ways of coming out of such a hole; it will bring us back to a happy, healthy and meaningful life.  

Acceptance 

It is essential to accept what has happened. You should not ignore the event nor should you keep on thinking about it all the time. Take a pause, as we count ten or we deep breathe. When we are engrossed in self-criticism, we try to find quick fixes to the problem. Instead, think about our past regrets and try to remember how we found a solution at that time.  

Give a break to your negative thinking 

Sometimes it happens that we try to come out of the negative thought process, but it just does not work. Sometimes we are not able to break the spell of sleep from our system. Cold shower wakes you up. Try something similar. I remember an incident, which took place ages back. We were in Boston in a mall. Our grandson was very unhappy that my son suggested to him that instead of buying the same toy the second time, a new toy could be purchased in another shop. Our grandson started howling and throwing tantrums. My son picked him up, and we walked out of the mall. Our grandson was not wearing warm clothes, and a cold air blast hit him. He stopped the tantrums and said, “Can I get my jacket?” He quickly ate a snack and was back to his jovial self. After that, we went to ToysRus and got him the toy he wanted. Cold water shower is not a long term solution but will provide a break that can help you think more rationally to resolve the issues.  

Be soft on yourself 

When we have made an error, we tend to be very harsh in judging ourselves and keep on blaming ourselves. If we discuss the matter with a friend or a mentor, then she will listen to you compassionately and will try to explain the way forward. Will that person keep on harping about your errors? She will encourage you to be soft to yourself. Provide some compassion to yourself. With this attitude, we try to navigate towards a positive solution. This acceptance is a good beginning, and we learn to accept our regrets as a human failure. You know that there is nothing unusual in such a failure, it happens many times with others too! 

Try to understand yourself 

After you have gone through a situation, think about what you are looking for. Don’t keep on regretting about it. I will share an incident in my career. I was 28 years of age then. I had a meeting with my boss. He was quite tough and rough. He said a few nasty things to me as I had made some errors in the work. I left his cabin and thought about the incident. I was disturbed, but when I gave thought to the whole situation, I realised that my self respect was more important to me than my job. I went and met him again. Explained to him everything yet again. I told him, “Sir if you want, I will resign and walk out. Scolding me for errors and correcting them is  your job. But I expect you to ensure that you do not repeat such nasty things with me again.” He stared at me for a minute and then said, “How about some coffee?” I could resolve my problem because I was clear in my mind what I wanted more! I felt regret because my self-respect was hurt and to me, that was more important than keeping the job!  

Act 

All the process of handling the regrets and correcting errors will work only when we finally act upon it.  

Make a list of such issues large and small, then think yourself or with your friend or your spouse, exactly how to take steps to correct whatever is troubling you. The problems do not get resolved by feeling lousy or overthinking and brooding about it. It’s thoughtfully following up the solutions that helps us. Retrospection is the key to address such situations. Our vision in retrospection is always 20:20, and we look at things with more wisdom. So retrospect with a cool mind.

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Wikipedia has defined Kintsugi as follows. 

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. 

As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. 

In our lives sometimes the dreams are broken, and at other times hearts are broken. We should use Kintsugi to repair our broken dreams.  The dream could be of taking higher education, getting an elite job in government. Heartbreak is, of course, heartbreak. But we need to come out of that hole into which we crawl into after failing to achieve what we wanted. The broken dreams could be repaired, and you might end up doing business. Sometimes the seams of the stitched dreams could be visible, but it is better to come out of the situation, a bit bruised instead of remaining hidden.

Use the principle of Kinstsugi! Face the world! Let repair seams be seen. The world does not have many regrets about what has happened in your life. It is too busy in its own errors and achievements. Making errors is not something to be hidden from others. All have their own quota of mistakes, only we do not about know about them.  So just do it, openly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What really is Romance?

This is the old nursery rhyme about the life of Solomon Grundy. It was taught to teach the children about days in the week. But to me, it is also philosophical about the life of humans. On Wednesday Solomon marries and dies on Saturday. The real romance in life is the story about the days from Wednesday to Saturday. Let me explain. The bliss, the glory, the charm of marriage, honeymoon and romance is generally discussed and described like  like you are watching a movie. Everything is slick and glorious, beautiful people and lovely couples, fantastic locations and oh, the bliss! But it is like only talking about Wednesday from Solomon Grundy’s life when he got married, he had Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in his life too. Real life is vastly different from the film version. It is not a bed of roses but it is a bed roses, after a storm, when the petals are withered and thorns are there, ready to pierce your delicate skin!

Come on, I am not cynical. But I am practical and pragmatic. The romance depicted in films is during courtship, marriage, honeymoon and initial phase of marriage. It is only about Wednesday! Arrive the children or thoughts about children, and things become different. At this stage, two distinct things happen. Either children arrive, or the couples are unsuccessful in conceiving; 10% of the couples remain childless, so some adopt and some don’t. Minuscule % decide not to have children as an option. This phase increases complexities of life, ten folds.

From this phase, romance does not go for a toss, but the definition of romance changes and keeps on evolving. The film variety of romance slowly goes for a toss. Career graph goes up, responsibilities go up, children are around, (or couples go into a vicious circle of conceiving) finances become tighter. Thanks to EMI’s. You have a beautiful home, expensive car; chances are that cash remaining, at the end of the month, is not much more than beginning of the career. You go to a mall on Sunday, your older child throws tantrums for some toy. You are trying to manage the child, and the younger one pukes on the mother’s new dress. You cut short your outing, it’s raining outside, somehow you manage to reach the car! Put on the music that the older child loves, not your favourite song, naturally! Younger one finally goes to sleep, while driving, you caress your spouse’s hand! That is the new definition of romance!

After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof about the wellness of the situation. What you have instead, is the most deeply romantic thing of all reassurance, that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t be abandoned by your partner, you may not be sure that your partner can tolerate you. The smells. The sounds. Continuous need to keep everything neat and proper at home, to keep your life on track! Till you start accepting that some things are going go out of control, you will feel unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness. Well, we all go through situations that we may not like but become part of our life. But at the end of the day when the war zone has quietened down, you tell your spouse, “Hey how about some coffee with Geeta Dutt songs?” This is the newer romance, though you know what romance you had in mind has just evaporated for that night!

Wife returns back home looking tense. Their favourite doggy runs to her, she hugs the doggy, “Oh! You missed mamma, my love!” Picks him up. After a few minutes, she looks at the children and smiles.” How was your day kids? I am sure, everything was alright?” Children hug her, and she goes to the washroom. Children also missed their mamma! Drinks her glass of water then turns to the husband and without saying anything goes to their bedroom. Husband follows her, kisses her on the forehead and holds her hand. She just says, “I have such back pain, and that idiot boss is giving me a headache.” “I will make you some green tea, love.” Husband goes to the kitchen, smiling. Look at the sequence. All the love was given to the doggy who cannot say anything in return. Children could have thrown tantrums but didn’t, and had tough exams that day. Husband, of course, is at the bottom of the pecking order. He just had been ditched about his promotion at the office. He had the right to make the biggest noise. He had also missed the mamma! But he went into the kitchen to make tea! That my friends are romance!

When couples learn to cope with tough times, survive major crises, you are learning the art of living. As you grow older, you are together less often, and when you are, you have probably forgotten the “filmy” romance. Maybe you use this time to discuss and resolve other issues which have gone on a back burner. Through all these tough calls you learn to care for each other, support each other, help each other. That my friends is romance.

It is time to go to bed and like two old people you crawl into it. You tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle. Then maybe you feel like making out, but you don’t, or perhaps you feel like solving your crossword puzzle or read a couple of pages of a romantic novel. You say “Hey, your feet are cold why don’t you wear socks?” and “My back hurts,” that’s romantic.  You really hope this romance will last forever. You savour the repetitive, mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the peak point of your life. Savour it. That is the very definition of romance.

I am talking of latter stage romance. Someone is dying in the bed, and the spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds mundane things that need to be done on a daily basis in our lives, for example, putting away trash and doing the laundry. Just because someone may die in the very near future, these things cannot stop. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving, romance is letting life go on in most onerous of the situations. Romance is cooking food in those circumstances and hoping to give the dying person the food loved by that person.

Caring for your partner, supporting each other in tough times, coming out of tough situations in life, knowing that many more such circumstances await in future and showing keenness to achieve normalcy, is romance. With such understanding, your romance will start on Wednesday and last till Sunday from the Solomon Grundy rhyme, the day he was buried!

Palmistry & Horoscope!

The other day we went for dinner with an American friend of ours. The restaurant was in a mall! While going to the restaurant we saw a palmist sitting with his advertisement board and all! He was dressed in appropriate attire. This is a very sensitive subject, so here is a disclaimer! I am not writing this to hurt anyone and I am not passing any judgement. When I read on these subjects, questions come to mind. I am trying to check them against known facts and current scientific knowledge.  

Our friend asked us jokingly, “Hey Pramod, did you and Jaya get your horoscopes matched before marriage?” I told him we did not do that, I said we had a civil marriage where no religious ceremonies were involved. Both Palmistry and reading of horoscope are supposed have their origins in India. Both these  have been practised from ancient times in India, China, Greece and old cultures. There have been misconceptions, wrong interpretations, disrepute galore through the history, about these practises. Are these sciences as some people call them ? We have extreme views on the subject, total belief to total disbelief! The real thing must be somewhere midway as usual!  

What does palmistry tell you? The palmist studies the palm of an individual and can foretell some things about the person by studying lines, shape of palm, ups and downs on the palm and so on! Physical features of palm definitely tell about person’s cleanliness, health, occupation, nervous habits. Nail biting and Calluses are indication of this. Over a period, a palmists have learnt to judge the people’s personalities. I have a feeling that 60% information predicted can be correct. I assume that these people also study the face of the person; face reading is also an art. We are also aware, that medical professionals are able to judge various things about the patient’s personality looking at the face and the palm. But this is judgement backed by scientific knowledge. I feel that palmistry can be described as an art rather than science. During my childhood in Bombay, there used to be palmists siting on footpaths. They would have details written on paper and neatly tucked in envelops. These envelopes, between 50/75, would be kept in front of him. When a customer arrived, there was a practise that the customer would be asked to give some feed to the bird! After that, the bird would hop around and select an envelop for the customer. That envelop contained a document with customer’s future explained! Wow! Perfect natural way of prediction with no bias! Now I am told that bird is replaced by a computer!

Horoscope is another matter. The description of the constellations is based on the Traditional Astrology – the emphasis is put on the natural inclinations, talents, and events that one may encounter in life. Horoscopes are mainly used for matching personalities of the boy and the girl before the marriage. Each horoscope is supposed to have different Gunas, or check boxes. It is said that if 36 Gunas match for both, then the pair is perfect for marriage. If the match is less than 18, then the marriage is not expected to take place. I also understand that the horoscopes can be suitably modified, at a cost! I remember a joke. A pair decides to get married after their parents get the Horoscopes matched. Match is 100% as 36 gunas match. Then next day they go out for a cup of coffee. The girl says to the boy, now that we are getting married based on 100% horoscope matching, tell me how many affairs did you have? The boy is a little shaky but says, “Oh! I had five affairs!” The girl says.”now I believe in horoscope completely! Our 36 gunas had matched! I also had five affairs!” 

Lot of questions come my mind. My personal opinion is that these are not proven practises. These are judgment-based reading of the situation. In case of palmistry looking at hand and face! In case of horoscope, these are based on horoscope created for the person born. In horoscope, study is made with help of checking of Nakshtras or Lunar Constellations and their positions with respect to each other. This is supposed to checked on the basis of exact time of the birth of the child.  That is where questions start popping up in my mind. Currently, 3,500,00 children are born every day. This means 4 per each second. Do all these four have exactly same horoscope? Since horoscopes are being created for a very long time, there could have been issues due to incorrect time measurements. Time measurement correctness must be an issue even today in rural India. If the basic premises are wrong, then will the Horoscopes be correct? The Horoscope also says that an individual can have bad omen or Mangal Dosha, when there is certain astrological combination. 

In Hindu astrology, Mangal Dosha is an astrological combination that occurs if Mars (Mangal) is in the 1st, 2nd (Considered by South Indian Astrologers), 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th house of the ascendant chart. A person born in the presence of this condition is termed a Manglik. 

It is believed to be unfavorable for marriages, causing discomfort and tension in relationship, leading to severe disharmony among the spouses and eventually to other bigger problems. This is believed to be caused due to the “fiery” nature of the planet Mars, named after the Roman god of war. Also, if two Mangliks marry, the negative effects are believed to cancel each other out. However, Mars is not the only planet in Astrology that is supposed to affect the relationship and these effects should be seen in a broader perspective of overall astrological compatibility. Two bad things negating each other and creating “Good” scenario, is a great way of overcoming constellations! I am told that there is one scenario where the Mangal Dosha in a person can be negated by doing some religious ceremony? How convenient?! 

I remember one scene from a Hindi Movie, Munnabhai, MBBS. During the marriage ceremony of a couple, their  Priest is creating fear in the mind of the family about Mangal Dosha and what can go wrong because of that. The hero of the film asks the Priest, “Do you know what is going happen to you in next one minute?” The Priest says that nothing is going to happen. The hero takes out a gun and puts it to the head of the Priest and says, “I am going to kill you! If you do not know your own destiny how can you tell other people about their life’s destiny based on unproven practices?” Of course, he does not kill Priest! The destiny is the correct word and destiny generally decides what is going to happen in our lives. The beauty of life is that, we do not know our destiny. It helps us remain optimistic all the time. I had a sore throat trouble for a month in 2013 end; till I went to a specific doctor I never imagined that I would be detected with Cancer! Even when I went into his clinic, I thought the doctor will give me some very strong antibiotics or steroids! This is destiny! But I did not go to palmist or a horoscope guy.   

In today’s times there is great scientific advancement, many things are predicted by science. Still a large number of people believe in in unscientific methods of predicting future, deciding marriages, starting new ventures. What is it? Fear of God? Fear of Bad Omen? What is Bad Omen? This term is being used in the foreboding sense, as with word ominous.  

Palmistry is another method of knowing about the nature of a person and foretelling persons future. Let me tell you scientifically the reasons why we have lines on the palm. Scientifically speaking the lines on a palm, or palmar flexion creases, help the hand’s skin to stretch and squeeze. They can also help identify certain medical conditions. The thickness and number of creases on your palms also depend on factors such as family history and race. This indicates that these lines are formed in the natural way. Lesser number of creases may cause difficulty in stretching skin in that area and may cause bunching of skin.  

Using these lines to predict nature and future of the person is difficult to accept. Faith that people have in palmistry is simply amazing. Let me tell about my college friend. He was a very smart guy and suddenly he started claiming that he has been studying palmistry. But he also claimed that he had specialized in palm reading of girls! Let me assure you, he had a good cliental in college and all his friends were extremely jealous of him!  

I simply believe in Him and destiny. I will share a small anecdote which mixes horoscope and destiny, but its fiction. A person goes to see a horoscope guy and asks about his destiny. Horoscope reader tells our friend that he can predict death but does not share this information. He is told, “You are going to die today evening at 6 pm hence I am sharing with you the time.” Now our friend gets upset and decides that he is going to cheat death! He tosses a coin, heads he goes to North and Tails he goes East! Its Tails so he goes 100 km East and checks into a hotel. Orders food, asks for some beer and watches TV. He awaits 6 pm! At 6 pm there is a knock on the door. He opens and sees Yamaraja himself, the God of Death. Our friend says, “Ok, I am ready but I tried to cheat you and it was pure luck of the coin that decided my presence  here today. How did you locate me?” Yamaraja is surprised with the question. He looks at the document in his hand and says, “This document says that you would be in this hotel today at 6 pm. I was not required to look for you. I came here straight!” Destiny? 

I am predicting future! Future tellers will ask you to put your finger on a glass, eyes on lenses; immediately you will get OTP! The teller will tell your Name, Age, Sex, Address, Date of birth! It’s pure science called UIDAI!