Home Sweet home!

HomeSweetHome1

When do we really start missing home? What is home? Home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. In today’s world, we travel for work, holiday or to go and stay with your family, who have moved to different places from home, temporarily or permanently. We may go to see the seven wonders of the world, or we may go to travel to live in a small town or a village. We may go to a culturally advanced place, or we may go to a drab place. But after some time, we eagerly look forward to coming back home. Why does this happen?

 The thought process about home started when Deepti wrote,   after about 45 days in the US for work and holiday, that she was missing home!

Of all the places in the world, our home is the safest place in the world for us. We can do anything at home without the fear of repercussions. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We are kings and queens of our homes. We are undisputed leaders; nobody can touch us within the precincts of our homes.

We love everything about our homes; it may be a palace, or it could be a small condo. It could be a bungalow, or it could be a shanty. But this description is for others; for us, it is our kingdom.  But we should not forget one thing. The place where we live is home. Later on, with increasing prosperity, we may buy more properties, but those are not our homes. It is at this juncture things sometimes go wrong. We purchase properties for investment purpose, but we start treating them like home.

In our busy schedule during working days, we do not get time to go and visit these properties even once in a year. If the property is in another town, then it becomes even more challenging to manage. Beyond a time, as these properties become older, their valuation also does not increase the way we want it to rise, sometimes it diminishes.

But many people fall in love with such properties. I know of someone who had a property in a different town than where he lived. The property was a 40-year-old independent bungalow and had become too costly to manage because of taxes and low rent the property fetched. Someone suggested to him to dispose off the same. He had never lived there. His reply was, “Over my dead body!” It took some convincing by friends and relatives that helped him to make that decision. I asked him once about the same. His reply was, “It was my first property; it’s like the first child. How can one dispose off the same?” I did not tell that children also become old and move in life!

We should not forget that the concept of the home also changes. As we switch from studentship to professional work, we become independent of parents. We make our own home at some stage. I had written a blog on a similar subject sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/16th-august-1995-to-23rd-september-2018/

In this blog, I had written about concentric circles of our lives! When we have our family and children at some stage, we have our own home! The place which you called home in your younger days becomes your parent’s home. The same concept is going to be repeated when your children grow up, settle down and have their family. That is where the concept of ancestral home comes into the picture. In previous generations, people rarely travelled out of town for work; only girls moved to their husband’s home after marriage. The same property was home for many generations. But with today’s modern technology and way of living, the concept of ancestral home will be forgotten after a few generations. The reason for this is you had an ancestral home but moved to Bombay for work. Your children moved to London, New York or Timbuktu for their career. Some come back to India, but most don’t. The ancestral homes hence stop existing as a concept.

With increased mobility, days of ancestral homes concept is waning. But the home remains home for the nuclear families that get created in different generations. Probably we could say that longevity of the idea of home is reducing and ends with the parents who “created” the home.

Every home has its memories, its stories, the happy moments and the sad moments. I remember my first “home” which was at Dhobi talao in Bombay. What memories I have! Catching an early morning bus to go to school; it was G3 at 6.15 am and meeting Pradeep! Coming home by lunch-time; memories of listening to cricket test-match commentary of tied match between Australia and West Indies are still fresh in my mind. There was a rule at home not go to the Cross Maidan to play before 4.30 pm. But we used to sneak out under the garb of completing home-work at some friend’s place. Half the time my mother had to send someone to bring me back home from the ground though we had a rule that we should be back home when it started getting dark.

Our first home in Pune after marriage was the most fun part. Jaya and I were the first ones to get married in our group. Every day, some friends would barge in for a chat, food and whatever till they were thrown out. Some friends would come prepared to cook chicken; some would urge Jaya to plan on the previous day so that they could have Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi the next day.

Home is something which is a great leveller, makes everyone a family person. That person could be a famous Surgeon or a Scientist. She could be CEO of an organisation or a Minister in a Government. But at home, these same luminaries are converted into a different person. Their personality changes and they become mothers, fathers, uncles. They may also become sisters or brothers or aunts. My friends, this is the power of “Home”! Each home has its own Ramayana and Mahabharata which others rarely see or visualise.

We have all seen how people’s personalities are very different when they come from broken homes. They have no shoulder to cry on; they have nobody to share their sorrows. The home gives shade to the family like a banyan tree against the harshness, that is life; but when that tree itself falls, people seem to get exposed to the vagaries of nature. Home is an umbrella that prevents you from sudden rains. For us, home is only next to God. When a human is in turmoil, a person goes to a church or a mandir. It gives them mental peace and solace. You had a bad day office; you lost a big opportunity in business. You accidentally bumped your car into the one ahead of you! After reaching home and sitting in your favourite window or on a pet chair, your agitation tapers off.

Home is a powerful institution created by us, let us try to preserve it and not flog it! It can absorb many shocks but remember that this shock absorber cannot be just bought from a shop and replaced when damaged!

Deepti, you must be back home already; our flight just had taken off from Frankfurt today, when yours landed there on the way back to Pune. Take care and enjoy our dear Pune again!

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Emotional Turmoil!

While writing two blogs about my friend Prakash regarding the major catastrophic event he and his family had gone through, I never realised the emotional turmoil I was going through. My endeavour while writing is always to make the least number of errors, both grammatical and factual. For this purpose, I had to refer to the book written by Kavita about the event, a few times. Every time I skimmed the book, the reading process did some more churning in my mind, as I read a few paragraphs. The pictures of what the family had gone through kept floating before me.  

Today’s blog came up as I read a news item in today’s newspapers, which rekindled the old memories and reminded me of the story of another friend. This story is again very touching! This friend of mine was a friend from my Bombay days. We were neighbours, he was one-year senior to me. As was typical of those days, we spent evenings playing tennis ball cricket on their terrace. He came from an upper-middle-class family, had a well-appointed home, went to a convent school. These things of course never came in between our friendship; honestly, I never realised his financial situation in those days. His father was our family doctor, so when the doctor was at home, we would be a little under pressure! The friend was ever smiling, but he was not what can be called as a mixing type.  

As so happens, we lost touch around the time when I was in tenth grade. A few years later, I moved for my engineering course to Pune. One of my classmates had also moved to join the medical curriculum at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune. Once when we went there to meet my classmate, I bumped into this old friend, who was also learning to become a doctor. Our friendship was renewed, and we kept in touch intermittently.

As our education was getting completed, I heard that he got engaged to his classmate. I was so happy for him. Then came the news, later, that they had broken off! Later on, our friend went to England and settled there. Another 45 years passed as we again had lost touch. Once I was scanning the Facebook and searched for my friend and lo! There he was! I sent him a private message. I, of course, called him by the nickname from childhood. I shared my email id with him.  

A couple of weeks later, I received an email from him and was I happy! He said, “Pramod, it’s sheer luck that I got your message on Facebook; I was about to close my account on Facebook.” Then he gave details.  

He became a surgeon and lived in Northern England all his life. It appears that he did not travel much to India. He did quite well financially. He did not marry, he never explained hence I never asked. Then he was reminiscent about Bombay days. Our school days full of tennis ball cricket in the evenings. When it became dark, we would chat about everything in the world, until we were called home. Our email exchange continued sporadically, and we became comfortable with each other.  

Then in one of the emails, I shared with him how I went through Cancer treatment, end of 2013! Since he was a doctor, I shared with him as many medical details as possible. His reply was very positive and helped me to understand some more things from a medical perspective. I was surprised by his in-depth knowledge about cancer. He was a surgeon, but he was not an Onco Surgeon. From his next mail, I understood the background about his depth of knowledge. He had also suffered cancer of the throat region and had gone through massive doses of chemotherapy. Then he revealed a piece of very shocking information.

He wrote, “Pramod, after taking treatments for a few months, one of my doctor colleagues (who was my Onco surgeon) had a “doctor to doctor” talk with me. He said that the chances of my surviving beyond six weeks were remote. Why don’t you inform your family?” From what I knew, he did not have much contact with his family.  But he also wrote, “At the end of one month, a procedure was done. Suddenly after that procedure, my health started improving. The doctors have now removed me from the critical list and my current status at this time is “managing cancer”. I may require chemo once in a while as sustenance dose.” 

Well, this is not the story! The story started after this, at least for me! He once informed me that he was coming down to Pune for his medical college reunion. I was thrilled, and I said that we should meet. I told him, “Taj Blue Diamond will be the convenient hotel for you!” He said, “Pramod, there is one issue that I have not shared with you. When I was told that my days were numbered to six weeks, I got my lawyer and liquidated my fixed assets quickly, and I had substantial liquid money too! I organised and distributed 90% of assets to charities. Kept about 10% for unseen expenses, if required, after my death. Now with my health improving, I am seriously short of funds, but luckily, I have a pension! So, I am managing somehow. I came to know about this reunion and decided to attend, probably my first and the last one! So, staying at Taj is out of the question!” 

I thought, Oh, my god! How has this happened? He had many expenses, but luckily his most medical costs were covered under British Medical System. But overall, he was going through tough times. Other than his pension, he had no income. What turn can life take!  As he was past retirement age and in ill health, he could not work again.

This story again put me in severe turmoil, my mind was churning, and I did not know how to handle this. There was no way I could pay for his stay in Pune, he just would have refused.  

There is another twist to the story. I knew the dates for my friend’s stay in Pune. He had said that he would call me when he came to Pune. He did call, but somehow, I missed the call. During that period there were many phone calls to me from unknown numbers. So, I wrote him an email. He wrote back to me saying that he was sad that we missed out on meeting each other in Pune. He was back in England.  

After this episode, the frequency of our communication has dwindled down to a trickle; this has nothing to do with missing each other in Pune. My last couple of emails have remained unanswered. I must find out about our friend, and I hope that he is doing alright.

I am still very uneasy! Emotional turmoil continues!

Saxophone or Mercedes!

Passion or Bucket List was the title I had given to this blog but during a review, I felt that I should change it. Hence the name Saxophone or Mercedes!

Recently the expression Bucket List has come into vogue! I had not got into details of this and I had always thought that this a list which one prepares of things to be done or achieved, before one’s time on the earth is over. But in recent discussions with friends, it was generally expressed, as a list of places to visit, before you die.

But the formal definition of Bucket List is a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

Similarly, we humans have an emotion, “Passion”.  Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to the enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; too strong an attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person. It is particularly used in the context of romance or sexual desire, though it generally implies a deeper or more encompassing emotion than that implied by the term lust.

These two terms are connected. I feel that unless you have the passion there cannot be a bucket list. Most people live life but a few live it with passion.  The third slide with names of Einstein and Opnehimer is included becasue Passion is the genesis of the genius!

I was lucky to take a photo of the house where Einstein lived in Bern, Switzerland.IMG_20170909_144057 (2)

What after all is passion? Passion is something we live for, it may be art, it may be a sport, it may be a product that you design, it could be music that one creates. Behind every passionate person, there is a lot of hard work, in today’s IT buzzwords back office work. A passionate person appears to be in a hyper state because the person has to do many other things, on the side, to achieve his final goal; not only that but he keeps on doing it all through his life. The explanation below will give the meaning of the hard work and thinking needed to achieve your passion.

  1. Set your Goals
    1. Obviously, the first step in achieving anything is setting the goals or targets. Without the targets, we don’t know the path to take and we will let our life take its own course. Goals will put you on the path. You set goals because you want to achieve something, you are passionate about something.
  2. Understand the obstacles
    1. When you have set goals, obstacles will be there. But the passion will ensure that you will plan to overcome these obstacles in advance. The passion in you will never allow you to change the goal. In fact, the passionate you will resolve to overcome these obstacles by setting up a target to overcome them.
  3. Create a positive mental picture
    1. There will many problems  and there could be many problems which we may not visualize while planning. But the passionate person will budget for such problems and overcome them, and move ahead with a positive mental frame.
  4. Clear your mind of self-doubt
    1. When you are taking a different path or an uncharted challenge having self-doubts is possible. But passion will pull you through this phase and push you on the right path.
  5. Embrace the challenge
    1. No challenge is too big when you have the passion to achieve things. Adversities, doubts and obstacles are part of the path one has chosen; embrace the challenge to march towards your goal.
  6. Stay on track
    1. While you are trying to achieve the target or a goal, there could be mini targets on the side; there will be difficulties galore. Staying on track is possible only if you are passionate.
  7. Show the world you can do it
    1. Though you are trying to reach the goal, especially when it’s a tough, world in general, may be hoping that you fail. Keep focus and show the world you can do it.

A close friend is a surgeon. He is passionate about the medical field and keeps pride in achieving great success in exact diagnosis. He is a couple of years senior to me. Once when I went to him for an advice, he said, “Pramod, I will show you something new that I have bought.” He had bought an expensive equipment which would help him in improving his diagnosis quality. He was very happy to show me the details, which I could see in his eyes. He asked me my opinion about the procurement. I told him that I was very happy for him that he was able to pursue his dream of bettering himself, professionally. His establishment is in an area of Pune city where his patients come from financially lower and middle strata of the society.  He said, “Pramod, by God’s grace I have done well financially, so I have decided not to increase fees.” He further said that some people celebrate their success by buying a Mercedes car. “Pramod, this is my Merc!” This is passion for you! All his other friends had told him that he was crazy to waste money on such projects.

Another friend, an engineer, retired from a large organization as a General Manager. While he was working, once I had gone to meet him for some work. He wound up his discussions with colleagues and suggested that they meet the next day. He then said, “Pramod, I want your opinion!”. I jokingly told him that since he was sitting on the right side of the table how my opinion would be of any value? He said, “Pramod, I am serious. Forget the work. I want to buy a Saxophone. Tell me if I should buy it.” I knew his love for music. I also knew that Saxophone was reasonably expensive but I said that he should go ahead and buy it if he could afford it. I also suggested his neighbours should not be disturbed! He said, “The math works out and I am going to create one sound proof pad at home so as not to disturb the neighbours!” I said then simply go ahead! His eyes sparkled. Same old story! He said, “All other people whom I asked said come on buddy. Don’t waste precious resources”. I told him, “To hell with others, go ahead! with your passion” He did it. Now post-retirement he has formed a troupe and gives professional music performances! He is enjoying this more than his engineering career!

To me, Passion and Bucket List are almost like synonyms. Without passion how will have Bucket List? Bucket list is a by product of passion! Some people follow their passion and make it their career and others just do their career, as it comes. Let passion drive you, Bucket List will follow it automatically. But saying that you should follow your passion is easy but actually doing it is not so easy! I found some sayings which explain this perfectly!

  • Renew your passions dailyThe meaning of this is never give up on your passion!
  • Never underestimate the power of passionNeed I say more?
  • Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion Is this not obvious?
  • There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life– Sounds very familiar to me
  • If passion drives you, let reason hold the reinsThis the practical advice of a person who has lived a passionate life.

I had told you to live life with passion your Bucket List will follow you! 🙂🙂🙂

Bucket list

Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”

Dr. No…! Or Dr. Knows!

Whenever there is a discussion taking place about medical field, most of the reactions are, “These guys always cheat!” It is like a popular phrase in not so rich a country like India, “All business people are profit mongering thieves!” This sentence is contradictory. Business is an activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). The definition clearly states that it is an activity for making money. It is also said that doing a job is noble thing to do but we forget that when we do a job, we do it for someone who is doing business!

This discussion came about during a chitchat at home where five of the family members were doctors. Subject for discussion was basically how much is the right fee for medical advice, surgery, tests etc. Tests performed are standard procedures where almost identical methods are used for evaluation. The only difference could be a little more automation and sophistication of equipment. So, fees here should be uniform. But ultimately charges are market driven. Consultation and surgery fees will differ as these are dependent on individual skills and expertise.

A doctor friend of mine bought a modern computerized x ray machine. I asked him why did he buy this expensive machine. His reply was very different and interesting. He is my age. He said, “Pramod what is your opinion about my buying this machine.” I said, “Fantastic! Now you will be able to judge patient’s problems better!” His establishment is in the older part of our city where rates for services are generally inexpensive. He told me, “You are one of the very few who has appreciated my going with latest technology, most said what is use if you are not going charge fancy rates.” His further comment was most interesting. He said, “Pramod, consider this as my Mercedes! I would rather move around in a Wagon R as roads in this area are small and congested. I enjoy using this modern equipment, as it helps me improve my diagnosis.”

Among all the pathy’s, we have to accept a fact that only in Allopathy, a lot of research is taking place. All this research is sponsored by pharma companies, who else will do it? It is the business of pharma companies to find new drugs which help improve treatment and rate of cure. Fifty years back, when cancer was detected, death was imminent. There was no chance of cure. This was happening because the equipment of those days, knowledge of doctors, quality of drugs created a situation where it was always too late! But now all these things have improved so much that detection is early, equipment and drugs are better and so is knowledge of doctors. This has resulted in improving cure rate tremendously. When research is done a lot of money is invested. The companies try to get ROI as early as possible (it makes business sense) but when they get competition the prices of new drugs or equipment start tapering off fast. The pharma companies are not thieves; they are investing a lot of money for betterment of themselves and also of the mankind. It is duty of pharma companies to be profitable on behalf of the share holders as they are not a charity organization.

I am not saying that all the pharma companies are saints and there are bound to be black sheep. But this is true in all fields and in all pathy’s. It’s human nature to cheat but this % is generally similar everywhere. Also, like in every field there are checks and balances. There are organizations and associations which track malpractice. I will give you an example. Years back one of the giant pharma company’s sales guy met a doctor in Harvard Medical School. He suggested to the doctor, that if the doctor prescribed certain drugs to patients, they would pay US $ 5000/ month. The doctor promptly reported this offer to his management. There was a court case and the pharma company was fined US $ 940/ million! This still does not mean that such things are not happening but these are not as rampant as they are said to happen.

There is another theory. The threshold values of BP, Diabetes, Cholesterol are changed frequently to suit the pharma companies. This is done with the help of famous doctors. During last fifty years computerization has helped medical field as it has helped all other fields too! These threshold values are not absolute values. Medical fraternity decides this based on the study of large number of patients over a large period of time. Finally, they average it out. What computerization has done is that collecting data and processing it has become extremely accurate and fast. Previously it was taking maybe 30 to 40 years to analyze changes due to manual methods, now this is done every 10 to 15 years! Hence, we notice these changes introduced, as the changes are more frequent! Another reason for this is that in the modern world of internet, news and information spreads really fast!

The fees charged by doctors, medicines prescribed by them, methods followed by them are based on their knowledge and experience; obviously the fees are market driven too! We hear the stories about doctor A squeezes the patients but doctor B does not. The fees charged by these professionals are absolutely market driven. Do you know what fees are charged by Supreme court lawyers? Sometimes these are in lacs per day. I know of one patent attorney who charges about 20 k per hour! Heart Surgeons charge in lacs for bypass surgeries.

Now a new trend has started in medical field about which we all need to be careful. Dental technicians now start their own clinics and charge 1/5 th of the fees charged by the dentists. Many of their patients end up, going to real dentist after wasting money and sometimes with incorrect treatment.  Dieticians suggest diets to people sometimes without knowing medical history of patients. When I said this during a discussion, one of my friends was angry. He said, “Doctors have no clue about diets!” I asked him, “What clue do dieticians have about medical side of the person?” There are certain orthopedic technicians who start their own practice. Physiotherapists have started their own practice. One person has ten bed facility to give traction. I know of someone who has taken 40 plus traction sessions of one hour each, from this person, without medical advice. Traction is suggested by Orthopedic Surgeons based on certain criteria. Many patients take treatment from Physiotherapists without even taking advice from Orthopedic Surgeons. Patients go by treatments suggested by non doctors!

I am not saying that everything is hunky dory in the medical field. Major errors do happen even in case of celebrities. Hema Malini’s mother was operated upon right leg while she had problem on her left leg. That too in a hospital in New York. Mistakes and goof ups are part and parcel of this field. If you want to know first-hand, how things do go wrong, read a book by Dr. Atul Gavande, “Checklist Manifesto”! Atul is well-known Indian born surgeon who lives in America. Dentists have told me patients come to them after being treated by other doctors where they have undergone root canal treatment. On re checking they have found that the cheats had never performed root canal!

I will round up with a very interesting story told to me by my Daughter Dr. Priya. She is a pediatric dentist. An eight-month old baby was brought to her. The parents said that the baby had a gold tooth, yes Gold Tooth! 3 to 4 other dentists had already seen the baby and had declared that this gold tooth must be removed and can be done only under general anesthesia.  Parents naturally did not want treatment under anesthesia. Priya checked the baby and used a small tool to check the “gold tooth”. She just gave a small jerk and out came the gold tooth! Well it was an ear piece which the baby’s mother had lost, stuck in the baby’s mouth. Time taken ten seconds, anesthesia not needed, fees 0.00 rupees!

Friends, select your doctor in such a way that you get a great treatment if needed. And Yes! Don’t be scared, there are goof ups as in any field but % of cheats is also similar to any other field!

Bravado or Truth!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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