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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Knock, knock ...

Yes, finally!

The knocks are now so frequent and loud that I cant help but sit up, rather wake up, and take notice.

Currently going through so many emotions; elicited by reasons and sources both internal and external, unfortunately few closer to home that I would like. Time I guess is ripe to put on the writing hat!

The next few days, weeks, months or years will probably take a hit. But this is a worthwhile risk in the bigger scheme of things.

Cya all in a short time from now. If "Knock, knock ..." gets slow the blog will get hyperactive!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bhagyanagaram - Hyderabad; Nizams and beyond

It's always fun to take some time out with family; the gleam in Prad's eyes more so makes it personally very rewarding.

My last week in the previous job and I needed a break before I took up the new assignment. I had booked for us a trip to Hyderabad, nothing magical about the city though, it was just that Prad would love the trip to Ramoji and Snow world, I would love Golconda and Dee would freak out in the pearl shops and the bangle stalls near Charminar.

The Lumbini garden set the platform for what was to follow the next day in my mind. The laser show on a fountain highlighting the love story of the Nizam that led him to name his capital city Bhagyanagaram, after his beloved Hindu wife was indeed fairy tale-ish romance. I was still feeling warm and thankful inside for Dee when it happened. In Ramoji, Deepa was sitting on the Tora Tora, a merry-go-around kind of ride. I was watching from the sidelines when she was happily going round in circles. Her hair was undone, she had that nervous smile on her face, she was trying to spot me in the sidelines and she was looking strikningly beautiful. Took me back to Nov 27, 2002, the first time I met her. Thats when I had seen the same Deepa, the one whom I said I would lead the rest of my life with, that too in only one meeting. At that moment, though she was on the ride totally oblivious of the fact that I was standing there falling in love with her all over again, I felt she was very close to me. At that very moment she was right next to me making me feel warm and light. Ahh... the moment, the feeling of falling in love again with someone you love more than anything else. :)

I was in that soft, warm feeling till evening when we came back to the hotel; I wanted to share with her how I felt, but then she had to open her mouth and say something... :(

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hampi – The Rocks with a Thousand Tales

Hotel Mayura on a warm afternoon sipping on beer and having lunch, the alcohol only moistened the parched throat and failed to give me a high. The very location that I was in was making me think hard. One of my oft repeated quotes, “While in the midst of nature, keep your eyes, ears and most importantly soul open” was slowly being modified, more so the first half of the quote. I tried to shut my eyes and ears, figuratively that is, and tried opening the soul. Well the location was not Mayura that made me think, but the 25 sq km or so around the hotel. I was at Hampi, which at its peak was the crown jewel of Indian splendor and wealth.

As much as I hate taking a guided tour, this place was one where you are absolutely lost without one. Four centuries of architectural evolution of buildings, temples and palaces lies in sight of wherever the human myopic eye can cast a view. The human ear deafened by noise pollution of all sorts can only perceive the sounds that are played by the guide on the carvings at the Vijay Vitthal temple complex. People come back from Hampi with either a sense of awe or anger or a mix of both. I for some strange reason did not feel both. My soul opened and took me centuries back to what the place was centuries ago; the place that was described and praised at length by foreign travelers of that time.

The Akka-Thangi (sister) rocks leaning against each other with the elder sister supporting the younger one who is about to fall. A significance of how people try to build a link between nature and human emotions. At the restored market place you can actually hear the merchants shout out the price of their goods; imagine being in a market that sells gold and precious stones in heaps like peanuts; the epitome of human wealth. Tenali Rama’s mantap (vi-ka-ta-ka-vi; his nick name spells the same when spelt either way), at the top of a hill, visible from most of Hampi, signifies the extent to which the human mind can think through a problem. Moving towards the king’s palace, you can see the Dasara procession. The elephants, camels, horses, performers and lot more in a demonstration of the grandeur and splendor of human celebration.

The rocks at Hampi brought out to me the emotions that Gods went through as well. The mind’s eye sailed into the time of serial mutilation, burning and destruction of Hampi. Lord Ganesh who ensures that there is no bhinna (obstruction) to your work stood helpless when His idol was destroyed. Lord Ugra Narasimha, the half-man half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu, had come down to earth to destroy the demon tormentor - Hiranya Kashyap. He had managed to slay the demon with his bare claws. He helplessly sat there with anger in His face when His better half, Goddess Lakshmi, who was sitting on His lap, was being destroyed to pebbles. He watched with muted anger when the very people who worshipped him were looted and their homes burnt and demolished. This was the sad depiction of the extent to which humans can go to demonstrate their greed for wealth and factionalism. Even the Gods couldn’t do anything about it.

As the sun was setting, I moved on to the Raja Marga (King’s path) on which Sri Krishna Deva Raya walked to offer salutations to Lord Rama. I felt like a courtier who stood there demonstrating loyalty and respect to the great king who ruled over the land in the peak of its splendor.

If you want to know more about what I am describing above, please make a trip to the beautiful rocks of Hampi; they indeed have a thousand tales to tell. The only thing they ask from you to visualize and hear these tales is the soul’s eyes and ears.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Saying goodbye doesn't mean anything. It's the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it.

- Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park, Tweek vs. Craig, 1999

This was the last mail I sent out at PharmARC Analytic Solutions to few colleagues with whom I had either worked on projects with or folks who were close to the heart. Yes, it was that time I hate most when someone changes jobs; the time to say GOODBYE!

I had known and heard of this place a long while ago, actually since its inception in 2004. Sreeni had told me about the company when we met. I was a GP in a non-descript suburb of Bangalore at that point of time.

I moved on to a scientific content management company and later started my own company with a couple of friends. One fine day, I decided to call it quits due to personal issues and called Sreeni. I asked him to refer my candidature to any place he knew. He was worried and told me that I might find it difficult to work for someone after being an entrepreneur. But what was in store in PharmARC was nothing short of an entrepreneurial role. A company that gave enough freedom of thought and action, this place helped me grow in confidence and add skill sets that were alien to me.

Some pleasant memories come back to me about the various people whom I met and interacted in PharmARC.

Amit – our fearless leader; a man with a crazy idea of Pharmaceutical sales and marketing analytics firm based in Bangalore telling clients how to run their business better.
Siraj – I have never seen a more objective person than him.
Malthesh – my friend and guide; a humble being who gave me work life’s most important lesson, no task is mundane and demeaning.
Sreeni – my younger brother of sorts
Anjan – the resource who taught me the nuances of Epidemiology
Rohit – the epitome of integrity
Raghu – the epitome of flexibility
Nisha and Cyril – the best resources a manager can ever have (I had once told Rohit that they are like Ekalavya)
Raj – a lot of my exposure to clients would be due to his confidence in my ability
Senthil – the CI guru
Varsha – spread happiness like the first rain
Krishna – our Kroogle Gyani
Ashish – my formal mentor
Rajkumar – my informal mentor
Vijay – the John in our Abhi-John pair
The HR angels, my cab mates, the finance folks, the facilities guys, the admin staff, the people I met and interacted on my onshore trips, the BD team, the other functional teams at PharmARC, my Epidemiology team, the entire lot of Pharmacians… every one of these will stay etched in my memory for a long way to go and some for a lifetime.

But the most painful part of the separation will definitely be saying bye to ‘MY TEAM’; the medical services team. There was a mutual love and respect that the team and I shared. As they say, “A manager is as good as the team he works with”. I had “THE BEST TEAM” in the world to support me. Each one of them (though I am not taking names here) will be part of my nostalgic thoughts of PharmARC.

Long after I am gone, I hope people still remember me as I will remember them. I know for sure that my cubicle mates will not let anyone take my desk for quiet some time.

Amit believes that an ordinary resource can do extraordinary work if provided with the right kind of atmosphere and support. Though I did not achieve anything extraordinary, I am an example of what an ordinary resource can achieve in a company like PharmARC. I wish everyone in PharmARC success in work and life and hope they continue their journey to make PharmARC the leading company in the world for sales and marketing analytics support.

And yes… I will miss the next PharmARC offsite, wherever it is that the Pharmacians will go next.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hippocratic Oath - Beginning


This is what was the old oath and as expected there are revisions based on the changes in times.

I SWEAR by Apollo the physician and Æsculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation — to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction,
I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.
I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.
I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.
I will not cut persons labouring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad,
I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.

Why did I remember this? I was in the cab yesterday and one of my colleagues asked me, "Doc, you must have seen some wierd cases and experienced some moments worth sharing as a medic. Can you share some with us?" As I recollected, there were some gems worth sharing with a bigger audience. If ever a medic were to read these, the person would definitely relate to many such situations. I decided to come out with a series of blogs on such experiences, titled "The Hippocratic Oath". Read on and if you are a medic, you will relate to some; if you are not, it will give an insight into a Medic's life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Summer Christmas and New Year!!!

Well, for those who felt that the philosophical trees and unanswered questions of Australia was too much, here is a toned down and more touristy way of expressing the tour experience...

Deepa and I have traveled overseas but this would be our first trip together to a foreign land. The lure of the distant shores beckoned us- its people, nature, history, and all the exotic animals (well, I was looking forward to eat some of them). So, we set off 10,000kms east to become one of the early birds to welcome the New Year in sunny Australia.

Melbourne, Australia
A city proud of its achievements and even calls itself the fun capital of Australia. This city celebrates its connection to the Brits- everything you see here reminds you of the Victorian Era. Although Canberra has the capital city status and Sydney has the famous Opera House and Harbor Bridge, Melbourne has more than its share of achievements.

What interested me was the Flinder’s Street Station (reminded me of the CST, Mumbai), Federation Square (Nandan, Kolkata), James Cook’s cottage (shipped from England and reassembled in Melbourne)- a homage to an explorer instrumental in determining sea routes to Australia, the Immigration Museum (interestingly, it had a 3D depiction of Hampi during my visit), and of course the trams (it is the only city in Australia to have this luxury).

To the east, we encountered the cockatoos, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, platypus, echidna, Tasmanian devil, wombats, and the possums. All exotic and beautiful creatures nestled in the ranges of the Dandenongs. We also witnessed one of the most ancient rituals in nature; thousands of dwarf penguins returning to their burrows on Philip Island at sunset.

Heading west on Christmas Day, we saw the 12 Apostles (sandstone formations in the ocean) that have been standing tall as silent spectators long before any life form existed on the continent. The historic town of Ballarat, home to the biggest open air museum in the world, gave us a glimpse of what life was in Australia during the Gold rush. The highlight of the westward journey was the opportunity to drive a Prado on the Great Ocean Road- a dream comes true.

Canberra, Australia
The capital city and as described by the Aussies themselves- is a boring place. The city is full of administrative buildings and yes as much as I hate to admit it, I took a guided tour of the Parliament House. It’s also the place where I felt a sense of pride when we drove past the Indian Embassy and saw the tri-color waving on foreign soil.

Sydney, Australia
A big city, bursting at its seams and is full of life. It is as cosmopolitan as you can get. This was the place where the trip was culminated.

New Year’s Eve- we were stationed at the Circular Quay, situated in between the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. At the stroke of midnight, the fireworks lit up the sky and with it- 6million AUD was burnt in welcoming the New Year. It was an amazing sight!! As Deepa and I headed to Melbourne to board our flight back to India, we were happy to have been among the first people in the world to usher in the New Year. That too without giving into our temptations (I did not allow Deepa to shop to her hearts content and she did not allow me to try some kangaroo and emu pizza).

On the flight, I re-lived the entire trip again in my mind and there was one thing which came back to me. The happiness on my Nana’s (grandmother) face when she greeted us; it brings the proverbial lump to my throat thinking that this was probably the last time I would meet her in person. Rest assured, she will be around as my family’s’ guardian angel long after she is gone.

Final thoughts:

I will to go back to Australia to explore those parts which I missed this time; the outback, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru Rock, and Alice Springs beckon. And yes the land of the "Lord of the Rings" is on the cards as well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Salute to Soldiers.

I was there lying prone on the ground with a pine tree as cover trying to locate the enemy. I aimed at something that looked like a man and shot. The ammo flew from my gun at the target. One down, good! I rolled again into the cover waiting for the bullets that were coming my way to go past or hit the tree. A 2 second break and I rolled back to shoot again. I was thinking I was good at this, but obviously, someone had seen my moves. Suddenly I could hear a couple of them swoosh past my ears. I suddenly felt a rush of warmth in my head. The thermals, thich T-shirt and jeans, long jacket made for the snow and the camo on top of it; there was a strange feeling of cold and heat. The outside temperature was -6 degrees. I was cold below the knees and in the goggles and the cap, I was sweating. The fog from my breath covered my goggles limiting my visibility. I was in a state of confusion and fear. Not realizing what was happening. Then again, one hit the fallen branch right next to where I was. I rolled into cover. My heart was pounding and a sense of dejavu told me something's not right.

My 2 seconds of silence and I rolled back into shooting position again. Before I could realize or press the trigger, BANG! Right between the eyes. Good I had a pair of goggles to prevent any damage. The paintball exploded on the goggle fibre and thats it; I was out of the game. I got up, put the rubber cap back on the nozzle and with the gun held high, walked away from the battle field.

Sitting in the sidelines in the cover of the net, I thought. What if this was a real battle? What if I was a real soldier on the border? I would be dead by now. For the 8 of us who went to Poconos (in Pennsylvania, USA) and the 60 odd people who were there, it was a game. But imagine what our soldiers go through every single day. Here there are rules. There is a time limit. There is a set target to achieve. But out there, in the battle front, there are no rules. I relived the entire moment. Yes, I was scared. But, I was damn sure that I would not die. But still my instinct tld me to fight and not get hit. But imagine a real battle. One mistake and you are gone. Our soldiers out in the borders Play with death every single day. Imagine knowing that there is no second chance. Imagine a hit between the eyes with a real bullet.

Silently I saluted the brave soldiers who fight not just the enemy but the vagaries of nature and sacrifice their lives for us to stay safe. I felt a sense of gratitude towards them and before I could live in the moment, the next field was ready. I picked up the heavy gun and walked into the playground.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Motion = Lifelessness !!!

Movement or motion is normally associated with life and stillness with lifelessness. I was in this misconception until I saw something totally out of the world. Let me tell you how I actually overcame this misconception.

I decided to be one of the first to welcome 2009 and decided to do this in a big way. With this in mind, Deepa and I headed around 10,000 Km east to Australia. It is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. The cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra, the 12 apostles, the MCG, the F1 race track, the penguins on penguin parade, etc, etc, etc. Everything was so full of life, so full of enthusiastic people and unfortunately full of photo opportunities. If there is any one of man’s inventions I despise more than anything, it has to be the camera. And this became more evident and strong after this trip of mine to Australia.

There were a couple of things I did which was probably a lifetimes dream. Driving on the Great Ocean Road and witnessing the Sydney council burn 6 million dollars to usher in the New Year. And believe me; both are worth the distance we travelled. But the myth about motion and life was broken on the 28th of December, and this was worth more than anything else I saw and experienced in Australia. We were driving from Melbourne to Sydney along the Hume highway. The people at the back of the Toyota Prado we were driving in were in Sleepsville. I just got off the wheel and sat next to the driver’s seat. The road from Canberra to Sydney arrived at a spot where there was a dried up lake on the right side and the hills on the left. I noticed that there were 5 different types of vegetation that caught my attention. The Christmas pine trees, a silvery green tree that grew in groups and had white flowers at the tips, a bushy droopy tree which had long flowing leaves touching the ground, the all encompassing grassland and finally the huge omnipresent eucalyptus. The main colors that came across were the country’s national colors; green and yellow. I had noticed the same a week ago on the Great Ocean Drive, but there was something different today. I was finding it difficult to pinpoint the difference. I looked hard, tried hard and slowly as the hillocks to the left went farther and farther away I had a strange feeling come over me. The sun was going down rapidly and the eucalyptus’ were getting farther and sparser. The giant meadows, the grazing horses, sheep and cattle and the eucalyptus was all that was in front of me. Occasionally the Christmas pine trees, silvery green trees and bushy droopy tree would make their presence felt as these lined the fences close to the roads. Suddenly I realized that none of the grazing animals actually stood beneath the long shadows that the eucalyptus cast. I started observing the eucalyptus and then I realized that there were more colors than the green and yellow. Looking closely I detected red, grey and white. The eucalyptus trees here have to be seen to be believed, they are huger than I could imagine they would grow. But that was not what was different from the ones I saw on the Great Ocean Drive.

I was constantly looking at the trees and then it struck me. Earlier, there was the ocean wind which made the vegetation move around. They looked like a bunch of plastic plants a kid was rapidly shaking. But today, there was absolutely no wind at all and the giant trees did not appear to move a leaf. Suddenly an eerie sensation overcame me. The trees though stationary, looked like they would rest the lower branches to the ground, pull themselves out and start walking. They all appeared to have been doing so a little bit every day. They were moving away from something, leaning away from something. It was actually the dead trees of their own clan. The dead trees had dropped on the floor and it looked like they had stretched their anemic hands and long slender fingers with long nails towards the sky asking for help. The others were pulling way ever so slowly everyday whilst the same fate befell them too. The trees are starved due to the near drought like situation for 12 years and the intervention of man has made them each others enemies. The livestock were witness to all this and were staying away from their shadows as well. The droopy trees were moaning the fall of another giant next to them where as the white tipped fellas were cheering at the fresh red leaves that the other eucalyptus were growing. The Christmas pine stood there reminding that this was the holiday season and that there was hope for better times.

I pulled out both the cameras to capture the images I had seen, but then the photographs wouldn’t show me the trees almost coming to life, nor would they show me the anguish on the white barked trees that had fallen of hunger and thirst, the sorrow the droopy trees expressed was not evident at all, nor was the cheer of the white tipped trees. The only thing that I could make out was the arrangement of colors; green and yellow. That’s how short sighted the creations of man are. I kept these thoughts to myself unless the others thought that I was actually drinking a lot. And then I kept looking at each of the giants in the distance. Each appeared to have lived a long life and had a story to tell, which I would probably never come to know. The secret remains ~10,000 Km from the place I call home. I promised myself I will seek answers the next time I am here.

The myth stands broken, but there are unanswered questions!!!