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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The year that was 2011...

Another year passes and a new one arrives with promises of new beginnings, new frontiers geographically, relationship & target wise, re-live the rigmaroles of life, celebrate another year of hopefully getting wiser, togetherness & challenges with bringing up a child in a society and environment filled with instability and uncertainties, and make & break resolutions. Looking back at my friend for 350 days, Ms 2011 was a mixed bag for all. Personally the year marked the beginning of travels with a new passport that now looks like with not survive past 2012. Work wise the evolution from being a physician to being a “corporate coolie” was complete considering that I could count the number of weekends I spent at home with family using the digits on my hands and feet. Human emotions, egos and idiosyncrasies did a “Full Monty” like I have never seen in my entire life and continue to be the excess baggage that threatens to come with me into 2012. The little bundle of joy who is the only semblance of order in the chaos all around turns out to be more understanding, less demanding and pleasurable company than the other mature individuals around. Addition of a new member to the family due to the sibling tying the knot opens a “Pandora’s Box” of possibilities while it comes to changes in the way we have dealt with each other. The people who claim to govern “My Country” continue to fight corruption, terror and financial instability like amateurs adding to the stress and thereby contributing to the greys on my mane fearing for myself, the family and the little one. “The 3rd rock from the Sun” continues to get pushed to the brink of collapse both financially and environmentally. Yet, here I am feeling happy about it, looking forward to the week or so break that will help me welcome young Ms 2012 and say farewell to Ms 2011. Bruised, battered, shaken she heads off into the realms of history hoping she is remembered for long. Bye dear friend, this is my way of remembering you for times to come!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Practice Across the Borders!!!

Being a physician who crossed over to the tech and consulting part of contributing to society, I always was confused if I did the right thing by crossing over. There were three interactions I had with a peer, a colleague and a mother that made me feel that I can still contribute as a physician even though I don't practice anymore. 

My peer is 10 years my senior and is now the President of a company in India that is reviving the concept of Family Physicians in India. He told me over beer one day that I should remember always that I am primarily a physician. Whatever, I do in life, I shouldn't forget that I am a physician first and then a analyst and a product owner. Thanks to him, I try to think what my patient wants and how I can make a solution or platform simple enough for my patient to use. 

My colleague, now ex-, has moved on to being the Country Head of a not for profit organization in Uganda. At an airport in sub-Saharan Africa, he reminded me that as a practicing doctor I could only attend a limited number of patients in a day. By moving on to the tech side, I can influence the lives of millions of people by making it easy for them to stay connected to what matters to them. Without realizing it, I was probably had the power to influence millions of lives with what I was helping create. The thought scares me even today and keeps me grounded to reality when it comes to developing solutions and information for the users. 

During a visit to Jakarta, we were doing field visits and went to some Primary Health centers in the outskirts of Jakarta. As usual the places were crowded and lot of people bringing kids for immunization, etc. We were part of an initiative that involved information dissemination to pregnant and young mothers on the importance of breast feeding and health checks. During one of the visits to a Posyandu (health center), one of the organizers introduced me as a Dr. from India. Then there were lot of people from the crowd speaking and I don't understand that much of Bahasa except for thank you, sorry and give me food! When someone translated I understood that they wanted me to sing a Bollywood song of all things!!! Fortunately for them I decided not to scare them with my limited skills at crooning.

What happened next was what made the entire effort of bearing the equatorial heat and the mad rush satisfying. A young mother brought her frail son and asked me if I can examine him. She heard there was a “foreign” Dr visiting. She said the local doctors had diagnosed her 5 year son of a heart condition and the heart institute had recommended a surgery. She was scared to put the child under the knife and didn't go back to the hospital though the surgery would be free in the Govt Heart Institute. For the first time in nearly 6 years I picked up a stethoscope to examine anyone other than my son. What I heard clearly showed that the child had a septal defect, means a hole in the heart in simple English. I was really concerned now, because the frailty of the kid was because the blood from both the chambers were mixing and that meant the oxygen levels get reduced in blood leading to decreased availability for the body to grow. If left without intervention the child's condition would worsen over time. I didn't speak her language and she didn't understand mine. I looked at her and speaking very slowly told her what the kid was going through and that the procedure would save the child from certain death. There was someone translating what I was saying in the background, but I felt that it wasn't needed. I guess she understood because she promised she will get the child operated.

Being a meandering physician, there are instances that I come across every single day that are frustrating as well as taxing on the mind. There are hilarious and scary instances like an incident of a flight where I prevented a schizophrenic??? who had discontinued medication from joining the "high mile" club. I had to sedate the person on the flight to prevent him from doing what he was intending to do!!! There are sad instances where I helplessly assisted an old couple with the death certificate for their young son (who happened to be my colleague and died in a traffic accident). Then there are instances as above that remind me the famous quote from the Spiderman movies, "With great power comes great responsibility!!!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

My first hero!!!

Two days a week can sound like a lot of time with someone. But when it is with your dad, two days are not enough. I realized that when today morning when I was dropping Prad off. The way he looked at me said everything. The eyes said bye for now dad, see you in the evening and thanks for the lovely 2 days you gave me! The best part of the weekend was when we got into the car in the parking lot after watching the much awaited Kung Fu Panda 2. Much awaited, not because the entire world of Po fans were waiting for this, but because for the past 2 months Prad has been asking me how many days left until Part 2? We settled down in the car and he leaned over from the back seat, gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek and said “Papa, I love you!” Was it because he was moved by the climactic scene with Po and his adopted goose dad or because I kept my promise and took him to watch the movie or just like that??? 

Po, as we know by now is the adopted son of the goose (not that we needed to watch part 2 to understand that). His biological parents did what they felt was best during troubled times and thought saving his life was better than clinging on to him. The untold and more touching story is that probably Mr Goose didn't even have a Mrs Goose as that would lead to uncomfortable moments with his own offspring around. He was first Po’s dad more than anything else. That one hug of recognition that Po gives his dad was the rewarding moment for all the sacrifices that a dad had made. And know what, the best thing is dads never tell that they made these sacrifices.  

It is no secret that I admire Dads of all ages for what they are. The first hero that any child has is his/her own dad! As kids grow they tend to adopt comic book heroes, movie stars, peers, seniors and people in the society as their heroes. The defining moment however is when life comes a full circle. Kids grow up and have kids of their own and that is when they realize that in the process of growing up they somewhere forgot their first hero. But,is there even a small sigh that a dad gives out during this entire process? NO! And when you indeed are back to the starting point you are too grown up or mature to give him that hug and peck on the cheek and say those words, “Papa, I love you!”. But does he care if you don't express it? NO! you can see it in his eyes, he has that same expression that your child has on his face. Thanking you for a few moments of togetherness, that odd imported whiskey bottle or just being present there in his friend/ relative’s child’s wedding. How much I feel that I could just go back in the years, put my arms around him and tell him that no matter what he will be my hero and I love him!!!  

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's a Love-Hate Relationship

love  (lv)n. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

hate  (ht) v. To feel hostility or animosity toward.

Come to think of it. Is there any individual who can only hate? I don't believe it is possible. For according to Newton, Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

For a person to hate something or someone there has to be the same amount of love and affection to a person or concept that is quiet the opposite. Is there a way for the world to better channelize the LOVE part of the emotion and make it a better place for everyone? Our lives are too short to accommodate hatred to everyone and everything.

Think about it - if at all you want to hate something, hate global warming, hate the situations that lead to poverty and starving, hate the trends that led to a skewed sex ratio, hate the have not's who hate the have's and don't do anything to change their situation. This will lead to a lot of love for the better!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Worship on Wheels???

I was headed to work today and though not the best thing to do, was on a call. Of course there is hands free that reduces the guilt a bit. A van zipped past and I noticed something written on the side of the van. One moment I was taken aback. Did it say - Worship on Wheels? Looked at it again and it actually said - Workshop on Wheels.

What was I thinking?

This also set me thinking. There are workshops, libraries, hospitals and hotels on wheels. Why not Worship? Isn't it high time that Gods got mobile as well and became available where people need them. This could be across religions, wow a secular thought. Look at how politicians could make us of the platform.

Thinking deeper, can spirituality or worship be converted into a business model. One might argue that it already is and that's what most religious organizations do. There are trusts, people who can afford to make donations, the funds are used to build temples and other facilities, more money flows in, this time from lesser affluent masses, money gets spent back to the society in some form or other, people who control this money get greedy and corrupt, allegations and counter allegations follow ---- but interestingly the BELIEF continues.

Come to think of it. Build out a good business plan on how a company around spirituality as a product will be developed. Register the company as a tax paying entity, get some VCs to fund the initial investment, wait it out for a few years, build a chain of places of worship or better still franchise them out, make money, pay taxes and have a transparent way of all things that matter in the company like any other corporate entity does.

If there is an "angel" out there, you know who to speak to for the Newco idea! ;) 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Innocence Lost

On a lazy Sunday morning, at the in-laws place getting ready for an engagement function, chanced to watch the show on India on Discovery Channel. As usual, my mind meandered into the memories of the past and I remembered two people from the past who influenced me at various junctures in my career, both professionally and personally. The show was about how the holy Ganges was getting polluted and the belief Indians had about Her power to cleanse all sins. The two people who came to mind were both doctors; Dr Malini S and Dr Jayachandran Thampi.

Year 2000, I had gone to New Delhi with a few friends to attend the Short Service Commission exams for selection into the armed forces as a doctor. We extended the stay there and headed out to Rishikesh and Haridwar for some sightseeing. The first time I was on the banks of the Holy Ganges, there was a sense of positive energy that engulfed me. I could feel the positive thoughts and energy that were associated with the place for thousands of years. I stood there in reverence of the Holy River that had the magical power to cleanse all sins that a person would have committed. The only other places where I felt this level of positive energy and belief was at the Raj Ghat, the resting place of the Mahatma and in the sanctum of the Tirupathi Tirumala Balaji temple. I took off my clothes and took a dip, feeling a flow of energy through my body and actually came out of the water feeling light and actually devoid of all sins.

Year 2002, I was working for a holistic medicine setup where I met Thampi. He would always call me his younger brother and impart on me knowledge on the best way to put you forward as a doctor. One late evening when he was really drunk, he let out the reason why he liked me so much. He told me that though I was 25 something, the fact that I had a childlike innocence about me was what made him like me. He told me that come what may, I should retain this innocence as that is what keeps me generally happy and free of all tensions in life. That is what, according to him, gave me my biggest asset a person could have; the ability to laugh at myself and not feel bad about committing mistakes.  

Year 2005, I was employed with a KPO that managed scientific content and events for pharmaceutical companies. Informally, Dr Malini had taken me as her mentee and trained me well in relating business needs with medical domain possibilities. We were on a client visit and scientific workshop in New Delhi and got the day off. We headed out to Haridwar again and there I was standing at the banks of the Holy River again. A priest walked by and offered to help us offer Pooja to our ancestors. I stood there watching him do the rituals and at the end he took water out of the river and asked to drink it. For one moment as the water touched my hands, I somehow couldn't convince myself to drink it. Memories of 2000 flashed before me where I had so willingly taken a dip in the river. But now, there I was seeing how muddy the water was and wondering the amount of bacteria I would consume if I drank the water.

On the way back to the New Delhi, I remembered what Thampi had told me. In the span of 5 years from my last visit to the Ganges, I got married, came across some forgettable relatives, fought hard to please all, changed the way I applied my medical knowledge from serving patients to serving corporate, been through the pain of not having lived with my parents for the first time in my life, expecting our first child, highs and lows of life after a student’s phase, and a host of other memorable and forgettable things.

April 10, 2011: Watching the show on the Holy Ganges on Discovery Channel. Eleven years since I first stood at the banks of the Holy Ganges, I could take some heart based on the fact that I was indeed turning out to be a professional success owing in a big way to people who contributed to my growth right from Dr Malini and a lot of my mentors in various organizations and my family (Deepa and my parents). However, where was I as a person? Had I in the process of growing professionally missed out on the person front? Was I still the same person who Thampi admired for my childlike innocence? I want to say yes, I hope it’s a yes, but deep inside unfortunately I know what the truth is, the answer is a big NO.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Theist's Wish!!!

“Papa, you must not watch cricket. Watch Football instead!” says my five year old with a dismissive tone about the long time I spend watching the Cricket World Cup 2011. And to top it, he decided that he wanted to go to the park during the epic semi-final match when India beat Pakistan. I conceded and missed Yuvraj dismiss two Pakistani batsmen. He probably thought Football was the biggest game on planet Earth (which it is) due to the fact that the FIFA World Cup was what he saw me following as a 4 year old who could follow what was dished out on the Idiot Box. Little does he know that he will grow up to be one of the billion odd Indians who will do anything to watch India win a cricket world cup?

Cut back to 1983 when I as a six year old didn't know of any other televised game other than cricket. I don't even remember any of those scenes that people from my Dad’s generation recollect so emotionally. Kapil’s running catch to dismiss the great Viv Richards and start the famous march towards a maiden World Cup victory for India. 28 eventful years have passed and I still believe that Kapil Dev was the person who changed the face of cricket in the sub-continent and not just India and brought it to the status it has currently, It’s more than just a Game!

Years from now, my son would hopefully remember fondly that his parents watched the day when India won the 2011 World Cup. Cricket, the game of glorious uncertainties could still dish out something other than what a billion souls wish for. Mother Luck might decide to smile on the islanders and not the Indians. But one thing is for sure, he will remember that there was a GOD that people who followed a religion called CRICKET worshipped. He would be one of those less fortunate to only marvel at recordings of the great Sachin and not remembering watching the legend live.

I was one of the atheists that thought that Cricket was another game and there was always Tennis, Football and F1 to follow. That was all until the day I watched GOD work his miracle. 200 not out; something which no human had ever achieved in a one day international. Over the course of that innings I am sure there were many more converts like me who turned theists and started believing that Sachin was the God of Cricket the religion.

Cut to the 2nd of April, 2011. By the end of the day it would be clear if indeed even God is imperfect. If like the great Don, our own God will end less than a 100%. Or is it that all the forces that matter are playing out the events spanning for 21 years of his career to climax with him bidding goodbye on a high.
Imagine a higher God approaching Sachin the previous night and dishing out a few options to him. There are a multitude of possibilities at the Wankhede. What if he is asked to choose between:  
·         Scoring his 100th international century in a winning cause and checks the list of to-dos before he calls it a day
·         Being a part of the World Cup winning side, but doesn't reach the personal milestone
·         The other options I don't even want to imagine
Give these options to Sachin and I am sure he will selflessly choose the second.

28 years down the lane, my son will be in front of a television or streaming the Final live on his pad watching India win yet another World Cup while his 5 year old will pester him to go to the park. He like many his age will fondly remember that there was a God who once wielded a willow. A superhuman, who brought happiness to millions when he was at the crease. A master that ruled all he ventured into. Above all an immortal, who displayed human traits and stood clean in the midst of chaos and flawed mortals.  

Sachin do us proud all over again.