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Monday, December 31, 2007

English songs and music

As we go into a new calendar year, I am forced to admit that although I enjoy English music immensely, often buying music CD's and so on, I am a complete noob when it comes to writing intelligently on them. I have music by Shakira, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and a few others. When Michael Jackson was at his peak, I must have purchased several of his cassettes (we had no CD's back then) including "We are the World", "Beat It" and "Thriller". Madonna's songs are exciting as well, and as Indians,we can understand her singing easily.

Among movie songs and music, my favourites are Grease, Saturday Night Fever, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, Woman in Red, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Jungle Book and a few others.

Recently, with my daughters, I have started listening to more recent singers like Shakira, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, 50 cent, and a few others. I am trying, at the same time, to also fine-tune my ears to Western Classical Music.

It remains to be seen how successful my endeavour will be.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Death by a gun - Benazir Bhutto

Certainly, this end was one that Benazir Bhutto must not have foreseen after returning to Pakistan a few months ago after spending several years in political wilderness! On the 27th, she was murdered, allegedly by al-Qaeda terrorists, but quite possibly by other, more national, anti-establishment forces, in the open, as she was returning from an election rally, in Rawalpindi.

My take: She did not deserve this! If anyone did, it would have been some of the other top political leaders of Pakistan. However, and this is a moot point, she was as unfriendly to India as Pervez Musharraf's regime is, so why should we grieve as Indians?

We should, as Pakistan is our immediate neighbour, and with Benazir's removal from the opposition, the elections to be held in January 2008, have lost meaning. As it is, Nawaz Sharif, the other returned ex-Prime Minister has already been barred from contesting. Hence, it seems that Parvez Musharraf will continue to hold sway over the fortunes of this beleaguered country. With access to the nuclear button, God forbid if the nuclear weapons were to fall into the wrong hands!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Old age and behaviour

My father, who is 73 years and six months old, has gradually changed from being what he was to being an irritable, uncouth, and ill-mannered person. How this change in personality came about is something of an enigma to me, as it is to my mother, my two younger brothers, my wife and the wives of both my brothers. My daughters are just as bewildered as the children of my younger brothers.

My mom has become so exasperated that she starts crying the moment one of us (all three of us feel more or less the same way about our dad) begins to argue or talk some sense into the old man. She fears that one or all of us will stop talking to dad, and then we will all stop visiting them completely.

I will write more later. Do keep checking this blog. Thanks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Clinic Inauguration (III): The actual event

I reached the clinic premises at about half past nine in the morning. My assistants came around the same time. A maid had come earlier than us and was just finishing up with the sweeping and mopping activities. I invited her to return later on as a guest, then the three of us became busy setting up the place for the "opening ceremony". My parents were to "break the coconut (father) and cut the ribbon (mother). They arrived well in time for the auspicious time of 9.52 a.m. Here are a couple of pictures of them doing the honours:

First, dad breaks a coconut
... then, mom is cutting a red ribbon, thus "opening" the clinic.





This was then fol
lowed by the arrival of my teacher and Guru, Dr. N.B.Kumta, an eminent Pediatrician from Malad, a Mumbai suburb. He had been kind enough to help me with the editing of my parenting book a few years ago. As a token of my appreciation for him, I presented him with a copy of the book. Here are a few pictures of him:


Over the rest o
f the day, several other guests came. It is impossible to show pictures of everyone who came, but friends, relatives, other doctors, other associates, neighbours of my home and my shop, people from the old clinic building at Nagpada, and finally, a few of my internet friends too turned up. Below are some of the pictures of these unforgettable moments. Shown are my mama (maternal uncle), a net friend Hiroo Pardasani with his wife, a net friend Tanishq, with her family, some important doctors, such as Dr. Shrin Shikari and her family, Dr. Rajendra and Sheela Verma and her son, Drs. Joshi and Barsiwala, Drs. Farooqs, some relatives, such as my uncle Idris with his family, and a few others.



As you can see, the event was a success, with over 300 guests gracing the occasion. We served kesar-pista icecream, and the guests enjoyed it. Gifts and bouquets literally rained upon us! It was a colour riot, with tens of large, medium and small bouquets, covering every available surface on the premises. Added to this were the other gifts, both in cash and in kind. There were vases, table-top decorative stuff, items useful to a pediatrician, hospitality stuff like crockery, religious photo-frames and other icons, stationery, chocolates and even something odd like a shirt for me!

I thank all of those who attended my inauguration function and all those whose prayers and blessings were, are, and will be with me and my family. To all others who read this post and my blog, please note that this is a very special event in my professional life, so I request you not to try and mock it or belittle its importance.

Thank you for reading it all.

To view the entire collection of photos, please click here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Inauguration of the clinic (II) - The run-up to the opening

The actual inauguration was held on Sunday the 21st of October, 2007. To be honest, we had to rush through the last three or four days' work of renovation to meet the deadline for the opening. I tried to send out phone invites and also invitation cards to as many relatives, friends, doctor-associates, other colleagues and contacts, as possible. In the end, this effort involved cooperation from my children, my wife, a few of my close friends, my employees, the internet (since many of the invites went by email), the phone service (which, gratefully, did not let me down most of the time, though the landlines were more reliable than the mobiles), the postal service (since over 75 invites went by post - this one was a dampener, as later on, I learned that at least 14-15 invitees got their invitations after the event was over!) ... and some others too.

On the penultimate day, I sat down to run through the lis
t of all the things that had to be done/were done:

-sending out invitations and following those that were sent by post with a phone call wherever possible
-checking and cross-checking the invites to see that I didn't miss anyone or to confirm that the phones had indeed been made
-calling up the people who were going to erect a "pandal" (
a sort of shaded verandah on the sidewalk outside my clinic) and tell them to erect it that very night
-confirming with the icecream supplier the order for 500 ice
-creams
-running after the carpenter, plumber, painter, varnisher, electrician, glass-vendor, mason, etc. and seeing to the completion of the
ir final work in time for the opening
-installing a fish tank (the vendor also brought water in two large plastic bags from his home and filled the tank! He brought the fish on Sunday morning at nine o'clock and made the tank complete!)
-seeing to it that the florist keeps the floral festoon ready to apply it to the front of the main board the next morning
-seeing to it that the board maker fixes the main board and the side board outside the clinic's main door


... plus a zillion other tasks!

In the event, is it a surprise that a few people did get left out, a few tasks did remain incomplete and a few mistakes did occur? :-)

Here are a few pictures of the clinic on Sunday
morning, before the guests began to arrive:





Thursday, November 08, 2007

Inauguration of the Clinic - Buying the place

Let me share with you all the major event that happened in late October: the inaugural function of my new clinic. In this post, I will tell you about how we got to acquire the place where the clinic came up. My wife Nishrin and I had, over the past year and a half, been looking for a large premises, at least 350-400 sq. ft. floor area, to be able to start her parlour and a small place within that for my new clinic. Our search had started at Mazgaon over two years ago, but its scope widened to areas like Clare Rd., Byculla main road, J.J. Hospital area and even the Bohri Mohalla area where Nish currently runs her parlour from a rented premises. Things weren't moving, and in the meantime, realty prices began to zoom up like mad. We had funds to the tune of 22 to 25 lacs, which, later, we hiked to about 30 lacs, but there weren't any decent premises available in that budget.

Our search narrowed down to a 350 sq.ft. place near the J.J. traffic signal, and before we knew it, that owner refused to sell the place and backed off. Sometime around mid-May, a broker approached us with a proposal from another party which had a main road shop close to the J.J. signal, but was a bit smaller, at around 250 sq.ft. Negotiations started with the party asking for 40 lacs net, and promptly broke down as we simply did not think the place was worth that! Remember, we had to give an unspecified amount to the landlord - this would be anywhere from a fixed amount of 5 lacs to a fixed percentage of the amount we paid to the owners. Thus, we would have to shell out an additional 7-10 lacs for the landlord, and we simply did not have that kind of money.

Our thinking got to the point where we almost gave up the whole idea of buying a place in these cost-inflated times. Then, we got used to the idea that that place was really good, and we would not want to give up on it; so we began to discuss how to raise additional capital. Loans would have to be taken, there was no question. We put a counter proposal of 35 lacs including the amount to be paid to the landlord.

This was not fair to the owners, since they too did not know what the landlord would be seeking. Hence we gave them another figure: 30 lacs Net, take it or leave it. In the final meetings, this figure was re-negotiated to 32 lacs net. and then the talks with the landlord took place ... this was between the landlord and the owners. The former asked for 10, and finally settled for 7.

Thus, the deal finally cost us 39. We paid a brokerage of 0.60, and spent another 4.5 on the renovation of the place. The clinic has thus cost us nearly 44 lacs, give or take 25000 rupees. To raise this huge difference between what we had (30) and what was needed (44), we took loans from doctors, relatives, and friends, plus a 3 lac loan from a bank to part meet the cost of the renovation.

We got possession of the place on 31st July, and began work on the premises by mid-August. The work went on for over 2 months, and the place was finally ready on Sunday 21st October 2007 for the official inauguration.

More in the next post.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lots of things to say

I know I haven't been around for a long, long time, and to all readers, past and present, I can only offer a limp apology for this absence. Several things have transpired in my life since my last entry. In a nutshell:-
  • All thirty fasts got over, Ramadan got over and my family and I celebrated Eid with the usual fanfare.
  • We, that is my wife and I purchased a shop near J.J. Hospital, a premier area in South Mumbai, then I was busy getting it shipshape for a doctor's clinic, and finally, on the 21st of October, we had it inaugurated at the hands of my parents, and invited over 500 guests to "view" the new clinic, to bless and guide us, and to join us in our happiness.
  • My younger daughter went on a 4-day trip to a resort in nearby Vasai from the 26th October to the 29th. The house just isn't the same with one member missing.
  • Today, I finished registering my 50th patient on the new Computer-based patient registration system installed in the new clinic; the software is developed by a private software company called Maze Designers and Developers (from Vadodara), and is blessed by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (the I.A.P.) - the official organisation of the Pediatricians of India.
  • My elder daughter went on a one-day picnic with more than 150 other adolescents last Saturday, that is on the 3rd of November. She had great fun.
  • My wife is now busy with the wedding season. Dressing up brides, giving them hair-styles, hair colours and hair-cuts is part of the preparation that she participates in.
  • On Writing.com, an internet writing site, I am unnecessarily drawn into a controversy that touches upon not just my writing skills, but also my leadership qualities, my religious affliations, my sensitivity or otherwise in certain matters, and so on.
Having said all this, let me add that several other things have also happened, but they will have to wait for another post. The most important among those is that my father took ill and was admitted under a physician at a Hospital last week for 4 days. He even had to go into the ICU for one night on account of his deteriorating condition. However, now he is well and at home.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Twenty rozas over today

In about one and a half hours from now, two-thirds of Ramadan will have got over, barring the shouting. I have, with the blessings of Allah, completed all the twenty fasts (rozas) so far, and plan on doing all. I admit that so far, I have NEVER done all the 30 fasts in any year, so I will definitely congratulate myself if I manage to do all of them.

The rains have almost receded, and with that, the temperatures have begun to rise. The feeling of thirst and hunger are contradictory to each other. During the colder days, hunger pains are more while one does not feel so thirsty; in summer, or when the climate is hot, thirst calls for quick resolution, while hunger takes a back-seat! This divine balancing enables the devout Muslim to complete his fasts without much hassle.

I have found to my pleasant surprise that it is not altogether that difficult to fast if one puts one's mind to it. My daughter fasted with me for the first eighteen days, but from the nineteenth day, I prevailed over her and banned her from fasting as her studies and sleep patterns were getting disturbed. This is not a very Islamic thing to do, but, as a parent, I had to take this difficult decision as she is in her pre-degree (XIIth) year, and the examinations that she will face in February and June will either make her career or break it. Thankfully, she agreed to see my side of the whole thing and has now stopped requesting me to lift the restriction of not fasting. In a matter of just days, she has reverted to her old self and eats very well indeed. I fear she may again put on the pounds that she lost during the first eighteen days.

In contrast, Hannah, the younger one, has so far completed just five rozas; she plans to do the fasts on Saturdays and Sundays only, and that too only if she is free from other tensions and responsibilities.

My wife's paternal aunt and her husband arrived at our house yesterday. Being Punjabis, their lifestyle has zest and enthusiasm that is unparalleled in India. Their first day's stay in our house was full of our hosting their comfort, food, and so on. They are staying here today as well. I shall try and post their photograph soon in this post.

That's all for today.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ramadan has started

... And so has my fasting. Every year, I turn over the proverbial "new leaf" in Ramadan. All through the year, I am a non-conformist, who, despite abiding belief in Allah and Islam, hardly ever pray the Namaaz or read the Qur'an. Come the holy month of Ramadan, and I get transformed from being an irreligious person into an Allah-fearing, Namaaz-praying, Qur'an reading individual. I fast too. In short, I change into a new person!

So far, there have been six fasts, and I have done them all. I have no doubt that if my resolve does not waver, I should be able to finish all fasts.My elder daughter Inas is also doing all the fasts.

My first income from my net activities

Although I have earned money earlier too because of my net presence, I was pleasantly surprised last week when I received my first ever cheque for contributing an article to http://www.merinews.com.

I joined this interesting site a few months ago on prompting by a person called Shilpadeep on the net. She sent me a link to the site and interested me enough to visit that link and become a "Citizen Journalist" or "CJ". I wrote a string of four articles on the medical "industry". These articles were well received but did not garner the kind of attention that I was looking for. Then, sometime in August, I wrote an article based on my real life encounters with Orkut. This artocle became a rage, so much that I received both fan-mail and hate-mail for it. In the end, the Merinews editorial team elevated it to a "Merinews Pick" and sent me the payment as a recognition-cum-reward for doing what I had already done.

Do visit the site mentioned above, and use the search option to see my articles. Search for "Dr. Taher" without the quote marks and the next box selected to "by Contributor".

Thursday, September 06, 2007

News on my new clinic

I am returning to the blog after almost twenty days ... eventful days with most of my spare time spent in supervising how my new clinic premises are getting renovated/refurbished. Before I go any further, let me say that my present clinic was becoming too small to take the input of patients and other visitors; this is hardly surprising as it measures just 100 sq. ft. in size! Out of this, almost 5 sq.ft. is lost in a structural beam, 10 are lost in a staircase that connects to the loft inside my clinic, and of the remaining 85, 40 sq. ft. is the size of the waiting area and 45, the size of the inner cabin where I consult. LOL.

Now, with a sizeable contribution from my better half, I have purchased a new "pagdi" premises near J.J. Hospital. The new shop is on the ground floor, and is almost 250 sq. ft. in size, a major increase over the older place where I presently sit. The renovation work is in progress and is expected to complete in less than a month. Inshallah, I should then shift my normal practice to this place, while the Late Zubedabai Y. Kagalwala Memorial Child Welfare Center will continue to operate from my present premises.

A little more about the charitable venture: it has started since July 27, 2007. In the nearly one and a half months, I have seen about 20 new cases and about 15 old ones. As against my normal fees (of around Rs. 400/- for the first consultation, I charge just Rs. 100/- for this in the charitable version. With this, I hope to earn the good wishes and prayers of my poorer patients and blessings from my late mother's benevolent soul.

That's all for now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

India @ 60: Pleasures and pains of growing up in free India

Independent India, as we know it today, was born at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947. While its twin had delivered itself a full 24 hours earlier and been christened “Pakistan”, India laboured through the evening and became free only as its first PM designate Nehru delivered the now famous “Tryst with destiny” speech to whoever came to listen to him.

Like other births that occur all over the world, India’s birth was no less tumultuous; it was fraught with danger and the promise of problems galore.

These promises came horribly true as the subcontinent was ripped apart by rioting mobs. The ripping apart was a bloody affair, with millions of lives lost in a mindless, inter-religious, inter-factional war that threatened to destroy the fledgling nations that had been just formed.

The baby was crying, yes, but its very existence stood in danger of being extinguished.

I wasn’t even born then, but from what I have read, heard and seen in various media, India in its infancy was caught between the desire to shout about its freedom from the rooftops and to be seen to be an ably administered country without its firangi rulers. It had world class leaders, of that there is not a shred of doubt. Its people were mostly patriotic, but poverty, the yoke of colonial rule and the bloodshed of the freedom struggle, and later, the pangs of partition, had robbed their enthusiasm to do something positive for the nation.

In this era of despondency arose towering figures - righteous politicians, educationists, financial wizards, industrialists, inventors, scientists, doctors, engineers, artists … and so many others from various walks of life … men and women for whom there was nothing other than the clarion call to do something for fellow-Indians. They worked day and night to make India into a country that would command admiration and respect from all the nations of the world.

From a tiny beginning, the roots of which were sown during the years prior to independence, India shrugged off the yoke of colonialism and began to create a modern, thriving nation. There were innumerable bumps on the road, the biggest being those of a lack of infrastructure, illiteracy and a culture steeped in dogma and superstition. Presence of regressive practices like discrimination against women, delaying projects on account of the absence of a “shubh mahurat”, the “licence raj” and administrative inertia acted as major hindrances to development. Adding to the woes was corruption: it stopped entrepreneurs, inventors, discoverers, scientists, engineers, and almost all other flag-bearers from breaking fresh ground and initiating new activities.

It is therefore with pride that I must say that over the painful, agonising decades, our country did, in fact, start to show progress. In a decade or so of the start of the Five Year Plans, the agricultural revolution that occurred brought employment, prosperity and smiles to the lips of millions of impoverished farmers. Over the ensuing years, there was a gradual but perceptible decline in the infant and under-five mortality rates, a rise in life expectancy, a rise in literacy and a secular increase in industrial output and infrastructural input.

I was born in 1960. It was a year in which the country achieved its teenage as independent India. The child had grown into an adolescent. It had begun to flex its intellectual, military and financial muscles. The ebullience of Jawahar’s “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” was turning into a nightmare for India as China continued to, on the one hand, shake hands with us while on the other, mount an aggressive assault upon our country’s sovereignty.

The Indo-China War ran our pride into the ground, but also taught a few invaluable lessons to our political leaders and to the general populace too. Distrust and realpolitik replaced blind faith and gay abandon when it came to dealing with Machiavellian nations. Who else to head the list but our own bud, Pakistan?

It was in the 1950’s that the Indian behemoth began to make a mark on the world with its Nehru-inspired Non-Aligned Movement. However, it was in the ‘60’s that the movement gathered steam, with its meetings in Belgrade, Cairo, and towards the end of the decade, in Lusaka. While Neil Armstrong was setting foot on the moon, India galloped ahead of the agricultural brigade and laid down the foundations of industrial progress. Steel, Aluminium, Coal, Petroleum and petroleum-processing and many other core infrastructural industries took off. I was but a child then, but I remember doing “social studies” projects in school. We used to cut out pictures of milk-bottles, butter packets, detergents, toothpastes, brushes, bath-soaps, socks, shoes, and other fast-moving consumer goods to stick them in our books. I remember thinking how wonderful that our country was making such lovely things to use, eat and wear! At that time, my mind probably did not know that over 50% of the goods produced in India were made by multi-national companies.

Thus passed the sixth decade of the 20th century. By then, India became a young, grown-up nation. Besting Pakistan in the ’65 war, India went on to crush it once again in ’72, and Indira Gandhi and Field Marshal General Sam Maneckshaw delivered a new baby to the international comity of nations: the fledgling Bangla Desh.

My own teenage years were spent schooling and, if I may coin the word, “colleging” through junior-college, and then the medical college that I graduated out of, a qualified doctor. Through the ‘70’s, while I immersed myself in education, I observed our country go through the jubilation of winning a war, of it bringing out the nationalization of 14 banks (other than the State Bank of India and its 7 subsidiaries, which were nationalized in 1955), of it ushering in the milk-revolution and of it growing out of the influence of the Soviet Union and beginning to play its non-aligned role more and more vigorously. Nehru had been replaced by the indomitable tour-de-force, his daughter and Indian par-excellence, Shrimati Indira Gandhi.

It seemed that India’s saviour would be no big-banged hero on a white steed, nor even the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, who was making his mark in the film industry, but an ordinary-looking middle-aged, straight-backed woman in a white sari – with zardozi borders. Mrs. Gandhi became the common man’s favourite. She hobnobbed with world leaders and sat down with slum-dwellers with the same degree of comfort and displayed √©lan and style with both. She administered India as well or as bad as the other predecessors, but it was in the area of foreign policy that she came into her own. Her poise and handling of foreign policy affairs made her the cynosure of many eyes. My memories of Indira are as fresh as the dew that settles on the hybrid roses that adorn my apartment terrace flower pots. She was so elegant, so charming and so – ah – manly in her dealings with the political honchos who lay scattered all around her. Many tried to pull her down, but ultimately, it was her own “heroic” decision to impose a state of Emergency that brought about her own downfall.

The ‘70’s drew to a close. I finished my graduation in the early ‘80’s and began my post-graduation in the field of Pediatrics around the time US space shuttle Columbia blasted off successfully into space. It was also around this time that a small-time business trader by the name of Dhirubhai Ambani, assisted by his two sons Mukesh and Anil, became the darling of the Indian bourses as they went about systematically increasing the wealth of shareholders, even bending a few rules of the market on the way.

Then Kapil Dev and his devils created cricketing history with the victory at the World Cup. The “Prudential Cup” was ours, and cricket became the sports worshipped and followed by the most number of Indians. While all this was happening, the world was getting transformed into a new economy driven by that most marvelous of all inventions of the 20th Century – the computer. As computer applications began to increase, someone discovered a way to connect computing devices all over the world through a nebulous, unseen technology, initially known as the “Web”. This amazing technology literally promised to allow consumers and manufacturers to virtually reach out to each other and be at each others’ doorsteps, as it were. How was India to be left behind?

Indian intellectuals seized the opportunity with both hands and a mind and a heart, to boot. Narayan Murthy, along with some of his IIT cronies, set up a small venture called as Infosys Technologies; this company was to conquer new milestones every year till it became almost impossible to ignore Indian computer wizards. Many others, such as Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar and so on jumped early on to the bandwagon, and today, have made India into a computing superpower.

I began to access the computer only from the late ‘90’s, but I had begun to appreciate its vast potential more or less from the mid-eighties. After finishing my post-graduation, I stayed on at the teaching hospital for a few more years. During these years, I began to participate in social activities and to interact with some of the more prominent NGO’s working with children, such as Akanksha, CRY and so on. My activities were purely honorary, and included my working with both sick and well children. I used my medical expertise to improve the lot of poor and often orphaned children, a challenge that I began to enjoy thoroughly.

As the country stepped into the nineties, people began the countdown to the golden jubilee of its year of Independence. Sportsmen and sportswomen were also making an impact on the world stage. Almost single-handedly, Vishwanathan Anand was making history with his skills at both traditional as well as quick-format chess; P.T.Usha had already set the field on fire with her attempt at an Olympic medal almost a decade earlier. Now, it was the turn of the cricketing greats to bring India back to the center stage. Batsmen, bowlers, fielders, they were all getting better, more aggressive and more skilled at the game, especially its shorter, limited-overs version that was becoming more and more popular by the day.
In the seventies, it had been Sunil Gavaskar, now it was another Mumbaikar, Sachin Tendulkar, whose star began to rise. Soon, he would overtake most cricketing legends – both from India and abroad – as he continued to create more and more runs and so, records. There were great achievers in other sports as well: who can forget Prakash Padukone and his Masters Championship? Or Michael Ferreira with his amazing game of billiards? Or Vijay Amritraj and Ramesh Krishnan, the tennis champions?

India continued its progress in every field, be it science, technology, medicine, industrial production, the strength of the rupee, its exports, its commerce and trade, its entertainment industry, its sports and arts, and so on and so forth.

However, the negatives also began to climb. Wildlife conservation was getting a major setback as progress-hungry India had no time or money to afford conservation and environmental protection. Large dams, hydro-electric stations, newer cities, land reclamation by destruction of mangroves around major coastal cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, the wanton hunting of tigers and the destruction of forests for creation of human settlements and Greenfield setting up of plants for the manufacture of old economy items such as metals, power, transport and oil kept on degrading the environment.

Corruption in administration and politics also began to climb higher and higher. It seemed that it was impossible to get anything done by the administrative worker without first giving them a bribe. Buttering up the seniors and sycophancy was seen not only in industry and commerce, but also in the fields of education, arts, entertainment, police, the armed forces, social organisations, politics, sports and what have you. This moral degradation continues even today. This had nullified the effects of academic excellence, individual endeavour, hard work, genuine need and even skill and talent. Our people must shake off the burden of corruption and sycophancy if they are to realise the fruit of their own hard work and talent.

Population explosion is the other major problem faced by our country. It was always there, but it is only in the last two decades that its impact has been faced by everyone. India’s resources are just not matching up to the ever-increasing requirements of the people. Thus, while poverty is gradually being reduced, the rising population worries the country’s policy makers, especially with respect to the major metropolitan areas of India, viz. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, as also level two cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Vadodra and others.

As we turn 60, I would like to pay a tribute to our freedom fighters. It is because of their untiring efforts, led by such greats as the Mahatma, Nehru, Bhagat Singh and Bose that we are a free country today. I would also like to salute the common man, who has no religion and no caste, no attachments to any political ideology, no wish to crush enterprise, talent or hard work, no desire other than to live and let live peacefully and no ambition other than to live a full live with his/her near and dear ones. Finally, I would like to dedicate this writing to the spirit of the thinking mind that is Indian. It is because we think and sow that others reap the fruit of our thoughts.

Jai Hind.

My new look

I have to say this: if you want to see the change in me, just check out my picture on the left hand side in the browsing pane with the one in my last blog previous to this. This will adequately tell my story of these last four and a half months of life ...:-)

Benefits of Gymming


I joined the gym at Saifee Hospital on the 5th of April this year. Weighing in at 85.5 kg. on the electronic scale at the gym, I looked not unlike a porcine human being. At that point of time, I was, in a word, medically UNFIT. I could barely climb one flight of stairs with comfort, and by the time the second flight of stairs was climbed, I would have breathing difficulty, a painful pull on my knees, and at times, a frightening cold sweat on both my hands and forearms.

On the first day of my joining, the instructor, a friendly chap by the name of Rahul Hardikar, led me into the cardio gym and made me go through the paces on a MATRIX treadmill. In 20 minutes, at a speed of 3.0 kmph, I had covered a bare 0.81 km, and I was out of breath. On the second day, it was almost the same. After the gym, I went down to the canteen, where, with a cup of tea in my hand, and tens of othjer customers bustling about with their orders, I passed out, sitting. I woke up almost 45 minutes later, the tea still miraculously unspilt. Other customers were mostly ignoring me, but a few did seem to be staring at me!

A month down the line, things had changed for the better. I had downloaded and read most of the book "Body for Life" by Bill Philips. I was working out much better and felt that the time had come for me to jump onto newer things. I was about 2 kg lighter than when I had started, and felt more energetic and fresh.

Before I started my gymming, I suffered from a horrible form of snoring called "Obstructive Sleep Apnoea". This causes a blockage of the inhalation of a breath, leading to loud snoring, fits of stopped breathing, and gasps of inhalation that are reminiscent of the final gasps of a dying person. In daytime, OSA causes fatigue, sleepiness, and fits of on-work dozing.

I used to actually fall asleep while writing a prescription for a patient! At times, I would wake up with a start, and make sheepish excuses about a heavy "emergency night", but at times, I would be acutely embarrassed as my handwriting would spill out of the prescription paper, or change into an undecipherable squiggle that ran across the page from its original location to either below or above it.

Being a diabetic person and being overweight is a curse doubled! My obese persona was a damper for patients too, who saw in me an unhealthy doctor, a sure negative advertisement if any! On the top of that, there were other medical problems too: I had acidity, belching and episodes of socially unacceptable "gas-passing", a problem with conversing that was caused by breathlessness caused by obesity, and some more stuff that I don't wish to make public right now.

I needed that gym more than I could guess. It literally was a life saver for me.

Having completed four months of it, I have lost more than 10 kg and weigh about 76 kg, as on today, 17th August. More later about those three months that transpired, and the dieting that accompanied the gymming effort.

Here is a picture of me taken a few weeks ago:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Frustrations and Achievements


Last Sunday, about 50 of us, including my entire family and the staff, honorary doctors and a few friends and relatives of the aformentioned, went for a picnic to a private owner's bungalow on the outskirts of Lonavala, a pleasant place with almost all the modern urbanite's facilities. After a sumptuous breakfast of BBJ, mutton kebabs and Indian bread, we all went to a spot with a natural water-fall, where we all had loads of fun, bathing and generally making fools of ourselves. You can see a picture of me enjoying the moment with Inas, my elder daughter. Apart from this, we had an even more enjoyable time singing Hindi film songs en route to the picnic, playing dumb charades and eating lovely lunch - consisting of limited portions of chicken masala, parathas, chicken pattice, mutton biryani, gulab jamuns and other miscellaneous stuff.

If you wish, you can see a complete portfolio of photos of the picnic here.

Aside of the picnic, it has been a hectic week, and today, that is, Monday, 24th July, was so busy that I had to forgo my gym trip. I am therefore feeling guilty about it. The good thing is that I have now reached a post-exercise weight of 76 kg, which is a full 10 kg less than what it was in early April 2007 when I first resolved to go and join a gym. I think this weight loss has been much beyojnd my expectations and it certainly has made me feel like a physically fit person.

That's all for now ...



Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Sunday ramble

The more I think, the more I am convinced that Sundays were created by Man for men and women to write blogs on! I remember writing most of my blogs on Sundays, the day when even God Himself rested ...

I have had a tough week. My wife and I are busy collecting the moolah to purchase a lovely shop for my clinic. We seem to be almost near our goal, although we are still about 3600 dollars (Rs. 150,000) short of our target. We hope to convince our friends to help us out with the balance.

In other news, my fitness thing is going great guns. I started my gym training on the 5th of April this year, I have lost weight quite remarkably in a proper, scientific way without starving or resorting to drugs. When I started, I weighed 86 kg (about 189 pounds and ten ounces), and now, I am 77.5 kg. (i.e.170 pounds and 13 ounces). A loss of nearly 20 lbs. in a little over 3 and a 1/2 months isn't so bad, is it?

And that is making me smile from ear to ear...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Introducing my wife


Okay, the time has come to introduce the one person in my life to whom I owe a lot ... in money too he he! She is Nishrin, my (obviously) better half:

She is a beautician and owns a salon in downtown Mumbai. As you can see CLEARLY, she is MILES ahead of me in the "looks" department. For the last almost four and a half months, she has been extremely conscious of her weight and began to diet and indulge in exercise at home. Following in her footsteps, I too began to exercise, initially at home, and later, I continued by joining a gymnasium, where I have been a member since the past over three months. The results have been awesome, and I must publicly acknowledge that it is all due to her that I am fitter today than I was before I joined the gym.

She is excellent at her job and commands respect from all her clients as well. She has a great sense of dress and carries herself with elan and verve the likes of which I can only dream about.

Mother of my two daughters whose picture is on this blog, Nishrin is a great life companion and an asset to my whole family. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I am, because of her.

Fun links

Here is a wonderful list of a few fun links that you can enjoy on the net:

This link:
(change the names when you are prompted to do so)

This one:
(lets you create your own flower garden)

And finally, this one:
(a nice blog)

Enjoy!


Friday, July 06, 2007

Getting fit

This is a true story of a mental transformation that is so unbelievable for those who know me that they might well ask me to meet them and pinch them to confirm that they are not dreaming.

I am about to tell you all the way a die-hard foodie who had bloated to a massive weight of 86 kg. He almost NEVER exercised, kept eating calorie-rich foods, slept over nine hours a day, ignored his diabetic state and generally went about enjoying life -even at the expense of souring marital relations with his better half. He perhaps thought that being an intelligent professional was enough to keep his spouse and family tied down to his homestead.

Then, one fine morning, moved by the grotesque sight of his fatty neck and fatty-every-part-of-the-body in the mirror (which never tells a lie), he was finally motivated to do something about himself.

Taking heart from the fact that his own wife had already reduced from 58 kg. to nearly 55 kg. in a matter of a month of exercising at home and dieting, he embarked on a similar -er - exercise and diet schedule from 5th April 2007.

He joined a gym, began to eat less calories and has now reduced to 78 kg --- a reduction of nearlty 7 kg. in just over three months. Presenting to you this man's name: Myself.

More later ...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Agloco

I have to say this: Agloco, owned by an Indian web-entrepreneur, is going great guns as it harnesses more and more members in its fold.

Here is a little more about agloco. Read this blog in full and then copy the link at the end of the post, and paste it in the address bar of your web-browser. Click GO and join in!

Post starts here:


I recently joined AGLOCO because a friend recommended it to me. I am now promoting it to you all because I like the idea and I want you to share in what I think will be an exciting new Internet concept.

AGLOCO’s story is simple:

Do you realize how valuable you are? Advertisers, search providers and online retailers are paying billions to reach you while you surf. How much of that money are you making? NONE!

AGLOCO thinks you deserve a piece of the action.

AGLOCO collects money from those companies on behalf of its members. (For example, Google currently pays AOL 10 cents for every Google search by an AOL user. And Google still has enough profit to pay $1.6 billion dollars for YouTube, an 18-month old site full of content that YouTube’s users did not get paid for!

AGLOCO will work to get its Members their share of this and more.

AGLOCO is building a new form of online community that they call an Economic Network. They are not only paying Members their fair share, but they’re building a community that will generate the kind of fortune that YouTube made. But instead of that wealth making only a few people rich, the entire community will get its share.

What's the catch? No catch - no spyware, no pop-ups and no spam - membership and software are free and AGLOCO is 100% member owned. Privacy is a core value and AGLOCO never sells or rents member information.

So do both of us a favor: Sign up for AGLOCO right now! If you use this link to sign up, I automatically get credit for referring you and helping to build AGLOCO. Click here!

esnips

Hi! In this entry, I want to share with you all - this amazing photo and file sharing website - http://www.esnips.com. It shares some of the features with other phot0-sharing sites like picasa on the web, webshots, flickr etc, but the unique thing is that it is fully integrated with the web-browser that you are using and comes with a nifty toolbar that lets you upload not just photos but books, music files, program files and so on. Users from all over the world can see your uploaded files, and conversely, you can browse the folders of other members too. Membership and download of the toolbar are free and easy to go through.

Check out my folder here: http://www.esnips.com/user/drtaher

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Writing and why I enjoy it

Let me tell you that for the past nearly one month, I have been busy writing and participating in an interesting contest on www.writing.com. In this contest, known as Project Write World, the person who ran the contest invited writers from the website to take part in a team-driven competition; we were to form country-specific teams and coordinate with each other to write a poem, a short story and an article based on a "prompt" provided by the contest organiser. My team-mates, eight including me, did a fine job, with a story written by me, a peom written by a school-teacher from Bangalore and an article written by a collegiate finally selected for submission.

We are all waiting with bated breath for the results, which should be ready in 10-12 days.

In the meantime, I have been busy with several other things on the net, like chatting with close friends, playing games, writing other items on writing.com, and so on. And when time permits, I also continue to edit my Parenting book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Updates ... and a promise

In an earlier blog, I discussed an interesting case record from my practice. I am happy to inform you all that this child is now making a very good recovery. His tremors have stopped. He recognises his parents and grandparents, smiles and occasionally laughs, he walks, and runs too! It seems nothing less than a miracle that he is doing all these things.

On to some general blogging. I am a member of an internet mailing list called nukkad. This list is archived. Go here to see it. One can join the list by entering one's email address in the box provided on the page and after a confirming link into one's inbox, one can participate in the discussions. I advise readers to certainly look at the archives before joining. To begin with, one can join in with a "digest" subscription, and upgrade it to "individual" posts later on. One thing I can assure you all: it makes for interesting reading. We nukkadites or nukkies discuss everything under the sun, and the sun itself from time to time!

I have begun to write again after a hiatus of nearly a month, and will add more entries as time goes by. Enough for this entry, I think.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Yes, I completed what I had set out to do in the month of March. I wrote a full novel with over 54ooo words! That is quite an achievement, isn't it? I have not visited this Blog for over 23 days, and I apologise to whoever reads it. I know that not many do, but what the hell, I can still be civil and apologise. Right? Sorry then, to all you readers. And do congratulate me on this achievement! Thank you.

I do not plan to publish the novel just yet, but let us see what the future holds in store ...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What am I doing these days?

I am at a breakneck speed, trying to write a complete novel in this calendar month. The aim is to file 50000 words by the midnight of 31st March 2007. I have already completed 17500, and as it is the 11th of March today, I am pretty much on target.

Thus, I may not write much in this blog diary.

[:(]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

29 days on ... some News

I last wrote my blog on the 5th of February ... and now, here I am, back to write some more stuff for you all to read. There have been things that have moved on around me, and to say it in a line, I have been REALLY, REALLY busy. I mean, professionally. Mumbai has had a bad year, what with large numbers of new and old illnesses striking at least one member of almost every family, be they rich, middle-class or poor. I am grateful to Allah, that he has spared our family from any serious problems, but some of the patients' families that I have met have had even more than one family member in hospital with Dengue, Typhoid, Malaria, severe Diarrhoea or Viral Hepatitis.

All through February, I struggled with a two-and-a-half year old boy NZD. He has been with me since birth. Born in a middle-class family, he was, until his present illness, a lively, ebullient child whom his parents brought to me for every single vaccine, check-up visit and minor illness. In short, a text-book cooperative patient who did not miss any of the offered vaccines at all.

Then, all of a sudden, he was brought to me in a state of altered consciousness and body tremors on the 2nd of February 2007. From then till almost for a month, he continued to remain the same, despite all our best efforts to set him right. The family spent over 1.5 lakhs of rupees, and we had almost five to six doctors treating him ... but to no avail.

I finally sent the family home from hospital yesterday. The child continues to be in an altered state of awareness. He is rigid, has no idea where he is, and depends on the caretakers to feed him through a noe-to-stomach tube.

Seems as if God has completely forsaken that family.

Then, let me tell you about a ten-year old girl called ZTH. She was referred to me by another clinician who needed advice on how to build her up as she needed IV nourishment. Her intestines had given up completely on her on account of an illness that had crept up on her a few years ago. The illness? Ulcerative colitis (go, look it up on Google). After several medical attempts to control the recent surge in the activity of the disease, the illness continued to ravage her body, causing her to have several bloody stools each day, accompanied by dehydration, weakness, paleness and abdominal cramps that caused her to scream loudly several times a day with the pain.

When I met her, she was already in clinical depression, and on several mood-enhancing drugs in addition to the specific medicines for her actual illness. Immediately, a tear welled up in my eye as I had treated this child much earlier for another serious illness - a kidney disease. She had, mercifully, recovered from that - only to come down with this monster disease.

Twenty days after I began to see her, she went in for radical surgery. Her large intestine was completely removed, as almost all of it had been destroyed by the monster inside her.

Wait. Read on. This story has a nice ending. Within five days of the surgery, she began to have liquids, then gradually, solids too. She got discharged from hospital a few days ago. All nice and cheerful. And fully recovered from that monstrous illness. But without her large intestine. And with the last part of her small intestine brought out to the exterior in the front of her tummy. To discard the waste matter of the GI tract. This hole is called an ILEOSTOMY (Google this, my friend).

In other news, my mom has to undergo surgery for a slipped disc sometime next week. My daughter Inas has completely wrecked her mobile and is waiting for us to buy her another. My wife finally bought her first mobile phone and has actually learnt how to use it! Hannah, my younger one, completed a nicely written project on "Refrigerator" for her science (Thanks Google!).

That's all for today.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Coming after some gap


Some Gap! This has gotta be the longest gap in my blogging. I have had these eight or nine very busy days in the real world, and haven't even sat in front of the comp, so please excuse me, friends. Like I wrote in my last entry, I don't even know if anyone is reading this! So ... there.

Interesting cases I treated in a couple of hospitals last week. That should tell you who I am in reality. Yes, indeed, no prizes for guessing, I am a DOCTOR.

I started out in practice 20 years ago, and am still going on. I hope to continue for at least 20 more years, give or take a few. I look after children, so I am, technically, a Pediatrician. I don't look nearly as good as that hedgehog you saw earlier, but let me show you what I DO look like:

That's all for today.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A five-day hiatus

A mixed feeling assuages me as I sit to write my eighth entry in this, as yet unseen, blog. I wonder what I must include in the blog so that it comes up in searches by others. Should the key words be dramatic (such as screeching, shameless), violent (banged, thumped, crashed), sadistic, masochistic, truthful, lies, cosmetic, frank, gamely, welcoming type, startling (amazed, screwed, bastard) or what??

Yes, my dear readers, I am at a loss here. My blog ... is it worth anything?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

All on a Saturday evening

I have made several observations after completing over two weeks on blogspot.com.

-I still have no "views" and no "comments".
-I must move on in life and start telling something about myself. How about entering searchable terms like "convict", "Moslem", "Indian" and "Crazy"?
-I must spend on advertising my blog (...?...)
-Some of the keywords I entered above are incorrect and do NOT apply to me
-How do I put up my reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal photo??

Thanks for reading this ... May God bless you for your persistence and tolerance of idiots.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My first Sunday on blogspot

I have often read about how guys and gals let down their hair on Fundays and therefore have no time to read and write blogs. Does that surprise you? Perhaps it does. Perhaps it does not. It does not matter much. If it is Sunday, and you are reading this, I love you. If it isn't Sunday and you are reading this, I still love you. If it is Sunday and you are not reading but just admiring this font and this blog, I still, still love you. And so on and so forth.

But if you are reading this and have decided NOT to comment on it or the previous blogs too, then I request you to please, please comment: whether you encourage or discourage me, I shall continue to write here. You may love me or hate me, but you certainly cannot ignore me!

I attended a religious function today and observed, rather wryly, that a lot of the invitees had not turned up. As a result, the function winded up rather sooner than later. There was food that was left over, and the hosts packed some rice and other things for the guests who were still around. I received a bit of biryani rice and can vouch for its lovely taste.

That's all for today.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Stupid Appetite

At the outset, let me confirm my status as IDIOTIC DIABETIC MORON. Harsh, isn't it? However, all of it is true. Almost all, that is :-)) I am idiotic as I continue to stay with some of the most intelligent people of the world. To wit: my wife and two daughters. They are the most beautiful, the most sensible and the most logically-thinking women this world has seen. And they have convinced me that I am an idiot and a moron. The Glucometer has done the rest and verified that I am a diabetic. So hereI am, a confirmed idiotic, diabetic moron.

To see what I look like, see my first blog on this site. I know you are not convonced that I look like that spiny, loving creature, but I am sure that is exactly what I look like since I have been given these epithets by my wife, my ex-girl-friends, my friends and my trade competitors alike; I have been called "ugly", "a thorny chap" a "bespectacled guy" and many more things. Add it all up, and you will be able to visualise that sweet creature who is depicted in my introductory blog. He he.

More later. Right now, I go and gotta pee.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A little peek into my conscious mind

Hi. Strange on my part to not make any additions this last week. Blame it on my jeans. I had just one pair of them, and I accidentally damaged them when I tried to cross the road below my office. I wasn't wearing them, you know. I had just kept them wrapped around my midriff (and there's a lot of that with me, LOL). So what happened is like I was about to cross the road when this funny-looking dude appears from nowhere (No, no, I am not making all this up: just read on ... thanks). He takes one look at me and without as much as an "excuse me", he catches hold of my said jeans and turns me around like a whiplash and throws me on the ground, jeans in his hands, ripped and torn. I run away like the scabies is after me! The said jeans's pockets had the drafts of my next six days' blogs.

So that's what has happened... .Got it?

-drtaher

Friday, January 05, 2007

Insensitive People

I hate to gripe on my blog, but it is impossible to ignore this fact: over 50 "revellers" at the Gateway of India allegedly chased, molested and harassed a woman on New Year's Eve 5 days ago. Seriously, what is Bombay city coming to? I have never heard such a travesty before in all my years ... they even tore her clothes, d*** them!

Has anyone read Mukhtar Mai's book? It's just got released. It apparently gives a first hand account of how a single woman from a lower caste (Gujars) was gangraped by a bunch of higher caste goons in a small village in Pakistan. The account might be very readable, but it is difficult to stomach the story.

Reactions to this story welcome.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

So, where am I?

I am a Bombayite or, as is more contemporary, a Mumbaikar. I am old but not ancient, good looking but not dandy, sweet but not saccharinous, bold but not so much as to indulge in bungee-jumping, truthful but not biblionic, humorous but not self-deprecating, easy-going but not lazy, web-loving but not married to the net and crazy but not certifiable.

Actually, all these attributes apply to Mumbai as well! ROTFL ...

Practising Pediatrics as my bread-earning profession, I love to surf the web, meet new people and write, write, write. I am already hitched to a lass and have two daughters to show as the result of my not inconsiderable endevours. More about these lollies later.

Wanna read more? Wait for a few more ... er ... hours. Actually, more like a full day as I go incommunicado for various reasons. And to pass the time, why don't you try a game or something on www.zapak.com.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hello to all ye blog readers


My name is Taher. This means a lot of things in a lot of different ways, but in essence, this means "the guy who came in from the cold and has started blogging". Oh, I know what you are thinking. This fella is out here to bore the hairs out of our pates/armpits/what-have-you.


Before you all go and push that "Start/End" button on your monitor, let me hasten to add that I am a NoRmAl PeRsOn. I mean, as normal persons go, I am a shining K-O-H-I-N-O-O-R. I am as unpredictable, fart as much, snore as much and eat as much - okay, the last three are probably lies (I fart more, snore more and eat more than) -as any other person on this planet.


Would you like to see what I look like on a normal day? Okay, here goes: (see the image above).
Laughing, aren't you? Well, don't. Wipe off that smirk RIGHT NOW. I am not that beautiful, I know (aren't all beasts more beautiful than us humans?) Besides, I don't even have that image's copyright. But seriously, that is exactly how I feel about myself today. Like a newly born hedgehog, you mean? No, like an inconsequential humbug. More tomorrow. Or later. Whatever.