Saturday, May 31, 2008

Time for a month to end ...

Nothing new in that, you might say, and you may well be right. At the same time, anything that ends signals the start of something new; in this case, it would be, naturally, the month of June, named after Junos. The month was a very hot one, indeed. A few highlights of this month include a chain of birthdays in my family ... including those of Hannah, my daughter. The others, whose birthdays also fell in this month, were those of my dad, of my nephew Shabbir, and the arrival of a new member - Shabbir's sister Umme-Salma. She came into this world on the 8th of May, a day after her brother's birthday, a mere 6 days before Hannah and about 12 days before Dad. The slew of birthdays meant lots of cakes to cut/eat/sing songs to; it meant giving away gifts and good wishes to so many; in Umme-Salma's case, it also meant my being appointed as the honorary free Pediatrician at the time of her delivery! In addition to all this birthday running-around, I also had to spend on Inas, what with filling her forms for entry into the professional years in college;finally, towards the end of the month, I had to deposit part-payment fees at a hotel management school, which she will be joining if she does not join medicine.

At the same time, I gave Hannah an i-pod shuffle as her birthday gift along with some books. I also allowed her to participate in a "Be A Rock Star" singing contest organised by the Disney Channel in Mumbai. She passed the first round with flying colours, and when she sang at Nirmal Life Style mall (at Mulund, a distant suburb of Mumbai) on the 25th of May, she did very well indeed. Now, she awaits her call for further rounds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coping with feelings of Guilt

Like any other person on this planet, I, too, am as imperfect or perfect. Perhaps, a little more "imperfect" than others, okay? :-) At the same time, when I am really guilty of something, I am one of the first to accept my guilt and to publicly owe up to it without much fuss. However, there is one area where I do not readily accept my guilt: it has to do with my somewhat imperfect driving and managing to get myself into sticky situations while doing so. I don't have the exact figures on my fingertips, but if the police were to count my instances of "rash" driving and "the ability to hit others' vehicles with mine, even if they be stationary and parked near the sides of the road", I would have had to surrender my driving licence long ago!

Having said that, usually, when I am guilty as hell of doing something wrong, I tend to sulk for hours, then retire to a quiet corner of my home and brood for some time, a packet of potato chips in my hand to see me through the down phase. I have learnt not to allow the brooding to take over my other, worldly, responsibilities. Hence, I always remember what is happening around me and what other tasks are still to be accomplished before the day is done. Feeling guilty is normal, but feeling depressed and shunning life's so many exciting events is not.

How soon would I go and express regrets to the wronged person? If the guilt is clear, I say "sorry" right away; if the guilt becomes clear later on, I make it a point to meet that person or call him up and convey my regrets. If my mistake hasn't been discovered, and the harm it caused was totally insignificant, I have sometimes cheated and not gone and owed up too. Which person hasn't cheated thus? I have felt somewhat more guilty for doing so ... but for just a few days. After that, these things are forgotten and life goes on.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Forgiving someone

Purely on merits, forgiving is something that occurs innately to some, and not so naturally to others. If you account for difference between the sexes, Mars is more often forgiving than Venus is, but when Venus does forgive, it is an eternal forgiveness filled with sympathy and love for the one who is finally and fully forgiven. With men, often forgiving is easy, but at the root of such a posturing, men often retain the grouse that originally caused the relations to fray. This retaining of the grouse causes them to behave with restraint and continue to harbour ill-feeling towards the one whom they have publicly forgiven.

I have often done this myself. To give you an example, I had a friend who publicly denounced me over 25 years ago over a small misunderstanding. Within days, he had apologised, and I too forgave him his behaviour. We were together in medical college for several more years, and then, after that, drifted away, he migrating to the US of A and I, continuing to practice in India. Whenever I remember him, I smile inwardly, but I also have a tinge of anger when I recall the way he shouted at me and degraded me in front of our peers.

Why do I continue to feel that way even after over two decades? And I always thought that it is women who keep a grudge for ever ...

A helpful daughter

Over the last few weeks, both Nishrin (my wife) and I have been observing a small but perceptible change in the habits of my elder daughter Inas. She, as some of you know, has completed her pre-professional junior college education and is awaiting results before she goes into a professional college. We have marked that she has become a lot more helpful and a lot less rebellious in the last few weeks. I do not know why this has happened, but it may be that she is simply tired of sitting on the net or before the boob tube all the time and is looking for something new to do. Be that as it may, she went to Nishrin's parlour to help out on Monday and earlier too. For the last two days, she is also attending my evening clinic to help out as my evening receptionist has left (I chucked him for being un-punctual and missing many days on duty.

I only hope and pray that this trend is not a mere flash in the pan and that she will continue to be as helpful in future as she is, today.

Monday, May 26, 2008

First comments on this blog

After plugging this blog on various forums, I have had people commenting on its contents. The first thing that I heard is that the blog is not "serious enough"; once it becomes a serious thing, readers who have identified with me in any way - whether because they read the blog or because they are mentioned in it, may take offense and feel bad and either stop visiting the blog or actually join issue with me. The second thing was that I cannot afford to make it too realistic or my own family may stop talking with me. Else, I have to start an anonymous blog so that I cannot be identified! Now, this sounds tricky to me and I cannot live a lie!

Finally, a friend named Ravi suggested that I merge this blog with my other blog (http://drtahersworld.blogspot.com). I find that not a very workable solution as I do want to separate the introspective blog entries from worldly talk and stuff like that.

I seek some help from all of you who read this blog to tell me what to do.

Do comment/reply/suggest what can be done ...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Started using Windows Live Writer

This is an entry that I am making using the above program that comes as a part of the Windows Live service. I think that so far, it seems to have a good appearance. Only after I publish it will I know if it has the same look or it is different and unsuitable.

That's it for now!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Calling a spade a spade

Don't ask me how I do it, but I am always putting my foot in my mouth on account of my overbearing honesty. Time and again, others have warned me to desist from being so forthright, but I have been unable to withstand injustice or tolerate incompetence, stupidity, unprofessionalism, and all such acts of ineptitude. Hence, I often shoot off at the mouth and end up harming my own standing among my near and dear ones, as well as among those with whom I do business.

I know and understand my weakness and there have been several occasions when I have successfully held on to my sanity and have remained quiet; however, on the majority of occasions, I have not been able to hold on and have called a spade a spade.

Let me give you an example of my foolishness: let us say that a patient asks a question which you frankly know is outright stupid. As a doctor, I know that patients ARE prone to asking such questions as they have NO medical knowledge. My correct response should be to maintain my composure and to answer the question in a matter of fact manner. What I do do is that inevitably, I break out into a laugh or guffaw aloud so much that the patient is immediately made to feel inferior.

Their response is to laugh it off with me at that time, but I know that they have been hurt by my casual and inconsiderate response ... and I cannot do anything about it.

Have you, dear reader, faced such a problem with your people? If yes, please share your experience with me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On employees

As a professional, I have about three employees who work in my clinics under my supervision directly; in addition, there are sweepers, helpers and others whom I pay on as-per-demand, i.e. they are not permanent employees. In India, where I live, employee protection laws are virtually non-existent for those who employ less than 20 people in their work; beyond that figure, the establishment comes under the purview of the "Factory Act" and the laws protecting the rights of the employees are more stringent. Of course, as a matter of principle, people like me whom the Factory Act cannot touch also have to be accountable, as we know that if we mistreat our employees, they can guarantee that no one else will join me later on.

I wanted, in this entry, to discuss my employees, both from the past and those that I have at present. There were two employees, one Buddhist and one Hindu, the former, a male and the latter, a female, with whom I had come close enough to cross my limits from a professional relationship to almost friendship. I used to share my snack box with them, play cards with them, and even celebrate my family-members' birthdays with them! I realised my folly when a time came for me to discipline them for a transgression. When I spoke, they, instead of being chastened, answered me back and told me off. This was something I just could not stand, and the result was that I began to dislike them. On one fine day, I chucked them both out from my clinic and appointed two new people. The lesson I learnt that day, I haven't forgotten so far.

When I started my new clinic (see my previous entries on this issue), I was extra careful to spell out the rules governing appointment of all my new employees. They had to be respectful and regular; come punctually and do the registration of all my patients on their computer with the help of specialised software; serve me water, open the clinic one hour before my arrival, start up the computers, order our evening/morning tea and so on and so forth. Once all these things were agreed upon, I confirmed their appointment. Unfortunately, the male receptionist cum assistant who used to be there in the evenings recently broke some of the rules and stayed absent without prior announcement for two days. I had already warned him earlier about these things, but he chose to ignore those signals. Upon him committing the same mistakes again, and because I had previously also apprised him of his responsibilities and warned him not to stay absent without previously informing me, I removed him from his job two days ago. I am convinced that I did the right thing.

My female receptionist, by comparison with the male, is a vastly better person, and right from day 1, has worked diligently and hardly taken any holidays without prior information. Well, let's see how long she holds out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


They say that according to the ancient religious customs, a lie was not called a lie if - a) it did not hurt anyone
b) telling it actually made someone happy or be benefited and
c) it did not contravene any of the Natural Laws, which generally tend to follow scientific principles.

Taken this way, and in this spirit, how much nicer would an old person feel if he/she were told that their son/daughter, living far away, was enquiring about them to you when you last met them in ... ah ... Timbuktu? How well would you feel if you took the blame of a broken vase over your head instead of naming your much younger and more mischievous sibling!

Aside of such "beneficial" lies, one is sometimes forced to tell a lie to save one's face or self-respect, and occasionally, to escape a hiding! In such cases, which I classify to be utterly devoid of morals, the teller of the lie is plain guilty. I have been guilty of this throughout my childhood, as my father was the archetypal HITLER. He hit with his bare hands, with ladles and spoons, with a stick or with a utensil ... yes, you got me right, a utensil! To escape his unreasonable tempers and his attempts to make us all bite the dust, we often told lies. Whether it was that "Yes, papa, we have thrown away the garbage at around 1:00 p.m." or "No Daddy, I did not eat the cake in the fridge " ... my brothers and I all did tell lies from time to time, but at an average, at least 2-3 times a day!

Do you agree with my theory that lies need not all be harmful or be punishable with time-outs, banishment or spanking? Do you agree that lies CAN be harmful?

Awaiting your comments, please ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Afraid of Being Refused

How often do people, afraid of being told a "No" for a request, step back from making that request? In my case, it is quite often. Whether it is a simple request for a glass of water from my daughter, or a complicated request for professional help, I often deny myself the privilege of making the request and out for the glass of water or that professional help myself.

However, I remember reading somewhere that if you actually ask for something politely, there is a 9 out of 10 chance that the request or wish will actually be granted to you! I tried this in a restaurant once. The soup had a human hair on the edge of the bowl, and there were two choices before me: ask the waiter to replace the soup, or quietly pick up the hair and throw it down below the table. I decided to assert myself, and the soup was promptly replaced with at least three members of the staff visiting my table to apologise. I also received a 20% rebate on my total bill!

On the other hand, there are numerous occasions when I have felt bad that my simple request was not even considered, let alone debated/refused/granted! On such occasions, I feel like landing a tight slap on the opposite party. Of course, an actual slap is out of question, but I do grumble about this and at times, abuse that person silently.

How do you all feel about this? do read and comment about your own experiences when you have to make a request and it may or may not be acceded.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unexpected Feelings

At times, when you least expect them, and are unguarded, contrary emotions overwhelm you. This has the impact of a solid punch driven into your stomach! Let me give you an example: consider that you are waiting for a bus to go to work. The expected bus at half past nine does not turn up. A pile of work awaits you at the office, and your boss, although accommodating at most times, is knowingly passing through a bad personal patch in his life, so you don't want to be on his wrong side. If you wait for the next bus, which is due after 45 minutes, you will surely not arrive in the office at ten, which is, give or take ten minutes, your reporting time.

If you decide to cab it, you are going to burn a big hole in your pocket, as the office-home fare is near about one big note of Rs. 100/= (U.S. $1 = approx. Rs. 42/= as of 20th May 2008). You expect to feel worried, a little panicky and perhaps a bit depressed at missing the bus, but suddenly, a quite different kettle of fish grabs you by the collar: you feel exhilarated! Relieved! Lucky!

Now, why should THAT happen? I don't know, but here is my take on this: base emotions sometimes take over your ego and superego and make your cunning, impish and devilish side show through! Thus, you could be happy because you got that genuine excuse to throw at the boss and see his reaction when he realises that he cannot punish you or chide you; you feel relieved because, in any case, the huge bundle of files awaiting your attention could NEVER have been done by the same evening. You feel lucky because here is a reason to actually bunk going to the office at all!

Now, a sane, rational person would be appalled to come face to face with these, quite contrary opinions, right? Not so with me, as I often come up with totally unexpected emotions in life. At times, retrospectively, I despise myself for it. At times, though,I continue to feel unrepentant about those ill-feelings and go ahead with life without missing a heartbeat.

Dear reader, have you ever felt such contrary emotions? Do comment.

Decorating the blogs

Ya, well, if you are already visiting this blog, you will have noticed the diverse stuff that I have decorated my blog with! As you can see, there are two Adsense boxes, and if you click on the ads within those, this poor blogger will get a credit of 2-3 cents per click :-) In addition, to make your experience worth the while, there are excellent posts, some nifty utilities like the Google Search and the date and time buttons, links to You Tube and Shelfari, a map showing recent visitors to my blog, a list of posts made in this blog, some photos and albums, and a few more things ... I will keep adding stuff as I find it.

In the meantime, if you would like to check out my newest blog, click here. It is a bit of a psycho blog, but importantly, my own cathartic thoughts make a breakthrough and breathe the clean, fresh air of the World.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Introducing the Self

Ever seen a child play hide-n-seek? It is so much fun to watch, isn't it? I was a child too, once, but am now, I think, a mature adult with a lot of life gone past, and some still left to surprise ... perhaps with pain and pleasure in equal measure.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed to realise that I am nearing 50. With half the proverbial life neatly stacked in a pile in my mental pocket, I am still feeling sort of young, like an old dog, wanting to try new tricks. May be I won't learn them fast, but by God, I will, and as I go about doing all those things, I will cast my eye inwards and reflect upon the things that could have gone differently for me.

In the process, I may, sometimes, wax lyrical or quote some heavy quotes. Don't be afraid, dear reader, as none of what I write can harm you, physically or otherwise.

Come then, let us start this journey together ...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Flowery language

I have been accused of using too much flowery language and I actually reminded my dear friend Stephanie of P.G. Wodehouse. Oh, what a lift that comment has given me! Thanks, Stephie, thanks a lot for elevating me to the exulted position occupied by PGW, that writer of writers, that fantastic author with a series of memorable characters in all his 5 dozen-odd books! Who can forget the Empress of Blandings, the inimitable Mr. Psmith and the ever-desirable-as-a-butler Mr. Jeeves?

On the subject of my blogs being a little complicated to follow, well, it so happens that I cannot help but be a little flowery. I enjoy linking thoughts in lo.......n........g sentences! I began to write from the age of 6 or so, and I am not talking about writing stuff that school teachers want you to write, but stuff that you write ON YOUR OWN without it being asked at school. As such, I became fond of English from an early age, and as I was never very interested in sports, I began to read, read and then, write, write. Before I was 14 years of age, I had already completed 4-5 small novels with an Enid-Blyton like format- a group of 4 children with a dog stumble on to mysteries that they try and solve! I called those books the Mysterious Five series and I still have them, written in a juvenile hand, with letters all distinct from each other, little use of idioms or figures of speech, etc. A few of these were even read by some of my friends, and their comments at the specially created comments page are a treasure that I hold on to. Those precious comments were, to me, nothing less than Nobel Prizes of literature!

After this, I dabbled in a lot of essays, and I called my collection "MOSE" - My Own Short Essays. This was followed by MOSS (short stories, lol) and even MOHS (My own Hindi stories).

Around the age of 15, I appeared for my matriculation exams, and for the first time in my life, was brought into close contact with a lot of girls (my school was an all-boys affair). The girl behind me was also a "Kagalwala", though no relation of mine, and when she first nudged me with her pen to ask me some silly opposite in the first paper, I lost my heart to her. Over the next few days, she told me that she was already engaged to a boy who was also her cousin. The boy, too, was appearing for the same exam, and was in the same exam center, and she brought him to meet me on day 3. He became, in my fertile story-writing mind, the "Villain" of the story that I would write ... More of my friends and her friends soon became characters too, and about 2 months later, the saga "It All Started with the Exams" had completed its birthing and was lying about me in three PARTS!

Using my experience during the exam, I wove a tale of seven or eight teenagers who meet during the exams, fall in love, fall out of friendships, and so on. In fact, one or two of my characters actually go on to get married in the story. I was (who else?) the hero, and the only difference between the novel and real life was that in the novel, I win the hand of the fair maiden and we elope in the last scene into the sunset! The villain is left clutching his hair, groaning and grunting as we run away.

Some years later, I also wrote my first full-length Hindi novel, and then, as my life became more and more hectic, my writing skills sort of went into a prolonged hibernation of over 2 decades!

I got my home computer in 2000, and it was while searching for a place on the net where one could write or read literature that I stumbled upon "Stories.com". I took up a membership in 2002, and thus allowed my muse to wake up once again.

Today, thanks to that site (now known as Writing.com) (and others like this blog and still others), I have taken up writing once again, passionately. Yesterday, I wrote my first ever Hindi poem and posted it in http://p4poetry.com. Do check it out!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The field of Pediatrics

Before you go and wonder what made me write about my profession in this, my non-professional blog, let me tell you that this is, in many ways, a completely non-professional input. I see several types of parents with their children every day. Each day is a challenge, for parents, like a sample of humanity, come in different shapes and sizes, with each having a cartload of preconceived notions, misbeliefs, pet peeves and desires, unstated questions, different expectations and different sized pockets to pay my fees with! To be able to keep all these people happy so that they return to me again and again requires not just medical knowledge, but an understanding of the way the cogs in human minds turn; what turns an intellectual parent on (a brief discourse on their child's illness with a internet source written on a piece of paper thrown in) will completely turn off someone who isn't so well-lettered ( he/she is more likely to be annoyed at the "lecture" and will often seek a quick exit with the remedies written down in his/her own language and explained patiently not once but twice).

On the other hand, the patient - the child or the infant - is an altogether different nut to crack! As it is, the child cannot mouth (articulate) correctly what is wrong with him/her. On top of that, he/she is more than likely to be irritable, scared, annoyed, ill and hungry. How to reach out to him/her and make him/her tell you what is wrong with him/her with his/her body language and gestures?

Don't you think it would have been better to be a cryptologist or an atomic scientist?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Down with flu

... or something like it, anyway. I am writing this to clear some doubts that people have regarding the flu. I am not talking about the dreaded bird flu, so take heart.

Usually, flu creeps in with bouts of sneezing on Day 1. They make you so uncomfortable. When I am riding my bike, I have to ride really slow, or the next sneeze will see me bang head-on into an oncoming pedestrian or, God forbid, a vehicle. The bouts come with a frequency that is more than I can care to count, as, simultaneously, my head is feeling woozy and my eyes shut tight as I try to gain control over myself. However, I can safely say that they are more than ten every 15 minutes. This phase of the illness lasts for about 16-20 hours.

The next phase is the one of watery nasal discharge. The water just keeps coming out. It does this so surreptitiously that I am alarmed when, for example, I am with a patient, and the slow ooze just comes out and rolls down the upper lip. It is a tough thing to behave as though nothing untoward is happening. The patient looks on quizzically as I attempt to wipe the snot off with as much finesse as I can muster. Take medicines at this stage? You've got to be joking! There is no other symptom except for the runny nose.

Phase three comes like a tiger stalks its prey. You are forced to take a pill for it as it is so debilitating that you couldn't work if you didn't take one. This is the phase when body aches, headache and fever come in. You know, the hallmark of flu and all that. Soon, I am swallowing a paracetamol pill every four hours to fight back the pains and the fever. I dare not take an anti-histamine, for I am exquisitely sensitive to their sedative effect. A dose that does nothing to an infant, believe you me, will knock me off for at least 12 hours. Yes, you read that right, twelve hours!

Today, very great trepidation, I took 5 ml of a cold syrup that I normally prescribe to a 2-year old. The result: I am still woozy after 4 hours of it! As I write this blog, I am repeatedly correcting and re-correcting my words as the fingers just won't fly over the key-board the way they normally do!

Okay, now this is prediction: by tomorrow, the fever etc. will subside and phase 4 will kick in: the snot will turn yellow, I will start feeling better, and hopefully,over the next few days, I shall return to normal.

At least that is what I hope for.


Let me now say the following:

  1. A flu is caused by a virus.
  2. You cannot catch the flu by drinking cold drinks or eating curds or ice-cream.
  3. Hygiene is the ONLY way to prevent spread of the virus from one house-hold member to the others.
  4. Chicken soup is really helpful, as are any hot/spicy foods like usal, mysore dosa, chi. hot and sour soup, chi. chilly, and so on.

I think that's all for now.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


A new web-site that has opened as recently as April 2008 and known by the name http://www.p4poetry.com has suddenly come up on the cyber-space. Owned by Raj and Renuka Halve, this website aims to promote Indian poets writing in English or any of the vernacular languages. It provides a platform to anyone with the yen to write verse. I joined up about a week ago, and have posted only one poem so far. However, I was in time to attend their first-ever Meeting in Mumbai held in the evening on Saturday 10th May at "Pause" a Wine resto-bar located in Bandra. Present at this meeting were the owner couple, the webmaster Vikash, their colleague Preeti Datar (who I have had the privilege to know earlier through www.writing.com), and about 12 others, among them, a professor of English, a software consultant, a professional writer-poet (a Sikh who writes absolutely lovely Hindi verse), another Pediatrician (Dr. P.V. Vaidyanathan), and others. After formal introductions, we had a poetry-reading session. I had the pleasure to hear some beautiful Hindi poems. Above all, the experience was unique because of its venue - a lovely place to hang out. Incidentally, it is owned by the Halves (read that as the plural of Hal-vay).

I read "Child's Lament" and a small comic poem as my contribution. The best poems were read by the Sikh poet and the English professor, a lady. I hope to establish more contact with all these worthies in the days to come. The plan is to have at least one poetry reading every month.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Inas appears for a group discussion and interview

Some of you may be aware, at least, that I have a daughter, all of 17 years of age by the name of Inas. She was all set to enter the world of medicine as a student, but about a month ago, after talking to a relative who works in the HR department of Taj Group of Hotels, Mumbai, she has increasingly shown interest in becoming a hotel management graduate! To keep her interested in this line, and to divert her from medicine, was never our, the parents' goal, but we could not help her getting completely enamoured by the attractive profession of being a manager in a five-star hotel. Thus, I secured for her a book with general knowledge questions to read, and at the same time, bought application forms from three HM colleges in the city. She studied eagerly, and appeared for the written entrance examination of one of these colleges on the 4th of May. This was followed by a "Group Discussion" and then, a personal interview where the principal and one of his friends asked her a few questions and so on. This got over yesterday. Now, we must wait for the results of the exams ...

Friday, May 02, 2008

I have a sweet friend called Stephania, who is a little under 16 years of age. She has set her heart on writing a blog. It has been fun to teach her, via Google Talk on how to create a blog. I am using my own blog to show her how things are done. She is a keen student, and is learning fast. In between, she probably yearns to take a sip from her dad's beer bottle! She swears, waxes lyrically, pauses, looks utterly confused (I mean, her words sound as if she is utterly confused) and it is finally, I think, dawning on her as to how to create her profile.

It seems that the first long introduction she wrote never got saved, so she is having to write a new one again! I am still with her on GTalk as I write this blog entry ...

Okay, here is the link to her blog: Stephania's Blog

Looks like she just completed her profile ... let me read it!

Okay: here is what she says:
Well, I'm funny, friendly, good with people, love learning new things. I have the willingness to experiment, pretty open to ...

Go ahead, and check out the rest!