Friday, July 25, 2008

About Google Knol

As most of the net-savvy readers know, Google Knol has been officially launched about a day ago! I have already reviewed a few of the posts submitted by others, and also written one item related to sleeping habits of children! To learn more about the site, click here. To read my first article there, click here.

My expectation is that while Knol is not likely to outpace the sheer size of Wikipedia (see this for Wiki), in a year's time or so, it will start giving competition to the latter. And the benefit will be to the users, who will now be able to get two major sources for any item they want to search. Google knol has a few more advantages: it permits collaborative writing in addition to private items and public editing. Wiki has only the last option for most of its usual articles, but it has begun to close some of the items for editing once they realise that the items are perfect, factual, and do not need any further elaboration or editing.

So let us see how far Knol takes us ...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

UPA Wins the Confidence Vote

News is just out: PM Manmohan Singh's United Party Alliance has WON the historic confidence vote with 275 for, 256 against and 10 abstentions!

This means that Sonia and MMS will continue to rule India for the next year (or more, till the elections in 2010)
. This also means that India will finally sign the Nuclear Treaty with the U.S. of America. It means that Mayawati and the others will have to wait longer before they can access the seat of the Prime Minister of India. Finally, it will mean that the BJP has to bite the dust once again.

There is one more side-effect of this vote: the CPI M is headed for a split, with Karat probably having to face dissidence, and having to step down.

Inas starts her college

This is just a short entry to inform all my esteemed readers that my elder daughter has begun her course in hotel management and catering at the institute she registered at in May 2008. Her first day was full of syllabus outlining and the first day's meal was apparently quite distasteful ... oh, didn't you guess: the students get a free meal everyday from the "quantity" kitchen; it is prepared by the students themselves.

Her college timings will be from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every weekday including Saturdays. Please send your prayers to her for a successful 3-year stint in this course.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My smaller clinic sold

For all those familiar with Mumbai, I have a clinic in a location called Nagpada for the last over 12 years. It is a small place, with floor area of just 145 sq. ft. on the agreement, and a little over 100 sq. ft. in reality. It was my main clinic for the past nearly 12 years, or till I shifted to my new clinic premises near J.J. Hospital. You will find the entries to the new clinic's inauguration in the back pages of this very blog!

Well, I have sold off this old clinic for a fair consideration, to a businessman-cum-investor, who is likely to rent it out to someone in the future.

I have about 15 days to vacate the premises. I am going about the emptying of the place in a sort of romantic way, opening and reading through all the old diaries and files, cutting out nostalgic entries and pictures, remembering the patients who I saw here in the past over 18 years (before I bought this particular clinic on June 1, 1996, I used to sit within the premises of another doctor just two doors away in the same building, paying him a rent of over 2500 Indian rupees each month to use his place for two hours everyday).

The nostalgia is worth every moment. I haven't shed tears yet, for the separation, though a little heart-wrenching, is not all that sad an event! I have always separated from things and memories without much emotional baggage, and this will be similar to that! However, the cuttings and the other old stuff will be there to remind me of the days spent at the old place.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is the UPA Government ready to face a vote?

As everyone who is interested in Indian politics is aware, the UPA is about to face a vote of confidence next week in Parliament. The issue is whether India should sign the Nuclear treaty with the American Government ... a treaty that will allow it to access nuclear material for its reactors for use in India ... while at the same time, imposing safeguards and preventing it from using the same for making bombs. Opposing this ratification is the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party that was, until a few days ago, a supporter of the Congress-led alliance known as the "United Party Alliance" or the UPA for short. This party, and in particular, its front-leaders, namely Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechury and others, have, all along the line, opposed the treaty; last week, it finally withdrew support to the UPA and reduced the ruling disposition to a minority in the Lok Sabha. In addition to the CPI (M), the other major opponents include the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), among others.

The problem has been, to some extent, mitigated by the sudden show of support by the Samajwadi Party (SP), though, at last count, the UPA still needs support from 26 other members to sail through with a more than 50% majority (which translates to 272 members at the very least).

I have no doubt that the UPA has already started "gifting" money to Independents and fence-sitters. I also think that the SP will extract a huge price for supporting the UPA, as, otherwise, no love is lost between Mrs. Sonia Gandhi of the UPA and Mr. Amar Singh of the SP. In the final analysis, I think a lot of money (and I really mean a LOT OF MONEY) will change hands between the UPA and its would-be supporters before they actually buy out those unsure of their loyalties.

Let us see what actually happens on the 21st of this month when the UPA has called a special session of the Parliament to discuss and to vote on the issue. Perhaps they will sail through, and perhaps they will not. If they do not, the government at the center falls, and India will look towards a fresh bout of General Elections, perhaps as early as January to February 2009.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Writing from a sick chair

Every sane person knows that a viral cold and cough has no real treatment; it just comes, prevails for a time period of about 6-7 days, and then retreats. However, when one does get a severe cold, one's sanity is often lost; sneezing repeatedly inside tissues, or inside a much used handkerchief, coughing in abdomen-tightening bouts, sniffling with a body-temperature of just over 100 F and a feeling of nausea after eating just a tiny morsel of food - these, and some more like these - become more important and overwhelming.

Needless to say, these things, and similar stuff like these, became all too omnipresent and omnipotent for me! On Sunday, I had to go about 45 km out for a remorse-for the dead-function. En route, I was okay, but on the return journey, I began wheezing and breathing heavily. This was surprising, since most of my own patients are suffering from a mere upper respiratory infection.

A spell of steam inhalation and one tablet of Deriphylline retard (that will open clogged, spasmed airways) did the trick and I slept well in the night.

Today, as I write this, I am breathing well; I am still coughing, but not as bad as I did yesterday; I haven't, as yet, taken Deriphylline or steam; and all is well with the world.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creativity stifled: The Price of fast life

You might find this an irrational thought, but actually, to me at least, it makes a lot of sense: as one progresses through life, the second decade is spent in education (and for me, almost seven years of the third decade as well), the third in getting a foothold in life through the novel experiences of marriage, starting a family, beginning a new business or profession, and travelling to new places in a process of discovery (and also a bit of escapism), the fourth in stabilising one's life and almost half of the fifth in completing the remaining obligations of life such as pending loans, etc. Now, during these nearly 35-40 years, one's creative streak, call it a hobby, call it a pastime, or what have you, takes a back seat.

I recall my childhood and adolescence as if they were yesterday. Although not a gifted child, I was certainly above the average when it came to both, academics and creativity. Perhaps you could call me an under-achiever in sporting activities, but circumstances and the kind of upbringing I received deprived me of opportunities to discover if I had any sporting talent and to hone my skills in that direction.

The result was that I was considered a book-worm by my more adventurous peers; however, being left alone has its advantages too; I took to reading books (not just from my curriculum, but outside it too), drawing, sketching, colouring, making craft items and so on. Another, major hobby that I started cultivating right from childhood was writing. Enid Blyton was one of my major idols, and my first books were an imitation of her style of writing without her finesse or skill. I also wrote essays, poems, a novella, and I experimented even with writing a short novel in Hindi!

During my college years, these activities allowed me to explore English without any hesitation; I took part in handwriting competitions in school, in elocution and drama in school, in debating and elocution in the medical college, and finally, I took to writing as a favourite pastime hobby sometime around the age of 40+.

The revival of creativity has done wonders to me, my aging, my personality, my leadership qualities and capacities and many more things besides. And therein lies the blessings of Allah.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Writing for fun

I write for fun. If I don't get a chance to write anything for more than a day, I start feeling odd. It is as if one is addicted to writing! That is, in my opinion, so true for me. I write in this blogger blogs ... usually, at least one entry every day, either in this one, or my other two blogs. Yesterday, I wrote in drtaherforkids.blogspot.com and the day before, in mirrorforself.blogspot.com. In this way, I keep my mind sharp and my hand "in" almost daily. When I don't feel like blogging, I visit my other favourite sites like drtaher.writing.com and review stories or poems by others, or look into my own writings and see if any need editing. Still other avenues for writing include stumbleupon.com where I take lifestyle quizzes, multiply.com, where I have a blog and also read others' entries and a few others.

Writing gives me pleasure, and reviewing, even greater pleasure. If anyone needs me to review their work, do approach me and/or write to me and send in your work. I will do the occasional reviewing of short items without any charge. If, however, you need more detailed editing, write to me and we can work out the charges (if any).

Friday, July 04, 2008

A family grieves, and moves on

When a person dies, a part of the family he was in also dies. Irretrievably. I have often wondered how people who lose their near and dear ones come to terms with the irreparable loss. I sawthis happen with Idris uncle's death. His eldest sister and elder brother both must have felt his passing away quite a lot. While the sister gave vent to her grief openly, his brother (my father) took it stoically in his stride. He did not cry or grieve openly. There were others who had tears in their eyes; some cried on seeing the face of the dear departed; others came in crying, their eyes already blood-shot and their mien disturbed.

After listening to many of those present, an image of a fun-loving, benevolent and kind person arose before my mind's eye. Several of those present said they would miss his easy banter, his helpful nature and his sunny disposition. So will I, and I cannot say I was as close to him as some of the others were.

After the completion of the third day's formalities, the members departed, and it was on the next day that his two sons came in from the Gulf (Juzer) and the U.S. (Qusai). They will never get to see their dad as they weren't around in his last moments. Their grief will pass, too.

And life will move on.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A dear relative is no more

Sometimes, Death visits so suddenly that the host does not even get time to say his final good-byes. Such a thing happened to a much-liked and loved relative of mine 2 days ago ... Idris Kagalwala, my paternal uncle, passed away suddenly at or around 10:30 a.m. IST on Tuesday, 1st July, 2008. A few hours before he died, he spoke about some routine matters to my father, and, from what my dad says, he sounded fine. An hour and a half later, he called up my dad again, but his voice sounded distressed and laboured. He had just enough time to say, "Call my doctor fast, am unable to breathe ..." before his voice got cut off, mid-sentence. My dad, who is over 74 years old, went to Idris uncle's house, but found the door locked from within. Some neighbours of Idris uncle managed to get a spare key to that house and managed to open the door.

What they saw before them was uncle, lying on the floor of the house, his mouth wide open, as if trying to gulp in air, the phone receiver still in his hand, and the life, gone out of him.

Most cousins to whom I spoke had only nice words to say about him. He has been variously described as fun-loving, passionate about cricket, jovial, gregarious (thanks, Shabbir Attar), loud and enjoyable to be with, and in the final analysis, a good human being.