Friday, April 19, 2013

A fortnight after my return

It is approaching mid-night on Thursday, 18th April, 2013 as I write this. A few minutes and a new day will start ... I am off-call this week, and was able to amply utilitse the off-hours in the past six days to continue studying for my up-coming examination in MRCPCH Part II. For this exam, I have already received the entry pass in the form of a hall ticket, and I am now counting the days to the exam, which is on Tuesday 14th May 2013 in the King Saud University premises at Riyadh.

Unlike the experience I had with the Part I exams in October last year, the syllabus and the level of questions for the second part are not just more numerous, or more detailed, they are also more complex and require the reader to possess a much deeper level of knowledge as compared to the past. As my readers probably know, I have a paid subscription on an exam-practice site, but I have yet to even complete their entire question bank - so behind am I in my studies. Today, earlier, I attempted a complete mock paper and am ashamed to report that I did badly on that one. I hope and I pray that my final performance is much better than this one and that I am able to clear the exams. I also request you, dear readers, to send a prayer for me.

In other news, I am happy to report that my younger daughter Hannah has now landed a job with the India Today's marketing wing, and is busy through the entire day trying to sell advertisements for their various media offerings. My wife and I have jointly put down a 10% down payment on an apartment in a multistorey apartment complex being built by IndiaBulls Real Estate at New Panvel. The project comprises construction of over 10000 apartments and has been called India Bulls Greens. Nishrin booked a flat on the 26th floor of an expected 32 floor tower, and the flat number is 2601. 

Inas has been given additional responsibilities in the Juice Salon.

My mother was admitted for a respiratory infection and was discharged only today morning. She probably would have gone to stay with Murtuza and his family (Murtuza is my youngest bro).

That's it for now ... will write infrequently this month on account of the examinations, but do look for my fresh entries after my examinations are over. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

How I think I have changed

I shifted from Mumbai, India, where I was making my livelihood as a private consulting pediatrician and newborn specialist for the previous 24 years to make a little more money to meet expenses for my daughters' upcoming professional education/marriages and for a comfortable retirement - to work for the Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in November 2011.

While my patients and their care-takers had an image of a somewhat strict, uncompromising but humane doctor (with some inbuilt frustrations secondary to an unsatisfying income), my children saw me as a loving father with a short temper and some degree of stubbornness balanced by my keen interest in the many good things of life, and my better half thought I had "failed" as I had thus far been unable to meet her expectations, I saw myself as a mix of all these perceptions of others, PLUS a lot more: by nature, I am a narcissist. I love myself, faults, defects and all. I saw myself as God's gift to mankind. Well, not all that much, but to some extent, as He has blessed me with a sharp intellect, a humane temperament and an inner love of mankind. 

Thus, I was definitely a misfit in many of the social interactions I had with others during my 50 years on this planet before I made this move to Saudi Arabia.

After coming here, I learned fast. I am, after nearly 1.5 years in the Kingdom, a lot more proficient in spoken Arabic, a lot more pious, a lot more understanding of the weaknesses I have and also the ones that others have. I have trained myself to desist from being malicious or from hurting others by pointing out their mistakes or criticising them for their very minor and inconsequential errors. Mind you, this change has not happened overnight. I have had issues with many people, least of all my own professional colleagues. I have tempered down, though, and as of now, I can say that I have hardly a handful of people who DO NOT wish to talk to me or interact with me socially. In fact, I have at least 50 people who appreciate me, who praise me and who admire my tenacity, my knowledge and my all-round understanding of the affairs of men.

If you are reading this, I request you to add your comments and/or your own experience in the face of external change. Thank you.

Friday, April 05, 2013

How my return to Saudi Arabia got delayed

Upon returning from Matheran in the afternoon of the 28th of March, I realised as I lay down to relax that my back was in severe spasm. I could not fall asleep because of the pain. Quickly, I ingested a pain-killer + muscle relaxant (I had already taken three doses earlier - one yesterday evening and one yesterday night at Matheran, and one more today morning before departure), and worried about how I would be able to travel with so much luggage and all that. 

After about an hour, I felt a little better, and I took a decision to postpone my return journey by cancelling my ticket and booking a fresh one for a week later. I would diligently work on my back pain and try and become fit before going back. Hence, I called up Mr. Afeef Kagdi, a travel agent, and learned from him the address of the Saudi Arabian Airlines office in Mumbai (It is called the Indo-Saudi Services and is located on the ground floor of the Raheja Center at Nariman Point.) I went by cab all the way to their office with my confirmed ticket, passport and visa, and met one Mr. Abdul Qayum. who cancelled my ticket immediately, but said I would be put on the waiting list as there were no confirmed seats for the entire next week. 

I returned home, and over the next four or five days, I took SWD, IFCT and other modalities of physiotherapy with my friend Dr. Murtuza (at the Jain Polyclinic near my house) and at Masina Hospital, where a Dr. Tabassum attended to me. The Xrays shows a slight instability of the lumbar spine, but my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Yusuf Bagasrawala felt that this could be treated with just medicines and physiotherapy. 

On Tuesday evening, I got a call from the ticketing agents that a place had been found for me on the flight departing Mumbai for Jeddah on the 4th of April (Thursday), and so, I began my departure "sequence" from then on. Finally, I left Mumbai on the 4th, and reached Ta'if the same evening by my own car. After a night's refreshing sleep, here I am, writing down these blog entries for your consumption. 

Do read the previous entry on Matheran trip HERE

Week 5 of my holidays: A trip to Matheran

I was to return to Saudi Arabia on the 29th of March, and the last week preceding this was filled with hectic activity as I had to complete many tasks in India. On the 25th, Hannah's 2nd semester examinations got over, and we started preparing for our trip to Matheran (a small but lovely hill station located less than 200 km from Mumbai) the next morning. Our original plan was to travel by train - a local to Neral and then the mini-train from Neral to Matheran, but in the end, we decided to go by car to Neral and then leave the car at Neral and take the mini-train from there until our destination.

Going by car caused a delay and when we reached Neral, we learned that the mini-trains for 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. had been cancelled while the next one was due at 11.15 a.m. As it was only 9.30 when we reached Neral, we decided to take the car up to Dasturi Naka, the spot where all cars bound for Matheran HAVE TO BE PARKED as cars are NOT PERMITTED  within the town. The 7-km ghat was quite a tough one, and there were sections where the car had to climb up steeply in first gear! I have never driven up such roads in my entire life, and my family and I were quite tense while going up. I had even switched off the CD player and my wife and kids were also not chatting much. Eventually, we arrived, safe and sound, at the parking area and parked the car as guided by the local police. After this, we began to walk along the railway line with our luggage. After 15 minutes of walking, we hired a coolie to carry our luggage and thus we reached the town center. 

We had booked two rooms at the Hotel Lord's Central, Matheran, and so we met the proprietor, Mrs. Zenobia Lord at her hotel reception and received the keys to two rooms. These rooms were quite small, and when we went back to the office, Zenobia readily shifted us to Rooms 1 and 2, which were much more spacious and had a covered front seating area with couches and a table to make tea etc. 

It took some getting used to, but the accommodation was quaint and nice. Our rooms did not face the valley but we could go around to the back side that overlooked the swimming pool and the magical Matheran valley. 

The biggest plus points of this hotel are its proximity to the market and their unique, all meals plan with bed tea and evening tea thrown in. ( The other, bigger hotels are situated far ahead and are more costly and serve only breakfast.) The entertainment included a giant chess board, carrom, table tennis and badminton. We sampled all this. I must say all of us had a great time, and in particular, Nishrin was able to forget her stresses and relax for 2 days!



Nishrin with Hannah

One-tree hill


He he



Food was scrumptious  and included Parsi dishes. There would be a soup, a starter (we had mutton samosas, fish fingers, etc. at different meals) a main course comprising a vegetable and a non-vegetarian dish ( we ate Bhindi, fish curry, mutton dhansak, dals,  etc.) with chapatis and rice and finally, a dessert - usually a pudding or a souffle. 

We never needed to go out for food!

On the first day, we covered five points and on the second day, eight or nine others. In addition, Hannah also participated in a Valley crossing of over 1300 meters! Going around on horseback on both occasions, I soon developed back pain, but more on that in my next post.

All in all, we had a great time. On the way back down, we hired a driver for Rs. 200 to take us from Dasturi Naka back to Neral. From there on, our drive back to Mumbai was uneventful. 

I had completed 70-80% packing of my bags as I was to take the morning flight the next day, but, as Fate was to have it, I cancelled my departure. Read about this in my next post.