Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tamdi Surla Revisited

Starting point - The 13th century 'mahadev' temple built by the Kadambas, now being maintained by the archaeological survey of India.

The first few hundred meters are fine. Easy going path. Cool breeze. Chirping birds

Cool streams with clear water

And then the obstacles start - crawling underneath over grown shrubbery and catching leeches all over the body

Trying to step over fallen bamboo stems - trying our best to avoid cuts and scratches 
 Climbing  over when crawling below is not possible and learning that crawling and catching leeches was better  
and negotiating slippery rocks at the final stage

In spite of getting rid of leeches with salt, one stubborn leech remains gorging on my blood 

and then the falls!

Forgetting all the hardships and enjoying the chilly shower before filling the stomach and returning.

Points learnt from the latest trek,

The reception committee of chirping birds which you find at the beginning is nature's way of fooling you. The real committee consists of hungry leeches and mosquitoes.

Better add a tube of insect repellent, 'Koito' ( Scythe - this is  to cut the over growth coming in your way but will be handy if you try to kill a mosquito. If you see their size you would think twice before trying to kill them with bare hands), a rope and a stout stick to the list of things to carry.

The path climbs and dips putting considerable strain on your heart, lungs and joints. Service them before you start.

Streams which look six inches deep are always one and a half feet when you step into them.

The over grown branches which you carelessly try to  swipe aside with your hands always have thorns on them and those which you try to kick aside never fail to trip you.

Hanging  overgrowth which are in the way are always at the height of your eyes irrespective of your height!

Nature always has an upper hand, however clever you are.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Extraction Under GA - A Recent Experience

Mr Raikar had a difficulty. Due to a childhood injury he was unable to open his mouth completely. And it was painful to keep his mouth even half open for more than a few minutes. Obviously dental treatment was a nightmare. I am sure so it was for his dentist. Raikar ignored all dental treatment, avoided dentists and lived a blissful life.  

Blissful life till his half erupted (impacted) wisdom tooth got infected. But now the tooth had to be removed. Immaterial whether the mouth was open or closed. He had consulted a surgeon and had been advised removing the tooth under general anaesthesia by cutting through the skin and reaching the tooth from outside. Raikar was worried. He came to me for a second opinion.

I took a look and felt that it may be possible to remove the tooth in the normal way, but under general anaesthesia. I called my young friend and budding Oral surgeon Dr Saurabh in whose capabilities I have a lot of faith. Saurabh was confident and highly enthusiastic. “You don’t worry uncle. I certainly can do it intra oral (Through the mouth). But if necessary I can go extra-oral too.” Then he added as a reassurance “If it comes to that, I can even take the jaw out, remove the tooth and put the jaw back”. Removing the jaw would certainly have ended Raikar’s trouble of not being able to open his mouth. He would only have to bother about closing it. But I wished it would not come to that.

The anaesthetist was consulted. Though she had some reservations about introducing the tube (tracheal tube - required to deliver anaesthetics and oxygen) into the throat, she felt it could be done. We scheduled the case. I was the assistant.

Hosa Chiguru HaLeberu kooDiralu mara sobagu - (New leaves and old roots make a great tree) New leave and old root of Dentistree

As it turned out the anaesthetist had considerable difficulty putting the tube in, had to struggle a lot, change tubes, increase dosage of drugs, but she remained cool and calm all the time and ultimately placed the tube in successfully. We had Raikar under anaesthesia. His pulse and pressure were normal. My pulse and pressure were rising. Saurabh had difficulty at all stages. Keeping the mouth open(Raikar's I mean), reaching the site, cutting around and releasing the tooth, so on and so forth. He had to call for extra assistants, change positions and help himself when I fumbled. But he performed commendably. I was standing there tensed, holding the suction tube in one shaking hand and irrigating syringe in the other. Saurabh had to remind me repeatedly that I am required to use them and assist him.  

Raikar had come to me because of his faith in ME. I had entrusted him to my colleagues in whom I had confidence. They were capable and responsible. But I was answerable to Raikar.

I was almost a nervous wreck when Saurabh exclaimed “The tooth is out, Uncle.” He gave me a look which said “Didn’t I tell you I would do it?”. I sat down and took deep breaths. Sutures were placed, Raikar was wheeled into the ward and was sleeping peacefully. The anaesthetist and Saurabh wrote their report, gave instructions, confirmed that the patient was fine and left.

I went to see Raikar in the evening. He was awake and fine. “Thank you very much doctor. I was worried that you may have to cut from outside and remove the tooth.” 

“Oh, you needn’t have worried” I answered nonchalantly. “I was sure that we could remove the tooth easily” I raised my collar and went out.

Friday, June 19, 2015

International Yoga Day And My Take On 'Yoga'

 I hear that June 21st, the longest day, is declared as the ‘International yoga day’. I understand that our PM is leading a big group of 40,000 people performing yoga exercises on Rajpath, New Delhi. There is also a move to have mass yoga performances all over the country and create a Guinness record by synchronising the performances. The orthodox among the practitioners of yoga say that yoga is a private, personal and spiritual performance, like personal worship and it should not be dragged on to the streets. But nothing is private these days and we will surely drag anything and everything on to the streets. Both real streets and IT streets.
Badhdha Padmaasana 

So, yoga is in limelight and I am trying to make some of this light fall on me through this post.
I am a self taught practitioner of ‘yoga’ and have been one for more than forty years. My ‘yoga’ involves just bending the body and no attempt is made to straighten the mind. I perform yoga just as another physical exercise, like walking or swimming, and there is no spirituality involved in it. Same dirty thoughts which flood my mind during other times, also flood my mind while performing yoga. I did try concentration and meditation but ended up concentrating on things which disturbed my mind more. I gave up. Still, since I have been sincerely practicing all the physical postures that you see here and many more, for nearly half a century, I assume it gives me some authority to say something about Yoga.


‘AshTaanga Yoga’, as a tool to achieve oneness with the soul, super soul, god or whatever is supposed to exist above us, is said to have eight stages. One has to start at the bottom, master the stage, go to the next and continue till the goal is reached. I don’t know how many practitioners/ masters/ gurus have managed to reach the final stage. After decades of practice, I am not perfect in any, but am doing fairly well in few of the stages. As per my own assessment, a very vague evaluation of my standing in different stages of Ashtaanga yoga - on a scale of 1 - 10, would be like this.

1.      Yama  -                     Practice of morality/ethics in daily life  -  5
2.       Niyama -                  Discipline (in anything that matters?)-      8
3.       Aasana   -                Achieving Yogic postures  -     8                      
4.       PraaNaayaama -    Breath control  -      6                                        
5.       Pratyaahaara  -      Withdrawal of the senses from the organs into the purified mind (mind purified by the first four steps?)   -  I do not even clearly know what it means let alone practice/experience it  -  0
6.       Dhaarana -             Concentration (on an idea? Goal?)   -       3
7.       Dhyaana  -              Meditation  -                                            2
8.       Samaaadhi  -          Enlightenment/being one with the God or super soul  -  0


The term ‘Yoga’, for most of us, means just the asanaas and praNayaama. Probably because these are the two stages on which those who teach/preach/advertise yoga lay the stress upon.  There may be a reason for it. Most of the gurus/teachers themselves are not likely to pass the first two stages of yama - niyama (morals and descipline) and since none of  us like to go anywhere near them (yama - niyama  I mean) would certainly not get desciples if they insist on following these steps. Hence, these two troublesome stages are conveniently ignored. Since more than ninety percent of those who start learning Yoga, give up after few days or months - depending up on their tolerance limits - there is no chance of anyone going through the last four. So, that leaves just Asanas and Pranayaama.  Even these two supposedly easier steps among the eight, are themselves daunting for a beginner.       


As I said earlier, I have been practicing Yoga for more than forty years but I have nothing to show for it. I do not have blood pressure or diabetes or so called stress induced/ lifestyle associated ailments.  Nor did my parents, who never practiced yoga. My cholesterol level is kept in control by ‘Atorec 10’ and not by ‘kapaalbhati’. But I have general sense of well being and recover from aches and pains faster. Even though I do not have much to show for my decades of practice of yoga, I continue practicing it. It has become a way of life for me. And I feel that is how it is intended to be practiced. Like praying. If you believe in it, practice it. All it takes is a bit of your time and nothing else.  Do it for the sake of doing it, without any expectation or anticipation and it may make you feel better.


Yoga is good for everybody and is a good adjutant to a healthy life.  Lot of misunderstanding has been created by people (with vested interests ?) projecting Yoga and PraaNaayaama  as a cure for everything from common cold to cancer. It makes people start the practice with lot of hope and check their blood pressure and blood sugar after bending their knees and elbows for two weeks.  The readings adamantly remain the same and the ‘faith’ in Yoga dives downwards. Also, even the simplest of postures are not easy to keep long enough to make a difference. You lie on your back, lift both your legs up, say 30-40 degrees, and remain in the position for 30 seconds. You will understand what I mean. Half a minute seems like half an hour.


I have attended at least half a dozen training camps. The first day the hall is full and people spread their mats even in the corridor. By the fourth day the hall seems larger than what it was. By the end of the session only the first few rows are full but they take a vow to continue the practice for the remaining of their lives. By the end of the month only the coordinator and two of his friends remain.


My opinion (for anyone who needs it - because all of us have enough of our own) is that it is the first two stages, ‘Yama’ - ‘Niyama’ which help in living a stress free life and it is better to start there. If it is too much to hope for, go for the next two as the majority of us do. If practiced regularly they are really helpful in maintaining a healthy body. (If you are not sure where to start, ask a guru. I suggest any self proclaimed one with few decades of experience, preferably living in Goa!) Adapt the stages of yoga as a way of life. It is never too late to start and it is sure to help you. You have the international yoga day just in front of you  to help you make a beginning!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sab Kuch Paisaa Kaa Mamlaa Hai

I checked the tooth and kept my instruments aside.

“This tooth is quite bad and not easy to treat”
“Do I have to get it removed? I don’t want extraction”
“No, there is no need to remove it but it requires a lot of treatment”
“Please do whatever is required doctor. I don’t want to lose the tooth”
“We can certainly save it. But it will need  RCT and a crown”
“That is fine with me”
“It will take many visits. First for the RCT and then for the crown”
“I will come as many times as you call doctor. I just don’t want to get it removed. You see I have already lost many teeth and know how important it is to save this. It is a god given gift”
“I do agree with you. You could have saved your other teeth as well.”
“Yes but I did not know they could be saved. Good you told me”
“So, when would you like to start?”
“You tell me doctor. I don’t mind if you start right now”
“I can. It may take an hour and I will have to give an injection to numb your tooth.”
“Take as much time as you want doctor and I don’t mind injections. I can bear pain. No problems.”
“Right then. We will start. By the way, I hope you have seen the chart displayed in the waiting room explaining the cost of treatment.”
“Oh I did not notice. What would be the cost?”
“Anywhere between eight to ten thousand”
“And the cost of extraction?”
“About five hundreds”
“You better remove the tooth doctor. Anyway I am avoiding biting that side because of pain and can manage like that in future also”!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Nice Trip to 'Sode'

Amma keeps moving between Pune, Ponda and Chennai, shifting camp often, and will easily qualify as a frequent flier. But once she reaches camp, her movements are very much limited. Until recently she used to accompany us once in a way for a casual outing or a music concert or some such program but since the last two years or so, compelled by the compulsions of her system, she refuses all such offers. As a result she is restricted to her room and sometimes does not step out for days. While she is wary of any public transport including flights she is always willing to try travelling distances if the conveyance is a personal vehicle. “nanagEnappa illi  kootirOdu kaaralli kootirteeni ashTe”.  So we decided to try  taking her to Sode which is about 200kms from here. It is a travel of about five to six hours, which could get shortened to four if the driver happens to be Ashwin. We planned an overnight halt at Sode. One may book a room provided by the Vaadirajamutt  which comes with an attached bathroom/toilet and contains a bare cot and two mats. ‘No frills’ is an understatement here. Since we felt that we would not be able to manage with such bare essentials we decided to stay in a hotel at Sirsi, which is at a distance of twenty kms from Sode. Amma manages very well with avalakki, mosaru, chatnipuDi and baaLehaNNu  - jagalur diet, and so, a packet of avalakki and two cans of Amul dahi were packed with other stuff.  With these  preparations we left Ponda on a very warm summer morning at half past ten, half an hour late than the scheduled departure. Sushma, who  was visiting Goa, joined us and made the trip memorable. You are invited to Join us for an arm chair travel.

Having left at 10.30, stopped in front of a small, clean, locked forest office, between Ankola and Kumta, (under the kaju tree) for lunch. Kaju fruit for dessert.

Attracted by the greenery I move away a bit with chapati palya in hand

Since the nature around looked good,stopped for a few minutes on the ghat road to Sirsi. Spent the next half an hour trying to get the nature (in the form of giant flies) out of the car

Once got in, amma stays put in the car. We reached Sirsi at four and she only got out there. She says usually her body does not listen to her commands but it is amazing how  she can make it follow her wishes once she wills it to do  so.

Since we had spare time we decided to visit a  Bird sanctuary called 'Mundigekere' near Sode. Asked directions from a dozen people and were lost for the fourth time.

Left the path and tried to trek through the fields in the general direction of the sanctuary.

Mnaged to get a glimpse of the watch tower next to the pond but could not reach there in spite of trespassing through many private properties. But the owners did not seem to mind. They gave directions which we could not follow (due to lack of clarity) and offered refreshments which  we could not accept (due to lack of time.)

Turned back as it  was getting dark and as we did not intend spending the night in the forest. Met an animal  which we identified as (in that order) a wolf, fox, wild dog and a domestic pet.

Bird's eye view of Sri Vaadiraajamautt. Sri Hari is said to  have accepted offer of grams and jaggery 'naivedya' from the saint, appearing in the form of a horse.

Something catches amma's attention while  walking down the ramp leading to the mutt.

Ajji being ably (and affectionately) assisted by her grand children

In front of the 'Bhutaraaja's corner'. Bhutaraaaja (demon king) was an avatara of 'Rudra' devaru who went to Sode on Sri vaadiraaja's behest to control the minor demons. (bhuta, pishaachaas -original residents of the forest around the remote mutt) 

Ajji, mommakkaLu share some amusing conversation

Bhutaraja - in rangoli spread by a faithful soul.

Waiting for, what else? 'Prasada' -  which is usually served before twelve in the afternoon. Had a fairly free run of the premises as there were not many people.

Amma enjoyed the trip thoroughly and here she takes a satisfied nap during the journey back. Ashwin saw to it that we completed it in four hours.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Good Deed Done

The days are getting hot and I prefer to go for my walk when the morning is still cool. Accordingly, one day last week, I left at five in the morning and half an hour later I was walking back. A couple, early risers like me, crossed me and I noticed a bulging plastic bag in the hands of the husband. I knew what it was. The previous day’s garbage, being carried in a carry bag, to be thrown by the side of the road into the bushes. Usually I curse such people silently and walk away. That day I decided to give them a piece of my mind. I changed course and followed them. They turned into the bypass road and as soon as the vegetation turned a bit thick, the husband, in one smooth great swing, threw the bag into the bushes. I stepped faster, crossed them and addressed him.  It is not easy doing that. Imagine accosting a stranger and telling him what he was doing was not right. But that day I felt sort of compelled and I did.

“Good morning sir. If you don’t mistake me may I say something?”
“Yes. Go ahead” (“han Bolaa” - in Marathi)
I am not fluent in Marathi but I can manage a sort of chow chow of Marathi, Konkani and Hindi. I tried to keep it as polite as possible.
“I saw that you threw your garbage in to the bushes just now. May I request you not to do so?”

The reaction that I was expecting was one or all of,

1. “Who are you to tell me what I should do with my garbage?”
2. “Is this your father’s property”
3. “This road belongs to me as much as it belongs to you”
4. “Go and tell that to all others who are doing so”
5. “Are you the municipality?” etc etc.

I was surprised to hear a very apologetic tone
“Oh, I am very sorry.”

Since he seemed to have taken it in the right spirit I thanked him and gave a very short talk about why it should not be done and we parted ways. He seemed to get it but I did not believe that he would heed my request. Usually nobody cares.  

I saw them again yesterday after a gap of about a week. Even before I could get near them, the husband called out to wish me.
“Good morning”
“Good morning” I replied and said “I am happy to see that you have not brought your garbage”
“You were right. What we were doing was wrong. Now I have made a pit near my house and dispose our waste there”

It was an unexpected result!  I was happy that I was successful in converting at least one amongst the hundreds who keep littering our public places.

“Have a good day” I wished sincerely and walked away, with a nice feeling of having done a good deed. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bulbul - Concluding Part

Exactly thirty six hours after I mentioned that the baby Bulbul may fly  in another two days, I found lot of excitement near the nest. The baby had climbed out and the parents were flying in and out. One of them might have given the final pep talk and the baby stood ready on the edge of the nest poised for take off. But it stood there for a long time. Since we humans are not as lucky as the birds and have to do things according to the clock, I went in for breakfast. When I came out, neither the parents nor the baby was seen. I waited till evening and climbed up to check. The nest was empty. I presume that the baby is flying somewhere around my house and that it is a happy end. 

Flying lessons?
Should I jump?
Jump. Don't worry. I am here

Empty nest - but a happy end? I presume so.