Monday, July 27, 2015

Ashaadha Ekaadashi

One of my friends on FB wanted to know about the importance of Ashadha ekadashi .  I did not know either. I felt that whether I follow our religious practices or not, I should have some knowledge about them. Searched the net, used whatever brains I have and came up with the following information.

A day in the life of gods is a year for human life.  The ‘Uttaraayana’ and ‘Dakshinaayana’ which are of half a year duration for humans are the day and night for gods.  Dakshinaayana is the night part. It begins in the month of ‘Ashaadha’ of lunar calendar. That is the time when lord Vishnu goes to sleep or ‘Yoganidra’. He is in Yoganidra during the first four months of Dakshinaayana  which are collectively called ‘Chaaturmaasa’.

We have a goddess responsible for day and another for night. I believe the goddess of night was unhappy that no auspicious activities were taking place during her time and felt that there was no need for her to exist.  Her sentiments were conveyed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu felt bad about it and assuaged her feelings by declaring that the benefits obtained by worshipping him during chaaturmaasa would be in multiples of what one would get by worshipping him during other times.  
Since Ekaadashi is considered the most auspicious for worshipping Lord Vishnu, Ashadha ekaadashi, the beginning ekaadashi of chaaturmaasa acquires greater importance.

Wearing the symbols of Lord Vishnnu namely the Shankha and Chakra, called the ‘Mudras’ is a must during worshipping lord Vishnu. Hence the followers of Dwaita philosophy have these symbols put on their bodies from the heads of their respective religious organisations on ashaadha ekaadashi. This process of preparing for the worship is the ‘Mudraadharana’.

I got the information I wanted and should have kept quiet. Now what made me write this and torture you?

Out of a whim, I decided to fast on one Ekaadashi day few years back. (What is so great about fasting for a day? I can as well do it- feeling) I decided to fast for 24hrs, remained without food since morning and was miserable by evening. I could not think of anything other than food.  I gave up, had my food and slept. Then I took it as a challenge but did not have the guts or willpower to try another 24 hrs. So I decided to partially fast half a day. For the past few years I have been successfully following it. It is not a fast actually. Can call it disciplined eating.  I have a cup of coffee and two biscuits in the morning, Some snack at mid day and end it by 8 pm. But strictly no tit bits which I otherwise keep popping into the mouth the whole day. Still it is difficult. I can manage fairly well if I am totally occupied in the clinic or elsewhere. If I have nothing to do it gets worse.

It has been raining since two days and there are hardly any patients in the clinic. And today is ekaadashi. By writing this I could keep myself occupied for more than an hour.  Another half an hour and I am done.  What started as ‘ekaadashi’ has turned out to be ‘Roza’. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Concern or Interference?

The little girl hesitatingly followed her mother into the clinic.
“She has tooth ache since three days”
I asked the child to sit on the chair and just as the girl attempted to climb on to it, her mother lifted her and placed her in the chair. I went closer and bent down to address her.

“What is your name?”
The child was shy and took time to answer.
“Tell me, what is your name?”
“Her name is Tanvi”  - The mother intervened.
I ignored the mother and addressed the child again.
“Which standard are you in?”
“She is in third standard” Mother.
“Which school do you go to?” I tried to engage the daughter in conversation once more
She began falteringly “ I … I….go to Vidya…” 
“She attends Vidya Vikaas High school” -  The mother

I asked the mother to allow the child to speak. “You tell me” I asked the child again “which school do you go to?”
“Vidyaa Vikaas primary section” came the correct answer.
“Does your tooth hurt?”
The child nodded her head in answer.
“Which tooth?”
Again, the girl took time to reply. The mother could not hold back “See, this tooth” She tried to pull open her daughter’s mouth to show me the tooth.

I called the mother aside.
“Madamme, I can understand your concern but please allow your daughter to interact with me. It is important if I have to treat her.”
“But I am afraid that she may not explain things properly. She doesn’t know what to tell you and forgets everything.”
“That is Ok. I will manage and if I need your help, I will certainly ask you.”

I addressed the child again. “Which is the tooth that is hurting”
The girl pointed to the offending tooth. 
“Does is hurt always? All through the day?”
Now she answered. “No. It hurts only when I eat something”.
“Shall I see the tooth? Please open your mouth”

I examined the child. Told her what I intend doing and asked her if she wants me to treat her.
She nodded again.
“I want you to say it aloud.”
“Yes” came the answer.

Then I fixed an appointment and noted it down in my diary.
Now I asked the mother. “Please give me your telephone number”
“Mobile or land line?”
“Whichever, Some number to contact you if required”
“8873…….  No, 88763……. I am sorry, 88673…….. ‘Che’, 98673……… one minute” she opened her bag and tried to find her mobile phone  “oh, I forgot to bring the phone also.”
The child pulled at the mother’s saree “Mummy it is 8867..”
“You keep quiet, don’t interrupt me now”
 “Forget it” I said.  “Note my number and call me from your phone. I will get your number. Give me the landline if you can.”
“Ok. 2314….. Sorry, 2334…… Oh god, we changed it recently and I .……”
A shrill voice rang out confidently and clearly from her side, “8867345342 and 2314563.”
I looked down. The child was beaming .
“Good” I exclaimed and looked at the mother. With an effort I held myself back from saying “See, she can do much better than you”

“I always forget the phone numbers” The mother tried to cover up, sheepishly, and walked out hurriedly pulling her daughter behind her. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Chief Guest

One of the Ponda high schools decided to felicitate the students who did well in the recently concluded SSC exams. A friend of mine is the chairman of the parent- teacher association of the school and he had taken the task of finding a chief guest for the function. He had contacted few people of eminence but had not been successful roping in anyone. He said that he will have to compromise and will have to make do with any knick-knack who was available. And the very next moment he exclaimed “Hey, YOU can be our chief guest.  You are a doctor and you have grey hair. Enough. Shed your hanky-panky half pants and T shirt for a day. If you dress decently you may really look like a chief guest.” So, I was the chief guest for the felicitation programme.

I reported to the venue ten minutes before time as directed.  The peon was setting the stage and some students were arranging the chairs. One of the teachers saw me, took me to the HM’s chamber and locked me in, preventing attempts at an escape. I spent the next forty five minutes memorising - from various charts hanging on the wall - the names of the past presidents and secretaries of managing committee, number of boys and girls in each class, weekly timetable of all teachers and the school prayer and its meaning.

 When the number of people in the hall had reached a respectable figure, I was taken to the hall, made to sit on the stage and was handed over a bouquet. I had to sit still, listening to the usual welcome song, (surprisingly sung very nicely with accompaniment of the harmonium and ‘tabla’) welcome speech and the introduction of the guest. (going by the virtues attributed to the guest, the person about whom the gentleman was speaking was certainly not me). Then the list of students receiving the prizes was read out and I was asked to stand and handover prizes. This I did commendably, like a seasoned politician, facing the camera with a smile, balancing the certificate, trophy and the flower in one hand and shaking the hand of the student with the other. Soon afterwards I was asked to say a few words for the benefit of students.

I had spent sleepless nights preparing for this speech. But I had prepared well, lining up quotes and anecdotes and had taken trouble to plan and rehearse what I intended saying. After a minute or two of forgetting everything and stammering, I got back my nerves and spoke confidently - like a real chief guest. I even felt like one. By the time I finished, I was thinking that the school did the right thing inviting me and the students were lucky to hear a speech like that. I really thought that my speech must have been of some value to them. I finished with a flourish, to a loud applause.

My speech was appreciated, I was thanked, handed a memento, offered a cup of lukewarm and very sweet tea and discharged. I returned home walking on the clouds, carrying the bouquet and the memento. I was feeling great.

My father in law who was visiting us, was sitting in the armchair reading the news paper when I returned. He was surprised to see me ‘decently dressed’ and walking in carrying the bouquet and the gift.

He raised an eye brow. “What is special today?”
“I was the chief guest for a function in the school”
“You were what!!!???”
“The chief guest”  
“Ha, Ha, Haaaa and did you make a speech?”
“How long did you speak?”
 “About fifteen minutes”
“People sat through the speech?”
“Of course”
“And they gave you this?” He pointed at the things in my hand.

“They needn’t have taken the trouble. Sitting through the ordeal would have been kind enough.”

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”!