Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Scooter And My Sentiments

This is how my LML Vespa Alfa looked when I bought it about twenty eight years back. It has been running ever since but had almost retired since the last rainy season.  My son, who is very much attached to the senior scooter, found that the heart and skeleton were in good shape, sent it out for a whole body scan followed by surgeries and a major face lift.  It is back in ‘mint’ condition. To look at, I mean. Effect of some brain damage persists and it wobbles a wee bit to the right. And at times you may feel that the handle is going to come out of its socket.  But it runs well and as long as MY brain and limbs are in good shape, I should be able to handle it.

Since it has crossed 15 years, the registration has to be renewed every five years. I took it for renewal when it was twenty five. A young inspector came to examine the vehicle. He objected saying that there are no side indicators on the scooter.

“I agree. But there were no side indicators at all at the time I purchased this scooter”
 “How is it possible? We register dozens of scooters every day and all of them have indicators. In fact, I have not seen any scooter without side indicators in my life”
“That may be true but probably you were not yet born when I bought this”
He laughed and signed the form.

It is my first vehicle. My children have grown standing in front of the handle bar. They were holding it for dear life then and now they hold it to control the scooter. Same with my hand. They were dependent up on it for support once and if I am lucky enough they will hold it and lead me when I become dependent on them.  My wife is alive in spite of being a pillion rider for two decades. The scooter has served me well.

 I bought it for Rs 11,000 and have spent about 15,000 on insurance and possibly double that on two body and face lifts. We hope to keep it in running condition for some more time.

Sentiments like this are expensive but probably worth it.

My wife read this and asked me if living things are also eligible to be objects of expression of my sentiments! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Letter to PMO regarding Medical and Dental admissions

Sub: Medical and dental admissions , Ref: Order of the Hon Supreme Court regarding NEET.

The Hon Supreme Court has ruled that all medical and dental admissions be carried out only on the basis of a common national level entrance test, the NEET, from the academic year 2016 - 17.

This is something that all the students depending on merit over the generations have been aspiring for.

The private medical colleges and deemed universities in this country, with the kind help of DCI and MCI, have managed to destroy  medical and dental education and consequently the profession in this country.

The above mentioned supreme court order is a ray of hope in the otherwise gloomy scene.

Now, I understand that there is a move to bring about an ordinance to bypass the order of the Hon Supreme court and continue destruction of whatever remains of medical and dental education.

I request you to kindly use your good office to prevent such a move and allow the order of the Hon Supreme court to be followed.

PMO seems to be the only hope left for millions like me who want our country to shift to the right path.

Hope we will not be disappointed.

With regards
Dr M S Raghunandan
139/6, Curti Zari, Ponda Goa

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Social Service and The Traffic Police

I am sure that I have mentioned in one of the earlier posts that I am a member of a social group and in the course of our ‘Social work’, we poke our nose in everybody’s business. One such business is that of the police inspector in charge of traffic.

Ours is a small town not worth noticing but we have our share of traffic woes. Wrong parking, rash driving, disregard for traffic rules and all other wrong practices are sincerely followed in our city. We do have traffic police who stand at strategic junctions chatting with their colleagues or talking on their mobiles while the erratic traffic finds its way around them. Sometimes they swing into action very kindly helping out a car driver trying to ENTER a ‘No Entry’ lane or holding down other vehicles to help a pickup truck take a wrong right turn.

Having decided to do something about improving the traffic situation in our city, we went to the traffic police station to meet the inspector but he was not present. His deputy was there and we explained to him our mission and requested him to instruct his staff to be vigilant and take strict against offenders rather than helping them out. He listened to us very politely, offered us tea, nodded his head in agreement with whatever we said, promised to do the needful and saw us off at the entrance.

A week later the things were same. This time we got an appointment from the inspector, met him with a written request and insisted that something be done to improve the situation.  He was equally courteous and understanding and he assured us that he would take necessary action.

Another ten days and things were as they were. We got pissed, wrote a strong letter and addressed a copy to the Dy Sp (Traffic) at the headquarters. We waited to see the effect.

Few days later I had a patient from the US who was in Goa on a holiday. He had some trouble with his tooth which I attended to. He paid my fee, said that his insurance company would reimburse the expenses and gave me a form to fill. It was to be filled in black ink and I did not have a black pen. I rode to the nearby multipurpose store to get one. They had pens, blue and red, but no Black.  The stationary shop was just about a kilometer away in our market complex. The patient was waiting in the clinic and I was in a hurry. I zoomed ahead towards the market and as I did, saw few traffic police constables standing at the junction. They were flagging down vehicles and were doing something.  I was happy to see our traffic police acting against errant drivers and was thinking of returning later to compliment them when one of them signalled me to stop. I thought that he must have recognised me from my visits to their office and was inviting me to see them in action. He came near and said,

“ You are not wearing a helmet, sir”

“Oh I am sorry. I was in a hurry and was just going to that shop”  I pointed to the shop.

“That is OK sir but riding a two wheeler without a helmet is an offence”

“ I know that but it is not compulsory to wear a helmet in municipal limits"

"I do not know about it sir, we have been asked to go strictly by the MV Act and wearing a helmet is compulsory"

" You see, I was..........” I tried to give further explanation justifying my riding without a helmet. He ignored it.

“May I see your licence?” Luckily I had it in my pocket and I gave it to him.

He wrote down my name and licence number in his book, mentioned “driving without helmet” against the ‘offence commited’ coloumn , tore the page out and handed it to me.

“Hundred rupees sir”

There was nothing else to do. I took out a hundred rupee note from my pocket, handed it to him and returned, forgetting the black pen.

We had succeeded in making our traffic police act, at last!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Latest communication systems for a better life!

My son came home early today. We (me, my wife and son) had dinner together. After that I sat in front of my desk top to type a letter to a friend about a matter which concerned all three of us. I typed the letter and shouted for my son to come and see it. No response. He is always like that. Once he gets into his room he will be in front of his laptop with the earphone plugged in. It irritates me. I was about to go and bang on his door. Then I thought for a second. I sent the draft to his mail id and also sent a message by Whatsapp  “Check mail” .

Within three minutes I got his message “OK.”  And  “Take Amma’s approval”.

My wife is in another room watching her favourite TV serial. She will be very much annoyed if someone opens the door (It allows mosquitos in, diverts her attention from the important piece of conversation on the TV and it nullifies the cooling effect, which our dying AC has produced after lot of hard work).  So, I sent another message  “Come see the draft”.  The lady who gets infuriated if I shout from the next room to call her attention, walked in calmly, saw the draft, said “fine” and left.

I sent the mail. 

The process, which could have taken around half an hour to complete through direct interaction (with irritations, accusations, counter accusations interspersed) was over in six minutes in a very cordial atmosphere!

Look how the
latest communication systems have bettered our life!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Our Religious Philosophies.

On my recent trip to Pune, I met a relative of mine and during the course of conversation learnt that he has begun the study of ‘Nyaaya Sudha’ written by Jayateerthaacharya. If you are a pursuer of Dwaita Philosophy and intend studying the works of Sri Madhwacharya, a thorough understanding of Nyaayasudha , which is in the form of 1919 verses, is said to be a must. I casually asked him what exactly was ‘Nyaaya Sudha’ and the following is the result of that question.

I have written whatever I understood after talking with him for about an hour and a half.  The conversation (I thought then) gave me a fairly clear picture.  I am not sure now. But I hope what I have understood is right and have attempted to put it in writing before the entire thing evaporated.  If you find a blunder here, it is not his. It is mine.

I have not written this to educate others. I know that it does not interest many nor do I have the required qualification. It is just to put whatever I learnt in black and white and keep it for future reference, if and when required. I sometimes make a half hearted attempt to know something about our religion and religious practices and this is one such. This blog is a place where my thoughts are likely to remain undisturbed and hence I posted it here.

I asked my relative about ‘Nyaaya sudha’ and he tried his best to explain it to me.  Since he found that my knowledge about our religion is next to nil, he began with a brief history of Hinduism in India.

 Budhddhism is probably the first significant religion of the sub continent. Before that, there was no religion as such. There were many beliefs and different kinds of worship. Some worshipped the earth, some the sun, some the rivers and many such groups worshipped many entities which they thought were mightier than themselves. There were some who had thought of a creator or god too.

Budhdhism preached that there is no creator or god and there is nothing called the ‘atma’ or Soul, which is eternal.  That philosophy is called  ‘Nireeshwaravaada’ and ‘Anaatmavaada’ meaning no god, no soul.  Budhdhism preaches a life devoid of greediness and says that by leading a life full of virtues like right intention, right speech, right livelihood, right actions and concentration/ meditation, one would attain enlightenment or relief from the bindings of life.

 Budhdhism was followed by Jainism. Jainism recognises the concept of a soul and says that a soul in its pure form exists in every living being. The soul is imprisoned in the body and it can be liberated by practicing ‘Ahimsa’ - Nonviolence, ‘Anekantavaada’- Non Absoluteness and ‘aparigraha’ - detachment.  Both Budhdhism and Jainism follow the doctrine of ‘Nireeshwaravaada’ - That is, there is no ONE god.

This was the scene, around eight century, when Adi Shankara was born and he put forward the Advaita philosophy. Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s major contribution to Hindu philosophy is supposed to have been his acceptance of ‘Vedas’ and ‘Brahmasutras’ as the roots of this philosophy and recognition of the ‘soul’. He is said to have travelled the length and breadth of India, spreading the advaita philosophy and setting up schools or Mutts for its propagation. The Advaita philosophy believes that there is a soul or ‘Atma’ and a super soul or ‘Paramaatma’ (or god)  and that they are actually one and the same. The soul which is present in every human being is the same super soul but in a form that is temporarily masked by illusion or ‘maya’. Once the soul gets rid of ‘maya’ and attains ‘Moksha’ or liberation, it merges with the super soul. There is no differentiation between the soul and the super soul.

Through his clarity of thought and powerful presentation, Shankaracharya is said to have won over most other schools of thought and the ‘advaita’ philosophy had the sway over most of India.  However, certain Philosophers in southern India thought differently. They were from a sect known as ‘Vaishnavas’ who worshipped only Vishnu or Narayana as the supreme god. They accepted the existence and the significance of Vedas and Brahmasutras and the existence of soul and supersoul. They differed slightly from advaita. They put forward what is known as the ‘Vishishtaadvaita,’ the main proponent of which is Ramanujacharya. His philosophy -  put in the simple form by my relative, to suit my brain - says that atma and paramatma are similar but are differentiable when the atma or soul exists in a human body.  Once the soul attains salvation, it will be same as super soul. Vishishtaadvaita believes in similarity between soul and super soul and that Vishnu or Narayana, the only ‘God’, is supreme and controls everything else.

I have finished about 2/3rds of what I intended to write and I hope that it makes some sense. I have not gone into the details of different schools of thought since I do not have a thorough understanding.  For someone, who does not believe in religion, god, soul etc etc, and do not want anything to do with those things, the whole lot is garbage.  And for those who firmly believe in all that, have thought about it and already have a clear idea, this is very very basic. They are welcome to improve this writing if they can. Apart from being a record of my understanding, ( Don’t ask me why I need a record) this piece may be of some use to half baked souls like me who are neither here nor there and like to have some information on our religion in a nut shell.

Acharya Madhwa or Aanandatheertha, born in 13th century, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Hanuman or ‘Mukhya Prana’, strongly disagreed with Shankaraachaarya’s philosophy. He based his teaching on ‘Vishnusarvottamatva,’  meaning , Vishnu,  Sri Hari or Narayana , (THE GOD or super soul - Paramaatma) is supreme and entirely differentiable from any other ‘Jeeva’ or  soul.  Differentiation or ‘Taaratamya’ between any two things in this world (any two inert matters, between inert and living, between two living beings and between all these and god)  is the second  important factor of his philosophy. Since he said that there are two realities - god and everything else and that they are different, his philosophy is known as the ‘Dvaita’(dual) philosophy. He also said that Vedas are fundamental for our understanding of god and everything that Vedas mention is true and real.

The Vedas are said to have originated as sound waves emitted by God. The seven great ‘rishis’ (Vasishta, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Goutama, Atri, Bharadwaja, kashyapa) had the capabilities to grasp these waves and they gathered and spread them for the benefit of mankind.  Vedavyaasa or Krishna Dwaipayana as he is also known, wrote 564 (according to madhwa school of thought)  ‘Sutras’ or formulae known as the ‘Brahmasutras’ to help one in understanding the Vedas.  Acharya Madhwa wrote ‘Brahmasutra Bhaashya’ or ‘Anuvyaakhyaana’ (commentary on brahmasutras) which simplifies the Brahma sutras. And Sri Jayateertha or Teeekaacharya as he is also known, who was the sixth pontiff of Madhwa peetha  wrote Nyaayasudha, a detailed commentary  on Madhwacharya’s Brahmasutra bhaashya, in the form of 1919 verses.

It takes considerable dedication and efforts to reach a level where in one may attempt to understand Nyayasudha and it may take years to complete the study of the text.  Nyaayasudha, as I understand now, is the first step towards understanding  Brahmasutra bhashya, which is necessary to get a grasp on the Brahmasutras, which in turn help one to understand the Vedas.

I think a few words about my relative, are in order here. A mechanical engineer by profession, with a post graduate degree from IIT Madras, he is a senior executive in an automobile firm. He firmly believes in our religion and religious practices and follows them sincerely. In spite of being a staunch believer, he does not impose his beliefs on any one and does not have contempt/ look down up on   those who do not believe/ practice the religion. While he maintains rigidity in his practices, tries to simplify them and make them as flexible as possible for the uninitiated souls like me. My sincere thanks to him.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Evening setting - Madkaim, Ponda

While driving aimlessly around the out skirts of Ponda I was on the loop road which starts near the Mahalaksmi temple, goes winding through the villages of  Bandora, Gaune and Veling and comes out to join the highway at Mardol. When we neared the entrance of the industrial village Madkai, I turned towards the cause way crossing the backwaters at the entrance of Madkai and found this very appealing evening setting. I usually like any place where there is water and ended up walking along the new road being constructed between Madkaim and  Durbhat. Here are the scenes which made the evening walk a very pleasant one.
Clean water for a change, if you ignore the edge. Notice the house on the left amidst the palms? lucky people aren't they?

Same place from another direction, after walking half a kilometre.

Mangroves which are supposed to be home for a lot of birds and aquatic life. The flying specks are the Brahmini kites which roost in the mangroves.

Plenty of egrets. The white spots which are visible in the middle. I was happy to see them as they should be. I pity the dirty ones which I see around the garbage dumps in Ponda.

The sun sets and our evening around the back waters end.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Clinical Records.

I have a bad habit of keeping clinical records of all the patients treated by me. They say that it is a good habit to keep records. May be. But it is bad when it shows a failed case or a missed diagnosis. The patient sitting in the chair would have forgotten what his complaint was when he had visited me four or six years back or that the tooth about which he presently has a complaint had actually been treated by me earlier. It would be very nice to consider it as a new case without bothering about the inconvenient history. But for the record, I would not remember the case, the patient’s memory would be worse and I would treat it as a new case. I may even get to blame the previous dentist (Gleefully. Who doesn’t like other’s mistakes?) for messing up the case and charge a little more for setting things right and doing the patient a favour! But my record does not allow such pleasures. It places my blunder in front of my eyes in black and white. Painful. That is why I sometimes feel that I would be better off without my records.

But it has its uses. Once in a way I get a patient in whose mouth I find some really good job done. I mention it to the patient and he/she says “Oh, that was long back doctor, I do not know who did it”. It would be extremely gratifying when the record shows that it has been done by me. People get different teeth treated by different dentists as per convenience and never remember who treated which tooth, let alone where and when. Sometimes they will have totally forgotten visiting any dentist in their life at all. “No doctor, I swear that I have never been to a dentist before. This is my first visit ever.” I place the card in front of them and hear an excited “Oh, you still have my card! That was when I was in sixth standard. I never had any trouble later and have entirely forgotten about it” and it impresses them a lot.

 Some cards bear cautionary signals like “Very apprehensive patient”, “Never keeps appointments”, “Bargains. Quote more”, “Collect fee in advance” etc etc which are very useful in running a practice.

The popular belief among my patients is that winter is bad time for dental treatment. For that matter, dental treatment is considered bad in any season but worse during winter. Hence the attendance in the clinic is quite low during winter. Yesterday was one such day with just two patients.  I removed few teeth for one of them. Since that was to be followed by making an artificial set, the patient said that she would pay for everything together and walked away. No collection for the day.  Not even the milk and vegetable money.

I was about to close when the second patient walked in. It was quarter past eight. He just wanted an appointment for a filling. An appointment was fixed but I can not charge someone for just fixing an appointment. I am not that bad yet. And they wouldn’t pay even if I do. So pockets remained empty. When he was about to leave, the patient mentioned that he had visited me years back for some fillings and I took out his card just to check. He was right. I had done some filings for him but he had not paid me! That was ten years back and he owed me five hundred. I mentioned it and said that he may pay me when he came for his fillings. “Oh I am so sorry doctor” he said “No, No, I will pay  right now.”  He sheepishly took out the cash from his purse, paid me and left putting me in the black for the day!

Of all the benefits of maintaining records, I feel this is best!