Saturday, September 27, 2008

good idea!

German dentist ‘extracts’ payment from patient:

A German dentist overpowered a female patient in her home and yanked out two dental bridges from her mouth because she had failed to pay her bill. The dentist from the Bavarian town of neu-ulm is now under investigation for assault and theft after arriving at the woman’s home with his medical instruments to perform the unwanted surgery.

The Times Of India dated 27.9.08

Gives me ideas. I wish I can really do it. It may be worth a month or two in the lock up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

VASTU - do you beleive it?

I was following very keenly, the kannada tele-serial “Mukta” (E TV, First part) by T.N.Seetaram. The second part in my opinion, is not as interesting as the first but I do watch it now and then. I like the way in which the director’s views on vastu is portrayed through the role of CSP. This is a very tricky subject. I do not know who amongst my friends are the believers and who are the detractors. I will have to tread carefully. The believers may write to the director of the serial and correct him. The detractors may enjoy his views. As far as I am concerned, I try to keep safe, forming and altering my views and opinions to suit different people and occasions.

One of my patients is a very rich businessman. A rarity amongst my clientele. Unfortunately, till date, I have not been successful in diverting even a miniscule part of his riches to my pocket. He visits me now and then for consulting about a tooth that has been bothering him for the last five years. He makes it a point to fix an appointment, comes on time, gets himself examined, listens to all the possible treatment procedures, pockets the prescription (“give me some medicines for the time being, doctor”)and pays whatever I ask for. But he has not submitted himself for any of the treatment procedures that I have advised. You know why he has remained rich.

During his first visit to my new place, he congratulated me, appreciated the spacious rooms, lay out, colour combination, equipment (which he, like many others, thought were new) etc, and asked me if my “business” has been the same as it was in my old place. (“tell me doctor, if I am not over inquisitive, is your business the same as it was in the old place?) I answered in the affirmative though we professionals prefer the word ‘practice’ to ‘business’.
“I thought so” he exclaimed. “Don’t you think that with so much of investment, new equipment, large place and better getup it should have at least doubled? Everything in your clinic is fine. But you are facing west when you sit in front of your table. That is why you are stagnating. Vastu is very important. You change the position of your table so that you face east and tell me the difference when I visit next.” With these words he left. He has a forceful nature and probably is used to see that his suggestions are adhered to. I felt that his concern was genuine. Does one get such attitude because of success or get success because of that attitude? I have neither, and I do not know.
Since my table cum records shelf is a slab of marble fixed in to the wall and floor, there was no way that I could change the position, even if I wanted to, and I left it at that.

After about two months I saw his big car again through my window and suddenly remembered his suggestion. I was not sure if he did, but in any case did not want to hurt his feelings in case he remembered. Since I use light plastic chairs to sit, it was a moments job for me and I was facing east (though awkwardly positioned) when he entered the clinic.
On entering the clinic his face lit up. He was extremely pleased that I had taken his advice. “Very nice to see that you have changed the direction you are facing, doctor” he exclaimed. “The direction which we face while working is very important”. I brought to his notice that actually I face all directions including the sky and the ground while working, as I move around the chair trying to view the interiors of the mouth and reach those inaccessible corners. “That does not matter” he said. “When you are sitting for consultation and when your patients pay you, you face east. That will do”.

We went through the routine. He was in a happy mood explaining all the changes that he had made in his office and residence and the benefits accrued. Even though his continuos speech affected my examination and investigations, I managed to go through and finish them. When we were finished, he asked me about my fees. I was about to quote the usual hundred fifty but sensing his jubilant mood I took a chance by saying two hundred fifty. With the exultant mood of his new found amateur vastu consultant status, He did not even notice the upward revision of my charges. He paid the amount happily and walked out with buoyant steps, even forgetting about the tooth ache that he had come to ask me about.
I was dumbstruck. I had changed the direction that I was facing, and with in ten minutes my profit had doubled. And to top it, my vastu consultant had paid me instead of me paying him!
This was good.
I have immense belief in vastu and have ordered a circular table. Now I will be able to face any direction any time and if it paves my way towards becoming a millionaire why not?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

are you interested in a loan from us sir?

Four years back I availed the offer from the Govt of Goa to pay me extra if I rid myself off their pay list (termed decently as voluntary retirement scheme),started a full time clinic to pretend that I am working, and had a more or less peaceful existence till the HDFC bank got hold of my telephone number.
The first call was quite innocuous.
Me: This is Dr. Raghunandan’s clinic. ( it was the morning hour and I was going through the news paper)
Bank: Sir, I am calling from HDFC bank. Are you interested in any loans from our bank sir?
Me: No thank you. I will get in touch with you if I need one. Thanks for calling. (these new banks are so very caring!)

The second call was two days later.
I was examining a patient who very innocently said that he had come to my clinic because all other dentists in Ponda were busy. (Your clinic is nice doctor. No need to wait!)
Bank: Sir I am calling from HDFC bank .I wanted to enquire if you are interested in any loans from us?
Me: some one called me from your bank recently .I have already told that I don’t need any for the present.
Bank: When will you need a loan sir?
Me: I hope that I will never need any loans from any bank. But by bad luck, if I need one I will contact you myself.
Bank: OK sir. Shall I call you next week? (she was hoping to pre-pone my bad luck)
Me: please do not call me again. I will call you if necessary.

The third was when I was exerting myself trying to locate the remaining pieces of a tooth (that I had broken while attempting to remove it) and dislodge it from the gums of an unfortunate patient who was more adventurous than the one mentioned above and had actually submitted himself for my treatment. My hands were gloved and my assistant held the receiver to my ear.
Bank: I am calling from HDFC bank sir.
Me: I do not understand why you people keep calling me again and again.
Bank: To enquire if you want a loan from us sir.
Me: I have already told you people half a dozen times that I do not need a loan and not to call me.
Bank: Sorry sir, but I never called you before sir.
Me: I don’t care who it was, but it was from your bank. I want you to take my number out of your calling list. I don’t want any more calls from HDFC bank.
Bank: I will do that sir. Sorry sir. We will not call you again.
Me: I will THANK YOU for that.

The fourth came in the afternoon at 2.45 PM. My prime siesta time. After falling asleep at 2.15, I had already woken twice, once to answer a perplexed man that I can’t help if he did not have power supply for the last two days (my number is 2312313, electricity dept 2312113) and second time to tell a person who kept the door bell pressed, (as politely as it was possible) that a fishbone lodged in between the teeth for the last FIFTEEN DAYS is NOT an emergency. I was trying to salvage what was left of my siesta.
Bank: I am calling from HDFC bank sir.
Me: why do you people keep pestering me?
Bank: Only to enquire about loan requirement sir.
Me: May I know your name?
Bank: HDFC bank sir.
Me: I said YOUR NAME?
BANK: Anita sir.
Me: Designation?
Bank: Sales executive sir.
Me: How many of you executives are there in your bank?
Bank: Six sir.
Me: I think that I have already answered SIXTY executives from HDFC bank and have very clearly told that I do not want to be called again. Do all of you understand English?
Bank: Ok sir I apologize for disturbing you sir. I will not call again.
Me: Not I. Say WE. Do you have a list from which you call numbers?
Bank: Yes sir.
Me: Do you have a red pen?
Bank: Yes sir.
Me: Take that pen and in very bold capital letters write-“not to call again” against my name. Ok?
Bank: But sir, I can’t write on the monitor screen.
Me: are you allowed to go out of the building?
Bank: yes sir. We are allowed.
Me: In that case please go out, find a big stone and BREAK your monitor screen. Do you understand what I mean?
Bank: Yes sir, sorry sir.

The most recent call was again when I was attending to a case, a child, whom we had to chase all over the clinic, waiting room and compound before getting him into the chair.
I had just managed to prise open his mouth keeping him pressed to the chair and he was trying to taste my fingers. I managed to get my fingers out with difficulty and answered the phone. The child ran out with relief. (reminding me of Vikram aur betal)
Bank: I am calling from HDFC bank sir.
Me: You have to be. I have not come across any other organization so adamant about harassing people.
Bank: I beg your pardon sir?
Me: I have already shouted at four of your colleagues and told them not to bother me.
Bank: Sorry sir. But we have to do our job sir.
Me: should I not do MY JOB at all?
Bank: I assure you sir. We will not call you again.
Me: I have already heard this dozens of times and do not have much breath left. Do you have any superiors?
Bank: Yes sir. My boss is there.
Me: I would like to talk to him.
Bank: Shall I give you his number sir?
Me: I do not intend calling your bank and paying for the call. I will speak to him now.
Bank: But sir, my boss is busy right now.
Me : If you can disturb others repeatedly when they are busy, I can disturb your boss when he is busy. I insist that I speak to him now.
(Gap of a minute.)
Bank: Sir my boss is with his superior. Can you call later?
Me: I don’t care if he is with finance minister. If you don’t connect to him now, I am coming there.
Bank: Please hold on sir.
(Another minute.)
Bank: Good morning sir. This is sales manager HDFC bank. Can I help you?
Me: I do not know even if god can help me. May I know what are your powers?
Bank: what is the amount sir? I am sure we can manage any amount sir. I will send one of our executives.
Me: Please don’t. I only want to know if you have the powers to take your sales executives off my back ?
Bank: well, what is the problem sir?
Me: The problem is that I am being pestered by your sales executives repeatedly and I am neither allowed to work nor allowed to sleep. I want to know if you can stop it?
Bank: Oh, you do not want the marketing calls. Have you de registered with *****?
Me: Since I never registered with whatever that***** is, why should I de register?
Bank: Once you deregister sir, you will not get any more calls.
Me: Since you are the one’s who have registered me, I demand that YOU deregister.
Bank: What is your number sir?
Me: For god’s sake, you have called me hundreds of times and again ask for my number?
Bank: Sorry sir, it is not there in MY system.
Me : (resigned to my fate) Take it down, drill it deep into all your systems but STOP THE BLOODY CALLS- 2312313. (I take a deep breath) I am sorry. I usually don’t speak like this.
Bank: Sorry for the inconvenience sir, you will not be troubled again. But, Are you sure that YOU DO NOT WANT ANY LOANS FROM US?

I am keeping my fingers crossed.
If you read “Goa police have detained a dentist from Ponda for throwing stones on a bank building and destroying property. Investigation is on” in the news papers, you know the dentist, the bank and the reason.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

human nature at work

During my student days, I used a bicycle to commute to college and move around the city. The back wheel hub of my bicycle developed a crack and had to be replaced. It was a costly affair –considering my economy at that time- and a friend of mine suggested a “cycle repair” man who may be able to repair it. The mechanic was a devout old muslim, who lived in a small lane close to my college and ran a “cycle shop” assisted by his pretty daughter. A major portion of the lane in front of his house was his work place and he did a very good job on my cycle. The daughter was pretty all right, but what impressed me more was his work. There is truth in my wife’s observation that I neither have an aesthetic sense nor feelings. I developed an instant faith in him.

The cycle was being used extensively and did need repairs now and then. He did few more repair jobs competently and noticing that I used a battery operated lamp, suggested that I fit a dynamo to the bicycle and save on batteries. He offered to fit a very good, used dynamo for one fourth the cost of a new one. I readily agreed, dynamo was fitted and I cycled on at nights happily till a police constable stopped me one night for riding without light. I told him that he was mistaken and confidently pointed to the dynamo. He asked me to run the wheel. I put the bicycle on stand and pedalled furiously. The wheel moved, the dynamo whirred but there was no light. I put my confidence in my pocket and begged the policeman to let me go as I was not aware that the dynamo was faulty. May be he had earned his living for the day and was satisfied with it and had stopped me only out of force of habit. He let me go.
I took the cycle to my mechanic. He rubbed the dynamo cap, tugged at the connecting wire, tightened the nuts, changed the bulb and managed to produce a dim light. He assured me that the performance would only improve with time and I accepted his words with out any doubt.
My friend borrowed my cycle one evening and met a similar fate as me. He had tried to be a bit argumentative with the keepers of law and returned home pushing the cycle (as the air from both the wheels had been let out and the valves had been carried away by the policeman) all the way and cursing me.
During my next trip to the mechanic, he blamed the roads, the police, faulty parts and my friend and again tinkered with the dynamo. After half an hour he did manage to produce some light again. He said that the spring which held the dynamo pressed against the wheel was not very good and offered to get an imported one and fit it free of cost. The local springs were useless. I visited his shop every week for nearly six months and always returned after some more tinkering, with firm assurances and a persistently faulty dynamo. But never, with any doubts regarding the old man’s capabilities. Meanwhile, I learnt to keep a continuous check on the flickering light while riding and also learnt to ride holding the handle in one hand and pressing the dynamo to the back wheel by the other. By the end of six months I had realized that the dynamo is never going to function and was so distressed during the later visits to the shop, that I did not even notice if his daughter was present in the shop or not. When I got my first stipend after completing the course of dentistry I had a new dynamo fitted by another mechanic, ending the saga of the second hand dynamo and cursing myself for being stupidly persistent with the mechanic even when I was aware that the things were not going right.

Many of my patients have visited my clinic dozens of times for treatment and many a times for the treatment of the same tooth again and again. As far as they are concerned, they might not even have noticed that I am working on the same tooth on every visit. Most of the people do not even know how many teeth they have in the mouth and many times find it difficult to point out the offending tooth. But, I know there are many who continue to seek my services inspite of being aware that the treatment has not given expected results. I have a bad habit of maintaining accurate records of the treatment carried out and it accusingly points out my deficiencies and failings. It shows the fee collected for treatments that have gone wrong making me feel guilty, and also the unpaid fees due, when a patient has never turned up after successful treatment. It hurts both ways. That’s why I call it a bad habit. I wonder why people continue to come to me even after a treatment has gone wrong and then realize that the same human nature that took me repeatedly to the cycle mechanic is at work here too, and thank god for that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

return on investment

There was a bumper crop of hibiscus yesterday. I picked more than a dozen flowers. All red and large. I piled them up on the deities in our tiny shrine but there is a limit to it. Two more flowers and our shrine would have looked more like a wholesale hibiscus market. More over, I feel the gods were also fed up with those flowers. More hibiscus and I would be cursed instead of being blessed.
I was left with half a dozen flowers. Did not know what to do with them. I suggested that my wife could wear them in her hair (she IS fond of flowers) and received a contemptuous look laced with verbal remarks about my taste and feelings followed by a list of location-dates-day-and time when I had made equally idiotic suggestions.

We are only three in our house. Asked my son who was getting ready to go to college, if he would like to carry the flowers to college. I thought some of his friends who wear ear- rings, chains and bangles and bracelets may like to have a flower in the hair or may be he might impress his girlfriends by offering them one. I received another look which I could not recognize, but it was followed by a sportive offer to take me along with him and have my head examined at the pscychiatry department even though it meant a detour via medical college to reach dental college. I guess there was nothing flattering in the look he had given me.

I felt dejected that my offers with genuine affection were misread and walked to the balcony. Saw my neighbour’s wife and daughter coming out of the house. Was tempted to offer the flowers but something in me, told me that the result would be a deepening of dejection. .

Just stood there looking here and there when I noticed this old lady who stays closeby. I had often seen her collect flowers from a roadside plant. That day she was trying to reach the hibiscus flowers grown in my neighbour’s compound. The flowers were at a height and she was making futile attempts to reach them. I ran down with my hibiscus and offered them to her. She accepted them gratefully and said that she was trying to procure few extra flowers as she had some extra rituals to be performed.

That evening I received a news paper parcel from the lady which contained four pooran polis, some fried sweets and a few bhajjis along with lots of goodwill. My investment of hibiscus did yield very good returns.

Friday, September 12, 2008

flowers in our garden - betta taavare

The harvest of flowers today filled the plate. It is mainly because of the flower which we call “betta taavare” in kannada which when translated to English means “Lotus of the hills”. It is a large and heavy flower which blossoms in the morning and is white in colour. It turns pink by evening, either in the plant or out of it. The plant grows very tall and it is difficult to reach the flowers. I got four flowers today which almost filled the plate. The rest are hibiscus, rose, and some varieties of jasmine called moti mogre, mogre, and jayo (jaaji in kannada) in Konkani. We are happy that the “lotus of the hills” has started giving flowers.

I have the habit of collecting the flowers that I can lay my hands on, each morning and placing them on the idols of an assortment of deities we have in our house (who we believe reside with us in spite of the ill treatment that is meted out to them by us) and lighting a lamp. I may be thinking of an extraction or root canal due that day or the pending payment by a patient or the servicing due on my car or even Rakhi savant, during the process, which explains my sincerity and devotion but that is a different story altogether. What I want to convey is that I pick flowers every morning from my garden or from other’s.

When we were staying in the flat, before shifting here, there were three plants in the premises which yielded flowers, out of which only one type was considered worthy of placing on the gods. There were half a dozen families vying for the few flowers that blossomed everyday. It was immaterial that none of us tended to any of the plants in any way. Our gods were lucky if they were adorned with one or two flowers everyday.

Next to our apartment block, there was a building owned by a company. It housed the employees and enjoyed the services of an indifferent gardener cum caretaker. There were a considerable number of flowering plants which grew in spite of the gardener’s indifference and the flowers could be reached from the street, across the compound wall. Since we do not consider plucking flowers from other’s garden as theft, and believe all the flowers that one can reach from a public place is public property, those flowers were available to everyone in the area on first come first pick basis. Since a theft is a theft irrespective of the goods involved and since we wanted our façade to remain pious, those of us who were involved in it managed to carry it out when the care taker or any other neighbours were not around.
Since I am an early riser I usually got my share of flowers with my dignity and piety intact and since I had studied the surroundings and knew the places that gave a good foothold to reach the flowers, I accomplished my task every morning in minutes, stored the flowers away and was on my way for a walk scornfully looking at the other thieves whom I caught in the act of pulling the branches towards them, trying to reach the flowers.
Amongst us flower thieves, we have varieties. Some are like me who would not like to be caught on the act. Some are more brazen. They can call out “good morning” even as they are reaching for the flower across the wall. There are those of us who consider only the flowers with in arms reach as public property and the rest as the owner’s. Some are more generous to themselves. They consider whatever comes with in the reach of their walking stick as their own. There are some others who are much more sportive. They challenge the owners to grow flowers in such a way that can not be reached with their sticks further lengthened by additional pieces of hooked wire. They are out for a walk in the morning with their armament in full display like some of our politician criminals who wear their criminality as a hat and vote from the jails.
Well, as usual I went berserk with my story of “betta tavare”. Coming back to the story, My wife was very keen on those flowers which grew in the company compound and wanted me to emulate Bheemasena who brought soughandhika flower to Drowpadi, to fulfil her fancy. Since this Bheemasena is all of five feet two inches and the flowers grew at a height of eight feet and above, it was an impossible task. I had to either climb up the plant in semi darkness and risk breaking my limbs if I slipped or carry the above mentioned contraption of a stick with a wire and display my thief status. I did not fancy both. She kept the desire for betta tavare with in herself and after we shifted to this place she wanted to grow the plant. Since we did not know where to get a sapling the desire remained dormant. During the last mansoons she was passing by the side of the company compound and found that the workers of the electricity department had cut down a few branches of this plant that were interfering with their lines and had thrown them down. She carried one of the branches home and we stuck it in the ground with out any hope of it sprouting. To our surprise it took roots and grew. It started flowering this season and yielded four flowers today.

Now we are waiting for the other plant “paarijaata” about which we are equally interested, to give out flowers.
Since I am on the subject of flowers, I reproduce a verse from the collection “mankuthimmana kagga” by the revered DVG on flowers and end this post.

giDadi nagutiha hoo prakruti sakhanige chanda
maDadi muDidiha hoo yuvakange chanda
guDiyoLage koDuva hoo daivabhaktage chanda
biDigaasu hoovaLage mankuthimma

which I translate as

the nature lover likes the flower smiling on the plant
the young husband loves the flower in his wife’s hair
the devotee likes the one which was given in the temple
for the vendor woman it means only a coin- her livelihood.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Saree - network

On our way back from Badarinath, we stayed at Delhi for four days. Needless to say, one full day followed by parts of all the remaining days were meant for shopping. A group of ladies went shopping and Sarees, churidars, skirts, tops, pants, shirts and half pants were purchased for daughters, daughter- in-laws, sisters, sister-in-laws, grand children and so on and so forth.
My wife purchased a saree for her sister who had returned to Detroit few months back and whose next visit to India was not before another three years. I thought it was foolish to buy a saree and keep it for three years before presenting it to whoever it was meant for.
Better sense prevailed and I did not let the thought out.
That evening the saree travelled to Bangalore with my in-laws who left Delhi, two days before we did. Morning of day three the saree was in Bangalore. The same evening it was couriered through my brother-in-law to the house of my sister-in law’s friend’s (Chicago) neighbour who was visiting Bangalore. Early morning of day four it was on it’s way to Chicago. Day five, it was in Chicago. Sis-in-law’s friend’s safe custody. Day six it travelled to Detroit by road. Courtesy- a mutual acquaintance.
We left Delhi as planned and arrived in Goa six hours late. As I sat for breakfast the next morning, there was a call from Detroit. The saree was appreciated and the exchanges regarding the merits and demerits of design, colour combination, borders and pallu, began- forcing me to restrict my breakfast to bread and coffee if I did not intend postponing it for another two hours.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ganesh chathurthi is coming to an end. Households which have a tradition of worshipping Ganapati for five days or have taken a vow to do so, will immerse the idol tomorrow night and head for the fish market the next morning. The arrival of Ganapati creates lot of excitement but since one has to live without fish when Ganapati is living with you, one day of excitement and devotion is enough.
My neighbours took lot of interest and pains to decorate the idol the traditional way and enjoyed the festival. Since they have to abstain from fish for five days they thought that they can as well perform the Satyanarayana pooja during these five days and avoid an additional fishfree day for satyanarayana pooja – if performed later.
The second photograph is the traditional “matoLi”, all the seasonal vegetables and fruits tied in bunches in front of the idol.
We will get over the hangover of chaturthi tomorrow, and get back to routine from Monday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

all of us have to live

I had a mild discomfort somewhere around the throat for a few days as if some very small food particle is stuck there. In fact I could not exactly point out the spot. After three days I went to the doctor. The doctor checked my blood pressure, pulled out my tongue to check the throat, pushed in my stomach to check the internals, turned me this way, that way trying to listen to the chest and ultimately said that it could be a mild form of throat infection. He wrote out a prescription, asked me to consume the medicines for four days and report back. I enquired if that could happen due to acidity? He said that it was possible too and wrote out some more tablets. He asked me to consume all.

I purchased a part of the prescribed medicines. I wanted to check if they work and then buy the lot. I planned to begin the next morning.

The next morning the discomfort was much less. I thought that I would wait another day. Then another and another. After four days I was fine with out swallowing even one tablet. It is a month now and the packet of tablets is lying somewhere in a corner of the shelf.

Reminds me of a kannanda joke by sri beechi. Its rough translation goes like this,

Had some disturbance in the stomach. Went and consulted the doctor and paid his fee. The doctor has to live.
Went to the pharmacy and bought the medicines. The pharmacist has to live.

On the way home, threw the packet of tablets in the garbage- I have to live too.