Wednesday, January 28, 2009

praying for ill-will

Due to various factors over which I have no control, the only place that I get to do my Yoga exercises is the space in front of our living room balcony. I went through the routine and had a short nap of 10-15 minutes in the guise of ‘shavaasana.’ When I opened my eyes, the sunlight was just appearing between the branches of the jackfruit tree opposite our balcony. As I kept watching, the sun came up and posed. I was compelled to oblige. First surprise- found the camera. Second -fully charged batteries inside. Third - something visible after I clicked. Since I had the picture, thought of posting it on the blog. The following is the caption.

I like the look of these trees which create the illusion of a jungle out there. They are a cluster of jackfruit, mango, banyan, coconut and few other trees which I can not identify. They house a number of birds which tweet, chirp, hoot and caw to welcome every new day. The sounds vary according to the season. Till recently the beginner was the most vociferous of the lot, the horn bill. It rarely comes in view but you can not help hearing it if you are anywhere in the vicinity. It makes a pleadingly harsh noise as if calling for help to save it from torture. Sometimes the crows do torture it and create a parallel cacophony. But the horn bill outcries them. All in all there is a racket every morning. Since the last two days the cuckoo opens the symphony. Summer is approaching. The whistling thrush comes along for just a few minutes to confirm it’s presence. Some days all these birds remain silent. It is their voice and their choice and I can’t complain, but if I don’t hear these sounds in the morning, I feel something missing. With out the trees and the birds our surrounding would be very drab.

We face the back of the house in picture, around which the trees have grown. The occupants of the house are the old tenants of the land, whose forefathers built their dwelling decades back. Now, the land has been divided into individual plots, and my house stands on one plot. The tenants have the right to retain the house and stay there as long as they please but can not rebuild or modify the house with out the land lord’s permission. The land lord can not evict them. Both the parties need to join hands if they intend ‘developing’ the particular piece of land and benefit from it. If not, everything remains as it is. In this case, I think both the parties want things to remain as they are. More over the tenants have encroached up on some additional bit of land and have offended the land lords. A compromise is not in sight. Once they reach an understanding, I will be treated to the sight of a grand multistoried building opposite my house instead of the sun peeping through the trees with their enchanting occupants. I hope that my act of offering an additional flower to the gods and praying for the continuation of non co- operation and ill-will between the tenants and the landlords is not considered very wicked.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

sorry, wrong number

The telephone rang and I picked it up.
Me: Hello,
Caller: Listen, that BP apparatus is not alright.
Me: BP apparatus?
Caller: Yes. It s not good.
Me: Eh?
Caller: There is leakage.
Me: (silence)
Caller: Do you hear? There is LEAKAGE. Mercury LEAKS.
Me: OK
Caller: What OK? Get it repaired.
Me : OK
Caller : I will not bring it there. You send some one to collect it.
Me : OK
Caller : No. I don’t want it repaired. Give a new one
Me: OK
Caller: Send some one
Me: OK
Caller : Send some one TODAY. Do you understand?
Me: OK
I am sure the caller is waiting. Tomorrow’s conversation between this caller and the real seller will be worth listening. Especially if the seller refuses to replace the piece.
I mentioned this to my wife. And laughed.
Wife: “Look at you laughing…..What is wrong with you? What pleasure you have in creating misunderstanding between people? You have a twisted sense of humour. Some times you act weird. Why could you not just say wrong number?”

May be I should have. But something in the way in which the caller spoke and the tone, made me take him for a ride. Probabaly while taking the caller for a ride, I put the seller of the BP apparatus in trouble. Sorry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

my swimming

I love swimming. When I said this in front of one of my philosophical friends, he said “Yes. All of us are required to swim through this sea of life (Samsaara saagara) whether you love it or not”. Let me clarify. I mean swimming in a pool of water. I should phrase my first sentence as “I love trying to swim.” I can only swim free style. That is, a style, each individual is free to achieve on his own. My free style involves beating the hands and legs frantically to remain afloat and using the will power to propel me forward. An onlooker may feel that I am trying to drown myself but not achieving any success in the attempt. I enter the pool, take a deep breath and let go the hold on the pool side. After thrashing around for what seems to be an eternity, I manage to locate and get a hold on to the side of the pool again to regain my breath. When I can open my nose and eyes, I find myself a few feet away from where I began. Then I haul myself up and sit by the side observing others. I look with wonder at the old man ( I mean older than me) who is floating on his back serenely, with out any movement whatsoever, eyes closed and only his face and paunch out of water. And at the small girl doing butterfly or backstroke with so much grace that there is not a ripple of water around. She seems to be moving effortlessly with the help of some heavenly force. When I am swimming, half of the pool looks like a sea under the influence of tsunami.

When I was young, Bangalore boasted of one swimming pool, the corporation swimming pool behind the office of the Bangalore City Corporation. This swimming pool was called the ‘bath tub’ of all those who did not have a bathroom of their own, and we never went there. I think that we were not daring, dynamic or sportive enough to go there, fight our way through to the water and learn swimming. So we called it a ‘dirty bath tub’ and stayed home. The result is, I never learnt to swim when I should have.

By the time I finished my BDS, few more swimming pools had come up in Bangalore. They charged an entry fee, they were clean and the crowd was less. A learner could beat his hands and legs without getting entangled with hundreds of other limbs. So, my self, my brother and our good friend, Datta, started to learn swimming together. We chose the winter to start our training, as the pool used to be almost empty in the 6am-7am session, and we had enough space to thrash around. The other advantage was, there was no embarrassment of having to face little boys who carelessly dived from the top of the diving platform, surfaced calmly next to us and offered useful hints such as “uncle, put your head in water” or “uncle keep your leg straight”. The early morning cold was a deterrent to take the plunge, but once we got in it was OK. We learnt the basics of swimming by the time winter ended and the pool began to get crowded. Then more important things like finding a job or starting a practice occupied my mind, Datta started on his Phd, and my brother went away to do his Msc. That was the end of swimming in Bangalore.

When I joined the Goa health services at Canacona, I got my chance for practicing swimming again. Palolem, five kilometers from Canacona is considered to be the best beach for swimming. It has a curved beach stretch of about one and a half kilometers ending in hillocks on both ends. The waves are not strong and even if you go deeper into the sea avoiding breaking of waves, the water remains at chest height. It is flat like a tennis court and there is no chance of getting into sudden depressions and loosing your footing. The water was crystal clear. Here, I learnt to put my head into water and keep the eyes open enjoying the sight of the sandy floor, full of colourful shells. The experience of getting carried up by a gentle wave and coming down is wonderful. I had a group of friends who also preferred to spend free time during holidays in water rather then sitting in a dingy cinema hall at Margao. Two of them lived in a big house, barely 100 mts from the beach. There are days when we have spent whole days in water coming out for an hour or two for lunch. Once or twice my friends did get carried away, figuratively and literally, and were about to get drowned, but the local fishermen managed to bring them back. The best of my swimming ‘career’ was at Canacona. Thanks to the ‘development’ and growth of ‘tourism industry’ the Palolem beach is not worth a visit today.

While mentioning my friends in Palolem, I have to describe the house in which they stayed in. It was a big house on a huge plot of land with plenty of trees all around. They had got it for a ridiculously low rent. The local people said the house was haunted. My friends lived there happily with thousands of cockroaches, hundreds of rats, dozens of lizards - of the same size as rats- and may be a few snakes. They insisted that the snakes were only visitors - like me - and were not residents, and that they stayed over once in a way when they were too full of rats. The snakes never bothered us. Cockroaches did. There is no house with out cockroaches. They move around usually at night, search for food and once a light is switched on, scurry back to their hideouts. The Palolem cockroaches were daring. Their army came out at night to feed up on your hair and even if you got up and switched on the light, they stayed put on your pillow, waving their antennae as if inviting you for a fight. After the first experience, I always covered my head with a cap, when ever I slept there.

It is more than twenty years since I came to Ponda and I miss the swimming. Occasionally we went to the beach but I was fully occupied with the children. That is a different type of pleasure but I could not swim. Whenever I went a little deeper into the water the children followed. They never remained where I asked them to be. So, I gave up.

The MLA of Ponda, took the initiative to build a swimming pool here, when he was the minister for PWD. The construction ended with his term as the minister. With him back in power, after years, the work on the pool had started again. One of his aids who visited my clinic last week confirmed the news and said that the pool is about to be declared ‘open’. Being an interested party, I went to the site this morning to confirm the news and it appears to be true. I intend to continue with my version of swimming which involves good use of my limbs. I checked my limbs, felt my legs are in reasonably good condition and tried to work up on my hands. I have sprained one of them. I hope my limbs do not ditch me now and turn me into a “halliddaga kaDale illa, kaDale iddaaga hallilla” case. (When you had teeth there were no nuts and when you have the nuts there are no teeth)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the dentist and the chocolate

American chocolate helps Indian dentist.
It is not the usual - children eat chocolates- teeth get spoilt – dentist treats them and makes money – so, chocolates help dentist (and dentists should encourage children to eat more chocolates)– thing, which I must have heard from thousands of people, managing to keep a straight face or even smiling, if it is from my patients. That apart, every parent, with out exception insists that I give strict instructions to their children not to eat chocolates. I usually disappoint them. I tell the children to eat as many chocolates as they wish, provided they brush their teeth after that. Most parents don’t like it. First of all they want to remain in good books of their children and so, do not want to say “NO” themselves. In fact, they like to pamper their children with soft drinks (which are actually very hard on the teeth) chocolates, fast foods and what not and expect the dentist become bad by instructing strictly against all these. I do not help them. On top of it I put stress on brushing, which happens to be the parent’s responsibility and increase their burden and guilt. I am sure they pay me with a grudge.

This ‘chocolate helps dentist’ story is of a 60+ gentleman who had had a bridge (artificial teeth “fixed” in a place with the support of neighbouring teeth) done by me about four years back. Both his children reside in the US. They came for a holiday and brought a good quantity of chocolates. This gentleman's wife recommended a particular chocolate to him and he tried to eat it. As he started chewing the ‘gummy chocolate’ as he put it, the bridge got dislodged and came out. He came to me holding the bridge in hand. He blamed his children for having brought such sticky chocolates. He blamed his loving wife for recommending him those chocolates. He blamed the American chocolate industry for manufacturing tough chocolates. Blamed himself for giving into temptation and trying to eat them. Everybody being blamed except me! Usually in such situations I am the first casualty – the maker of loose teeth. And I called them ‘fixed’ and ‘permanent’. The cheat. But today I escaped. On top of it he said that the bridge was perfect for the past four years. I simply cemented the bridge back in it’s place and collected my fee. This morning the practice was rather slow. The US chocolate prevented recession in my clinic for the day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

make the children happy

Last month we had a family get together. It is an occasion all of us look forward to, but we never plan one. It happens on it’s own once every year or two and all of us have a good time.
Goa is not new to any of my family members. And Ponda is not a “happening” place. We had planned to stay at home, chitchat, eat and in general live without any agenda. By the second evening we felt we need a bit of airing and decided to go over to Panaji which is a distance of 30 kms from Ponda. I arranged two vehicles. One was filled with the elders and the second was occupied by all the children. We reached Panaji and went to the river front. There is a nice wooden jetty, a small park and benches facing the river Mandovi. We spent an hour and then the children wanted to visit a popular cake shop. They ate all sorts of things I dare not look at, even. We roamed along the main street for sometime. I noticed that all the children were very quiet. I wanted to put some life into the group. I asked the girls if they intend buying some trinkets? They were not very keen. I asked my football crazy nephew if he wants a jersey? “I have many” was the answer. I knew all of them like pizza. So I suggested a visit to Domino’s pizza. “Not hungry” was the response.
By then my wife called me aside and said that we better turn back as she had to cook. She said that there is enough at home to feed half of the party. The elder's group preferred to return and eat whatever was at home. I wanted the children to stay back, eat at a hotel and return so that cooking is avoided. I began with the words “Ok, all of us elders will return to Ponda. You children stay back on your own for some more time…….” There was no chance for me to continue. There was a united shout “hurraah… that’s it”. All the faces were radiant and every one was brimming with enthusiasm.
I learnt what makes the children happy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Govina charitre

After I wrote that bit on the cow, a popular poem - on the utility of the cow, which we had read in primary classes started ringing in the mind. But I could recollect only two verses. Then I looked in the collection of children’s poems which I had, and found the full poem “Govina charitre” written by Sri.S G Narasimhaachaar.
While most of the verses describe the utility of a cow in a very nice way, the last verse which describes the insensitivity of the human being and exploitation of the noble creature touches the heart. And this was written by a noble soul who loved the creatures around us, decades before Maneka Gandhi thought of writing about the exploitation in her coloumn “heads and tales”. Any one who can read kannada need no explanation.

Those who have seen milk only in bottles and plastic packets may not appreciate the last stanza, but I very vividly recollect the milkman (literal translation of “haalappa”) milking the cow, while the cow licked the stuffed calf placed in front of it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

two posts to start 2009

I have my own reasons in placing our compound gate, a little away from where it is expected to be. The placement conceals it a wee bit. Those who visit our house for the first time assume that the gate will be close to the main door which is quite visible. They are perplexed when they fail to locate it with ease. They wonder if they are expected to climb over the compound wall. They conclude that though they can not vouch for the owner’s mental status it can not be as bad as to expect the visitors to climb over the wall to get in. Having come to that conclusion they look around and finally locate the gate. Then onwards things are straight forward. After coming in, they mention their confusion to my wife. When I hear, “I am so sorry, it is just ONE of my husband’s many stupid ideas. I did tell him that the gate should be in the front. He wouldn’t listen to me. Now, you see it is a challenge to search and locate that gate. He should stick to dentistry and try his stupid ideas there. He feels that he is better than all the architects and this is the result” in one breath, I am sure that the latest entrants to our house have missed the gate.
Yesterday there was one entrant who found the gate easily and did not make any comments about the odd location of the gate.

Cow finds the gate easily and does not comment on the odd location.
If the gate is open it comes in. does not wait for an invitation.
It does not ring the bell and wake you up from your afternoon siesta.
You don’t have to wonder what to offer at such an odd hour. It finds what it wants and eats.
It eats all the hibiscus plants which were worm infested and saves you from spraying insecticides and pruning.
It gives back what it ate, in the form of organic manure and spreads it all over the compound. It is eco friendly.

Some people (for ex: my wife) do not appreciate the virtues in the cow. They blame the cow for trespass, destruction and messing up of the garden and blame me for leaving the gate open (apart from placing it in what they consider is the wrong position). There are all sorts in this world.

I am cynical about “Happy new year”. I feel the end of one January- December cycle and beginning of another is no reason to rejoice. As far as I am concerned, the new year is no different from old year. That apart, I accept all the new year greetings with thanks and convey my greetings in return. I do not intend spoiling other’s mood and hurting sentiments. But some of the greetings which camouflage things do irritate me.

One phone call received two days back. “Very happy new year doctor. I just called to convey my wishes. By the way, I had taken an appointment for the day before yesterday but could not make it. Can we fix it for tomorrow?” this was from a lady who had already ruined my two hours, by taking and missing two appointments of one hour each, earlier, and was hoping to ruin the third but trying to make me feel happy about it.

SMS received this morning at 11.30. From a person, who was expected to make full payment for the treatment done till date, at the last appointment -today. - Wish you happy new year dear doctor. I think I had an appointment today at 10 am. I forgot about it. I will call later for another appointment. Best wishes again.