Saturday, May 7, 2022

Identity Crisis !

A light hearted write up about a recent experience -   M S Raghunandan

While attempting to grind some stuff in the kitchen a few days back, my wife had

some misunderstanding with the mixer/grinder and as a result, the tip of her right

middle finger was divided into four. Or, maybe, more! I haven’t made a close

examination. We had to rush to a hospital and after both Ola and Uber took us

for a ride, I managed to get an octogenarian rickshaw driver to take us there.

He traversed gingerly through the rush hour traffic for sometime and then his

rickshaw brokedown. With some difficulty, I managed to find another rickshaw

driver willing to go in the direction of the hospital and we reached there in due

course. The emergency section attended to the wound without delay. A picture

of the finger was taken and sent to the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon

said that he would repair the finger in his out patient room, the same morning. 

We were asked to report to the plastic surgeon’s OPD on the first floor.

“You contact the reception sir, on the first floor, and they will guide you.” 

The counter on the first floor guided us to the second counter and the

second, to the third. A grim faced indifferent lady who seemed to be

disinterested in everything around her, and who seemed to have taken

a vow never to smile in her life, asked me to self register using something

like an Ipad which was on the counter top. I registered, paid the fee, was

handed a sheet of paper and  asked to handover the same to the staff in

room No 20. We were supposed to consult the plastic surgeon Dr Prasad. 

The door of room 20 was shut. We sat on a nearby seat and waited for the

door to open. It opened after about 20 minutes. I handed the sheet of paper

to the person who opened it and enquired if Dr Prasad was available. I was

told that he was in and asked to wait. The sign on the door said ‘treatment room’.

People with their limbs swathed in bandages arrived on wheelchairs at frequent

intervals and left swathed in fresh bandages. My wife sat holding her hand high

with the injured finger pointing to the sky.

I could get occasional glimpses of the interior of room 20 when the door opened

to admit and discharge wheelchairs. There were two examination tables separated

by a curtain, a gentleman in dark blue scrubs who seemed to be in charge, two

nurses and a person who looked like a helper. Other uniformed staff entered and

got out at regular intervals. I assumed that the gentleman in dark blue OT scrubs

was Dr Prasad. 

After an hour this gentleman in blue scrubs came out of the room to speak to a

patient who was waiting on a wheelchair, and I got a chance to read the name,

embroidered on his chest. It said, Dr Shivaraman, Consultant, Surgery. I was

confused. We had been waiting for more than an hour for Dr Prasad who was

expected to be in the room and the room only contained Dr Shivaraman! After

another twenty minutes one of the nurses came out on some errand. I managed

to gather her attention for a few seconds and asked her if we were going to see

Dr Prasad. She said “Yes. I told you he is busy, please wait and he will see you”

and she shut the door on my face. But, as I could see, there was no Dr Prasad in

the room, unless he was hiding under a table or behind a cupboard. My confusion

and anxiety went up by a step. 

Another half an hour later we were called inside.  Dr Shivaraman removed the

temporary bandage, washed the wound, examined it and explained to

us - the status of the injury, possible treatment and the expected outcome.

He told us that he would suture the wound under local anesthesia and it would

take about half an hour to do it. He asked us to wait till he finished his appointed

cases which was expected to take about 30 minutes. He seemed knowledgeable

and confident but he wasn’t Dr Prasad ! That got me worried. 

We were told to meet Dr Prasad, were informed that he was present in the room,

and that he would attend. But there was no sign of the elusive Dr Prasad and this

Dr Shivaraman had taken over ! Nobody seemed to have the time and patience to

offer any clarification. I knew that sometimes it so happens that when a senior

consultant is busy, his juniors would start working on a case and the senior

consultant joins later. So we just waited. 

A little later my wife was called in, Dr Shivaraman injected the local and started

working on the wound. He was keeping my wife’s attention diverted by some

light hearted conversation. I understand that while talking, my wife informed him

that I was a dentist and he called me in. He explained the procedure to me once

again, showed me what had been done, and why he had opted for the same. He

then asked us to wait in his consulting room for completion of formalities and

further instructions. 

I was impressed with his work and in general was satisfied by the way things

went. But I wasn’t happy with the switching over of the attending consultant

without information to us. I felt that it wasn’t fair and decided to make a

mention of the fact in the feedback terminal which I had seen next to the

registration counter. This matter had been bothering me all the while. But first,

we had to meet Dr Shivaraman in his chamber. 

We did not have to wait long. He was with us within a few minutes. He gave

detailed instructions regarding dos and don'ts and wrote out a prescription.

Then he asked if there was anything else that we wanted to know. I got a

chance to clear my doubt from the horse’s mouth. I thanked him for his help

and mentioned  that we were expecting Dr Prasad to attend. He looked puzzled

and said “That’s right. I am Dr Prasad !”.  I borrowed his puzzled look, put it on my

face and pointed to the embroidered name on his chest. “Oh that,” he laughed

and said “our OT scrubs get mixed up sometimes and we don't find our own scrubs. 

We don't bother about it and wear anything that fits us.” 

I explained the anxiety and apprehension experienced by me due to their casual

approach towards OT scrubs and he laughed again. “Please look at my work and

not the name on my dress. See me after three days for a change of this dressing.

I will see if I can find my OT scrubs by then!” and he walked out of the room before

I could say anything else. I wanted to tell him that thank god, only the scrubs get

mixed up in the OT and not patients. But I did not get the chance !

PS : The finger is healing satisfactorily and we are hoping that the next hospital

visit, due after three days, will be the last. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Banagiri BBMP Park

 Just like we, the citizens of Bengaluru, who have successfully destroyed our ‘garden city’ but are valiantly trying to create gardens in the terraces and balconies of our multistoried buildings, our municipal corporation, the BBMP, which has eliminated all the lakes, hills and parks of Bengaluru is now trying to create oases of green, making use of some nooks and corners of our concrete jungle. Anyway, I appreciate the effort. 

Whenever I gather enough courage to dare the hostile street dogs guarding their territory and enter a new street in the semi-darkness of the early morning, I am pleasantly surprised to find a small, well lit, well maintained oasis of green. A BBMP park. All of them boast, apart from a walking track, many flowering plants, well maintained lawns, trees, benches and an exercise area. 

During the last one month of my stay at Padmanabhanagar, Bengaluru, I have found the existence of seven such parks within a radius of one kilometer from my house. The latest and the best being the Banagiri Park behind the well known landmark, the Devegowda petrol pump. Apart from the above-mentioned fixtures of all parks, it also contains half a dozen sturdy street dogs (luckily for me, they did not display any signs of hostility but I did carry a stick with me for my moral support!) and a cement rhinoceros .  

Even though I resent the conversion of ‘Banagiri’, which means a ‘woody hill’ in kannada, (Bana meaning a garden/woods and Giri is a hill) into a concrete ‘bana’ I liked the bit of the natural rocks which have been retained in the park, indicating the existence of a hill, sometime back. I felt that it added to the beauty of the park. I think I will mark the park in my walking route, everyday, when I am here. Here are some pictures taken this morning. 


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Mysore Trumpet Vine

We saw this plant at the entrance of one of the estates during our trip

to Chickamagalur four years back. The abundant bunches of flowers

hanging down, looked beautiful. We stopped there for a cup of coffee

( fresh, from the estate and heavenly ) and also bought a cutting from

the good lady who owns the estate.  

I planted it behind our house and it spread onto the guava tree. It grew

fiercely, covered the entire tree, spread to other plants around, went outside

our compound, and also into our balcony.  But it never flowered as we had

seen it at Chickamagalur. 

After a snake used the creeper highway to get into our balcony, I cut

down the creeper but a part of it was lingering around the bottom of

the guava tree. 

After we remodelled our clinic, I thought the bare fabrication work may

look better with some vegetation around it and planted a cutting of the

Chikkamagalur creeper at the base.

It has spread beautifully  onto the metal pillar and struts. Two days

back one of our patients mentioned that the flowers at the entrance

look very good. I found the  creeper had flowered and the bunches

of flowers are festooning the entrance. They do look very nice !

After more than four years our effort has borne fruit, rather flowered !

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Remembering 'Dasara' of my Childhood

Revival of a tradition :  This traditional arrangement of dolls was seen in

a relative’s house in Bengaluru.The arrangement indicated that the house

was ready for the celebration of the ten day ‘Dasara’ festivals. I was glad

to see that. During my childhood, we were used to seeing this set up in

almost every house. Unfortunately as we grew up, we witnessed the decline

of this elaborate arrangement and saw in its place, just the placement of a

doll or two on a shelf or a table as a symbol of ‘Dasara’. 

Since the last few years I have been seeing this again in many houses. The markets

and the surrounding streets are teeming with dolls used for the purpose. I am happy

about this revival and hope the tradition survives.

As I understand, the dussehra celebrations are held to rejoice the victory of good

over evil. The killing of the demon Mahishasura by Durgadevi and the killing of

Ravana by Sri Rama. 

In the City of Mysore in Karnataka, which is well known for its Dussehra

celebrations, the religious ceremonies of Maharajas ended with the Maharaja

going in a procession on an elephant - ‘Jamboo Savari’ -  on Vijayadashami day,

to the ‘Banni’ tree and worshipping the tree. I understand the pandavas

(of Mahabharata) had tied their weapons to the ‘Banni’ tree while going on their

exile and recovered them before going to war, which they won. Hence it was

considered auspicious to worship the tree after the worship of the weapons on

the day of  ‘Ayudha pooja’ on ‘Navami’  - a day before Vijayadashami. 

But, as a child, I wasn’t aware of any of these aspects of our ‘Dasara’. ‘Dasara’ for

us was a two weeks holiday for the school, and the excitement of arranging the dolls.

Hence, in Southern Karnataka the festival was popularly known as ‘Gombe Habba’. 

‘Gombe’ means a doll and ‘habba’ is the word for a festival in kannada. 

There is no set pattern for the arrangement of these dolls. But the two dolls - a male

and female - called ‘Pattada gombe’, which you see at the center of the topshelf are

a must. They are almost always made of Rosewood, black in colour.  and they are

always dressed as you see in this picture. No exceptions. The male with a kurta and

headgear and the female clad in a saree. The rest of the dolls and the arrangement

is left to one’s imagination. 

This arrangement could be of just a few dolls and toys, placed on a table, as it used to

be in our house or a huge arrangement in shelves of 10-15 feet long, starting from the

roof and ending on the floor. About 8-10 rows. The arrangement could be individual clay

dolls, wooden dolls, common toys or elaborate arrangements of mythological happenings,

historical happenings, common day to day happenings so on and so forth - left to one’s

imagination as I mentioned earlier. 

In some households  the shelves were set up weeks in advance, mud spread on the floor

in front of the shelves and seeds of ‘ragi’ (millet) or ‘wheat’ were sown in patches. The

crop would be ready in a week or ten days and a lovely green field would be set !

Sometimes a few small plants would be planted to create realistic arrangements of

parks, or forests and deers and tigers would be roaming. It was always a deep placed

longing of mine to make such an arrangement in our house. A longing which remains

unfulfilled like a few others in my life ! 

The idols of Goddess Saraswati along with some books and an idol of Durga would

be installed on the shelves on the 7th and 8th day respectively for worship. And some

weapons - usually a knife and a scissor in our house - and tools added to the rows on

the ninth day. (We placed almost all our books for worship, so that there was no

probability of an instruction to ‘go and study’, from the elders, for a few days! After a

final worship of the lot on  Vijayadashami they went into their boxes, climbed on to

the loft and waited for the next year!  

The house was open for everyone all ten days and groups of children visited houses 

viewing, enjoying, wondering, commenting and learning from the arrangements.

Small sized common snacks like laddoos and barfis were prepared in large numbers

and were offered to the visiting children. Dasara certainly was a festival enjoyed by all !  

What I have written above is what I actually experienced during my childhood. However,

I haven’t heard or read about the significance of this arrangement of dolls. I understand

that the ‘Pattada gombe’  - which are at the center of all arrangements -  represent the

supreme god and goddess - Lakshmi Narayana. Having known that, I conclude that

the arrangements signify  the presence of the lord at the center of everything, and

his creation - the world. The worship of the implements, books, tools, weapons,

animals and vehicles signify the importance of every being and thing in our life and

their worship is probably a sort of thanksgiving. And it also signifies our philosophy

which urges us to see God in everything. 


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Birds At Borim

We ignored the mid morning summer sun and spent an hour and a half around the

marshy backwaters of the river Zuari, near Borim - Goa today. I have been seeing

thousands of these water birds there on my way to Margao and back during the

past weeks but haven't been able to get down and get closer. We went there with

the intention of taking a proper look today. We had to trespass through some

private property for a closer look and we did that assuming that the owners

did not mind.  The fact that they wern't around helped !

It was a happy one hour in spite of the heat and we were

glad to find more than a dozen species of birds.  

There were Small egrets, Greater egrets, Small cormorants,

Greater cormorants, Black headed ibis, Black ibis, Sand piper, Paddy birds,

Purple heron, Grey Heron, Moor hen, White necked storks,

Black winged stilts, Whistling teal, Greenshank, Small kingfishers,

Brahmini Kite and Painted storks.


In my eagerness to go closer I got my foot stuck in the black swampy

clay but managed to extricate myself and obtained a few pictures. 

Don’t look for clarity and detail.  We (me and my son akshay)

have managed to the best of our abilities

and the abilities of our cameras.

Egrets and Cormorants 

Flock Of Egrets

Egrets in flight

Black Ibis

Black headed Ibis

Black Winged Stilt (picture by Akshay)

Greenshank (picture By Akshay)

A lucky individual's house next to the waters !

Marsh sandpiper (Picture by Akshay)

Me. Just before getting my feet stuck in the marshy clay !

Paddy birds

Purple Heron (Picure by Akshay)

A flock of white necked storks

A Greater Egret receives guard of Honour by a flock of Whistling Teals !

A wild flower growing on the banks