Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Psychology of AAP: The Perpetual Agitators !

It's becoming quite clear now as to what makes Aam Aadmi Party tick. This party was founded riding piggyback on a popular movement called India Against Corruption  (IAC).

The whole meaning of this movement was agitation. It attracted people from all walks of life and ONE MAN found his mojo in life after changing professions and generally doing nothing but wander around in search of easy fame.

Thus the AAP was formed with people who had different aims on their personal agendas. But the binding force was their love for agitation, unrest and anarchy.

The whole movement believed everyone and everything with this country was wrong and all that was needed was an agitation to scare the rulers to set things right.

Even they could not have visualised such a popular support for the movement in the Capital. But once they tasted success, the goal became larger and the people (at least one man) became ambitious.

The result was a resounding rejection at the National level followed by an extraordinary acceptance in Delhi. The margin as well as the magnitude of victory was blinding and the party had just begun.

But what next ?

For the people whom agitating was the only weapon in the armour, the nitty gritty of administration had started to take a toll. They were in complete disarray with absolutely no idea about what to do.

It was like the one trick pony that could perform just the one mad rush it had learned all life. And the pony was now asked to run at the Delhi derby with the whole race course open for it to run. But the pony new nothing about the race. All it knew was the mad dance.

There was a need to agitate. There was a need to rebel and do the mad rush. The urge was unsuppressable. It was like a man's inability to suppress diarrhea. And thus came Anna Hazare again to the rescue of the perpetual agitators.

But the response of the people to Anna and to the agitation against the land bill was less than lukewarm. In fact it was a downright cold and clammy flop show.

So now, the agitators had no target body to agitate. There was no support on the ground for the agitation, except from the Adarsh Liberals and the media.

But popular movements need more than rabble rousers and media. It needs a cause, a reason and a purpose the people could relate to. That was missing this time, unlike the IAC movement.

When the restless rebels don't find a target for their rebellion, a sustainable cause for the unrest, they need a catharsis. They need to purge the urge to splurge their overflowing Rebellion.

And THAT, the insatiable urge to agitate is the reason for the implosion within Aam Aadmi Party. It's like a pack of wolves not finding a prey to attack and hence fighting and biting one another.

The men with diarrhea are all over the Delhi administration. They can't control their urge and there's no water in Delhi. That's why all the shit happening with no holds barred catharsis of the perpetual agitators.

Though it's hurting Delhi, hurting the image of the party, in the long run; it is for the benefit of people. The people will know the truth. If you hanker too much for free meals, all you'll get is diarrhea.

A lesson learned should not hurt us !
Dr. Punned-it

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Divine Idlee !

From childhood to teenage to middle age, my likes and tastes have changed a lot over the years. I was a diehard Vishnuvardhan and Amitabh Bachchan fan during childhood. I believed nobody could ever be better than these two. Stepping into teenage, Kamal Haasan was my favorite. As for Cricket, Kapil Dev had replaced Gavaskar and Boris Becker became the greatest sportsperson in the world in 1985.

A few years later in the medical college, I came to realize Stephen Edberg and Andre Agassi were better all court players than Becker and Chiranjeevi danced better than Kamal. Nagarjuna was better looking than any hero in India by then. My favorite heroines too changed from Sridevi to Madhuri to Manisha Koirala to Aishwariya to Deepika.

Moving to present, my all-time favorite actor is Mohanlal, who I believe is the finest actor this country has seen to date. My favorite Cricketers changed from Azar to Dravid and Kumble to Rahane. I am today, a Roger Federer fan on the verge of changing loyalties to Rafa.

With such paradigm shifts in tastes, I might be considered a fickle and untrustworthy person with no sense of loyalty. But no, I can prove that I am a stable and sensible guy. In all these 45 years, at least one of my tastes and loves has never changed. That is my god and my love, The Idlee !

Being the atheist that I am, I have but one god to believe in. That is Idlee. The delicious, melting in mouth, omnipresent, omnipotent and wholesome Idlee. I am not a bigot or fundamentalist. But I don’t respect people who don’t respect Idlee. I consider them racist and misogynist and anti-human. I don’t even find it necessary to explain why I think so.

From the small home-run mess on the borders of Agumbe forest to Fun mall in Chennai, from my maternal uncle’s small hotel in Karkala to Annapoorna in Coimbatore, from the Damodar temple canteen in Jambawali in Goa to the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences canteen in Hyderabad; wherever I have gone, it is Idlee that has nourished me, sustained me and enriched me.

Idlee is one of the more balanced foods in the world. This is not me talking, but a scientific fact. It has rice for carbohydrates, ured for proteins and very little fat. Add the Sambar and Chutney and we have the necessary fats and vegetables. What more do we want ? Weekday or weekend, summer or winter or monsoon, for me, any day is Idlee-day.

Idlee also is the most enriching food that makes intelligent people. Look at Mokshagundam Vishveshwarayya, Sir C. V. Raman, Sreenivas Ramanujam and a host of intellectual giants are Idlee eaters from childhood. Karnataka alone has the largest number of Jnaanapeeth award winners. What is the secret behind so much of Jnaan or wisdom ? Idlee, what else ?

We just have to look at Rahul Gandhi to understand what all Pizzas and burgers and no Idlee does to a man. The only time he talked sense was when he visited Chennai and had Idlee for breakfast.

Those who don’t believe me should try this and then talk. The famed filter coffee that the South Indians love, tastes a hundred times better when we sip it to wash down the melting hot Idlee-sambar down our esophagus.

I can never get tired of Idlees. Though I voraciously loved Idlee, I never took part in any Idlee eating competitions. These Idlee eating competitions are utter nonsense and a huge insult to Idlee. Idlee can’t be swallowed merely to win a silly trophy and a measly cash award. Idlee is savored, chewed down with utmost care and affection and is generally revered.

On a particularly lovely evening during my teenage, I had polished off about 28 to 30 Idlees at one go, while enjoying my favorite book of Late Kota Shivarama Karanth, one of the three quarter dozen Jnaanpeetha award winners from Karnataka. Well, Karanth and Idlee was a deadly combination. Add the torrential rains of South Karnataka, it was heaven and that is why Idlee is divine.

But Idlee is also an extremely delicate entity. One needs to indulge in preparing it if we have to indulge in savoring  it. Those with lesser culinary skills or no love for Idlee can butcher the entity called Idlee. Almost all of Kerala has no love for Idlee. I can understand lack of love, but hate ? Yes, many people hate Idlee and that is why Vivekananda rightly called Kerala a lunatic asylum. He knew that those that don’t love Idlee can’t be any good.

Idlee becomes thicker, harder and sour in Kerala and they call it Iddali. The additional D makes it hard to cut, bite or digest. I don’t know the reason but even the Udupi hotels in Kerala serve Iddali and not Idlee. The Malayalee’s love for extra-spicy food has made them turn the wonderful, non-spicy, mild and non-violent Idlee into Chilly Iddali, a monstrosity that can only be pitied but not emptied from the plate.

During 2 weeks long tour of North India in 1999, I really starved for Idlee. Finally found a South Indian hotel in Manali and ordered for my beloved breakfast. When the waiter served the Idlee, one of them fell down on the floor unfortunately. But fortunately it jumped up with the same speed and sat back in the plate. It looked and jumped around like a small white Rugby ball and perhaps tasted like one too. Never dared to bite a Rugby ball because I have not much ball-biting qualities a la Shahid Afridi.

Coming back to Kerala Iddalis, there are some immensely believable stories about why Tippu Sultan could not conquer Kerala below Malappuram. It is believed Tippu was moving southwards towards Trichur. The locals realized they could not fight against the vastly superior force of Tippu. But not wishing to surrender with ease, they devised a plan. Thousands of Idlees were prepared in the households and the palace and as the army of Tippu arrived, the people attacked them with the Kerala Iddalis. Like the proverbial Boomerang, the Iddalis managed to wreak havoc in Tippu’s troupes. The people were able to re-use the Iddlis because after hitting the targets, they returned to their owners.

Thus the Trichur people defeated the mighty army of Tippu with a few thousand Iddalis. This story has not been included in the history books by our secular historians who wanted to portray Tippu as a brave warrior. The fact is his army was defeated by the famous Iddali-astra of Trichur. Those who suffered serious head injuries from the Iddali-astra went back to Karnataka and their generations down the line became politicians there.

Idlee prepared without devotion and love can be blasphemy. I have respected the Kerala Iddali all these years because it was once used as a weapon to defeat an invader. But this afternoon, the blasphemy called Iddali died a death when I ordered for it in our canteen.

What landed before me in a plate were two shining white globules with a bowl of sambar and a smaller bowl of chutney. As is my habit, I asked for two spoons. My first poke in to the Iddali and the spoon came back, bent at the neck. I thought the spoon was at fault  and asked for a replacement. The second spoon, then a knife and then a hack-saw and finally a showel; all of them came unstuck and both the Iddalis remained unconquered like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the famous Chennai test in 2001. The canteen people had not foreseen such an eventuality. Their sincere efforts to help me ended up becoming all of us helpless.

Finally I asked them, “How on earth did you people manage to prepare such crash-proof Iddali ?”. They confessed the Iddali was prepared using the Vellai-Appam batter from the previous day. Wow, now I understood why those globules were shining ! Anyway, calling them Iddali too was a shame. I suggested they rename it Iddali-Appam. They agreed because they didn’t have much of a choice. A Malayalam movie in the past had coined a name Doddali because the Dosa looked like a huge Iddali. But this was altogether a new entity and thus I now have the distinction of naming a new dish, the Iddali-Appam.


But after being party to such a crushing insult to my god, I definitely need to go on a pilgrimage.  Hence I have decided to visit different parts of Karnataka and Tamilnadu to do penance and reclaim the sanctity of my religion, the Idleeism !
Dr. Punned-it

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wah Mumtaz !

Facebook and Twitter have over the past two years, gradually weaned me off Blogger and kept me away from it for one whole year.. But honestly, I am never made for the 140 characters mad scramble and have always relished the elaborate expression of Blogging. What happened yesterday made me yearn to come back and Blog because that made me feel good, actually feel better. Well, not really, this must be the best I have felt in a long long time.

Mumtaz: The incredible Anseema's magnificent Mother !
Image borrowed from the WWW
My Sunday morning Clinic for me, is not only a means to pocket a few Dollars more. It often enriches me thanks to some relaxed and laid back interactions with my clients. It was one such afternoon yesterday. Anseema, a twenty year old final degree Commerce student was my last client for the day. She was told by some Homeopath that she had some heart disease. Both the girl and her mother looked extremely anxious. Only problem I could detect in her was she was ridiculously small for date at just a few milligrams over 30 kilos.

After a thorough examination, I leaned back on my chair and told the mother and daughter, "See, this girl has absolutely no heart problem. I understand she has never been hospitalized for any illness to-date. If anyone has to find any problem with her, it has to be her weight. Even that should not matter for you people. But since your community insists on early marriages, she may need to gain about 10 kilos to be ready for marriage. No other problems...".

The girl cut me off at this stage and said, "No Sir, I will not marry now. Not at all. I want to study and find a good job for myself. I will not even think of marriage till then". At this point, I turned to her mother and told, "See, in your community, most of the girls are married off early. I know a very beautiful and intelligent girl whom I knew as a child and she was married off at the age of 16 and by 17, she had become a mother. I request you to stand by your child and educate her and do not think of marriage, at least till 23."

The mother looked serious, gave a deep sigh and said, "No Sir, not 23". My heart almost sank at this stage but I let her continue without interfering. She continued, "I want her to complete MBA and be a woman of her own. She will not marry before 27 and even after that, will marry when she wants to. I married early at 17 and I know how miserable it is. My child will not become another maid servant. She will live a life of dignity...!". The very affable and serene countenance of this young mother never betrayed the determination and steel within her. Absolutely stunning lady.

I got up from my chair and saluted this mother, Mumtaz of the modern era. I told her, "You have made my day and I congratulate you for your conviction, courage and boldness. Please stay on course and please do remember me if you people need any kind of assistance from me at any time. I would definitely love to be there on the day of Anseema's MBA graduation ceremony."

I shall never forget these two people, whom I underestimated when they walked into my consultation room. Both the beautiful women left my clinic with wonderful smiles on their faces and a surreal lump in my throat. The world needs more and more people like Mumtaz and her Anseema.

PS: These names are real and I have taken their permission to mention them here because India needs to hear and know more about more such people. Whatever reach this post achieves should be a boost for the Girl-Child Education.



Dr. Punned-it

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tabla, Band and the Wife of Zakir Hussain !

I see in my clinic, many an young people claiming to be from West Bengal [Waste Bengal in their language], whose names sound very much like those Bangladesh Cricketers. Zainul Abedin, Mushfiqul Rahim, Shafiul Islam are among those hundreds working in the construction sites as cheap labor.

They live in extremely inhabitable ghettos surrounding the construction sites. It's extremely difficult to assess their actual motives but we have to treat them when they come with health problems. They seem to come to me because of my comfort with Hindi, which is the only language they can manage other than Bengali. This post isn't about the suspected Bangladeshi immigrants. This is about a stand out character I see very often.

Many other construction workers from Bihar and UP too come to my clinic. But they mostly come in groups and are always seen moving in groups. This is a 21 year old boyish looking chap hailing from a small town in Bihar and is the only one among them, who comes alone to consult me.

This is an incredibly funny character. I first saw him about 10 months ago. He had come with a complaint of stomachache. Translating our Hindi dialogues to English is a tough job. But let me try that. I have seen him many times since he first came to me about 10 months ago. I am chronicling only the important encounters here.

Encounter - 1:

Looking tense, anxious and forlorn, this handsome boy walks into my clinic and asks, "Doctor Saab, Hindi maloom ?" [Doctor, know Hindi ?] I replied, "Nahin".

He looked dejected but said, "Lekin idhar sab bolte hain ki aapko maloom hai" [But people here say, you know Hindi]

I replied with a smile, "Chalo yaar aapke liye Hindi bhi bol denge !" [OK, will speak in Hindi for you]

His face lit up and he said, "Bach gaya. Kya Doctor saab, daraa diya. Idhar koi Hindi bolta nahin, ulta humen daraate hain ki Malayalam seekho. Malayalam naam theekse bol nahin sakte hum" [I'm saved, What Doctor, you scared me. Nobody speaks Hindi here and they want us to learn Malayalam. I can't even pronounce the word Malayalam properly]

He introduced himself as Zakir Hussain from a small village in Bihar. He is one of the seven kids of his father from two wives. Being the oldest, he had to fend for his family. He flunked in class 7 and did odd jobs in his native place for five years before he was sent here by one of his uncles for a better pay.

I asked him jovially, "Kitne bachche hain ?" [How many kids ?]. He replied "Saat" [7]. I asked, "Bees saal aur saat bachche ?" [Twenty years and 7 kids ?].

He looked embarrassed and shot back, "Kya Doctor saab, humaara nahin. Abbu ke saat bachche hain. Apni toh nikah bhi nahin huyi" [What Doctor saab ? My Dad has 7 kids. I am not even married].

I laughed and asked again, "Ikkees saal aur abhi tak shaadi nahin huyi. Kyaa yaar kab karoge shaadi ?" [21 years and not yet married. When are you going to get married ?]

He smiled back and said, "Shaadi toh karni hai. Lekin uske liye paise chahiye. Mai apni biwi ko achchi tarah rakhna chahta hoon. Paise kamaane ke liye idhar aaya hoon" [I have to marry. But I need money for that. I want to look after my wife well. I'm here to earn money for that]

So I proceeded to examine him and prescribed him some medicines for acidity and advised not to eat spicy food. He said with a very humble tone, "Doctor saab, kisee bhi tarah aap mujhe theek kar-deejiye. Nahin toh dawaayi khaate khaate mere poore paise kharch hojaayenge. Mai kabhi nikah nahin karpaaoonga" [Doctor, somehow make me better. Otherwise all my money will be spent on medicines and I'll never be able to marry]. I asked him to follow up after 2 weeks.

Encounter - 2:

He came 2 months later with same problem and complained, "Doctor saab, mai barbaad hogaya. Mera pet poora kharaab hai. Mai mar jaaoonga. Kuch toh karo aur mujhe bachaado. Mai kunwaara nahin marna chahta" [Doctor saab, I am ruined. My tummy has gone bad. I'll die. Do something and save me. I don't want to die a bachelor].

I jokingly asked, "Shaadi ke turant baad marna theek hai kya ?" [Is it OK if you die soon after marriage ?]

He: Kya Doctor saab aap bhi, Kuch bhi bolte hain ? Phir meri biwi ko kaun dekhega ? [What Doctor saab, you can tell anything ? Who'll look after my wife ?]

Me: Agar shaadi se pehele itna pyaar biwi se hai toh apni sehad ko theek se sambhaalo. Maine pichli baar do hafte baad aane ko kahaa tha na ? Kyun nahin aaya ? [If you have so much of love for wife even before marriage, you should take care of your health. Why did you not came after 2 weeks as I'd advised ?]

He: Galti hogayi Doctor saab. Iss baar maaf kardo. Ab mai sab theek se karoonga. Mujhe bachaado. Meri toh shaadi bhi nahin huyi ! [I'm sorry Doctor saab, it was a mistake. Now I'll do everything right. save me please, I am not even married !]

I prescribed him medicines again and told him that he had something like an Ulcer [because he didn't understand acidity] and needed medication on long term to prevent it. I also asked him to eat light. He replied, "Kya light khaana Doctor saab ? Idhar sirf do cheez banti hai, Sambaar aur chaawal. Ab iss-se light kya khaayen ? Hawaa ?" [What light food Doctor saab ? Here only rice and sambaar is available. What lighter can we eat ? Air ?]

I assured him that rice and sambar was good for him and asked him to review after a month.

Encounter - 3:

He came as I was on my way home from the clinic and looked flustered. He was desperate and wanted to see me. But I could see he was not in serious trouble and asked him to come next day. He agreed and came next day. He said, "Doctor saab, meri toh shaadi bhi nahin huyi. Maine kisee aurat ke saath koi chakkar bhi nahin kiya. Phir bhi mere saath aisa kyun hua ?" [Doctor saab, I am not married and I never did anything with any woman. Then why did this happen to me ?]

He was on the verge of breaking down and I consoled him and proceeded to examine him. All he had was fungal infection in the groin and he thought it was a serious sexually transmitted disease. I reassured him that it had nothing to do with women and was just a matter of hygiene and sent him with a prescription.

He left with a happy smile, "Thanks Doctor saab, mai toh socha ki barbaad hogaya. Humaara bachcha toh hoga nah ?" [Thanks Doctor saab. I thought I am ruined. I will kids no ?]. I said, "Ek nahin saat - aath agar tum chaho toh" [Not one but 7 -8 if you want]. He winked and replied, "Nahin Doctor saab, meri biwi pareshaan hogi. Hume sirf do kaafi hai" [No Doctor saab, my wife will be troubled. We'll have only 2]. So much love for a wife who is not even in imagination.

Encounter - 4:

The most wonderful thing about this youngster is his affable nature and ever smiling face. Remembering his famous namesake, I asked him, "Aap Tabla bajaate hain kya ?" [Do you play Tabla ?]

He retorted immediately, "Kya Doctor saab aap bhi. Yahaan beri band baj rahi hai aur aap Tabla bajaane ki baat karte hain !" [What Doctor saab ? Here I'm in trouble and you're talking of tabla]

He had loose motions since 3 days and was really troubled because I was away for 3 days. He didn't want to see any other Doctor and came every evening to my clinic when I was away. I prescribed medicines and he was better within a day. Any Doctor would've done that but try telling him that and he would quip, "Aisa nahin. Mujhe sirf aap hi theek kar sakte hain. Aur koi dawaa liya toh mera toh sach me band bajega" [Not like that. Only you can make me better. If I take any other medicine, my band will be truly played].

Encounter - 5:

His latest visit was last night. He had come with a scrotal swelling suggestive of Hydrocele. He looked disgusted with himself, "Itnee cjhoti umr me itnee saari bimaari. Mai toh ek mareez bangaya hoon. Doctor saab kuch bhi karke mujhe phirse theek karo. Iss-se achcha marajaana hai" [Such young age and so many illnesses. I have become a serious patient. Doctor saab, do something and make me better. It's better to die than this]

I consoled him saying, "There are many kids in the world suffering from diseases like Cancer and Diabetes, who learn to live with them and even conquer the illness. Your illnesses are basically nothing. All curable and simple ones. You are lucky to be born so handsome and pretty healthy. You will be perfect by the time you are ready to marry"

He looked extremely happy. His eyes were welling up when he said, "Aapko pata hai Doctor saab ? Mujhe har mahine 10 hazaar milte hain. teen hazaar toh idhar kharch ho jaata hai. Paanch hazaar mai ghar bhejta hoon aur do hazaar sambhalke rakhta hoon. Mai achchi tarah jeena chahta hoon. Mai koi galat kaam nahin karta aur sochta tha ki kyun mujhe hi aise bhayaanak bimaariyaan aati hai ! Lekin aapne mera dil halka kar diya. Mai zindaa rahoonga nah ?" [Do you know Doctor saab ? I earn 10000 per month. I send 5000 to home. 3000 is spent for myself here and I save 2000. I want to live well. I don't have any bad habits and used to think why I was getting such horrible diseases. Now I am relieved. I will manage to live, right ?"

It was a lump in the throat situation for me. Here is a jovial young chap with dreams of a beautiful life with a beautiful wife who is just an imagination. And he was getting emotional for once. I reassured him, "Tum sirf bachche nahin, bachchonke bachche bhi dekh sakoge. Koi fikr mat karo. Hamesha khush raho" [Not only kids, you'll even see the kids of your kids. Be happy always"

He parted with a statement, "Mera iss gaon me koi dost nahin. Baat karneko bhi koi milta nahin. Sirf ek aap mere liye, dost, bada bhai, Doctor saab aur himmat sab aap hai ! Jab bhi meri nikah hogi, meri biwi aur baadme mere bachche, sabko mai aapke baare me bolunga. Sab aapko yaad rakhenge !" [I have nobody in this place. You are my only friend, big brother, Doctor and my support. Whenever I get married, I will tell my wife and my kids about you and all of us will remember you !"

Touched !



Dr. Punned-it

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now who's Camilla ? My Thai Hi !

I did my little bit of research on Thailand before I boarded the Thai Economy flight on 7 April. Since it was a midnight flight, I hardly remember anything from the journey except for the cute and traditionally dressed Air-hostesses asking, "Vegettaariaan ?". Once I overcame the sleep deprivation, it was usual me; observe and find out about the place, the people and their practices. And here is what I felt about Thailand and the people.

The Thai people must be the most pleasant on the earth. They are almost always smiling, laughing or guffawing when they are not giggling. I believe this is a national trait with very few exceptions.
The Typical Thai People !
Thailand was previously known as Siam and they still treasure that name. It has over come a lot of mutinies, military rulers, corruption and several changes in the constitution. Yet the people generally remain happy. They have a definite discipline in day to day life that we Indians lack as a rule. Look at this Bangkok road where the busy road has an entire left lane free. I don't know how many Indian cities can boast of such a trait.
Free Left in the "Land of the Free"
Thailand ranks 54th out of 56 Asian nations when it comes to proficiency in English and this doesn't seem to bother them. You tell them about their poor English and they'll giggle and thank you with a "Kop kuun haa".

You walk into a 7-Eleven store and talk in English and the predominantly young crowd look at you and smile apologetically. Then they start to giggle and exchange words between themselves in their nasal twang. When you persist with English, they'll give you a pity-filled look for your ignorance of their beautiful language. And finally, they share a hearty laugh and their Thai customers join them in that. As a last resort, they'll resort to explaining to you in Thai language and you have no other option but to take whatever you want and leave without asking for anything more than what you can find there.

Thai mobile networks are very nice. They'll give the tourist a free SIM-card on arrival and then keep sending them messages in unadulterated Thai language.

The people here are so nice, they'll be smiling their broadest smiles even when they are busy swindling you !

Thai massage, foot massage, head massage and all those massages are a must when you are in this land. They are definitely calming and relaxing.

I am inclined to believe the name Thailand is actually a local variant of Thigh-land. In 9 days, I have seen more thighs than I have seen in 43 years of my life in India. 90% of Thai women are seen in shorts and short skirts and this is perfectly fine with this culture. To be honest, even ultra-short shorts can be too much in the heat out there.

"Sawatdee haa" is the Thai way of wishing "Namaste". It is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word "Swasti" meaning 'blessing'. Thai people believe in their culture and language having origins in India and Sanskrit and are proud of it.

One of the ladies at the Thai massage center thought my daughter was my wife. She was obviously gossiping about the mismatch in our age. But later as an after-thought, she and asked me, "Wife ? Girlfriend ?". I replied, "Daughter". She apologized, "Oooooooooh dothaal. Sollyyyyyyyyyy. Oooooooooooooooh" !

I was there as guardian for my daughter who was shooting for her Tamil movie. We were helped there in the entire process by Indo-Bangkok films, a company owned by an Indian Punjabi called Bob. They own travel-agencies, chain of Indian hotels, restaurants and they also provide logistics and man-power for visiting Indian cine-units.
Indian Restaurant in Pattaya
Population of Thailand is 94% Buddhist with less than 5% Muslims and 1% Christians. There are very few Hindus and Sikhs. Our Indo-Bangkok Films is owned by a Sikh Bob Singh. There is another Sikh we met in Bangkok. That was Jyot, who speaks excellent Telugu due to his growing up in Vizag. He helped me to gain some kind of insight into this country. But the paradox about this country is that this predominantly Buddhist country has an omnivorous population. They eat everything under the Sun and under the sea and believe seaweeds are good for the skin !

One of our local managers was Lucky. We never got to know her original name. She was jovial, grumpy, angry and helping all in one. She was once married to a Pakistani. After the marriage ended, she developed a special liking for Indians, it seems. Her incessant smoking reminded me of the brick kilns I used to watch on the Mangalore - Udupi highway during my childhood.

Our second Thai contact was in fact the best. She was Rumrada, nicknamed Red. She is a happily plump 28 year old girl always sporting a smile and a pair of shorts with tees. She was the most proficient in English and that is why I managed to gather quite a lot of information from her. She is a Muslim. She hates marriage but loves an Indian Assistant Film Director. Her parents have given her complete freedom to manage her life and she doesn't smoke or drink. But she was totally amazed and horrified when she heard that normal Muslim girls in this part of the world can't wear shorts and can't be walking so freely like she did.

Red hates the idea of anyone dictating terms to her. This is a Thai trait. This is the most liberal of all South Asian nations. In fact they also pride themselves as "Tai" or the "Land of the Free" because Thailand was the only south Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. Thailand also is the most liberal when it comes to LGTB rights and we can see a large number of them living with very little or no discrimination. Two of the make-up artists on our unit were from this group and they were completely natural and comfortable and were treated with no difference. Also, they smoke like anyone else.
Everyone smokes, no discrimination !
Thai people smoke in alarmingly high proportions. I could see men, women and LGTB smoking almost all the time. But I think their happy nature gives them some kind of protection against heart diseases because they have far lesser incidence of Ischemic Heart Disease compared to Indians. May be it is largely due to genetics but I do think the intrinsic happiness does play a role.

Coming to the last part of my story, I heard lucky yell at someone, "Ajay wants to see Camilla". I was surprised about this new character on the unit and was eager to see her too. So I asked her, "Now who's Camilla ?". Lucky gave me a dirty look and pointed towards the camera !
English - Thainglish !
Thai people hate the 'R' and happily leplace it with an additional "L" whenevel and whelevel possible. They have Thulsday, Flyday and Satulday to end the week. They offel you Zelo Calolies Coke and Biliyani. They smoke as if thele is no tomollooooooooo. Even Red [Led], who's pretty good with English talks like this to hel own people, "They leave tomollooo. We have to get the passpolts and allange fol duty-flee shopping in the ailpolt" !


Dr. Punned-it

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mukundan Swami and his Cricket Language !

He keeps popping up in my life like the 'breaking news' messages on those 24-Hour news channels. He is Mukundan, fondly called "Mukunda Mukunda" or "Dashavatharam" or "Swami" by me and "Kuntham" by his friends as he himself confessed. He's a class nine student in a CBSE school and only son of his doting parents. He knows my daughter too is in class nine and he thinks that might help him. He prefers to converse in English with me because his mother wanted him to improve his English by talking to that Doctor who doesn't speak good Malayalam.
But he is very unlike the teenagers on the Facebook who brag about their hitherto invisible capabilities or who warn us about their attitude. He doesn't like the word 'Dude' being used to address a girl because his Mom told him that is used only for boys. He is a very modest boy with some serious issues with English language, Science and Mathematics.

He was brought to me about 4 years ago with some persistent wheezing problems and after initiating on Inhalers, he had completely recovered from the Asthma that used to plague him. He is fond of me because he believes I had helped him to do what he loved the most; play Cricket ! Cricket is the only thing worth talking about and Sachin Tendulkar is the only God for this 15 year old with a thin mustache threatening to make it's presence felt above his upper lips.

One day, he drops into my Clinic with a doubt, "Saar, egg eating help my muscle build ?". He is from a Tambram family that still remains vegetarian. But he was impressed by a a boy twisting Sachin's arm in an Egg ad on the TV and wanted to know if he could be stronger by eating eggs. His Mom was not averse to cooking eggs for him and I told him to go ahead. He is an Eggetarian now according to himself and says, "I'll never eat chicken. I don't like bones".

His propensity to use Cricket language for every conversation is what makes him endearing to me. When I asked him about the Summative assessment part-1, he replied, "Saar, Malayalam and Social like leg side full toss. I just hit six. English always yorker. Grammar like my Grandmother. I never understand both are very tough and strict. No this thing and no that thing. Like in-swing, out-swing bowling. Ho, life is waste Saare. Don't even ask Max [Maths]. It is all bouncer going top of head. I will go to Max exam with a helmet. My head goes round round seeing question paper. Science is just nonsense Saar. Like Rohit Sharma. Everybody hates but teachers always forcing to study Science. Believe me Saar, ninth standard boy life is very tough. You just can't imagine...". I replied, "Yes my Dear, that is why I chose medical graduation because ninth grade is so very tough !" He got the sarcasm for once and gave a sheepish grin and scooted off.

He is a simple boy who shares most of his happiness and sadness with me. When his mother refused to buy a mobile phone for him, he told me, "Father cool Saar. But mother noballed my mobile. Sometimes she like Steve Buckner Saar. Always against India wrong decision. I now only no mobile boy in my group. All teases me like Jadeja Saar. I feels like out of form dropped batsman Saar".

When he finally got his prized mobile phone, he waved it at me and declared, "Saar, Umpire finally give right decision. I cry, cry and cry and she brought this. Mother is Sehwag like Saar. When good mood, she hit 300 and not good mood, she hit zero. Today, I feels like Sachin Tendulkar 100th 100 Saar. Paavam Mukundan now head lift and walk with friends. Saar all features like blue tooth and all is there. Look like Virat Kohli no ? Stylish !"

"Saar, our neighbor one Paattiamma clean bowled today Saar. She was some sugar, pressure patient. 2 days some problem and today morning not get up only. What Saar, everybody crying and my mother also crying. She was nice, not my Hitler Paatti type. She was 92 Saar. Missed century by 8, very bad Saar. All people crying I thinks like India losted match against Pakistan Saar". This is how he reported the demise of a neighborhood lady.

"Saar, my final exams coming, please pray for me Saar" said Mukundan last week. He added, "I don't know what this CBSE peoples doing. Old kids enjoyed life till class 9. We have board exams even in 9th. You know Saar, it is like a 5 match one day series. First is Monday, Social. That is good. I read 1 paragraph, I write 3 page. It is good batting pitch. Then Wednesday Science Saar. That is most terrific. It is like playing in Perth, Dale Steyn balls. I really want to take helmet to Science and Max exam Saar. Friday is Malayalam. Malayalam in my house not speak, but I manage. After 3 day rest for horror Max next Monday. That is simbly reverse swing Saar. Always confusing. Wednesday English. Grammar Saar, believe me, grammar made by people hate children. Only to torture poor children. If I don't killed, I come see you Wednesday Saar. You know Saar, Sachin Tendulkar, the God failed exams because of Max Saar. Then what is my condition ? Anyway, please pray for me Saar !"

In an age where expecting innocence in boys aged 15 years is like expecting a spinner friendly track in South Africa, Mukundan is a delightful exception and I hope he manages to keep his innocence forever !



Dr. Punned-it

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thought for Food !

Nothing in this world enthuses me as much as food. I have declared it on Facebook and elaborated it on Blogger before. But this post is all about the "Thought for Food" !

I am so obsessed with food that I often end up wishing people, "Food morning" or "Food afternoon" or "Food evening" or "Food night". This reached to ridiculous levels when I typed, "Hearty wishes for Food Friday and Feaster" on the Friday before the Easter ! Some of my Christian friends were so offended by this, they Unfriended me ! It was not entirely my fault. The keyboard has 'F' next to 'G' and when I am hungry, I can make mistakes like any human being. It just is that I am hungry most of the times !

I very well understand how hunger can turn people into Naxalites. Just half an hour delay in lunch break can turn me into a terrorist. My being born in a Community that adores, worships and ritualizes food definitely has some role in my love for food. My father is a man who believes, "Every morning, we should Rice and Shine" and I don't disagree with him.

It isn't as if I am a huge eater. I have on an occasion, eaten 25 idlees about 2 hours before dinner. And on another occasion, I had polished off 3 packets of Maggie noodles while reading Fimfare. These are old stories. I am a frugal eater today. I have a strict control now and seldom over-eat. I always stop when I can't stuff any more !

My week goes like this. Chocolate Sundae, Gulab Jamoon-day,  Orange Juice day, Breadness day, Thirst day, Fried Rice day and Saturate day ! What about my work place ? When a nurse reports about a patient having severe itching, I asked her to administer injection Avial [Avil]. Talking of Lactate solution reminds me of Milk Chocolate.

I am a law abiding person and I respect the courts. Well, I in fact adore the courts; Food Courts, especially. Though I am a complete and hopeless teetotaler, I love the bars too. They serve some of the best starters in the world. The fried cashew nuts, pea nut masala, paneer pakodas and many such delicacies make it worth going to a bar with your friends who prefer the bar over the court !

I believe in the old adage, "Seven days of not eating well makes one weak". Though I admire Gandhi for many of his virtues, I could never agree with the view that "We should eat to live and not live to eat". Blasphemy is the word ! We are born with the largest sack in the body that is stomach and the largest organ in the body that is liver. Stomach has to be filled and only then can the liver work and promote digestion. This scientifically proves my long held belief that "We are born to eat; at least I am" !

I am a Great fan of good food. So much so, the word Great itself inspires me on. But how ? Very simple, GR stands for my initial and rest is Eat ! So it keeps egging me on... GR EAT, GR EAT ! Now people should never blame me for my obsession with food and eating. I was destined for GR-EAT-NESS !

I once won a bet with a girl as to who was taller; me or she. She had promised 'Anything' if I won the bet and I asked her to buy me breakfast for the whole of next month. All boys who came to know of the story considered this a complete and total disgrace ! I just couldn't fathom why they felt so. I went on to relish extraordinary range of breakfast and super coffee from Hotel Hoysala, Bellary all at her expense for the next 30 days.

What am I supposed to do if I am reminded of "Pai Dosa" while watching "Life of Pi" and the movie "Fiza" sent me to Pizza Hut soon after the show ? The name "Sholay" makes me yearn for "Choley Bature" and whenever I see Vivek Mushran, I would love to savor "Mushroom Pepper and Salt". And just imagine watching a movie with title credits like THIS. Impossible !
Title credits of a movie !
Even though I have grown to abhor religions, I love temples for two reasons. First is for the architecture and the second of course for those exotic eatables offered there in the form of "Prasad". Some of the "Payasams" are more famous than the temples and the deities. I have never known anyone talking about the god of Ambalappuzha, but the Ambalappuzha Paalpayasam is a legend !

Tirupathi laddu is more famous than the temple itself. A large number of people including me, go there only for the sake of the laddu ! If the laddu is made available in counters at reasonable cost, I and many like me would leave the God to rest in peace !
Laddu over God !
Well, it is almost midnight now and my last grub was at 8:00 PM. If I have to "Live, Love and Laugh"; I have to catch up with something to eat. So, let me scoot and see what is there in the fridge. Thankfully Wife and Mom are fast asleep and I should be fine very soon !

Food night everyone !



Dr. Punned-it