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 22, 2010

Yaadein; Bees Saal Baad...

My friend Murali wanted me to start an Orkut group for our Class of 1988 from Medical College Bellary; now known as Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences Bellary [VIMS, Bellary]. That was about 2 years ago. I did that, but it has moved at the pace Saurav Ganguly scores his runs these days.

The intention was to get all the guys and gals together for a grand reunion for celebrating 20 years of the beginning of our journey. It made no progress whatsoever. But finally a girl from our batch took the lead to organize the event and it is almost certain that we will be seeing ourselves on Saturday, 3 April 2010 at Bangalore! Am I thrilled?

What was it about Bellary that makes so many of us yearn for a reunion? The first time I saw on Indian Express that I was allotted a Medical seat in Bellary, I felt a deep chill down the spine. For the people from Coastal Karnataka, the rain-less Bellary was an equivalent of Andaman in those days. My uncle even joked about me getting exiled to Kaala-Paani!

Due to some Technical faults committed by the Directorate of Technical Education, I ended up a month too late in Bellary. I must say, those were the most difficult days of my life. The unknown world, unknown people, unknown food and above all the ‘Anatomy Hall’!

I told myself, “It is just a matter of how many days I will survive this ‘Concentration Camp’. I will never be a Doctor!” I never told this to anyone, but I was readying to return home and go back to native place and try my hands at business!

Some seniors were ‘Good’, some were ‘Bad’ and some were ‘Ugly’. From what I heard from other classmates, I had escaped the worst of ragging. My heart went out to my mates who had endured much worse.

I will shun the bad and the ugly because they in the end were like us when it came to life. But some of the good ones must be remembered. My room-mate Subba, Lokesh, Shailesh, Mallya, Sripad and many more from the fifteenth block were really nice and they made life more tolerable.

Some more seniors like Leslie Lewis, Aron Fernandez, Prashanth Raj, Maxim, Shankar Mallya, Dennis, Lakshmish Shetty, Jayaram Shetty and Monappa too were really helpful. I might have overlooked a few names because there were too many nice people and this post might end up looking like a Bellary Alumny Logbook if I go on enumerating all the names!

But there were two other things I was more scared than the seniors and the Anatomy hall; and that was ‘Vangi Baath’ and 'Chau Chou Baath'. The first one was a rice-based dish peppered with brinjal. The second one was a combined sweet and salted preparation of rava served together. Both these were served on almost alternative days in our hostel mess. I knew why they called the place ‘Mess’. Vangi Baath delicacy was nicknamed ‘Concrete’ by seniors. Soon we came to know why it was so; obviously because it stayed in the stomach longer than most of the other foods!

But gradually the life started to get its color back. The confusion over ‘Scapula’ and ‘Scalpel’ was solved and the Mnemonics for the carpal bones started to look ‘pretty’. “She looks too pretty, try to catch her”! This was the first ever Mnemonic I remember. And then it became a business!

It reached such a rage, one of our classmates reached the highest altitudes in forming Mnemonics. During our phase-2 exams, he came to my room one night and told, “Hey I have now studied everything and formed Mnemonics for each and every topic. Classifications will never bother anyone in medical college in future. But there is only one problem now”. My room-mate, “What’s that?” Our man, the Head of the Department of Mnemonic-ology quipped, “There are so many of these, that I have totally forgotten which Mnemonic is for which topic”!

We had classes, practical classes, the labs, the dissection sessions and then the library. I was so overwhelmed by the volumes of those voluminous books; I started to hate the library. Till the end I stepped into the library only to write exams or to pull out some guys who were reading or were pretending!

This was the same guy who had actually run out of books in the public library at my native place! I was such a voracious reader and here I was totally damned by these books. But I had to read them. Survival was a necessity; I realized going back home was neigh say impossible. It would break my parents and make me a butt of ridicule in town.

Gradually even these books and all the studies became commonplace. So I realized one truth, “Every mountain looks enormous and insurmountable only till you actually climb it”. So terms became phases and we phased into third phase and then it was all over! There were failures, success, heartbreaks, victories and a lot of fun!

Cricket, Cinema, Caroms and Chums formed the entire universe. We had a huge advantage of having a single and secluded campus. All the hostels were within the campus. Many of our teachers too stayed close by. The College, the OPD or the Hospital too was only at a stones throw. Some of the huge shots played by my senior room-mate Partha had allegedly landed at the OPD! But that unfortunately happened long before we landed in Bellary. And then there were Parijatha, Kiran Bakery and other small hotels!

Those movies, those songs and those days are still vivid in memory. Mani Ratnam became an Icon and Ram Gopal Varma revolutionized the way fights were shown in movies. 'Chinna Chinna Aasai' still gives me the same fresh feeling we had twenty years ago. I have that song on my Corby and that is my ring tone for my friends! Life after all is all about Small small wishes! Times have changed, we all have metamorphosed but the inner core of those days remains fresh even today!

Some of the friends made a deep impression on me and the impressions have stayed with me to-date and perhaps will stay till end. D. N. Manjunath taught me what endurance is. Srinivas Reddy taught me to laugh; at myself. G. T. Sreenivas was all about determination. My friend Murali was just that; a friend any person on earth can hope for. The politeness of Vineeth [Dabba], the cool attitude of Chandrasekhar [C], the brilliance of Madhu, Devendra Reddy and Satya and the meticulousness of Vishwanath Nayak; I have learned from them all!

Again there are so many of them, I will be really hard pressed to name them all. But I will go to hell if I don’t mention the hardships faced by Jagan and the way he has conquered them! Hats off to all of my friends! I am what I am today because of a lot of help, inspiration and the friendship of these chaps.

Since we had a single campus, there were the inevitable love stories. So a lot of boys started of as ‘Rakhi’ brothers, but ended up as lovers. In some cases, the love story ended with the ‘Rakhi’! I too had my own share of crushes, but was too shy to ever disclose it! And I was really mortified by the thought of a ‘Rakhi’ being tied by ‘the girls’!

I can go on and on with the story and it may end up as a novel for another movie like ‘3 Idiots’. That will be another thing I don’t mind doing! But for now, I have to cut this short somewhere.

So here I am 22 years later, retaining the same vigor with which I landed in Bellary on a rainy-day in 1988. Why do I love Bellary? Or do I love Bellary at all? The answer is, simple. It is not Bellary or the college that I loved. It is the “Friends”! It is those cherished bitter-sweet moments! It is those heartaches and nostalgia! We all yearn to relive those momentous moments. And that is why we all want to meet again and see ‘Ourselves’!

With a huge thanks to Pushpalatha for taking the lead in arranging this; I am counting every moment of these days for the moment to meet up all of you guys and gals! Can’t wait to say, “That indeed was a beautiful life and thanks to you all!”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A World full of Celebrities!

Shah Rukh Khan once told, "People often tell me about my inability to move out of house without getting mobbed and sympathize for that. They say, so sad and how difficult it is! But I know these guys are ready to give the right hand to be in my shoes". This could easily be construed as arrogance of a Superstar. But this is not! This is plain truth and nothing but truth.

Almost an entire generation of this nation will be willing to be in SRK's shoes. What about me? I am not ready to give my right or left hand or any limbs or any other part of my anatomy. That will further lessen my chances of attaining stardom. But, I will be bluffing if I say, "I don't want to be as rich and as famous as Khan". You love him or hate him, but the fact is SRK is perhaps the second most popular Indian today!

My daughter is going through her sixth standard exams. On the last day of school, she came with her autograph book. Her friends had written the routine kid stuff. Then she showed me a white paper with an indecipherable thing that looked like a signature. Against character, she had preserved it well and hence I was curious to know what it was! She told me that was an autograph of a 'famous' singer. I had never heard that name and I still can't remember it, but for my daughter, that was a Celebrity.

My mother often wonders if there are any 'Normal People' in Mumbai at all. Looking at the surplus of entertainment channels overflowing with serials infested by hosts of actors, even I think she has a point. Look at any Cinema or television awards ceremony and we can see an entire auditorium or sometimes even a stadium full of stars and celebrities! Every channel will have an awards ceremony and there are millions of awards given away to thousands of people. It seems as if the world is brimming with celebrities!

It is neigh say impossible today to step out of your house without bumping into some celebrity. They are there, everywhere; be it Cinema, Super market, Hospital, Restaurant or even Railway-station. During a single Sunday evening outing, I came to know of the celebrity status of four young people thanks to my daughter. She seems to know them all.

Other problem we face is an offshoot of this "Celebrity syndrome". Everyone resembles one or the other celebrity today, and sometimes more than one! Facebook has an application that helps you to find out your celebrity look alike. This magnificent program even gives you the accurate percentage of your resemblance to a celebrity. Since long, I have heard people talk about my resemblance to Kannada actor Ananth Nag and later Ramesh Aravind. But the Facebook application says I resemble Sharman Joshi up-to 87.3%! What an exact excess of information, thanks to the Information era!

The Celebrities are people like 'You, Me and Hum!'. They too have likes, dislikes, moods, emotions, problems and then menstrual periods. It often never occurs to us that the stars too can have "Bad hair days" or "Off Color days". One small event of show of emotions from a star and the people and the media go to town and even to jungle with the story. They will do exclusive 'Breaking News' of Star Tantrums! I can relate to a certain extent to Amitabh Bachchan's anger towards those people who had written some nasty things about Aishwariya Rai, his beloved daughter-in-law.

I have met some celebrities purely out of accident. Kannada actor Late Vishnu Vardhan and Malayalam actor Late Cochin Haneefa were two among them. Both were fabulous persons and I really admire them for their down to earth nature. I have also met Jagathi Sreekumar, Manoj K. Jayan, Navya Nair, Urmila Unni, Director Lal of 'Harihar Nagar' fame and Director Rafi of 'Punjabi House' fame. All these people were perfectly normal human beings. Late Lohitha Das was another celebrity who was absolutely charming. He was forced to do a stress-test twice due to some technical snag. Forget about tantrums, he didn't even complain. Sanjay Dutt was another chap without much of 'Star Airs'!

In the final analysis, the celebrities are people just like us with some additional gift and a lot more name, fame and of course money! So on the verge of forty, yours truly still wants a share of the star-dust if it comes without having to struggle! That is the key-word, "Struggle". We all envy the stars and celebrities, but never look at the struggles they would have endured to reach where they have.

So I believe we have to give it to the celebrities; the small, the medium, the big and the all time greats! We have to respect them and leave them alone to live their own life; because like us, they too live only once! So live and let live!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Learning is Living !

"Getting better is a process that never stops. It's the reason why I get up every morning and head out there for training" Said Sachin Tendulkar after his historical 200 in ODI ! That is definitely a topic to think, mull over and ruminate and then "Learn from it" !

Think of it, a man with most number of runs, centuries, records and awards in the history of Cricket talks about getting better. And he has proved he means every word of it. He has got better and better and then BETTER! The reason for his name, game and fame is this... Getting Better !

Learning is a process as vital as life itself. I just love the word 'Learning'. While at school, I always wondered why the word 'Studying' was used at all. That to me sounded like a punishment. "I am studying in sixth standard". Most of the kids look so solemn and so lost; there never was any fun in it.

I realized 'Learning' was a better word and 'Studying' was a poor cousin. You study something when circumstances force you to; but you learn something because you want to ! This is what I feel about these two words.

My English and vocabulary aren't as good as those of Shashi Tharoor and neither am I as smart as him. So let me be pardoned if my version is not acceptable to someone.

Learning starts with life, that is from the womb; and it continues till death and ends in the tomb! A newborn baby has to learn every bit about life from the moment it is born. It starts with the 'Cry'. The cry is vital to life, because that is when the hitherto unacclimatized lungs learn to breathe. The cry then helps the baby to communicate with the mother; hunger, thirst, discomfort and everything.

Then comes the sucking of breast-milk. The sleep, the smile and all the milestones. The milestones of a baby's growth that make the parents happy and proud are but a continued process of learning. Why do we all enjoy this ? Because we are 'Learning' and NOT Studying !

Even as the baby is learning to grow up, the parents too are learning. Learning about parenting and about the responsibilities of parenthood. At any socioeconomic level, in any society, country or religion; growing up of a baby is a special feeling and nothing can better it.

Every baby is born special and smart. Perhaps our education that demands studying rather than learning makes us dumb. I have discussed in an earlier post "Mathematics: Cutting the Diamond simplified" how vision in teaching can turn the dull and drab studying into an enjoyable learning process!

As we progress, a lot of people think we have learned everything. Well, to be precise, 'Studied everything'. This feeling is the beginning of the end of progress. I remember a very talented pace-bowler from Karnataka who shot to fame during the boom-time of Karnataka Cricket in the 90s.

His name was David Johnson. He was quick and he swung the ball both ways and bowled a good bouncer. The BCCI sent him to the Dennis Lillee Pace Academy in Chennai to train better. He left the Academy within a short span claiming, "I have learned EVERYTHING". This attitude irked T. A. Shekar the Coach and he was disappointed. Just look at David Johnson's career stats. Well, no need actually. He hardly had any career at all! The importance of Sachin Tendulkar's words become evident here !

Lack of opportunities is a common refrain used by lazy people. I love the quotable quote, "You are unlucky if you are born poor, but you are a fool if you die one". The urge to improve oneself forms the foundation of a successful life. Nothing new learned is ever a loss; we never know when it comes handy.

I developed a fascination for Computers when I was finding it difficult to get a break in my Post-Graduate Entrance Examinations. I never got a PG seat. But what I got instead was a flair for the Technology. That meant I was quicker in picking up the nuances of newer testing methods and the use of Computer aided technology in Medical Field. This has created a place of my own for me in my institution.

But is this enough ? No, I have to keep learning something; some new thing and sometimes even old things ! At the risk of sounding Philosophical in the '3 Idiots' mood, I don't believe life is a race. Life  is rather like 'running on a treadmill'.

We have to keep on running on the treadmill. The speed might increase and the inclination might go upwards, but we have to cope up and keep up. If we don't, we fall down ! We can decide the speed and the inclination to suit us, but never give up on learning and never stop running ! Running keeps one 'Fit and Fine' !

The process of learning continues with age. Learning to adjust to new school, new friends, new jobs and everything new. Teen-age brings teen-aches. Youth brings responsibilities. Adulthood brings added weight. Middle-age brings insecurities. Older we get; pains, illnesses and sufferings increase.

Every born individual has to go through these if one lives long enough. Looking at some extraordinary and eminent people going through extremely difficult days in old-age has convinced me about the futility of 'Carrying Ego' !

Death is the final and definite frontier and not a single human has crossed and 'Outlived' it ! But does the process of learning end here ? Yes and No ! 'Yes' only to the one who has died and 'No' to all the others.

Life goes on and the process of learning goes on. The kith and kin have to learn to live with the pain and sorrows and without their loved ones. This too is learning, howsoever painful it is. And this pain and final and binding truth also comes with a lot of wisdom !

If we keep our mind, eyes, ears and all the senses open and alert; we keep learning something every moment of life! And that to me is the essence of life itself; Learning is Living !

Dr. Pun-dit