Thursday, September 30, 2010

Delhi,CWG and a poorman's bread!

Travelled to Delhi.
The only referance to the Ayodhya verdict I heard on the way was from some of the bearers in the train who were arguing with a passenger.Delhi seemed ready for the commonwealth games.A sleepless night had ensured that I be behind in energy ,steadiness and patience.The normally 45 minutes drive from Nizamuddin to Dwarka took three hours straight.Thanks to the CWG lane the government had segregated, the cars in a row crawled in the traffic while one half of the road looked empty un-used and superfluos.
Delhi did not look one bit like one of the economic superpowers holding an international event of repute.
Had already heard so much about the mud-slinging that was going on in the television channels ,I did not want to add to it,but I did feel bad for the auto-rickshawpuller who had to make do with a single sawari when he could have done three in the time.
I do after all, agree with Mani Shankar Aiyar to an extent I think!-but I do want the games to do well.

A night in the station

The Ayodhya verdict was scheduled on the 30th of September 2010.I was to leave Chattarpur the same night at nine.A sudden phone call from my sister urged me to leave the hospital a day earlier on the 29th and it had to be at midnight to catch an on-going train to Delhi from Harpalpur.We were in the borders of UP,I had no access to television news so was unaware of the umpteen number of SPGs and the border closing measures the government had undertaken.Pappu,the sardar drove us through the night to a sleepy station past the mid-night.Rev Prakash who was travelling with me had a 'Frontline' which I managed to skim through in between slapping several mosquitoes that were having a field day sucking blood off the passengers in deep slumber inside the waiting room.I decided to move out to the benches for some fresh air.
An old villager lay on the bench stretched out to his full length covered by a thin chaddar.When he saw me approach the bench.He apologetically got up and attributed his prostation to ill-health.I wondered what urged him to share his discomfort with me.He walked off after sometime as though in a hurry to catch another train.
In the mean time a young lady in her twenties approached the seat with a basket in her hand.I watched her with a lot of interest to see what she was about.The basket contained a kilo of onions,a hundred grams of green chilli,ten to twelve limes and two pieces of radishes cut in half.There were two pieces of cloth which she tidied up meticulously,threw away some of the onion rinds that lay around ,covered the basket with one of the linens and sat put.I asked her where she was about,she had taken a train from Jhansi selling raw grams and had gone all the way seven stations through and was on her way back home after a night's work.All the grams were sold.I always get a feeling of joy when I am able to connect with these interesting everyday people I bump against in my frequent travels.There is so much to appreciate and learn from the common man.SHe decided to get a quick wink on the bench and requested me to wake her up when the train came adding that we could travel back together.I sat on watching the on-goings in that silent station I may in my lifetime never see again.The train came ,I woke her up .She assumed loudly that I would be getting into the AC coach,which I was.I found myself rather sadly walking away from the lady only too acutely aware of a missed oppurtunity to peep into a life which was so differently similar to mine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

India of the Risen Christ!

Glory of the Lord being manifest in the lives of Shadrachs,Mesachs and Abednegos from the North..
Moses' from the East and the West moving with the Hand of God upon them.
Joshuas from the South claiming every land they put their foot on for Christ.
And Davids from the core of and women after God's very own heart worshipping and loving him like the shepherd king.

India of the crucified Christ!

There was a prayer call for all churches in Chattarpur.
The only issue to be uplifted was the country.
While praying for India,I started painting a picture of Christ crucified in India.
It looked something like this.
The crown of thorns lay on Kashmir...the nailed hand bleeding on either side lay on Gujarat on one side and Orissa and the eastern states on the other.The foot of the Christ was in the south nailed to the cross again ,it seems.
The heart....the weeping..agonising...beating heart of Christ lay in central India....
but WAIT!...
there is something more...
but the reality of the risen christ continues to ellude the billions in the land!
Where is Mary Magdalene today??
('How will they know unless they are told...?')

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It's last but one week of September.In UP and the border districts of MP,all eyes are on Ayodhya.It's fascinating to note how every common man's decision about the week seems to be bordered around the verdict.People wanting early discharges,wanting more medicine,wanting to avoid travel.
The ward that admits the medical patients in the hospital here is a potpouri of socioeconomic mix.It is a large hall meant to house eye patients during season but is at the moment converted into a medical ward.
In the first bed ,next to the nursing station ,an endearing old man in his sixties with Alzheimer's who has developed a scrotal ulcer is bedded.His two sons and his wife attend to his needs and seem to be devoted enough.He is a bundled up mass of silver hair,looks almost like Einstein and wears a blank expression on most days.His every nuances and discomfort are well interpreted by his folks and brought to our notice.Twice a day,i make it a point to walk up to his bed and make conversations with him.We managed to get a wheel chair to take him for a stroll.On his good days there is a twinkle in his eyes and he makes some sounds and moves his hand.Today he caught hold of my hand and would not let me go.I find this whole world of dementia intriguing and wonder what actually goes on in the minds of these individuals.The small joys in looking after them are almost akin to seeing a small child conquering milestones.
In the first bed ,placed horizontally is a muslim women with UTI.Her husband,a tough looking mullah looks tense and seems to be in a hurry to be discharged.He makes the referance to the high court verdict and wishes to be in a safe zone before it comes through.I tell him nothing untoward should happen and assure him of our prayers.His face softens momentarily.I discharge the lady.
The patient on the next bed is a fiesty seventy year muslim lady .She walked into my OPD cheekily chewing a paan and smiling from ear to ear 48 hrs after a major antero-septal wall MI.SHe is like a thermostat in the space,smiling,relaxed,wise and warm.Ayodhya's can come and go-life would go on for her.
Another seventy year old gentleman labelled as cirhosis was brought in kicking,screaming and delirious.Thought it was hepatic encephalopathy but his enzymes were normal and there were no other features of liver cell failure.Treated him with anti-malarials.On the second day he was better but defiant and un-willing to eat a morsel.When I came in for the evening rounds he was at the foot of the stair-case happily tucking in loads of Bhel which his wife was lovingly serving him .I thought I would pull his leg for bit but he started weeping.I never could understand why he was crying.Could it have been a case of MDP?He loved the out-doors for one.He spent one entire day out hanging around the chowk and was back to his normal self the next day.
Eighty year old Sukhi Ram was brought to the OPD with acute onset of swelling in the tongue and infra-mandibular region with inability to speak.He had woken up with the complaints.His vitals were stable.I had absolutely no clue as to what I was dealing with.He was stone deaf and blind in one eye to boot.The tongue was grotesquely swollen and hanging out from the mouth.His clotting time was normal so I treated him with steroids and anti-histaminics.His swelling gradually receded.
When he got back his voice the first word he addressed to me was 'beti'with a toothless grin and began to up-date me about his bowel habits at length while the whole ward listened rapt!.
There were other patients in the ward with a variety of predictable diseases and behavior.
It was an important day in the life of the community they represented but for those who had lived through the longer portion of their lives,for those who had seen it all,for those who had known what it meant to be a muslim or a hindu through the partition days,it was clearly of no consequence.They were too busy living life.
Sukhi Ram,eighty years old,from a lower socio-economic background,a hindu,from the borders of Uttar pradesh-deaf and partially blind,obsessed with his bowel habits, had no qualms about addressing me, an oriental christian doctor, in her late thirties,physically sound in the ear and eye, and under normal circumstances, would be embarrased to discuss her bowel habits in public as 'his daughter'.
This is the India I know of in the rural parts and this is the India I enjoy and have learnt to love.The sectarians can take a walk!

An unreasonable man who is courageously wise and wonderful!

I read three books during my fortnight's stint in Chattarpur.The diary of an unreasonable man-by Madhav Mathur published by Penguins could pass of for a bollywood pot-boiler.'The cure 'by Geeta Anand,a senior writer with the wall street journal captured my fancy quite a bit.It deals with three of my favourite topics of medicine,research and sheer grit in the face of adversity.It's a true story about the Crowleys, whose two children are diagnosed with pompe's disease.The father fights his way through the difficult circumstances to save his children.It takes us into the world of research and the dynamics involved in the search for 'cure'.It has inspired a movie'Extraordinary measures'starring Brendon Fraser and Harrison Ford.I am yet to see the movie.
The third book I am glad I lay my hands on was James Herriot's novel'All things wise and wonderful'.A wacky,warm and well-written as only an english man can write english.I found myself chuckling,smiling and was at times touched by the anecdotes in the book.It's a take of a vetinary surgeon on a life amidst animals and humans in equal measure written sensitively,gently and profoundly.Loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

At it!

It’s been a hectic two days.Sort of getting started with the DNB classes-with exams just three months away ,we have two students from family medicine ,two from rural surgery and two from OBG appearing in December.By God’s grace help has been forthcoming from various sources-taking classes,helping with their course work,helping start a family medicine forum every Tuesday from three to four where the students sit together by themselves to discuss some prepared topics and share the schedule for the next week.One of them keeps the minutes and the non- exam going batch do some research on various topics given for the add-on.It’s just a way to encourage a dialogue ,discussion and a feeling of camadarrie amongst the students ,each one helping each other out in what ways one can.They had their first sitting yesterday amidst visitors from South Africa who were heavily into the system in the hospital.Had an average biryani and an excellent salad with strawberry ice-cream with the visitors in a restaurant in Selaquey(not sure of the spelling)-It’s half way to Dehradun,chatting all the way beyond the bumps and bolts of an average Indian road.
This morning had a surprise in store .Even as I got downstairs ,I could hear the rain on the roof-top.Anyone who knows me would know that I belong to the category of people who scoff at individuals who carry umbrellas and torches.Nine years of my stay in Satbarwa,I made do without them,never had a problem.However,this morning I found it nigh impossible to venture out .I was standing near the steps contemplating my next step when Sushil came out from his house and very graciously and quietly asked his wife to hand me her umbrella.We made it to the IP building and found the roofs leaking all over.It rained cats and dogs the whole morning.Very few patients trickelled in.Amongst them was an orthopaedic patient who had come all the way from Madhya Pradesh!By the time it was lunch time,there was almost a river flowing .We waded through the waters,the current was quite strong.I felt a moment of uncertainity with my weak ankles.The kindly youth from the church guided me through an easier route to my quarter.This was a flood situation and suddenly HCH was at it.The youngsters and old people alike were out in their shorts swimming,playing foot-ball,clicking snaps and generally having fun.From my open door,I could see Anu clicking away snaps.Sushil’s little twins very calmly watched the going ons .
I decided to catch some hurried sleep on my sofa before I got called from the casualty.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Walking with myself,with friends and with Jesus!

It is almost a fortnight since I joined goes on.
Was overjoyed to receive a brand new bronchoscope from a visitor in America.
Was faced with a spate of interpersonal problem issues from friends,from the one question during the day was why can't people get along?
I have started carrying a small book of meditation by Selwyn Hughes in my apron pocket.Sitting in the OPD ,I found myself having a constant desire in between the patients to get back to the Word.I couldn't find a Bible that would fit into my pocket,so next best thing that fit was this book.I like Selwyn Hughes' meditations.All through my growing up years our parents subscribed to 'Every day with Jesus'and we loved every issue of it often waiting for the new issue to come ,expectantly wondering what theme it would hold.
During my school days there was one more daily reading which we loved and spoke to us.It was called 'Spring in the Valley' and became mine courtesy my mother ofcourse!I even remember my hindu friends running over to my room to read the day's portion before starting off for the day's work.
I had my doubts about someone else's meditation comparing to the word of God...but as I read through those chapters I found a lot of useful little tips that blessed me greatly,one of which was to make Jesus the last thought in your mind before you sleep and to see how he fills your sub-concious life ...and your concious life...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A day of dissapointments!

I am sitting in front of the PC not exactly sure where I am getting.It has not been too good a day.Apart from a few dissapointments which I dealt with on my knees.I keep recieving strange notices off and on -notices to put my signature on-and I wonder to myself ,I thought I was trying to get away from all this.
I keep surprising myself with my own reactions.I have to literally talk to myself and say 'it is allright to be dissapointed'.
I remember one of my seniors in one of the sessions suggesting we talk to our soul as often as possible, as David did.Sounds amazing!but that wouldn't be possible if we ran the world .
The more I look at myself ,more fervently I find myself praying -
'Lord hide me behind your cross!