Category Archives: random thoughts

BLOG VACATIONS AND JETLAG

The Sixpack Doc explains why this blog has been unattended for so long, and what changes have elapsed in the interim. Check out his post on ‘Random Thoughts on an Unfit America‘. More later!

BROWNIAN THOUGHTS

* Since I have not given you (much beloved) people much food for thought, I am posting a couple of totally random and erratic (therefore Brownian) thoughts so that you can use it as a bailout plan for your mental retardation brought about by listening to news readers, political leaders like Mr. Obama, Mr. Karat, Mr. V Gandhi, Mr. Everybody, and also the intensely silly statements issued by whothefugisthis starlets in your local newspaper supplement (“I have a glass of carrot juice and an apple for breakfast, I love Gucci shoes and Ermenegildo Zegna ties for my boyfriend, and I MUST shop for them when I tour abroad for my shoes shows”, etc.)

*A man who remembers everything from age five is said to be suffering from hyperthymestia, a rare disease affecting only four other people, who remember every crap they took in life. What a life, and what a disease to have, poor things! It is better to sustain some related affective disorder of the brain. Like gynecomestia, something I have. Not gynecomastia (which means male breasts-something I, er, don’t have, and which many women find sexy), but with an ‘e’. Extract from Wonkipedia: “A disorder, exclusively affecting heterosexual males, where they remember every girl they have loved and not loved, married and not married…” These dudes are always seen to be having retrograde ejaculation, which means they are making exclamation remarks about some girl or the other they remember from the long post past at any given point in time. Of course, doctors know retrograde ejaculation to mean something else, but who cares for doctors, ejaculating or otherwise?

*** I could blog more frequently if I could write on fitness and health issues, but I respect my readers’ preferences for my inane barley-water humor, and I refrain from inflicting my views and experiences of things like the Glute Ham Raise. Whatever. Would you like that? I can hear the dismay already!

**** Update: I have created a new health/fitness blog: the name is (cringe) “six pack doc”. I am truly sorry, but the deed has been done in a moment of madness.

WHY GOVERNMENT BUSES RUN EMPTY (AND SIMILAR SUCK-CESS STORIES)

Many of my old readers surely know how big a fan I am of Big Government. After all, the tax money collected in the interest of the destitute and the poor needs to be spent on things that are crucial for the poor man on the street. All are agree?, a question Government resolutions are frequently preceded by. Among the various ways our taxes are spent include:
1. Giving employment to unemployable youths.
2. Subsidies to grains, kerosene and sugar so that they can be sold by ration shop owners at a higher price in the open market (after all, the market knows no morals, as everyone knows).
3. Build statues of the great leaders of our country who have saved several billions of dollars of the nation’s monies by transferring them to Swiss banks, thereby ensuring steady and safe growth.
4. Build and run hotels so that the poor relatives and workers of political figures can stay when desire strikes them.
5. Run airplanes that can be used by the poor when regular private airlines are packed to capacity.
6. Pay the bills for helicopter rides and private charter planes that carry our beloved leaders to their farmhouses or mistresses.
And so on. Why rehash this old crap, you ask?
Well, I recently heard of a way whereby another great public service our Government provides us, the Public Transport system, helps us.

bus_delhi
(source: http://www.travelindiasmart.com)

Here is an example:
A State Express bus, traveling around 50 kms from point A to point B, is often found to be, in official records, to be running nearly empty. The puzzling contradiction is how those empty buses are never seen in reality. The mystery has been resolved by a group of inspectors who have found that the conductors of the buses are charging a ‘subsidized’ rate, especially from ‘old (monthly-pass) customers’ and allowing them travel without the need to issue tickets. The money is generally split between the hard working driver and the conductor.
Protesting passengers are discouraged– if necessary by eviction from the moving bus. Needless to say, our paying public has found a way to manage this, and a compromise struck with the employees, many of whom have bungalows and cars and marry off their daughters in non-Governmental style. Role models for our wayward youth, surely!
A similarly enterprising group comprises of workers in various Government Hospitals, especially the large teaching institutes.
india-29-healthcare-488
(source:www.oxfam.org)

A typical example is of a technician in the Radiology Department who performs dozens of x-rays every day, using dyes that are used in the x-ray procedure.
For example, a study called the IVU needs two ampoules of a contrast material (as the dye is correctly called). Now, each ampoule usually contains 50ml. Our enterprising technician uses 40 ml in every case. Every fourth case or so, instead of opening a new ampoule of contrast, he uses the 40 ml of saved material, uses it for the last case, and pockets a brand new ampoule (which has been bought by the last patient).
This ampoule, along with many others that accumulate from his enterprising cost-cutting, is sold to the same neighboring pharmacy from where these patients are asked to get contrast from. Sweet, is it not, how our hard working State employees manage to make some extra money in these hard times?
Extrapolate this to drugs, including third gen antibiotics, anesthesia drugs, suture materials, disposables, implants, catheters, and a hundred other things, and what do you have?
A full-fledged cottage industry of larceny and fraud, complete with 100% tax exemption and 100% job security.
Let us, on this note, dedicate ourselves to Eternal and Enterprising Government!

WHY NANDAN CANNOT FIND INDIA ON A MAP

I have not had any urge to write all these days, and I can’t say I am in the best of mindsets to do a good job. However, here is a small essay written, with my active help, by my son. I hope you tolerate me for this. You cannot find a drier piece than this, I am sure.

I live in the city of Kolkata, surrounded by dusty buildings, most of them made of bricks, and some of them of a mix of thatch, wood, mud and plastic. The latter type of building makes for the shanties that freely thrive in my neighborhood.
In one such shanty lives Nandan. I have been seeing him for the last two years. Nandan does not study in my school. He works in a garage next door, by the side of the street.
At those times when the ball flies out of the building walls and lands in the garage (whenever we play cricket in our compound), Nandan is found ready with it, handing it over to us reluctantly. I have sometimes heard him being rebuked by his master for wasting time looking for the ball beneath some damaged car or the other.
Nandan looks like a grease monkey. Really. He works on his back, lying on the rough muddy ground and hands over tools to the car mechanic who is his teacher and mentor. As the day goes by, the muddied lubricants from the spare parts of the cars find their way from his hands to his face and neck. The only thing the black paint cannot hide is his brilliant smile. But that is something I have seldom seen.
Nandan does not play with us, as he is busy at work. When we are at school, he is at the workshop, and when we are playing, he is right there. We got talking sometimes, but not much.
While me and my friends are getting plumper watching TV and playing on the computer, he is thin as a rail. He cannot even find his country on a map, I found! He told me one day that he wanted to learn English and maths, and asked about how my school looked. I don’t know whether he believed me when I told him how grand and old my school was.
At home, Nandan gets to eat with his brothers (while I have none), but his mother is too busy with household work to talk to him or put him to sleep. Or else she is too busy fighting with other ladies in the shanties over whose turn it was at the toilet or the water pump. I have seen this many times from my verandah, high up in my building.
I am sure he must be getting bitten all over at night by bugs, while I sleep in comfort a few storeys above him. I sometimes wonder whether I deserve being better off than him, but then, this is not the age when I need to handle tough questions!

SAVING THE TERRORIST

I have been in Mumbai in the situation it finds itself in at present. I have been in the forefront of a disaster management team (to flatter a rag-tag army of residents, nurses, ward-boys and Superintendents in a Hospital) when the Babri Masjid riots took place in 1992, and, not much later, when the Bombay Stock Exchange and Air India were blown up.

I saw from close quarters how barbaric people can be in the headwinds of the irrationality of collectivism (often religion). I am talking of general wholesale slaughter of any person of a community if he made the mistake of being seen. It cut both ways, and this was doubly unfortunate during the Babri Masjid riots.

I wonder, upon learning that the poor little innocent boy who shot a few people in the railway station (the name changed from Victoria Terminus to the more elegant-sounding and hip CST), wants to live. Poor baby! How can you not want to?
I was thinking if I were the surgeon operating on him (assuming he had major gunshot wounds-which he had not), wouldn’t I have been tempted to let my knife slip near a major vessel and see some major bleeding, thereby causing, if not death, definitely major morbidity?

I would well be tempted, truth to tell. I would have controlled my temptation by telling myself, “He is precious to the country for what secrets he will reveal and your job is to heal, not to kill”. A moment after I think this, I am reminded of the Afzal Mahmoods of the world who got escorted and released by a rat-faced Indian Foreign Minister when Taliban terrorists hijacked an Indian plane to Kandahar.

I am happy I am not treating this dear little kid. I would have actually wrung his neck with my bare hands. Forget the knife (I cannot commit surgical murder-for that I expect to be paid), but with my bare hands, I would have loved to pinch his jugulars and lovingly choke his larynx. A ‘thank you for visiting India’ on behalf of the hundreds of people killed and maimed by him and his friends.

Nevertheless, I wonder: “What is the duty of a doctor to the enemy in times of war?”
I know the textbook answer. I am not sure how real it is. Especially in this kind of war.

A CARE-ER CHANGE?

An anesthetist I know has decided to quit his job and move to another city.
He is doing so not because he is not happy with his current job, but because his daughter, who is a talented Carnatic classical singer, wants to train under some guru in Chennai.

In order to support his daughter’s career goals, our man is shifting base. The fact that he is an anesthetist, and a good one at that, allows him the freedom to shift cities more easily than, say, a surgeon in private practice. Having to build a career and reputation in a new place all over again would be nothing less than a curse.

On the other hand, a doctor is getting his son admitted to a local, small-time, private engineering college, though the boy got admission in other cities with better colleges. His reason: his wife and he wanted his son to live with them. He refused to understand that the parents’ decision was rather unfair to the son’s future prospects.

I have thought about the first example a bit seriously: how much would I be willing to forsake for my family? No, not for a life and death issue, but for something merely potential, like a better prospect for a child or a better job for a wife. I have realised that I could do it, provided the family members could accept the implications and repercussions of my move. In fact, I have long made a standing offer to my wife to take up a high-paying job in a First World country, so that I could become a house-husband (is there a politically correct name for this post?), dealing with the kitchen and garden, apart from taking up a project to write a magnum opus, the kind that publishers would throw their cheque-books at me for. I have also promised her free sex if she accepts this offer.

To cut a long story short, she has not even bothered to respond. She plans to keep me in bonded labor till such time as her interests are not fulfilled. Which probably means I will work till I drop.

Would you shift base for your spouse or kid? In the first example, the doctor who is shifting to Chennai is also into Carnatic music. What if your kid or spouse were to want to do something you did not believe in or share? Would you still disturb your career for that? Comments??

WORLDS APART!

My daily life is replete with ugly sights, foul smells, and sad sounds. Such is the life of practising doctors. I had accepted this long back as a part of surgical life, and trained myself to disconnect my non-professional life from the feedbacks of life with the sick and suffering.
A very minor taste of this:

My nephew, award-winning car designer Harsha Ravi, lives in a different world, as do many of you.
Here is what he is up to. Take a look.

Is it small wonder, then, that I strongly discourage youngsters from getting into medicine? With so many things to be passionate about and excel in, why choose medicine, with all the tensions, ugliness, etc.? What do you think?
One other thing, too: I consider youngsters like Harsha to be not merely lucky to have lives like this, but also smarter, in that today’s kids know what not to do!

Pics: patient pics mine; others from Harsha’s article.