Saturday, August 20, 2011


“A field full of swaying crop tells us that a grain has buried itself into the ground to give birth to thousands of grain. The grains which do not bury themselves are taken to the flourmill and ground into flour. The grains which sacrifice by burying themselves in the soil give birth to a swaying field of crop.” (courtesy

As I walked home wearily at the end of a long, tedious day after a packed schedule of consultations, hospital rounds and two particularly complicated deliveries, I could hear the rumbling in my stomach. Now I knew why I felt so lightheaded. No breakfast or lunch, just two cups of tea and a few biscuits had come my way since morning! I quickened my pace, eager to reach home and the hot meal which awaited me.

With plate in hand, I switched on the television…….
“Anna Hazare given permission to fast for 15 days at Ramleela ground.” “Anna says he won’t give up fast till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed in Parliament.”
“Doctors pronounce Anna fit and healthy.”

I look down at my half eaten dinner. 12 hours of food deprivation had my mind and body protesting! Here was this man willing to forgo food for 15 days to fight a battle not truly his own. To quote the great man himself,” When a seed buries itself, it leads to a better yield. In order to get a better yield of grains, one single seed needs to bury itself.”  Simple farming philosophy from a simple man.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011


Two hours of incessant rains on Thursday evening flooded Mumbai city. The reception area of my consulting room was packed with patients who, fooled by the balmy afternoon weather, were caught unawares and waiting for the rain to stop. Soon, all realized that, this was no passing shower but a fullblown storm with thunder and lightning and all! One by one, all trundled out, reluctantly leaving the shelter of the hospital in search of an autorickshaw to take them home.
I still had to take rounds at my nursing home situated one kilometer away and decided to walk since there was kneedeep water all around. It was a route fraught with danger but I was well prepared for a day like this. From the start of the monsoons, I had done my homework. I had been studying this stretch of road between the Milan subway signal and Podar school signal at Santacruz. Every pothole and open gutter had been mentally mapped! I started walking. Straight till the bus stop, a swerve to the right, step off the pavement till the corner, a swerve to the left, get back on the footpath, keep straight till the signal, now cross the road, walk straight till the next bus stop, now recross the road and completely avoid the pavement till the next signal, now step onto the pavement and walk in an absolutely straight line till the building gate, take a sharp 90 degree turn and….voila, I was home safe and sound. WOW, five open gutters and three huge potholes, all nimbly avoided. I waltzed into the building in my new “Gene Kelly meets James Bond” avatar. I had perfected my raindance!
 However, the next morning, I did a quick recon after the waters had receded. I will have to add a few more steps to my routine. The topography had changed! Well, that’s life in Mumbai! Never a dull moment……. 

Friday, July 22, 2011


13/7, 7.30 p.m. I was in my consulting room when news of the bomb blasts trickled in. Within minutes, the reception area wore a  deserted look as all the patients rushed home. However, I had to wait it out. A patient was in labour and it made no sense to go home till she had delivered. I switched on the television only to turn it off minutes later. Burning cars, injured bystanders, the screaming and shouting……… it was just too depressing.

I walked into the labour room. Here, once again, shouts and screams filled the air. The soon to be mother was in the final stage of labour and bearing down. This, I could handle! Within minutes, the lusty cries of a healthy 8 pounder could be heard. On a day filled with death, it felt good to celebrate life. Joy erupted in the labour room.

As I walked home in the light drizzle, I thought to myself, “This is courage! Nine hours of intense labour pains to bring life into this world. Hey you, Mr. faceless terrorist, planting bombs to kill innocent people is an act of cowardice. If you have the guts and truly believe in your 'cause', be a man. Come crawling out of whichever hole you have hidden in and face the families of the dead victims. Till then, you are a coward and not to be feared."

Life can and will go on.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


“Only one mosquito counted in Mumbai during a mosquito census conducted by the municipal corporation”, screamed newspaper headlines last week! This census was conducted in the wake of an epidemic of Malaria in the city which, in the monsoon, is the norm. So, what’s the fuss? I wonder what was done with that pesky, insatiable, one-man army mosquito. Surely it should have been captured alive and inducted in a hall of Fame [or is it Shame?]. Perhaps Mme Tussauds would consider making its wax replica for display. It definitely deserves a mention in the Guinness Book of world records as the world’s most bloodthirsty mosquito! Maybe, just maybe, the Indian Army has borrowed it for a secret mission involving chemical warfare, Mumbai ishtyle.

Somehow, the article brought to mind an anecdote involving a 70 year old man and his 24 year old wife. They had come for consultation since the wife had not conceived even after 3 months of marriage, which, in the gentleman’s eyes, was an adequate period of time for the job to get done. He disclosed that his 2 former wives had become pregnant in the first month of marriage itself and had provided him with a dozen kids. I don’t think even he was sure of the exact number! Unfortunately, both had died at an early age, hence the remarriage so that there was a woman in the house to care for the large brood.

On seeing my shock, the wife smiled sweetly and said, “I am very happy. He treats me with respect.” On being told that, at his age, it may be some months before his wife conceives, he stormed out of my clinic muttering under his breath something about dumb doctors especially of the female kind! I watched their departure with a disturbed mind.

Exactly a year later, the couple walks into the clinic with a baby. The wife was a picture of radiant motherhood. The old husband had a triumphant smile on his face and had come to gloat. That night I had a terrible dream of a heavy downpour where on closer look, each raindrop was actually a newborn baby wearing a wrinkled, grinning face. YUCK!!!  I woke up in the morning determined to erase this episode from my mind. A movie, I thought, would do the trick. No prizes for guessing which one I saw……..

…………“Buddah Hoga Terra Baap” [a recent Bollywood flick which literally means “Your dad may be old but not me” a colloquial slang used in a mildly abusive vein]

Oh God! No more nightmares, I hope!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Lost my fourth cell phone today and spent the entire day without one (for a good cause and not my fault, really). This brought back memories of my early years in medical practice when we were wholly dependent on the landline. A list of all possible landline numbers was given to the on-duty sister who would diligently call on each till she could locate me. For movies, there was a friendly panwallah, with a phone, just outside our local theatre, who would be given our seat numbers, so that, in an emergency, he could notify us. Thus, in blissful oblivion, passed many years till pagers came into our lives.

Pagers became instant status symbols and we wore them clipped to our jeans/kurtas like a fashion accessory. However, the umbilical cord binding us to the landline could not be severed as yet, since, we had to rush to the nearest phone when the pager blipped.

Finally, the cell phone arrived. With freedom in our hands, our lives changed drastically and today, I wonder, how we ever managed to survive without one which brings me back to my saga of lost phones.

The first one was left behind in an auto, when I must have kept in on the seat, while paying the fare. How the second got lost remains a mystery! One minute it was in my hand as I am rushing to the hospital for a delivery and the next minute it has disappeared! Must have dropped it, I presume. The third phone was left behind at Datta’s [a famous batatawada stopover enroute Alibaug, a seaside getaway ].We had almost reached, when the hospital nurse called on my husband’s cell to inform us that my cell number is no longer available, which in lost cell phone parlance means stolen/never to be seen again. We had become quite the experts by then!

Till, finally, today’s story. I am, as usual, rushing for a delivery at five a.m. All is quiet except for the pounding of my feet. A stray dog suddenly emerges barking from beneath a parked car. I freeze, hit the panic button and throw my phone at him. We stare at each other in shock, he retreats unhurt beneath the car and I sheepishly retrieve my phone from a puddle of rain water, knowing, that once again I will have to make the trip to the now familiar store with a demand for an instrument which is easy to use and inexpensive so that there is no heartburn when it gets lost, as it will, eventually………

P.S.  New APP for cell phones:-

   Only compatible with cheap instruments!
   Can be used as a missile against barking stray dogs.  YEAH!!!!