Friday, 10 January 2014

Jovial judiciary

The other day  I had my first encounter with the judicial system. As medical officers we have to attend to medico-legal cases and are called upon  to attend the court proceedings as expert witnesses. I was never before called as a witness, the reason being that majority of cases are settled outside the court. The victim was a lady who was assaulted by someone and sustained injury to her  nose, face and eyes. I was a bit anxious, not because I had to act as an evidence  expert but  because the case was straight forward. The lady had evident fractures over her facial bones which was evident on the CT scan. I was afraid that I would dishonour the court and judge as this was my first experience.
I took advice from my friend who had  the experience once who  assured me that it was just a formality. I tried visualizing  the scenario. The judge was Ms Khan( I don't think I should disclose the name). I expected her to be in her fifty , fair with wrinkles on her face and loose skin. She might have a heavy reading  glasses which she would drag to the tip of the nose to peer through when she asked questions. She could talk less and would  not tolerate  nonsense. She could even ask me to answer in yes or no , if I tried to explain things. Like many of the people my vision was influenced by the movies. My friend reminded me that  it was not that dramatic. I joked to him that , I would say , "Judge Sahib , is nadhan aurath ke roshni , chot Lagne ke karan chali gayi he. Aur me insaaf hu. Muje phaasi ki saja math do... I remembered  Sunny Deol as the angry young advocate in the film Damini, "Tarikh par tarikh, tarikh par tarikh, tarikh par tarikh, tarikh par tarikh milti rahi hai ... lekin insaaf nahi mila my lord, insaaf nahi mila ... mili hai toh sirf yeh tarikh".

But I knew that it was not at all dramatic. But I still will have to answer to the questions of the advocate standing on the podium. I rehearsed the oath I heard in the movies." Jo boloonga Sach boloonga , Sach ke bina kuch nahi boloonga.( anything I say will be truth and nothing but the truth). I woke up early that morning, I did not want to become late unless the judge would reprimand me for wasting the time of the court. I reached the court 30 minutes before the appointment and I was the first person. This gave me hints that after all it's another government office which works according to the indian standard time. I met the reader who marked my attendance and ofcourse he had to discuss his daughters ear problem. I understood that humans lived and owned the place. He told me to have some tea and return after some time as it would  take time for the proceedings.
I went to small tea stall in front of the court and ordered a tea. A police man had had his tea and asked the chay wala for the bill. I could see the surprise and reluctance on his face when he took the  money from the police man. But I was happy that he paid. I became happier when , a beggar asked for tea and he obliged. May be he was happy about the police man that he could help the poor. I drank the tea which was good , but could barely eat the oil soaked bread pakoda oozing yesterday's oil. I sat outside the court room and waited  for my turn. People slowly began to come and the surroundings became alive. Courts and hospitals have many things in common. People come here  in desperation and lots  of hope. Nobody like to visit  hospital or  court , they are always dragged to it. I remembered a post in Facebook that  "people like a doctor only when they don't need him ". By the time they have to meet a doctor they are desperate , anxious and angry. That may be the reason they are often exploited because they are many times left in a state where they have no other choices. The verdict of the judge or doctor becomes final. That is the reason I  consider my profession as  a great responsibility. I was looking at people and trying to identify Ms Khan. I was expecting it to be easy as I expected everyone to stand and pay salute to the judge. An advocate came to me and asked me whether I was the doctor who attended  as a witness . I was equally surprised and releaved to meet them. I later asked them how they  could recognise me and they said  that only doctors could sit calmly without talking, minding their own business when everyone around him was busy clattering. They ushered me into the court room where  I was surprised to see the judge. She was in her twenties or thirties , fair and good looking , even had a. Scarf on her head. Muslims who reached good positions in India usually never followed religious traditions. She was busy signing documents. The court room was filled with advocates  and people. They were busy preparing papers and submitting documents. There was a lot of noise which was against my expectations. Where was the hammer with which the judges banged and the room would go into pin drop silence. My advocates said that I only had to write an affidavit about the patient and her injuries. I wrote the affidavit and signed . They took me to the judge and told her that the doctor had come from a long distance only to give evidence,had to attend patients after returning and pleaded for priority. At least that part was dramatic as I was given leave for testifying in  the court. She looked at me and I  was not sure whether she saw me in the crowd. She signed the paper and asked the reader to provide me with travel allowance. My advocates told me that I would be free in 5 minutes when they prepared the payment slip. That's it, no Your Honour, no nothing but the truth, no cross questening. It ended just like that. I was rather  embarrassed that it ended like that. But my advocates told me that I would have to come later after 6 months or so to testify. They took me for a tea and amoung the pep talks I asked them , isn't madam too young to become a judge. Don't you need to become a senior to get to that post. They smiled and said that it was the system earlier and nowadays they only needed to take exams and training. I told them that ,one thing common in our profession is that right decision comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from experience. They agreed and said that both madam and  her husband were good judges. While returning they showed me the court room of her husband who looked much younger. But I noticed that people revered the position they are keeping and not the person in them.
(I later understood that this was a civil court and mine was just a preliminary evidence , otherwise court rooms would have had a heated atmosphere  like in movie lest  someone  misunderstands)

The eldest son

Friday, 11 October 2013

When the stars stared at us

Ever since I watched ‘ lion king’ I have always wanted to lie down beneath the open sky and stare up at the stars above… it was a beautiful sight when the little simba does that in the movie. Well my childish dream came true in Pushkar desert in Rajasthan. That was a part of our desert safari and we were told to sleep in the open sky while the stars may watch us sleep.  That was the 8th hilarious day in our 14 days all India trip. We were 34 in total… all very  young and adventurous… on our mission was  to discover the ‘Incredible India’. The surprise of the night was not only that… before sleeping, the natives  who were our  hosts, served us with a sumptuous maharajah meal ,consisting of plain rice, delicious dal and a‘chappatibonda’, but the interesting part was the finishing dessert ‘malpua’, a mouth watering dish that one should never miss.

The second maharajah meal was at Karim’s Restaurant ,New Delhi .People say that late Emperor Akbar’s cook is running the restaurant . The Mughalai experience was so delicious and memorable. Especially when a group of south Indian girls impatiently wait for the meal after travelling for one and half days by  train and saving up the stomach since morning for this auspicious ‘meal of the day’.We sat there impatiently waiting for our order while we chit chatted in the only language we were all thorough with, which is Malayalam while the people around us stared probably wondering  whether we are eating a meal for the first time in years.


At Karim’s, Delhi

Travelling is not always as merry as they say. Delhi Connaught Place is  a spot  I shall never forget . This is the place where my friend almost got lost in the metro station. I remember how much our adrenaline shot up at that moment. With little  knowledge of the place we were in and with our ridiculous knowledge in Hindi, for a moment we thought we are all done here. But luckily the fate was on our side and she joined us soon to our relief.

I didn’t  know what a darga was until I visited one .The one and only famous Ajmer Darga. What even more fascinated me is the road and crowd that led to the place. The streets were overflowing with people, a thousand activities taking place at a time apart from all these there were many  people  with special needs begging in the midst which was a very 'peculiar’ sight to see. There were crippled people rolling on their backs as they had neither hands nor legs. Such unpleasant sights are unusual to find in normal life even though throughout India it is not something uncommon. Inside the darga  it was very interesting to see how so many people of different creeds and faith came there.It amazed me when the devotees whether they be Hindu, Muslim,sikh or jain , were so preoccupied with worshiping or doing their rituals and ceremonies that they never care for any other activity happening around them. The place seemed to be like a Mecca in India.

The first time I tasted Kulfi was in Jaipur. I have heard about this delicious ice cream from some of my dear friends at school who happened to be coming from these parts of the country. Jaipur is a large city that have a rich history of past glories and wars. NowI know why the Indian Rajas are so famous throughout the world. The palaces are astonishingly huge and stunning and hats off to the masterminds who were behind those magnificent  palaces and forts.

View from Amer Fort to MaotaLake,Jaipur

Marble carved ceiling in Birla Temple, Jaipur

Jaipur shopping was a big experience. It was interesting how the shopkeepers cunningly convince us to buy from their shops and the way they advertise their goods… for a moment you think it is too good to be a lie. We walked through the streets at night in the busy bazaar area , and sometimes we had to stop for our friends who had trouble with their stomach which is usual at times during travel. Some of us unfortunately had to spend a good amount of their time in washrooms alone during the trip… and jokingly some of us say to them that it was All India Toilet Trip giving special consideration to the train toilets alone!!

Trains… even after few days coming back from the trip I could recall the train noises and feel myself as though I am sitting in the train while I am not…There were coolie waallas who walk to and fro with the container in their hand for tea,coffee and soup. I never thought train travelling would be a pleasure and nightmare at the same time. We didn’t have reserved seats at all when we booked our tickets. That means we had to sweat a lot with our heavy luggage and worst, two people were allotted per berth, and we were split among many compartments along with strangers.  But the plus side was that we travelled across rivers and paddy fields and the remote areas of central India which we could enjoy from the window and had the pleasure of meeting fellow travellers… who gossiped about anything in their life right from their daughter’s in-law house problems to their colleagues'  heart disease.

The chudi Bazaar surrounding Char minar is another wonder itself standing next to the big Indian wonder itself. Where ever I looked, the place was  all glittering and shining with bangles. There is so much noise and people like any other city. The variety of bangles they display at each shopper marvellous and we liked their prices too which were very cheap.

View from Golconda Fort to the Hyderabad city at the backdrop

Going to Ramoji film city was another tick to my bucket list.There was a replica of Eiffel tower and TajMahal,we strolled along the Japanese gardens, Mughal palaces,rode through European street sand what more, we were inside an aeroplane except that it was made of thermocol!! All at the same place in the same day!!

Eiffel Tower in Ramoji, Hyderabad

By the end of my travel I was struck by the stark contrast between the southern and northern india.The country is vividly rich in culture and tradition and one cannot help but admit the beauty of the nation.I did have a big time talking in hindi the whole time. For the entire trip right from the start I didn’t have any option except to talk in hindi. ‘Bhaisaab… thodakamkaro ..’ turned to be my favourite line after my shopping experience. I wonder how many shopkeepers and vendors had a good time laughing about the language that I managed to speak to them. At times I could see them smile through the curve of their mouth which means I just have blurted out a big blunder.Still when I sit back and relax in my room I would drift myself back in to the one and only all India trip we ever had.

By the niece

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Blissful Ignorance

It was summer time, when the out-patient department gets dry just like the weather. We joke  that the extreme weather saves us from frivolous patients who love doctor shopping. Only genuine patients who are really in need would dare the extreme weather. My patients got over by 1 am, which was very unusual even under these circumstances. I visited my colleague’s  room to see if he was free for a much wanted break.

His last patient was a middle aged villager who had taken his place on the revolving tripod in front of my friend. He wore the typical white turban covering his head. He had a big mustache, its  tip was sharp and pointed upwards. I could imagine  years of effort behind  his achievement. He   sharpened his mustache frequently  while he talked. This was the mark of his manhood and he took pride in it. He spoke in his typical colloquial Hindi which  carried a tone of spontaneous  innocence . His white clothes had stains of dirt on it as if he was  just coming  from his paddy field . Surprisingly, the two youngsters who accompanied him wore jeans and T shirts exhibiting an educated background. He was skinny and his face had many wrinkles which bore the reminders of his life’s struggle. But he had a beautiful smile to his advantage and spoke in a jovial tone. His smile made his mustache arch upward and produced dimples (which any other woman would love to have) in between the crisscrosses on his face. He smiled exposing his misaligned and tar coated teeth.

He came to us with vague complains. He said he has a neck swelling which is there for the last 12 years and some minor throat discomfort for the last few days. My friend tried to argue with him  saying  that the swelling could in no way be there  for the last 12 years. Swelling   that  remains  for 12 years and does not rob the life of the patients are limited in number and his swelling was definitely not looking like one which could have spared him. He smiled and said,” Doctor Saab, Apko jyada patha he. Tho do saal karlo”( Doctor , you know better than me, so make it 2 years). When asked about the throat discomfort he had , he said it was just mild and occasional. Then my friend started cross questioning him and he answered every time with the typical smile sometimes looking at my friend and sometimes at me. Any Cough? Sometimes .(Though he was constantly coughing in between his words). Any difficulty in swallowing or breathing? Negative. though  his breathing was labored even while sitting. Do you smoke? No .Actually, that was the wrong question. I don’t ask it that way. I ask them how many years have you  been smoking? What he meant by saying no was that , he didn't smoke  in front of us. I asked him in my way and he said that he smoked 2 bundles of bidi per day for the last 30 years and stopped 5 days ago. No one likes to admit that he smokes , especially to the doctor. Alcoholism? Occasionally, which means on all occasions. Well , occasions occur every day, isn't it? . I asked him how much  a pack of bidi costs? He replied that it cost merely 5 rupees. I told him that it meant  10 rupees per day and Rs 3600 per year. So he had spent nearly 1 lakh rupees on smoking. Babuji ,aap lakhpathi ho.( Uncle ,you are a millionaire). For a moment he got shocked which I thought was due to his realization that he had wasted so much money only to get this disease. But , after a while he smiled at me a said ,doctor Saab, ye tho aapne bahuth badiya baath booli (doctor, you have said the most wonderful thing to me). In fact , this person who might not have  held a 1000 rupee note in his hand was cherishing the fact that he owned 1 lakh. He was really enjoying it.

I looked at my friend and said that if only he could  knew what was going to happen to him in the next few months. He had a cancer in his throat which had spread to his neck lymph nodes , which we usually designate as an advanced stage disease with a very poor prognosis. We could only offer him palliative radiotherapy. By the first few days of starting his treatment , his beautiful moustache which his cherishes so much along with his facial hairs would fall off. Skin changes would appear making his entire skin of the radiated area hard , thick and dry making his wrinkles dissappear. He would have a mask like facies wiping off his innocent smile. His mouth would become dry devoid of saliva and he will  never have a tasty meal again in his life. He will  have frequent episodes of shooting neck pain which even the strongest pain killers are yet to control. After all this , his chances of surviving 5 years are just 40 percentage. Many of them would rather hope to die rather  than living  like this. Here he is sitting front of us in mirth and merriment  ,ignorant of all this. My friend rightly sent him outside the room , not telling him anything. Instead his relatives were informed  of the condition. Atleast he would spend some more time in his wonderland where he is a millionaire on his own

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Satiation


Alas, how gratifying it is  to remain  anonymous  in this world ,  after all one is  nothing other than  a tiny  drop in this vast  ocean of human species

The  sun was yet to rise,  the morning breeze  cool and refreshing, the atmosphere calm and quite.   When  I  started  driving ,  I discovered  that the trees on both sides of the road had borne beautiful yellow flowers and wondered  why I failed to notice them  earlier . Did I take them for granted as usual  and thereby deprived my mind of  the peace and tranquility  they afford.?  By the time  I reached Doha Central  market, it was  still early morning.  The workers were carrying different items on their trolleys and some of them on their heads or shoulders. There was a comfortable commotion in the market since every one was enjoying what he was doing . For many of them it was their  bread and butter whereas  for the remaining  it was matter of amassing more and more money .
 The  vegetable vendors and fruit merchants  were  arranging and organizing  their items  in  an attractive  manner to woo their customers who   had in  the meantime  begun to throng the market.   I went there very early in the morning   to escape the rush I  was scared of  but there  I was trapped  in the midst of the very same phenomenon I wanted to skip    .  I tried to mingle with  people speaking  different languages   and enjoy   the freshness of   various verities of vegetables, fruits, herbs, leaves  in an attempt  to capture the air of satisfaction  that these inanimate objects  offer  and the “serene and blessed mood” they afforded me with. I mingled with the shoppers  who were choosing the items they wanted and looked for any familiar faces among a them. I know none of them.   Alas, how gratifying it is  to remain  anonymous  in this world ,  after all one is  nothing other than  a tiny  drop in this vast  ocean of human species.  My camera can only take their pictures but can never touch   their spirit. I gazed   at  the green leaves  and vegetables time and again  as their greenery meant some thing to me.

Son of a farmer, I   had enjoyed  during my childhood days walking on the  small ridges dividing  the paddy fields. The  folklore songs sung by female workers in those days while planting the rice plants  were simple  and soothing .When the  rice plants moved  in the wind blowing from somewhere I felt that   that they were dancing and   that it was a part of their warm and cordial  welcome to me.  I used  to touch those plants like  a mother patting her child and  they seemed to enjoy my presence.  My father had taught   me that a farmer’s visit to his paddy field  would boost the growth of rice plants and that it was as essential as irrigating  and fertilizing them. 

The fish market was full of life and activity.  The silver like  fresh fish displayed for sale were shining. I  had never fished in troubled waters  but only in fresh waters.  One can brood beyond their flesh.  It  always gives me immense pleasure to watch the fishes moving in our  pond and in  aquariums elsewhere .   While fishing it  was  easy for me to catch  delicious and   very popular  fish in Kerala  known as snakehead by angling when they  move with their fries  as they eat any thing thrown to them  to protect their progeny which were pure red in colour.  But my father had told me not to catch any  snakehead  moving with  its fries since the latter   would perish in the absence of their parents   to protect them  but I have to confess that I had disobeyed him several times in this regard . As a boy my job  was just to catch fish regardless of  the ethics surrounding the issue. In those days  I was too young to understand morals  that  my dad was trying to  advocate and hammer home  to me .  Now when he is no more, “I pine for what is not”. I am glad  that  some of my children have imbibed  such traits from their grandpa . On the eve of  my  eldest son’s marriage,  one of them prevented me from catching the fishes  in our pond  on the ground it was unfair to  kill them  on  such a joyous occasion

While I was returning home, it was raining- very tiny rain drops  were enough to cool one's body and mind. They began to fall like  dew drop falling on the leaves  at dawn.

The Father

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Sojourn

Once again I am back to Doha that has been providing me with food and shelter for the last several years after spending a few weeks in my village where I am now a native turned tourist . I don’t know why I feel I am missing something,  I behave as if I have lost something and why melancholy still haunts me . The images of those ponds, paddy fields, coconut palms, mango trees and papayas that are the salient features of Kerala flash in my mind. I " pine for what is not " as usual and wish I had remained there some more time. Our sandy seashore where I used to go at dusk to gaze at the horizon covered with golden clouds and the fishing boats bringing various types of fishes, some of them live and shining like newly printed silver coins, continue to beckon me.
Paddy Fields
I am glad that I was not born with silver spoon in my mouth but as the son of a common man and a farmer who was uncertain while sowing the seeds whether he would reap the fruits of his labour. He was entirely dependent upon Nature to irrigate his paddy fields in those days when modern irrigation system was non-existent . In times of flood or drought his crops were destroyed. Just as he was rejoicing when he walked though his paddy field and saw lush green rice plants fluttering in the air , he was terribly upset when his crops were destroyed by drought or flood which meant that his pains and pleasures were inextricably entwined with the soil. His pains exceeded his pleasures and hence he loved to share grievances rather than joys. I will not be able to refute if someone argues that I have inherited these traits from my father. That may be the reason why it is easier for me and my children to shed tears and why tears roll down our cheeks when we watch moving scenes in movies or listen to sad stories.

A Pond in front of our house

I do miss the innocent smiles of some of our villagers who are yet to learn how to dislike others. Among them are elders who treat me like their son, children who behave as if I am their father; my beloved teacher Prahladan Nair who narrates how he used to call at our home when I was a child and how he had taught me the alphabets of my mother tongue while I sat on his lap ; friends and relatives who ask me to be extremely careful while crossing the national high way running through our village as it is an accident prone area; my relative who welcomed me with the vigour and enthusiasm of a youth though he is 99 years old; the old lady and skinny lady who frequent the houses in our neighbourhood to assist the housewives in their household chores and buying food stuff irrespective of whether they pay her or not and the dishevelled woman in her fifties who roams in the village and considered as crazy by others whereas those who know her closely say that the origin of her problem is poverty.

Another  pond in our plot covered by water weeds

Swimming pools are still unknown to our villagers. Before the introduction of bathroom and toilet culture, each house had a pond attached to it which was linked indirectly to Kanoly Canal that runs through the village but the number has now come down. There are very large ponds attached temples and mosques used by the public as common bath. It is always delightful of watch children swimming in the ponds creating a splashing crashing sound. One of them told me that he loves to take bath in a pond though his house has bathrooms and toilets in which he feels that he is locked and his freedom is curtailed.

This is the flowering season for mango trees in our area and some of them bear green mangoes . Even these flowers have an appetising smell . Green mangoes add flavor to fish curry and are widely used by housewives in Kerala and salted mango and mango pickle are popular items . I am sorry that I will not be there when the mangoes ripen. How delightful it is to look at mango trees branches laden with mangoes !

The Father


Sunday, 18 November 2012

A taste of my own medicine

“A taste of my own medicine” is an autobiography written by Edward E. Rosenbaum, which beautifully depicts the change in the life of a physician after he is diagnosed with  throat cancer . The visual version of the book is the movie, “The Doctor” starring William Hurt. The life of the young and vibrant doctor, who has a happy family and career, is turned upside down once he faces the reality that life has put brakes on him. He passes through all the phases of the ailment  like denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. But his most important and crucial realization  that  changed his entire attitude towards life was how to feel for others. Here he was no longer  a doctor, but a patient like any one  of his patients who  approached  him. He realizes the stigma of being labelled as a patient by the society, system and even by  his family. This was a part  that he never thought of when his patients  came to consult him

The title of the book really fascinated me and made me ponder for at least a while. But lately when I was helping my wife give my child a tonic, it made me think more. It was with great difficulty we were  trying to give syrup to my child who was struggling to sip it. After our successful attempt , I licked the medicine which spilled on to my fingers. The repulsive taste made me almost vomit. It was similar  tastes which prevented me from taking such medicines  during my childhood. I wondered why medicines are not   prepared  in flavors. What however  really made me uneasy was that  I have prescribed the same medicine to several  children.

The lion share  of  inter-personal difficulties in our society are due this lack of mutual understanding. When two people  are in dispute, none  of them bothers to  consider  the other's version of the problem. Interestingly the best way to solve any argument or even to  prevent from igniting  it,  is to think about the other party's  perspective. “To stand in the other person’s shoes”, is another phrase used, but this carries less strength compared to the title of the book. The former is to imagine and latter is to virtually be in that position.

 The other day a middle-aged  person came to my out- patient department during the late hours. He appeared to be  a villager. He did not have an OPD card as he came late and the counter had closed. He told me he had some ear discharge for many years and asked if I could have a look. I told him, as I used to tell patients, that the OPD hours are over and as it was not an emergency case  he had to  come the next day  in time with a proper registration. The man  insisted on seeing him as he had travelled long distance to reach here. I told him that  the rules were very strict and seeing any person without registration  is tantamount  to private practice which was not allowed and carried legal implications. I did not heed to the pleadings of the person as, I was in a hurry as I had to attend the academic clinics. Late evening that day I was shopping at the small complex near  our hospital. As it was close   to our institute the lawn and premises were resting places for many patients, their care takers and relatives who come from far off places. They would just spread their cloths on the grass or the cement veranda of closed shops and spend their night there . All on a sudden , I remembered the patient who came to see  me. The thought that he could be sleeping there  the night just because I had  refused to entertain him disturbed me. Whatever legal implications, I should  have had a look and prescribed  medicines on a piece of paper and the person could have gone home to his family. Who could have come to know? The patient might  not have exposed the issue nor would I . My lame excuses soon  began to haunt me. What, if the person had returned as he could not leave his family alone? Then I had deprived the person of medical care. I tried to rationalize the matter  thinking that if it had been   a serious disease, hewould have come on time. Why should I bother about the disease of a person who himself is careless about it. But the more I thought about the issue, the more I got disturbed. How can a villager know the seriousness of his disease? Moreover, how can you expect him to care when he may have  a family to feed and he has to make   both ends meet. Once again  I  tried to console myself telling myself  that I had  done the right thing by adhering to the rules of the institute and the person would  thereby understand the value of time. But this was the last rational argument my conscious soul could make. When I visualized  myself in his place, the whole scenario changed. If it were myself who travelled long distance to see the doctor but  was  turned back and asked to come back next day just because I had reached late  I would have been really upset. In fact I had a similar experience when I went to the passport office when I was terribly depressed. If only I had this thought when I met the person, I could have helped him and provided myself with peace of mind.

When I see old people coming to the OPD and waiting for long period, I try to imagine the possibilities of their life. They could be people who were abandoned by their children and left to live their remaining lives in solitude. They could be people whom God has not blessed with children. They might have come from far-away lands, frightened and perplexed seeing the large hospital and crowds. Even though their constant entry into my room while I see other patients disturbs me, I beagn  to understand their fear of getting lost among the sea of patients. I imagined that if my mother would had been  in such a situation, she would have been iunder  tension and despair. When some people keep on asking unnecessary questions and queries which irritate me, I try to imagine if it were my own father asking and that resolves the situation. When small children cry and run away while I examine them, I try to imagine myself taking my child to a doctor and all my irritation vanishes.

This is not pertaining to any particular profession or situation. Anybody any where can try this very simple practice when they are in such situations. This would reduce much of your anxiety and despair. Once you begin thinking and acting like this all our remorse and arrogance will melt down and we will start having peace and harmony of mind.

The Eldest son


Friday, 19 October 2012

A fine Friday feast

The visual enjoyment, in my humble opinion, is loftier than the pleasure these items can afford while consuming them to satiate our hunger or quench our thirst since consumption has an element of annihilation in it which, though permissible on the ground our existence , is not there in visual gratification

It was a fine Friday morning around 8.30 A.M . In lieu of lying in my bed tightly wrapped in my acrylic blanket and attempting to protract my somnolence in the artificial cooling of the air conditioner , I thought I would go for a shopping. Most of the Doha residents would be still sleeping . Since there would be a few vehicles on the road and a not so clever driver like me could drive unscarred of those impatient and unruly drivers, I decided exploit the situation to  my favour. Though there are a large number of supermarkets and hypermarkets in this oil rich country, one always finds long queues of customers in these shopping centers waiting to pay their bills . There will be a great rush on holidays in these supermarkets , but Friday morning is comparatively convenient for a shopper for obvious reasons.

The ad display board in front of this hypermarket was unique since it said “ A BIG HALE”, not sale . In the business world , aesthetics have little role to play. It might be the work of an anonymous language lover trying to display his creative talents.. But  the word hale , thoough slightly different in spelling, reminded me of the hail stone in Doha in late eighties when one evening all on a sudden crystal like hail stones , as small as pebbles, began to fall on the roof our house. The Malayalam word for hale stone, ‘Aaalippazham’, has a special taste because of the word ‘pazham’ in which in our language means fruit. When we opened the door , the veranda was full of hail stones . My wife and myself began to pick and enjoy them as if we were plucking fruits from a tree .Our three kids, the youngest one being around one year old, were staring at us being some what scared.

How blessed are those who can convert every activity in their lives into a pleasure! Customers, pulling their shopping trolleys and baskets, were enjoying the items displayed ; pure red apples , bright yellow oranges, ripe mangoes, bananas, different types of fresh and lush  green herbs, beverage bottles of different designs, colorful packs of  food items, what else do they need to constitute a feast for their eyes? The visual enjoyment, in my humble opinion, is loftier than the pleasure these items can afford while consuming them to satiate our hunger or quench our thirst since consumption has an element of annihilation in it which, though permissible on the ground our existence , is not there in visual gratification. The customers’ movements were very slow and some of them were choosing items like a housewife separating the corn from the chaff.

Indian gooseberry- a remedy for diabetes
 My shopping was namesake because I had to buy only one item , gooseberry, which I can say, is very essential for my existence .It is the  fruit that came to my succour and saved me from depending on the allopathic tablets I was taking to cure diabetes I was afflicted with some years ago . It so happened that one of my friends advised or rather compelled me three year ago to take green Indian  gooseberry with turmeric powder early in the morning before breakfast. Thanks to that person and the grace of God , I have stopped taking medicines since then and my blood sugar is still normal . I have been, instead, eating gooseberry daily with turmeric powder before breakfast and avoiding sugar and carbohydrates . The other day when I met a diabetic patient I advised him to take goose berry telling him not stop medicine suddenly but reduce its dose gradually and stop taking medicines if gooseberry is found to effective in his case as I had done  three years ago . I also told him to drink 8 glasses of water, if possible, when he wakes up and before brushing his teeth as I had been doing and admitted that it might be very difficult for him to drink 8 glasses of water at a time especially before brushing his teeth but he could drink as much as water he could provided that it does not cause strain to his urine bladder.

When I googled I was surprised to find that gooseberry contains insulin which is why it is capable of controlling blood sugar. It is only one of the numerous  gifts of God. We,however, very often take them for granted and fail to realize how valuable these  gifts  are and how merciful God is.

By the father

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Masjid in Manali

Recently I read an article in yahoo gallery about the Great Mosques Around the World ( . It showed pictures of 55 mosques from all around the world  from Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India and Egypt to Peru, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. I was happy to see even mosques from my place, Kerala like Ponnani and Kodungalore among the list. All these mosques  beamed with beauty and heritage. The images  showed the towering minarets  that bearing witness  to the architectural magnificence of the Islamic culture.This article reminded me one of the mosques I recently visited.

Nature at the Best - Road to Manali

During last Eid Al Fitr, I and my friend decided have a trip with our families to the famous hill station of North India, Manali. Since the day of Eid is only finalised after sighting  the cresent, we were not sure when to leave for Manali. Since we had only limited  time  to  leave, we decided to celebrate Eid in Manali. We started our journey from Chandigarh by afternoon hoping to reach there by night fall so that we could spend the Eid next day. Since it was monsoon, we had intermittent rain and the road was treacherous. But the picturesque mountains and valleys made us forget the toils of the journey. Just as we crossed about 150 km our car broke down and we had to wait about 2 hours for another vehicle to be sent. Even though this decreased our morale a bit, the green carpeted mountains topped by cotton like clouds and the pleasant weather urged us forward. We reached Manali late night a bit tired. Manali being a famous tourist spot we expect to find a mosque to attend the Eid prayer without much difficulty. I tried to search in the internet during the journey for mosques in Manali. But to my dismay, I could only find one reference to a masjid at Manali , that too without much details. However, we were optimistic to spot one in the early morning.
Cloud topped valleys

I and my friend woke up early and took the cab to search for the masjid in Manali. The first person we asked didn’t even understand the word masjid and we had to explain to him that is was a place of workship of Muslims. But he was unaware of any such place. We then proceeded  through the narrow road of the valleys in Manali and found a person who knew of a mosque located about 8 Km away. We were happy to hear this as we were  getting worried about missing the prayer. We travelled forward looking for minarets which are a common architectural symbol of mosques world-wide. My friend was fascinated by the apple orchards by the road side and expressed his desire to pluck one and eat it fresh. We passed 10 Km without seeing any sign of the mosque. When we asked another person, he told us that we passed the mosque about a kilometre. So we returned the path and as we reached the mentioned site we were told to just to go a little forward. As we proceeded we saw a man in kurtha and beard with a muslim cap standing in front of a gate. However we could not see any sign of the mosque. We enquired him about the Eid prayer and he happily invited us inside. As we entered there were a group of kashimiri looking people crowded in front of a small shed. They wore the traditional kurtha and sweater, some of them wearing caps. Their dresses were shabby with dust and dirt and many of them were torn and stitched at many places. I remembered arguing with my colleague for not buying new clothes for Eid as it is a tradition to wear new clothes on auspicious day. In my childhood, my father used to send money to buy new clothes and my mother took us to the readymade shopping centre to buy the latest designed dresses. Eid was a busy time for the cloth shops. In my place every person would wear new dress that the usually barren mosque turned into a carnival like state. The frangrance of costly perfumes filled the air. The youngsters indulged in various leisures and spent most of their time in enjoying. I learned that these where labourers mostly from Kashmir who have settled in Manali to earn their livelihood. Their daily wages would only suffice to be sent home to their families. Most of them had the tiredness of previous day’s work on their faces, let alone the dust on their bodies. The stench from their bodies made me wonder whether they had a bath or not. I felt sad for them, for they had to celebrate Eid away from their families.

Apple yard

The shed in front of which we were standing was the famous mosque of Manali we were searching for. It neither had a Minaret, nor the Magnificence of the great mosques, but was truly one of the greatest mosques in the world. It was the not only the only mosque in Manali , but also the only place of light for those poor souls. Even though it did not have the glitter and glamour, the presence and prayers of these people made the mosque beautiful. More and more people came in buses from various parts of Manali and slowly the scene gathered momentum. We made ablution and entered the mosque. Even though it was a small hall, the inside was beautifully arranged. The small room quickly filled and the rest of the devotees had to pray in the mats laid outside in the drizzle. The prayer was delayed for about an hour as more people had to come from distant places. It was understandable as there was no other mosque around for them to pray. After the prayer people started hugging each other which is a common practise. I felt reluctant to hug them as their shabby appearance repulsed me. However, I shook hands with them to share the happiness. In between the crowd I could see some children who were dressed in pretty frocks. An announcement was made that a Hajji, who owned the mosque had arranged free breakfast for all who came. We prayed for the person and for the people and their family and left place with a heavy heart. I had earlier planned to join my parents in Qatar for Eid, but could not renew my passports in time. I was a little disheartened due to this. May be God wanted to remind me that there is Eid beyond the new cloths, sweets and carnivals.

By the eldest son

Inside of the mosque
People hugging each other after the prayer in front of the mosque
Entrance of the mosque
By the eldest son

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sheer sharing

Have you ever watched the video , ALEPH by Jaqueline Ribés Silva , one of the finalists in Paulo Coelho’s music contest ? . Those are very rare occasions in our lives when we forget our surroundings under the spell of such a mesmerizing music and spectacular show . It was a pleasant surprise and a strange coincidence to see in the video my favourite Sun Bird (Soochimukhi ) fluttering its wings and drinking the nectar of a red flower. After viewing it ,one viewer wrote “God is awesome, He gave us a spirit that matches with nature, and this video connect usall”

In this world of ours, who can keep such experiences as his or her own? In every website we visit , we are prompted to share and share everything with his fellow human beings around the globe . If you don’t share, you feel suffocated as if you are in a solitary confinement. No more secrets to be kept and even highly confidential matters affecting national security of States come to public domain these days. In the celebrated Malayalam movie " Rasathanthram ( Chemistry) by Sathyan Anthikkad , the funny scene, in which Manikandam Aashari ( Innocent) struggles to conceal the secret that Kanmani ( Meera Jasmine) is in fact boy not a girl as she appears to be, always arouses laughter and amusement in viewers' minds.

Man is thus slowly slipping away from the "frog in the well " mentality and learning to open his mental pane to let fresh air in. His vistas are expanding to embrace the world. He is no longer alone, he has friends from every nook and corner of the world to share both his joys and grievances. When something pleasant happens to him , they congratulate him and when unfortunate events befalls him, they console and comfort him.

How I can ensure that what I share is not disinteresting to the one I share my experiences with ? When I suppose that what I like may be interesting to others as well and start sharing it , it may be described as a mild form of bigotry because I refuse to recognize different perspectives and divergent views and arbitrarily demand that my likings should be palatable to others as well .It occurred to me that I should share this experience with my children but felt that I should exercise caution and take the generation gap that separates me from my children into consideration. Though I firmly believe that my children love me from the heart of their hearts there is a limit beyond which such bonds of love can not pass . Is it that that my tastes and inclinations end where their preferences and appetites begin? Sometimes there may be conflict of inerests. I have to leave them alone to enjoy their life as they deem and should learn to refrain from imposing my will on them or meddling with their personal affairs . That is what I am now trying to do though I cannot imagine how far I will succeed in my attempt.

By the father


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Pursuit of Happiness

Most of you, I am sure , are familiar with this title of the famous Hollywood movie, one among my favourite movies of all time and a wonderful film of the Hollywood legend, Will Smith who portrays a simple man’s life .

As the earth keeps going and time slips away before you are aware of it, at some point in life , everyone evaluates his or her life. What have I done? Was it a complete waste..? I have never had complete happiness in my life... there is a hollow feeling in me... and that's something that bothers me a lot.. I have money, a roof over my head and kith and kin who love me dearly ... yes I do have everything but there is something .... something that I miss... yet I cant find it anywhere. According to others, this person may have a successful career and good living, but he says “I am very unhappy and I don’t know why”.

Some of the people , I have met in my life, said at some point in their life they evaluate what they have done. Some of us may have everything, still we feel like there was nothing. Our ancestors, I guess, had never had such problems ….they were happy with the little hut and content with what ever they had to satiate their hunger. And that's it! That was their life . But to our dismay our modern world is very competitive since we want everything and all the things we could ever dream of... if the neighbour has the latest plasma TV we also want it... may be two, one for living room and the other for bedroom.

The other day one of our family friend was discussing their new house to be built in Kerala back home with me... He describes the beauty and tranquillity one experiences when one simply wakes up in the morning and view the city in front of him or her from the 20th floor. It brings immense happiness when you just sit and watch the city waking up in front of you... as the time goes the streets get busier and when the night falls the streets become emptier... Its beautiful to wake up to see this... it makes the day feel good for the rest of the day and the effect that it brings to you is marvellous. He wants to bring this similar effect to the new home . They are building a riverside home... though one home is in city and the other in village, the effect is similar... waking up to see the beautiful river in front you, the calmness of silent waters and the lush green plants and trees around it. If you imagine this on a rainy day you will also dream of a riverside home. And to me, it is one of my favourite things that I do... watching the street below you and sipping my morning tea. My magical moments. Though you may not know what the empty streets are telling you , it still drives you to go there the next day too.

No wonder people now a days want courtyards and water pools in their home. They want to bring this little piece of nature within the building and feel nature all around. Courtyards and water pools have positive effects on our mood and emotions. Even for the flooring they do nowadays, people demand something natural- natural stones that bring coolness to the feet... people are going back once again to nature... as they realize that technology and gadgets are not everything in life.

Now a days every one don’t get an apartment in the 20th floor or a riverside home. Well, there are some other options as well . Simply going to a lakeside in the evening or just sitting on the grass and smelling the freshness it has, is awesome. In another movie I watched , I find this businessman with tight schedules who has fame and money, but at the end of the day he goes to the park , walks on the grass and feels the nature beneath him. But people, unfortunately , find it hard to spend time on things like this. Busy schedules... want all the things to work out well, nothing should go wrong and everything must be perfect! Yes, that's exactly is what everybody want today. But it doesn’t happen like that on earth.

People these days spend a lot of money on spa treatments and yoga. Its the first class spa in town, you should go there, they tell me. Thank you so much for the kind advice, I would say to them... but I would rather spend my time alone in a corner of the park and find my happiness... that gives me double effect because, 1. Unlike the spa I need not spend a penny 2. I get the exactly same effect on going to the spa except that no one massages me.

If at all God grants me a chance to choose which time I must be born, I would be really confused. I don’t want to lose the modern world with new technology and advanced lifestyle and the readymade ‘happy life’... but I also don’t want to miss the small community living where there is love, trust and happiness everywhere. but thank God , He saved me because He never asked me such a question.

This is one of my favourite quotes from the movie:

"Hey dad, you wanna hear something funny? There was a man who was drowning, and a boat came, and the man on the boat said "Do you need help?" and the man said "God will save me". Then another boat came and he tried to help him, but he said "God will save me", then he drowned and went to Heaven. Then the man told God, "God, why didn't you save me?" and God said "I sent you two boats, you dummy!"

Happiness is all about finding what you have and being content with what you have. Don't get fooled by the tempting ads and attractive goodies that say “ add life to life” or ädd colour to your life or add whatever to whatever... all they want is money from you and not your happiness. If you want happiness it is within you. If you are able to enjoy a glass of water that is happiness. If you see an innocent little child smiling there is happiness all around .Go and spend some time qualitatively... some fishing or walking in the woods or seashore. And of course everything depends on how you view your it an half empty glass or half filled glass? It is in your choice to decide.

I recently read a book which says one finds happiness within oneself , in the inner self and hence people needs to be in solitude to find this missing ‘element’ .They have to discover it within themselves. Happiness don’t need any money at all... as they say, money cant buy everything. And there is a little

joke that follows this message : make sure you have earned enough before you say this. Because this is the twenty first century , different time , different people different story. So good luck in finding your “happiness”.

By the niece

Thursday, 30 August 2012

My Uninvited Guests ...

A cacophonous cry woke me up from my protracted  Sunday somnolence.  8  A.M was an unpardonable time for us residents to stay awake on weekends. Enraged by the interruptionm of  slumber and the possibility of waking up my 8 months old kid, I went out to our balcony to look for  the  uninvited guests. A parrot was relentlessly crying in spite of my shooing. My wife, who also woke up hearing the nature's alarm, said that it was the time when she used to feed the birds in normal days. The bird was protesting against withholding its breakfast. I told her to feed it before it awakes  our sleeping beauty. While my wife was feeding the birds with some left over bread crumps and rice, for the first time in 8 months, I stayed in the apartment watching   the community living  in our backyard. Parrots, pigeons, myna, kites and squirrels were just some of the members of the beautiful ecosystem. Close observation made me realize that they had several  similarities to the human social behavior.

The parrots were the perfectionists. These early risers were punctual and time bound like those wealthy students who are brought up in boarding schools. Their colorful shiny feathers reminded me the neat and ironed uniforms. These students would grow up to beccome well mannered gentlemen  and able citizens always striving  for improvement  and to  lead a perfect life. They are, however,  untouched by the  hardships of human life and try to stay away from the suffering mob. The parrots had a time of its own and usually came in pairs. They eat very gracefully enjoying their meals to the last grain.  Fully immersed in eating,they sometimes even forget their surroundings fully . They keep their feathers clean and never drench in the rain. Their beauty must have given them a racial superiority over the pigeons. They sometimes fight with the pigeons but easily retreat as they may be considering it worthless to altercate with those of inferior fellow beings..
Pigeons  on the other hand can be compared to the politicians. They have no time sense and can appear anywhere at any time. They suddenly perch when the other birds are feeding and start to quarrels with them and even among themselves.  As they are not compartively  attractive, it is quite understandable why they get into trouble with the rest of the pack. They always eat in haste, as if it was a competition but always keep their eyes open to the surroundings and any slightest movement of sound would startle them.  Probably  their inferiority complex has made them paranoid. It may be due to the  humiliation of being less  attractive that  they   follow a ‘trust no one ‘policy.

The mynas are the underdogs. They only eat on the left over of grains from the floor which have fallen down while the parrots and pigeons were fighting. They usually come in the evening and never appear when other birds are around. They never make noise when there is no food and are always content with what they get. They would never hesitate to take bath openly in the water kept to quench their thirst. May be they are too innocent to become conscious of their social inhibitions.
The squirrels never eat from where the birds are feeding. It is when we started keeping food in another location that the squirrel started appearing. These impulsive creatures are like those workaholics who are always busy in their cell phones. These fur balls are always in motion and like to run away with the food in their mouth.
Even though these observations have no scientific basis and are only a  part and producet  of my extended imagination, it is nice to know that humans are not the only species with rivalry and competition.  These tiny creatures at least made me think of something other than my family and work. By this time the pigeons have already arrived causing another commotion and the parrots were flying away scolding  the pigeons. This awoke  my baby and with a splendid smile she brought me back to the reality.

By the eldest sonജാലകം