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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kedarnath

It was the recent floods in Uttarkhand that made me write this blog
I had visited Kedarnath two years back with Swami Sandeepanadha Giri s  troupe ,
we were more than 80 men and women of varying ages and backgrounds but by the end of our trip we were a cohesive group brought together by our Swamiji who was  young agile full of humour and with a sense of adventure .
It never felt as a pilgrimage.
 it was more of a discovery of the unexplored vistas of a beutiful country our own India with its rich culture heritage folklores and legends .
After our trek to Yamunotri via Barkot the road head a climb of more than 7 km uphill we reached the origin of river Yamuna and its hot springs
The trek is described in my previous post http://hariwrite.blogspot.com/2011/10/case-of-missing-chauhan-trip-to-origin.html

Next we wanted to go to Gangotri but due to a motor strike we had to cancel it instead we went upto Natchiketa Thal  described  by me .earlier in ...http://hariwrite.blogspot.com/2011/10/nathciketha-thal.html.........
The next was kedarnath ,
We were off from Gaurikund the road head
there were two ways to go up the 12000 foot Himalayan temple ,one could get into a helicopter and reach in 15minutes a trifle breathless due to the sudden altitude difference or slowly lumber up the hardy 14km by foot or pony or be carried in a chair !
We opted for the helicopter when going up while we planned to trek downhill ,I liked the idea since climbing made me pant a lot ,for my wife  she preferred the climb to the coming down as it was a strain for her knees ,I prevailed !
of course one can go by helicopter  both ways but we wanted the experience of the trek too .

The heliport was very organised with a check in .
we were searched by the security and had to send our bags through an x ray machine just like in  any airport .
 we waited in the gate as helicopters made 15 minute trips bringing and taking people ,
we ducked under the whirring blades and got into one and it lifted easily and we were above the mountains in a minute we could see the people trekking up in the path like ants slowly the range of mountains  vast and numerous and snowy peaks appeared close .
suddenly we dipped into a valley and flew low .
we saw a small town with the temple
we had reached Kedarnath
named after king Kedar who lived in a previous yuga according to legends and whose daughter an incarnation of Parvathi the consort of lord Shiva who prayed fervently to him .
the temple is said to have existed even during the Mahabaratha as the pandavas have supposed to have gone there before they died .
Adhi Sankaracharya had a great role in reviving the temple and an ashram  exists for him behind the temple .
The heliport was full of colourful tents and the Army too were  liberally sprinkled in the area .
None stayed in Kedarnath  during winter as it would be in deep snow then .

I felt breathless as we walked to a primitive rest house finally lying exhausted in the bed of our small dark room
 it was only  mid-afternoon but it was already cold and dark .
We got up after some time and went to the small eating place which cheered us with some hot steaming snacks and chai which gave us the energy to visit the granite temple
there were lot of Naga  sadhus with their tangled hair faces whitened by ash and wearing scant clothes some were smoking hemp and had spears
 they were harmless and minded their own business some posing for photos too ,
their philosophy was different they were willing to face and experience anything and would see God in all things good and bad !
The temple had a crowded street with lots of shops in front
 the chiming bells foggy clouds stone steps chilly winds and colourful ware in the shops gave a special atmosphere
we went down by steps into the gurgling Mandakini a branch of river Ganges
 it was flowing with ferocity hitting huge rocks ,
strangely we saw a petite foreign  girl descending down into those dangerous rocks sitting on one and lighting a lamp and praying in that blowing chilly wind
we were surprised at her piety
We stayed over the night finding it very difficult to sleep because of the sparse oxygen in the atmosphere
we were so tired we hardly wanted to rise even to go to the toilet
finally morning came with a lovely sunrise peeping over the  snow locked mountain tips
the golden glow of  those burnished peaks was a special vison like seein almighty himself or is it herself !
this energised us to climb down slowly
 specially me taking photos drinking tea chatting with everyone all the way down so much so I reached by dusk at Gaurikund  to a waiting bus and our impatient  gang .













 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Medical Tourism

Healthcare today with the  increase in sophistication and advances in medicine has become very expensive .
the developed western nations like the United States and the United Kingdoms traditionally considered as haven for good medical care has become exorbitantly overpriced ,thier training ,infrastructure and protective litigation cost has brought  them to this state ..
countries like India which has excellent medical professionals and very good state of the art institutes today can provide efficient services at a fraction of this cost ,pharmaceuticals can provide medications at much lower prices .
countries like Thailand are making rapid strides in Medical tourism because they are supported by thier Governments in a big way ,they provide good infrastructure maintain international standards and quality controls to protect thier status ,Thailand had made more than 466 billion dollars this year out of medical tourism andlsowly is turning out to be a medical tourist capital of the world instead of being a sleazy tourist country it was earlier .
Hospitals like Apollo ,Amritha ,Lakehsore ,CMCH ,AIMS chitra hospitals are all well known for thier good skills and capablities but sadly the support given by the government is poor ,healthcare policy makers have never realised the potential of medical tourism if they had they would have strived to support such institutions with good infrastructure ,and quality anxillaries .
In Kerala  medical tourism is looked at with  socialistico cynical glasses and the hospitals are accused of overpricing and being aloof for the common man !
The price of a bone marrow transplant allogenic in India today is around 20 to 25 lakhs and this package may incude stay in a good  hotel for the  family ,the same thing is more costly anywhere else with it being about 25 times as much in the US or UK ,
I know for I have referred more than 4 patients to India for this and the success rate is the same .
\A PET scan costs  around 20000 Rs in India today whereas in UAE it is about ten times that cost
I still remember  when in a meet to intorduce the machine in UAE  a question was asked why it was so fo which the salesperson had no answer while a senior INDIAN in the meet opined I wouldnt send anyone to India for a PET !!!
well we send satellites at one fraction of the cost of the US and so far none has fallen on our heads have they countered me to  loud guffaws
what Iam trying to say is we are our own enemies
our leaders dont realise our potentials and support them ,this is also the precise reason why there is brain drain in our country
The recent doctors strike in a part of Kerala after a doctor was hit by  a patients family was highlighted in the media of course it was the neglect of patients due to the strike that was highlighted and not why a doctor is not given protection from such happenings ,in medical practice things can turn awry due to many circumstances not nesascarily due to neglignece and none can work with a damocles sword of being hit any time
how can a society which disregards a profession expect them to stay
Doctors too are professionals they are not born for doing charity

Medical tourism has also enemies  from other countries who do want India to become  a such a referral centre and they spread canards on infection like the famous Delhi bug
a certain amount  of truth also exists as there is lack of public hygiene
poor quality controls also accounts for spurious drugs and poor labarotary controls
it is high time these are rectified to exploit our strenghts and make India an excellent  medical tourist referral centre ,whcih would only give us valuable foriegn exchange .

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Wine taster


wine tasting is an art and like tea tasters there are trained professionals who are paid highly for their sensitive faculties and detection capabilities .
Our tongue unfortunately is quite mundane when  compared to our nose ,it limits itself to the primary tastes of sweet ,bitterness ,salt and sourness ,so if one were to just gulp down wine without smelling it one would  be doing a disservice to its makers ,the fragrance of young wine is called its aroma and a wine taster can make out if the said wine is fruity ,woodsy ,earthy, floral or herbal .
The olfactory bulb in his nose is highly attuned to the infinite fragrant possibilities of different wines and he classifies wine according to his detection ,
well I knew so much on wine tasting ,
so when I alighted into the Business class only Lufthansa flight to Munich in Dubai Terminal one
 I was looking forwards to exploiting  this knowledge to good use .
It was some years back and I was on my way to Stockholm to attend the European society of oncology meet in Sweden and the friendly sponsor had arranged business class via Munich .

http://hariwrite.blogspot.com/2008/10/sweden.html

The Lounge in Dubai terminal one had a wide choice of the rarest for my sensibilities  but I refrained from indulging then .
The flight was a small one exquisite in its elegance the stewards and hostesses shone in their Teutonic brilliance their blonde burnished hairs shining and glowing in coiffured neatness .
I settled back into the deep plush cushions delighting in the luxurious ambience ,I was determined that I would be the part of a seasoned business class traveller in international flights and adorned the look of a slightly bored traveller ,smiling tiredly at the wide crimson lipped smile of a beauty contestant like model airhostess .
oh another flight when I will be home tucking into my sheets after all this routine which was my fate  was my attitude or at least what I tried to project
I don't know what she thought because I dare not ask the question .
The plane was half filled and the pilot in his mellifluous voice welcomed us aboard and the wheels started rolling ,
we took off gracefully like a bird .
Dubai lay below me in its Manhattan splendour
 I could never stop getting amazed at the man who could turn  a desert  into this magical kingdom .

As we rose above the fluffy clouds and we clicked open our seat belts the lovely hostess was near me bent with a tray of warm towels .
 this was jannat indeed !
sir what wine would you prefer  , I heard her singing
well
my time had come all my reading would be put to full use I am going to impress this sweet thing
yes I would
 beware the Indian Casanova is on board .
suddenly I realised I was grinning at her like a weasel and quickly bought my wayward mouth to a close .
doesn't it have a  time for its game !
well what else
 said I again settling back to the baritone voice of a seasoned but bored traveller
the sparkling one Champagne of course
Oh yes sir of course good choice
ahhhaan
she uncorked the wine and slowly dribbled it into the goblet and handed it over to me like the finished Mona Lisa would have been given by Michelangelo to his lover
I grabbed it and slowly brought it to my nose
no good wine drinker would gulp before smelling .
I knew that so I dipped my dose delicately into the top of the goblet inhaling its fragrance
 hmmm ahhhh nn not bad .......80s...... fruity with a woody tinged aroma , can feel flying butterflies fluttering about
her eyes rounded
she fell for it !
 she looked at me with pride the pride of having a passenger with taste !
so I thought ( actually she would have thought one more idiot trying to show off )
slowly swishing the liquid I inhaled again and my facial expressions conjured pleasure
then slowly I tasted a small bit and swished it into my tongue the part where millions of fragrant molecules hit the retro bulbar olfactory nerves was depicted by apt expressions .
sadly my audience had left
my besotted had been called to duty by the boorish Russian behind me seems  he wanted one more towel for what
 wiping his .....
wasted expressions were uncalled for

slowly my face turned into a grimace as the bitterness of the champagne hit me
in truth I was never one for alcoholic drinks
to tell the truth I preferred soft drinks with a lime flavour more than anything else and was always reminded of Ayurveda  kasha yams when I was forced to have a peg for  company ( whose ? )
I knew I had to finish this before she returned and I managed to do that with the help of the roasted cashew nuts
she was back and with an affectionate look in her eyes
oh sir and what would your choice be for the next
( baby don't you ask me such questions )
oh  well wine is fine but without my Havana which I am sure is not allowed here ha ha
 I said
I think I would prefer a a sprite
a what sir
well a sprite u know sprite
oh a sprite you want just a sprite
her face hung of disappointment
what a let down
she thrust a sprite into my hands and left me with an injured look
so much for my aerial  wine tasting feats
though I did manage to hold a goblet of wine in the banquet we had in Stockholm later  with the Abba junior group




CHUMMA !!!!

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