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Friday, December 25, 2015

The Anatomy lab

Anatomy lab in kilpauk medical college where i did my MBBS ( photo courtesy )
We used to be around 5 to 10 one table with a body
Once our venerable and legendary professor of Anatomy Dr Elizabeth Vishwanath who was once @ to her a college beauty in Christian Medical College Vellore where she studied and students used to jump hostel walls to get a glimpse of her 

her classmate Viswanath did more than mere wall jumping and became her life partner !

EV as we used to call her was a tall stately lady , at that time in her late fifties ,with an excellent sense of humour '

 of course to us second years her presence did create a flutter .
So it did to most of the teaching staff doctors too expect Dr Ramchandran who looked like a tough hero with his big mustache .
To him EV or anyone else were never fear factors ,

 he did his job and no one meddled with him .
He was very  friendly with the boys who loved to fete him with drinks and biriyani in the hostel on function days .
Ramchandran sir would sit like a king with his bloodshot eyes and crack jokes on all , he was great fun .
EV had a healthy respect for him and gave him a wide berth .
Coming back to EV Madam ,once she walked into the fully crowded anatomy hall as seen in the picture and she as her habit was quietly slithered to our table
One of my classmates I would call him S  was intent on his dissection and never knew EV was behind him .
She placed her big hand on the posterior of S who reflexively did a virtual Bharatanatyam step as he jumped in surprise ,he saw EV and now did a kathakali leap !
Then EV gave her magnum opus comments

"Dont worry man i just wanted to demonstrate the action of the Gluteus Maximus ( which incidentally is the buttock muscle !!)
But you gave demo of so many muscles tq "
Grinning EV walked off as we all laughed .
Even Ramchandran sir gave a villanous smile from his corner .

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Daughter

The train rolled into Tirur railway station slowly coming to a stop
It was an odd time and the platform was empty.
from a sleeper compartment a middle aged man got down with a small shoulder bag which he clutched with care ,his other hand was closed on a small palm of his daughter ,the child was groggy with sleep and her small frame slowly got down the steps guided by her father ,she never uttered a word of complaint but there was tiredness in that innocent face .
the dawn was a bit chilly as it had rained in fact it was still drizzling he brought her closer to him in a protective embrace on her shoulders he too had a sad drained look to him .
the sad couple walked to the station masters room at the to the other end ,
all the shops in the platform were shut tight and the rare bench had snoring figures
no one noticed them trudging on
the train slowly moved away from the station on to its long journey ,
the station became very quiet .
the station master was in his room poring over his ledger and fiddling with it ,he looked up at the knock by the stranger with the small child ,
yes what do you want ?
Sir we had just arrived from cochin in the train ,sir can we get a retiring room for the rest of the night my daughter is very tired and no hotels would give us a room at this hour !
he looked at them ,the man looked educated and the child was half asleep
how come this time do you belong to Tirur .?
sir we had come here to go to Tirunavaya in the morning but we need to rest for some time till the train from Chennai reaches as her uncle will be in that
we have come to perform rites .
Tirunavaya was a well known place near Tirur where the Navamugundan temple was known for the flowing Bharathapuzha or river and was also very famously known for conducting Hindu death rites .

Oh I see

for whom ?
sir my elder daughter she left us
 all that I have of her is in this bag
oh ├Ćam sorry to hear that

he could see tears welling out of the mans eye

you are lucky today as  the retiring room is empty usually we have some railway staff on duty occupying it .
come with me
they followed him
how old was she ?
sir eleven
oh sad and this little one ?
she is just five

he opened the lock of a shuttered room and asked the man to go in
the room may not  very neat but it had two beds and was spacious with a toilet but no hot water or anything
its ok sir thanks
you can pay before you leave said he and walked off .

The man kept his bag and made his tired child lie down on a bed and covered her with a thin sheet
he too lay down too in the other bed tired
for a long time he gazed at the ceiling lost in his thoughts and then dozed off

His alarm went off at 5 am he quickly had his bath the water was cold and he wondered whether he should insist on his child taking bath ,
better to ,he thought in that way she need not dip in the river before the rites it would be colder there .
so he slowly nudged her awake .
mollu please get up your uncle will be here shortly and you need to have your bath
she woke up with no protest
yes Acha
he asked her to brush her teeth and take a quick bath in the cold water and he rubbed her dry  with a towel
she was shivering the poor thing and he felt cruel

They got ready and then locked the door gave the key to the station master and paid ,
did you have some rest asked the station master

thanks sir we did
that's a good girl there he said to the daughter

 the train from Chennai had come by then The uncle  came and the trio went as planned to Tirunavaya did all the rites and returned back
while the uncle left to Chennai the man went with his daughter to cochin
it was all over
that's life

it started two days later the high fever the shivering for his little one
he blamed himself for that chilly bath
what a fool I was !
I have caused this to my daughter

she really became sick and was admitted in a hospital for a worried week and finally she got over it a very stressful week indeed

Today that little child is on the anvil to become a paediatrician and hopefully will treat children like her
for she s my little daughter

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

shed a tear please

The stench was overpowering , the winds howled  ,death was in the air .
Dhruv ran from the edge of the platform to the station masters room ,
he saw people swaying some falling dead some running like mad men and women with their hands on their head their eyes red and streaming with tears their lungs burnt and scarred and gasping for air their noses bleeding 
The air was full of cries howls and the place looked like a bad dream 
 dusk fell and it grew dark electricity had been cut for fear of fires and so it was all the more sinister then 
feebly some lights started burning as someone put on lanterns and petromaxes .
The Union carbide factory was just about ten kilometers from the railway station and it was spewing toxic fumes our of its belly killing and maiming thousands ,
it would become the greatest tragedy known to mankind ,
a tragedy caused by greed and callousness of its owners who never followed safety guidelines as they were in a country they could get away without any ,
even after the genocide they could still get away helped by the very powers of the country they scarred for ever !
For the representatives of the people who were voted to protect them always thought of their own comforts and wallets hence would support all sort of wrongs done in it .
The main CEO of the killer factory would live to a ripe age of ninety knowing fully well of the unfair compensation offered to the hundreds of sick ,thousands who had died on that fateful day and live a comfortable cosy life in his country while the politicians in India saw to it he was never disturbed till his death 
Dhruv was the station master on that fateful day in Bhopal .

He had only one thing in his mind then .
he was not thinking of his son just four years of age or his young nubile wife married just six years back 
he knew they would have died as his house was near the factory and death was assured for its neighbors ,
he knew he would no longer play with his son no longer throw him in the air no longer feed him he would no longer make love to his wife he would no longer see his old mother he knew they were all dead but he still ran !
he ran not to save himself 
he ran to save others 
All this while the chief minister of Madhya pradesh who also in Bhopal sped in his car far away with family to get away to live and to protect the culprits

 these are the servants of people they are actually the worst enemies of the people .

Dhruv entered his room saw his assistants sprawled in a pool of blood dead 

he jumped over them pushed their bodies to a side with a sickening thud and got into the phone desperately he twiddled the controls tried to block the incoming express train and warn them but it was too late the train entered shortly and passengers got out swayed and fell many more died 

Dhruv was at his controls again warning other trains to speed away from this death town not to open windows
 he tried to divert many trains he did his duty

 he saved many that night 
morning came like in a funeral 
the gloom descended like a dark cloud over the city as vultures flew to get their plentiful prey 
the police were trying to make some order 
the stench was every where
 the railways platform was spewed with the dead and the maimed 
the station masters room swayed in the wind 
it slammed on its hinges gently 
it  revealed a dead Dhruv sprawled on the floor with his hands on the signal machine which had fallen over him 
the blue buttons beeped faintly crying for its dead master 
Dhruv to his last breath he did his duty 

this is a  true story 

a story we never hear

we hear only of those Arjun singhs 
not the Dhruvs who died for us 
so please shed a tear before you shed  a vote 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Don of Bolly wood Amitabh Bhachan

My tribute to this Don of the Indian Cinema on his 73 rd birthday 

Happy Birthday Amithji 
73 years and counting years 
A tall lanky sad faced man with intelligent eyes had broken the strong hold of his babe mashayi friend Rajesh Khanna the romantic sultan of Bollywood for years where nubile women would swoon over his crinkling eyes and giggling girls by the gallon were swept off their feet .
One Deewar was all that was needed for the intense tall man and the angry young man was born as a genre into filmdom ,he showed that his creativity was not limited by being an angry young and later angry middle aged man but it strayed into classic roles of a romantic hero of a funny man where he could do comedy with ease sing songs dance do drunken brawls and fight so well 
his presence ,baritone voice once strangely rejected by AIR to their utter chagrin for ever in history his humanity his humility his affairs and his family all were part of every Indians life 
his fame went beyond the country he was as popular in distant Cairo or in the US of A  as in dusty UP and where natives imitated him 
even his hairstyle was adopted as a national one in saloons over the country for years
his excellent English diction made him a choice for voice overs and one could recognize the deep seated voice in all important sound bytes he became the ambassador of good will for several projects a business man and elevated TV anchoring as he doled out crores to the lucky few in his programme which shot TRP to new heights 
Wherever he was Amitabhji could carry himself wit presence whether he was beside the dead body of his friend Rajeev Gandhi wheen sadness wet his eyes or whether eh was lounging in a kurta listening to subtle poetry from his legendary father whether eh was giving company to a smoldering Rekha whose closeness to him caused national passions to rise and fall and who was a perfect partner in passion to the great man himself whether when he sand mellifluously Tere mere milannu ki hey raina to his short and seet Jaya bhaduri in Abhimaan or wne he became a pa to his son in PA whether he was up on a stage getting the Dadasaheb palke award or whether eh was broken in jaslok hospital with tubes coming out of everywhere and prayers for him from every temple mosque and church in the country for the people loved him like none 
he was always a person with great charm charisma and presence a great human being who was born to entertain us 
i wish him more years of continuing to make us happy 

An ode to the Mahatma

An ode to the Mahatma I love

There lived a man who was beyond one
He was one of the best to be born under this sun
His back was bent and his skin was wrinkled ...
He looked wizened and crinkled
But his heart was pure unalloyed gold
And he was so not when he was old
As a boy he felt for truth and was honest
Hardworking sincere and and earnest

He went to become a lawyer amongst the white
A brown one in South Africa is never right
And here he fought for the oppressed
With no weapons but the repressed

Love to all was his strength
And for this he would go to any lengths
He discarded western dress and style
And dressed in common Indian style

After African success he went around India in a train
For he wanted to see his country in sun and rain
He saw the hearths and homes of his country men
He poured love to them and never in vain

they loved him their Bapu humble and full of humour
a man of truth and one never for rumour
India under British yoke for a century and more
A nation which had suffered and was sore

Bapu felt the nation’s soul
He knew he had to play his karmic role
He had a tough task and an uphill path
To unite minds split by religion caste and wrath

He had to fight the mighty British
And not by using a sword and its swish
He moved in silence to spread his word of love
He went in hunger and made his vows

He went unarmed to where hatred swells
Into dens where animals in human forms dwells
He brought together men of different faith
Earning love and at times their wraths

And the day he won freedom for his India bit by bit
He was a sad man to see it like a beheaded sheep all split
Men killed men raped women and became devils
As the British left the country for the animals

The great soul prayed and moved amongst the violent
He spoke the word of love to many tyrant
He foresaw mans greed to loot and maim
And he knew free India too could be the same

And then one fine morning he was shot
Dead like a flower crushed like rot
Killed by the one he loved
He reaped what he never sowed

Did we deserve this man amongst our midst?
Did we know his greatness in his tryst?
Do we realize his message of love even today
As our leaders go about in an orgy of greed all day

Today let us be silent for a moment
And think of this great soul and lament
This Parramathma who was born in this blessed land
The land he tried to transform with his love

An ode to the Mahatma I love

Sunday, September 27, 2015


It was dusk as the Royal Brunei airline flew into the air like a graceful bird and lifted away from a green Brunei onto its way to Bali islands in Indonesia a mere three hours away .
I was exited ,and looking forwards to visit the famed island of Bali in the southern tip of Indonesia as all have heard so much about this beautiful island .
We were to land in the capital Denpasar in the Ngruk Eliya airport shortly .
The flight landed smoothly and we quickly paid our visa on arrival fee of US 40 dollars needed for Indian passport holders ,earlier on exit one had to pay an airport tax and had to conserve money for that but now that is already included in the fare .
We took a cab to our hotel in Kutta and it cost around 17 US Dollars ,it was easier to think in US Dollars as Indonesian money was mind boggling .
A single Brunei dollar fetched 10000 Indonesian Rupiah and one talked of one hundred thousand five hundred thousand rupiahs for example a mineral water would cost about 20000 Indonesian Rupiahs  ,each Indian rupee was around 200 Indonesian Rupiah !

We checked in to 101 Legian Bali in Kuta and retired to our rooms .

An aerial view of Kutta area from our room 

nights  in Kutta 
parties fun and frolic massages bars and night life galore in kutta 

in Beach
Kutta is one of the most happening places in Bali island full of hotels boutiques massage parlors pubs and a lot of shopping and night life and the beach too  nearby .
Bali is a wonderful combination of the traditional and the modern melding so smoothly .there was  no vulgarity here though it catered to  all types of people  and no one was prejudiced against another for his way of life as there was acceptance of all with no intrusion to another .
such broad mindedness is an unique feature of the country something admirable .The Balinese too are gentle ,peace loving soft spoken and artistic well meaning people .

In the morning we looked from our room to see gabled roofs and quaint housetops in the busy Kutta area hundreds of motorcycles and scooters were already on the roads and the busy Balinese were already frolicking around for the day 
We had asked our driver cum guide recommended to come to the hotel ,
Dewa should be one of the most popular guides in the country and when we saw him we knew why 
He  was genial ,cheering ,charming and he swept us off our feet as he made us comfortable in the car with a bottle of mineral water each 
Bali has several places of interest .
 One can surf in sandy beaches or take warm sunbaths one can dive or snorkel or go swimming or just laze on the evening with a glass of liquor and fine music ,the beach scene was very attractive to many tourists specially from Australia ,
Kutta had a memorial for those who were killed by a bomb explosion by radical extremists a few years back .
The car went off the winding roads of Densapar ,busy with thousands of mopeds its roundabouts had huge statuettes of Hindu mythology and scenes from it ,after all the country was more than 80 % Hindu and its known for its adherence to Hindu customs and traditions which it guards with great passion .More than 80 % of its population are Hindus .
Hinduism at the beginning of the century spread to the far east brought by south Indian sea faring traders or as invited by local kings .Indonesian islands adopted both Hinduism and Buddhisms ideals ,the Prambaam temple one of the biggest temple complexes is in Indonesia ,several Hindu scriptures were translated into Javanese like the Agastya Parva on Rishi Agastya of the 11 th century .
the last and the largest amongst the Buddhist Hindu Kingdoms was the Mahapajit empire influenced the Indonesian archipelago ,Islam too came here from 12th century at time of Marco polo and slowly Indonesia was taken over by Islamic rulers later it turned into a Dutch colony by the colonizing Dutch .
After gaining indepence from the Dutch ,Indonesia insisted on monotheistic religions only and Bali clarified its  Hindu concept to a monoatheistic one and introduced a joint petition using a Sanskrit slogan 
Translation: Om, thus is the essence of the all pervading, infinite, undivided one.

This fit in with the constitutional requirement of Indonesia of its citizens having belief in only one God .

the Balinese are fine artistes and their delicate art works extends to architecture ,furniture ,idol temple making and fine arts of painting sculpting etc

In 1962 Hinduism became the fifth state recognized religion .

In Bali the Trimurti deities of Hinduism of Shiva Brahma and Vishnu also has Eswara on top of  all the three .
There are more than 20000 temples  ( called Pura )in Bali ,each family has a Kula Dewa or family deity .
 Balinese life is woven around their religion , heritage and their temples ,they do have a functional caste system but no untouchables probably a reflection of early Hindu life in India too .
several road junctions had stone lamps very similar to those seen in Kerala temples 
Most houses , shops , or roadsides are full of festive hangouts and flags made of ethnic material mostly from coconut fronds and bamboo ,innumerable festoons hang and sway delicately o the road sides and are cleverly made using local material an indication of the artistic nature of the Balinese,the cities and towns have huge statuettes from the Hindu scriptures of Mahabaratha and Ramayana .
Festoons decorate every street ,road ,front of houses ,malls and buildings 
there were small and large stone stupas in front of most shops to ward off evil and one would find offerings on plantain leaves which would have in t choclates fruits and even cigarettes on it which no one would ever touch
Hari raya Nyepi is the Hindu new year celebrated in Bali as a day of silence .
On new years eve the houses and the public places are cleaned food is cooked for two days ,in the evening as much noise as possible is made in order to drive away evil spirits ,Nyepi night is filled with fires song and light but the next day is one of total silence with people not venturing out of their house or cooking ,nothing works and even airports   are closed ,tourists are asked to stick inside their hotels for the whole day and night .
Hari raya Galungan and Hari raya Saraswati are two other important festivals in Bali .

one of the beautiful temples of Bali with women in traditional dress carrying offerings 
Dewa took us first to an ethnic Balinese model village for tourists to get a glimpse of the Balinese way of life .
the village is called Pengalipuran

the wooden storehouses for storing grain is seen 

Pengalipuran or model Balinese village 
The street lined by houses in the model village 
Wearing traditional Balinese dress in the Pengalipuran 
the wide walkway ,no vehicles are allowed 

The whole village has been built in the traditional way with houses lining a broad walk with steps leading up to the temple at one end ,each house compound itself has smaller hutments with their red brick roofs .
The kitchen was in a separate room house from the living rooms ,many of the householders carried on with their work though some of them talked to visitors and tried to sell of souvenirs .
one does get a good glimpse of Balinese way of life ,strangely with the advent of tourism and modern gadgetry and comforts one would think that this way of life is restricted to interior villages and the more common folk ,but one would be wrong ,even the most modern model or receptionist or a DJ in a upmarket bar would go back to his or her sarong singing his or her devotional songs and carry those baskets on his or her head being every inch the Balinese is at his heart ,it is this tenacity by which the Balinese hold to their heritage that appealed to me the most ,whatever changes happened they never lose their soul which cannot be said the same of my country India where its tradition and heritage has almost became a shame for many !

The village had a temple at the top facing down ,most temples are closed or their sanctums are opened only when the priests are around  ,but we could find some photo opps and one with Balinese dress too which we took for posterity 
There was a hall filled with a Balinese group and they were in a class of sorts for religious training I think ,
Dewa was waiting for us and we got into the cool comforts of our car drinking ice cold water as the heat was quite sapping .
We were off to the mother of all temples in Bali Called Puru Beisakhi near mount Agung
 ( the principal volcano of Bali )  it was really a temple complex with more than 23 separated but related temples built at an elevation of 1000 meters and in six levels .The largest and the central of the temples is called Pura Penturan Agung 
temple complex of 23 temples

It dates back to prehistoric times and been worshiped in from 1294 
in 1963 the volcano became active and more than 1700 people died but the lava missed the temple closely which is considered by the Balinese as a miracle 
Mount Agung
on the way to the temple

the only issue is as you find in many reviews there is an extortion by certain priest guide nexus which insists on tourists needing guides fortunately ours was not that demanding and we came out unscathed though one needs to rent out a sarong which had to be worn to go inside ,the temple itself is at several levels and the Gods too progressively become higher as one goes up ,
I missed the top most story being lazy to climb steps in the warm day but my wife as usual made it and said that was the most beautiful part and dedicated to the ultimate Ishwara himself !
most of the devotees were in pure white the men sporting a Balinese head gear and the women thier very pretty dresses ,there was a sense of peace and happiness in them ,temple visits are occasions where they come with their families and friends and there was no rush in it as seen in many Indian temples ,the main difference was there was no noticeable altars to view idols in fact many pedestals had just umbrellas adorning empty spaces which again showed the Balinese uncannily hit on the real nature of Adwaitic Hinduism and are beyond idol worship ,were the past Hindus like this and did the present form as seen in India come later of course this blog is hardly the place to debate on superiority of which ,each to his own 

temple art 

Beisakhi temple 

The split entrance is seen in many Balinese temple entrances ,here it is called the Candi Bentar and the second level gate is called Kori Agung 

The priest distributes offerings to the devotees all dressed in pristine white 

a view from the top of the steps 
a lovely Balinese child in the temple in traditional garb

It was time for lunch and Dewa took us to a bug hotel known for its Balinese buffet lunch ,there were a lot of tourists and we just manged to find a seat ,one could see the Mount Agung in the back ground ,the buffet spread  was big and we got out of lunch feeling full and was accosted by a bunch of touts and souvenir sellers who manged to do their jobs quoting good bargains in American dollars as Indonesian money would be in astronomical figures .
We then decided to go to the Uluwatu temple in the Bukit peninsula ,it is located on cliffs 70 meters above the crashing waves of the Indian ocean and is well known for its spectacular sunsets ./most temples in Bali ask for entrance fees and are tourist attractions for the foreigners while being spiritual centers for the locals ,cleverly marketed spirituality which I appreciate .,
there are plenty of monkeys in this temple and are known to grab cameras and bags and hence one has to exercise caution as one

gets absorbed by its beauty ,we did miss the sunset and it soon became dark but we could capture some excellent

The sentinel gaurdian of Uluwatu 

We then returned back exhausted to Kutta and had a good sleep .
of course I have not mentioned the excellent beaches and surfing in the peninsula as our tour was more focused on Balis temples this time 
Morning saw Dewa back with us ,this day we planned to visit two important temples one was Tanah lot on the beach and the other was Ulundawa  on the side of a lake ,
Every location is well planned for temples in Bali on mountain sides ,lakes banks ,on beaches  and on hills .
Tanah lot means land sea built by Javanese sage Dang Hyang Nirartha  in 16 th century ,the main diety is Dewa Baruna or Batara segara the sea Gods and the sage himself is also worshiped here .
At the base of the temple island mythology suggests venomous sea snakes protect it ,in 1980 the crumbling temple due to sea erosion was renovated with Japanese funds .
We went inside one of the temples though the one inside the  sea could not be reached due to the high tides ,surfers were seen swimming on the sea .
the temple on a rock out in the sea were so picturesque and one could imagine how it would look in sunset ,we were surprised to find out the rock was a carefully constructed artificial outcrop which had replaced a crumbling rock a few years back ,cleverly engineered to look like the original while being strong too a real feat in conservation .

The touts ,guides ,vendors were all over but are cheerful and not at all demanding ,they fit in to the place so well ,the real temple visitors too were in plenty dressed in white muslin and neat and the women were graceful in their sarongs with offerings carried daintily on their heads .

There was so much of peace and quietude in their movements and the place was serene and peaceful ,the line of shops included upmarket branded shops restaurants and studios making brisk business .
Artistes did their work in front of the tourists and the place was a treasure house for artistic works ,

making and selling art 
We got back into the car and sped to a heritage restaurant to be served with authentic Balinese cuisine

Balinese fish and rice

A temple function with procession

the step like pagodas were typical of balinese temple architechture and to a small extent did resemble temples of Kerala ,umbrellas shaded empty pedestals with offerings for the invisble Gods 

we sped to our last temple the famous ulundanu about 50 km fro Densapar a shaivite temple on the shores of Lake Bretan in the mountains near Bedugul at 1200 meters above sea level .built in 1663 this temple is for offerings to the lake Godess Dewi Dhanu .or Laksmi ,other Gods are Brahma and Buddha .
Shiva and consort Parvsthi are the main deities Vishnu and Brahma and their temples all have tiers in descending orders
After returning from here we sped to our hotel in Seminiak   area a more upmarket locality and into a bigger and sophisticated one with an infinity pool
we lazed in the next morning after a hearty breakfast and an indulgent swim as we had to leave Bali in the evening with a sad heart !!

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