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Friday, October 21, 2016

Camera control

Whenever I travel taking photographs has been my passion..somehow there a compulsion to record what i saw with awe for posterity.
My family used to say why dont you see things with your eyes instead of through a lens. Very true but my nature would take over.
So most trips i go laden with my Nikon SLR 3000 and also its 740 mm lens with sun shield. My faithful samsung note 4 which had given me excellent shots and lovely videos .
Technically not perfect i had the eye for a good frame and mostly wouldnt miss oppurtune moments 
Photography is freezing moments i feel.
These days a remote selfie stick with blue tooth made me take selfies which do not look like one but its preparation adjustments opening application and shooting all this in crowded tourist areas was a bit cumbersome. .once in a cathedral in Sydney in a sepulchral hall durig a solemn mass i was happily clicking on my nikon in professional agility. I had changed to my huge lens but forgotten to lock it. The disaster happened as my lens fell n a loud thud to floor making the entire congregration look back at me as i guiltily picked it up. Luckily God was with me as my lens was not broken only my ego was ! 
This time premila joined me with a vengeance as she bought a latest canon digital camera small but powerful and clicked away with it and her i phone beating me in the game 
A real camera trip

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Beyond Borders

Talking of Bone marrow transplants Allogenic transplants require usually HLA matched blood relations rarely does an unmatched donor become useful .
When in Tawam Hospital in Al Ain two Bangladeshi patients were referred by me to CMC vellore for allogenic transplants .

India is the most economic for bone marrow transplants at least 20 to 30 % cheaper than anywhere else in the wrold with equally good results ,( to all those who blame Indian medical sector ) in US and UK it is obnoxiously expensive the poor Bangladeshi patients would have ill afforded
Even in CMCH Vellore it would come to approximately 2000000 INR at that time .
One of the patients whom I sent first told me he knew a Pakistani business man in Dubai who could help him ,so I got his number and called him and asked him if it was true ,

yes Doctor you go ahead and arrange i shall sponsor the expenses he said but do you know how much it really costs ,no worries i shall pay ,
but I said i would just do the medical referral the financial part he needs to deal directly with the Hospital ,
everything was done
our young patient got a visa took his HLA matched donor along with and went to CMCH Vellore ,
Dr Mammen Chandy the renowned hematologist was the HOD and I had communicated with him directly .
Patient went through the procedure which by itself was simple but the stormy post transplant period accounted for the cost and the troubles
luckily he came out of it cured .
And after some time when another Bangladeshi patient also needed a BMT and had a matched recipient i could contact CMCH again and they were wiling to take up the case but this time we had no sponsor ,
so hesitatingly i contacted the same Pakistani gentleman and told him the situation
i told him I dont expect you to sponsor again i know it is unfair but do you know any one who can ,
he said Dr no worries
God has given me profits maybe it is for this purpose
I will sponsor again ,
i was stunned by his generosity so the same thing was repeated he too went and had a successful transplant and returned though he developed lot of post transplant difficulties the last I saw him hopefully he is ok now
this is a real life story of An Indian doctor ,a Pakistani business man ,An Indian hospital a great Indian specialist coming together to help a Bangladeshi patient
no two of them
what are borders

Madras ....Chennais nostalgia

..I was born brought up and had my studies there and moved to Kerala my native place for the working phase of my life ..
strangely both my children who were born and raised in Cochin. Kerala had a stint in Chennai my daughter studying in the 175 year old venerable Madras medical college where I also did my post graduation in its legendary Bernard institute of radiology and cancer..
To walk in its hallowed portals for both me and my daughter were our destinies ..

incidentally it was the famed medical exhibition in this college which I visited as a ninth class student of Santhome high school just opposite the Santhome beach and its peach white cathedral which gave me the ache to be part of the medical profession .

I just couldnt resist the uphill task of a general category applicant to get into a Government medical college by merit.
Those days too there were a couple of capitation fee medical colleges mostly in Karnataka but not like the tons of medical colleges which appeared like a measles rash in the present day kerala where one could become a cardiologist in ten years with the right amount of greenbucks !

My getting an admission in the kilpauk medical college in the ancient 1977 was almost a near impossible task for a fatherless rudderless boy who had a brave mother resisting pressures to bring her children to the native village in Kerala and making them study there instead of staying alone with two children in the big bad city..she was adamant we would study only in madras and if iam something today iam indebted to her fortitude and realization that Madras was a city of education from those days.
My sister too graduated in economics from SIET college in the city
Compared to this my daughter Sruthi sailed through the All India list of medical entrance and sat and choose at her will her preferred Madras medical college and studied her MBBS and did internship before flying to the rarer environs of a Cleavland university to become a pediatric resident

 and my son Shyam too did his plus two again in Chennai in order to attempt the coveted IIT entrance exams which he too cleared to become a part of the venerable IIT circle by joining IIT BHU in Varanasi.
Again it was Madras which bridged him into it.
Madras also got me the partner in my life for which Kilpauk medical college and its romantic aura was responsible
As a star struck final year student thats me proposed to a pretty third year student my wife and we became man and wife after a couple of years of running around its trees was again Madras for

Premila my wife even though she too was from Kerala be it her convent schooling in Doveton coree or stint in Ethiraj college and finally her MBBS in Kilpauk medical college where destiny had placed me two years before to wait for my beu
Madras was always a center of education for the past two hundred years. Legends have walked taught and spoken from its hallowed university its sprawling colleges its heritage learning places.
I also had an opportunity to study in Vivekananda college in Madras near Luz known for its studious students with a craze for cricket The likes of srikanth being its alumini but even a vivekananda college didnt turn me to sports. 
The one year there went away quickly with my almost fanatic zeal to get a medical admission by merit.
The three month stint in the red gabled baroque British buildinged Presidency college where i joined for BSC Zoology as a safety insurance in event of my not getting medical admission was mostly spent in the beachy Buhari hotel opposite it gulping huge cups of tea crunching crisp mutton samosas with other medical hopefuls cutting classes so much that once the professor told us with clenched teeth just remember fellows i will devour you if you dont get medical admission and get stuck with me for three years so the relief and happiness I got when i came to know i got admission for MBBS was to a small part happiness in not facing his revenge .
So to my family madras had always been synonymous with education.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


We left Bratislava in Slovakia with a smile ,it was one of the good trips we have had .
The luxury bus to Vienna was very comfortable with free WIFI ,entertainment console ,and mineral water .the seat was soft push back and roomy ,the windows were wide and the scenes were awesome ,with all this the one and half hour ride was over before we realized and we got down the Vienna bus stand .
Like in most developed cities the Bus station was part of a huge complex with metro at one level so we descended down to the Metro and managed to make an online call to our hotel in a place called PilgrimGasse .
The hotel reception gave us very clear instructions ,we were advised to get on to the red line
 ( Vienna Metro has five lines marked in different colors ,106 stations and covered around 75 kms .)
We needed to get down at Karlsplatz  station and change to green line and then travel a couple of stations to reach PilgimGasse  and the hotel was just right across the station .

in metro

We bought a ticket from the vending machine ,later we realized we could have bought the one day ticket and saved money which we did after some time ,
the one day or two days tickets are very convenient one can travel in bus or metro or tram unlimited with that .it cost 7.60 Euro per ticket approximately 600 INR .

In   a short time we reached PilgrimGasse  a very quaint station with a canal of the Danube flowing near it
 there was a Mc Donald outlet nearby and some shops,
we checked in to Austria Trendz Ananas hotel ,
After freshening up we took the metro again this time with a one day ticket and went to karlzplatz changed trains to Musuems quartier  station by now we got the hang of it ,the metro map was very clear ,one had to be careful to look into the end stations in order not to travel in opposite directions and choose the correct colored line but it was very user friendly and needed no help from anyone .




The  museums Quartier  had  many art gallery's and museums mostly of them of the contemporary  kind ,we went into the Leopold Museum it was very avantgarde with lot of fashionable people walking in the lobby .
We found the admission charges were exorbitant and as both us us were not particular fans of modern art and preferred more realistic ones we gave it a wide berth ,
most of the other museums and galleries there were of the similar kind but the square was big and one could get rest by sitting and people watching ,there was an interactive place for children and a pop music group was setting up for an evening of fun ,
we moved out of the place and then got into a road full of huge buildings palaces and statues the traffic was busy ,
we saw a huge complex with picturesque fountains and a huge square where only walking was allowed .
we came to know this was the famous Hofsburg  Palace This was the traditional winter residence of the aristocracy who ruled Austria while the Schonbrunn palace was the summer residency 
it faced the Helden platz .
The sprawling Hofsburg square had many statues,manicured gardens and sitting places 

it had several parts to it

The imperial apartments ,The Sisi museum ,the imperial silver collection ,The ancient music institute ,the Spanish riding school ,the Museum of fine arts ,collection of arms and Armour ,the national library in the Grand hall ,the imperial chapel ,the treasury ,the papyrus museum ,butterfly museum .
We took a ticket to enter the place 
it had two parts one the SISI museum where no photography was allowed and secondly the Imperial collections where photography was allowed 
SISI or queen Elisabeth required a separate museum for her tale was long and poignant 

SISI is so famous that books have been written and movies taken 

The Hobsburg dynasty ruled Austria for around two hundred years and during this time Austria became famous as a center of artistic living , fashion ,architecture ,music  and science too .
It was the hub of culture music and art in Europe in those bohemian days .
Vienna had the likes of Sigmund Freud , Mozart ,Beethoven and later Lenin ,Stalin ,Tito Trotsky and Hitler rubbing shoulders literally ,
they may have been  in its coffee bars probably espousing their beliefs .
it was a fountain head of culture itself .
This can be seen in the medieval buildings in the historical area of the city .
Huge crowds of tourists throng the roads of this area ,and the towering Gothic cathedrals ,fairy tale castles with tall spires ,up market branded shops vying for space in the midst of sculpted art and fountains .

We went into the SISI museum ,we were given ear plugs which gave recorded audio information by designated numbers of exhibits .

We learnt that Elisabeth a young playful adventurous girl related to the royal family living with her family n Bavaria who later  become the Empress of Austria itself by marrying the king Franz Joseph who was smitten by her charms .
SISI s tastes were exquisite and her passion for horse riding ,acrobatics ,and sports made her make lot of changes to the palace ,her dresses were the talk of the town and considered as the height of fashion ,she was a social butterfly and at the center of things with her charisma but she also felt she was in  a gilded cage in the palace as she longed for her more carefree childhood .

She bore children ,grew into middle age ,her husband the king was mostly busy , though he loved his wife .

She would go to other places dressed as a countess , to hide her identity and it was once during one  such a trip an anarchist who was anti royal murdered her .He stabbed her with a thin knife ,Sisi never knew it happeneing and was confused but after some time fell down bleeding thoguh she was taken to a nearby hosue she died .
Sisi was written on much and more than three films have been taken on her life .
Then we moved in to the imperial palace and saw  its kitchen vessels ,decorated table and sanitary ware ,weapons jewelry furniture all these were grand and splendid 
after coming out of the Hobsburg palace  

The well known Godess Athena 

Vienna is still called as the city of music ,city of dreams after Freauds famous psychoanalytic theories ,there was a Sigmund Freud museum which we missed it needed a good week to touch all places .

After long hours of plodding through the museum when we were trans positioned to the era of Vienna's monarchy and glory ,the days of Mozart and elegant ballets of horse riding princesses and men in top hats we came out to a cloudy dusk in streets of Vienna ,we quickly took the metro back to our hotel refreshed ourselves and later took the bus to a shopping area which was a couple of broad streets full of upmarket branded shops huge clothing small eateries and a sepulchered church ,the sidewalks were full of people walking shopping watching the fun over cups of coffee there was a Chinese lady blowing huge bubbles using a ladle and the atmosphere was almost fairy tail like  ,we had some Thai noodles from a small bunk before we returned by bus to a well deserved rest in the hotel .

Next day morning saw us tucking into an European breakfast 
with many varieties of cheese different types of breads and croissants fresh fruits sausages which were very tasty unlike any we have had earlier varieties of jams pastries and came out smug with happiness .

We got into the metro changed trains at karlsplatz and reached the Vienna opera house where our tour was to begin ,the Vienna State opera house itself was a sight to be seen 


St Stephens Cathedral

the Stephens church stood tall in its Gothic brilliance

built in 1863 it was formally opened by emperor Franz Joseph and empress Sisi Elisabeth and it opened with Don Giovanni of Mozart 
During the second world war at almost the end American forces caused a fire in the opera house and a big part was destroyed and rebuilt only in 1969 almost like the original but with modern acoustics and without much pillars 
Though our tour started there ,it was more of a landmark to start we did not go inside as it was closed in the morning ,there were lot of agents dressed in mediaveal costumes trying to sell tickets to the tourists for the days programme .
We then joined the walking tour of the Ringstrasse or ring road center for historical edifices and shopping paradise and a world heritage site ,
it is around 5.3 km long ,most built in the eighteenth and nineteenth century and it had magnificent ornate houses of many nobles and rich men ,the Parliament house ,the Museum of fine arts and museum of applied arts ,Vienna stock exchange ,city hall .university ,museum of natural history and Gothic votive church Gardens like Volksgarten  Stadstpark burgarten which were once private gardens of emperor Franz Josef ,Sigmund Freud park and Bruno kreisky parks 

The architects were famous and infused historic-ism which meant they infused styles of Baroque ,Gothic and Renaissance .
We walked around the crowded street gazing at the eminent buildings Gothic churches upmarket boutiques ,works of art ,
there were a couple of horse carriages to take tourists around too .

One of the striking heritage buildings is the Votive church built in Gothic fashion it was built in commemoration of a failed attempt on the life of emperor Franz Josef we went inside the hallowed church 
inside the magnificent church

leisurely coffee drinkers in pavement cafes 
After coming back in a circle we reached the starting point of the State opera ,
the walking tour was over and was worth it as we learnt a lot from the guide one of the first places she took was a monument in a square for the thousands of Jews buried below during the second world war ,,we then got into a hop on hop off bus 

Most tourist spots hop on hop off buses are worth using as they give you the freedom to alight and reboard at your will and we can see most important places hearing a running commentary and stop at places we want .Big bus is well known and operating in many cities like Dubai ,in Hong kong ,most cities of Europe ,Australia etc .
but the buses interval comes down by evening this is something we noticed 

Red Bus     hop on hop off

we got down at he massive UNO city ,


UNO city in Veinna 
one needed special permission to go inside which we did not have so we bought a spicy hot dog 
and munched our way into the tallest building in Vienna 
the Danube tower which opened in 1964 it was 827 feet in height it contained radio and cellular towers it had high speed elevators to take people to the viewing chamber at 450 feet with a revolving restaurant on three sides of Danube tower were green woods and gardens and one could see from top the UNO city ,Vienna city itself and the gardens round tower the Danube river and its UFO bridge 
After viewing to our satisfaction we climbed up to the revolving restaurant and had a hot soup and a cold milk shake to revive us ,

AT restaurant on top of Danube towers

We also found out that one need not buy mineral water in Vienna as the tap water was potable and anyone could trust its purity ,
we were exhausted while we returned 

By evening we dressed in our best to go to Schonbrunn palace to listen to a symphony orchestra 
musicians get ready

The Opera hall in Schonbrunn palace
The palace itself was huge though the time for entry was over ,those who had come for the concert went through a side door to give their tickets to liveried assistants standing in regal style 
we reached a hall full of souvenirs ,a wine shop and an anticipating audience who were shepherded inside , the hall itself was not very ornamental but with the lights we came to know of a full orchestra and slowly the lights dimmed and we lost ourselves to the strain of symphony music from the very land that produced greats like Mozart .
The music conductor had wavy long hair and dynamic energy as he went thorough his motions there were a couple of ballets ,a male and female opera singers whose voices had great strength   We came to know it was not easy to be part of such an orchestra 
later the conductor turned towards the audience and told us to clap as he directs as the music unfolded ,he gestured for the audience to start to pick up tempo all with his dance like movements later he would turn to the musicians so that audience earned a rest this was quite interactive and interesting  .
It was cold when we came out ,we hurried to the metro station opposite and alighted the metro and quickly reached our hotel .
Vienna was quite safe and metros and trams went on till midnight .
Next day we again came to schonbrunn palace as
Schonbrunn palace
 We had not seen its exterior fully leave alone the interior for which we had no time as we were to catch the afternoon train to Prague .
The palace was just awesome with vast flat land ,undulating lawns with architectural buildings and arches on both ends looming majestically ,one one side was the well known Maze which we did not attempt ,there were fountains ,waterfalls and horse drawn carriages outside the palace .

We took several photographs and returned  back to our hotel .
We took a bus to the railway station as we had done a rehearsal the previous day it was very comfortable and user friendly we got down at Vienna station and went inside to reach the platform of our train 
The station itself had a roomy food court ,and plenty of shops etc we reached our platform and quickly boarded our train to Prague waving good bye to Vienna .

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