No life-altering philosophies. No depressing stories. No war crimes or injured puppy pictures. This is where you come at the end of a long day to smile and relax. So sit back, order a refreshing drink and share a laugh with me, your bartender for the evening.
And always remember that age-old, fluorescent green rule of life : An appletini a day keeps the doctor away.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The look of a doctor

Authors note:  This entry won me a Flipkart voucher for the P.A.U.S. contest.

When I lay down to rest at night, I carry with me not just the grime and exhaustion of a long day but the images of all that I witnessed in the operation theater. The pain, blood, broken bones and tears of patients and their loved ones. I wear their sorrows beneath my mask and hide it there the whole day through.
But the mask must come off and it does. And the suffering I have seen shows upon my face... the weariness I feel within.

And he yearns for peace
 as he closes his eyes every night.

But I carry on. For I cannot be selfish. I cannot think of myself alone. There are patients all around who need me. And they deserve more... they deserve better than a tired doctor with a grizzled stubble upon his features. They need someone they can respect; someone to hold their hand and let them know they are safe once again. And that someone has to look the part too. He must be the one who brings hope back to the sleep-deprived eyes who suffer around him.
He has to be dapper, he has to be clean shaven and his smile should evoke confidence.

He must arise every morning 
once more a beacon of hope.

This post is a part of the Protest Against Smelly Stubble Activity in association with BlogAdda.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Look beyond the numbers

"Children are our country's future." How many times have we heard that saying? There is a future Sachin Tendulkar hidden somewhere, a Bachchan and Rajinikanth just waiting to be found. Scientists of the future who will do us proud and authors who will weave prose that will stir our very soul.

But sometimes you have to look beyond the dreams of endless bouquets. You have to earn that right to dream. And that takes some serious introspection, something we tend to avoid as much as possible.

Beyond the dreams and castles in the sky, look at the numbers we have presently. Over 450 million children walk the 'vast expanse' that is India. To put that number into a more meaningful perspective, that is MORE THAN the entire human population of the continent of North America. Sorry as it is to admit, from there on, the statistics for our children only get worse.
  • 10% of the children born every year in India do not live up to the age of five years.
  • 4 out of 5 Indian children under the age of 3 years are anemic. 1 in 2 have iodine deficiency.
  • Less than 50% of India's child population attend school - naturally, even fewer complete high school.
  • 3% of the population of Indian children suffer from some disability - physical or mental.
  • 1 out of every two girls in India is malnourished. 
  • 1 in 12 girls born in India do not live to see their first birthday.
  • Less than 50% receive their complete vaccination and are hence prone for debilitating illness in the future.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dignity under pressure - the Mia woman

Carrying yourself with dignity in today's world is never an easy task, more so when every move you make is being observed by a media out to sell a few extra pages by belittling you. 

When she finished her degree and started pursuing a career in movies, she got off to possibly the worst start a mainstream actress has had in recent history. Considered a 'jinx' when her debut film opposite a superstar was shelved for unrelated production issues, the superstitious belief spread like wildfire and she was immediately replaced in twelve other movies she had signed up for. In her next two movies, she was thrown out after shooting had commenced. Consider for a moment what that can do to the mental strength of a woman trying to succeed in a profession where few make it large.

To her credit, she did not go hunting for a sugar daddy but kept working in ads and music videos for years till she caught a young director's eye. After undergoing multiple auditions over six grueling months, she finally landed the role of the titular character of the movie - Parineeta. Vidya Balan has never looked back since that stunning debut performance.

She has had no easy path up the ladder at any point in her life. When she wowed critics with her performances on screen, they were quick to judge her off-screen on her weight and fashion sense. The comments would definitely have hurt her, but she never let it deter her. Instead she carried on showcasing her skills, giving up the traditional damsel-in-distress choices for roles which challenged her abilities - a radio jockey out to help the poor, a woman dying from multiple sclerosis, suffering from dissociative identity disorder, an unwed mother and a temptress. Can you frankly imagine any other actress today portraying two roles as diverse as hers in The Dirty Picture (based on the controversial actress Silk Smitha) and Kahaani (where a pregnant lady searches for her husband) within months of each other and pulling it off so effortlessly?

Whether it is her professional life or her personal, she has never let snide remarks and insults get to her. She is comfortable with her body image and confident in her talent. She does not conform to the industry's image of the eye-candy that an Indian actress should be and we love her for it. And yet, in spite of all the hardships she has faced to reach here, the young girl from Hum Paanch is still alive within this National Award winner, gushing and blushing even today when she is around her crush Shah Rukh Khan much to her husband's amused exasperation, I assume.

To me, she represents the grace and strength to succeed beyond the boundaries that the industry tried to hold her in. She lets her work do the talking for her and gleefully revels in the challenges. And for that reason, she is a true Mia woman to me.

This is my entry for Tanishq's "As Beautiful as your work" contest.

Restarting life at fourteen.

Born to a single teenage woman who worked as a housemaid. So poor she had to wear clothes made of potato sacks as a child. Raped at age nine by her relatives. A runaway at age thirteen. Pregnant by age fourteen, losing her child in infancy. 

Rather than give up, this girl decided to restart her life. She joined back in school, choosing education over all else. She became a Honors student and eventually moved on from her part-time job as a grocery girl to doing what she enjoyed most: talking. She talked her heart out as a radio-anchor and her positive energy soon garnered her a small fan-base and a spot on a low rated morning show on television.

Oprah Gail Winfrey has never looked back since then. Few would have bet on her succeeding in the media industry when she started out. She was an African-American in a prejudiced time, overweight and suffering from severe self-esteem issues. What noone counted on was her big heart. The Oprah Winfrey show differed from others because she preferred to empathize with her audience and guests rather than judge or grill them. 

Her show consistently broke network records for decades, challenging stereotypes when necessary while also allowing her audience to smile and have fun. She was sassy, funny and loud, yet could be tender and forgiving when required. She was the friend you wanted to have, the one you knew you could trust not to judge you for your follies. People listened to her and believed in her opinions and it was a responsibility she took seriously.   

By the time Oprah played out her final show to a tearful audience, she had been termed the 'most powerful woman in the world' by CNN and 'One of 100 people who influenced the 20th century' by Time. In Life magazines '100 people who changed the world', she was the only living person to make the list. In a career spanning three decades, she has hosted everyone from Presidents to hurricane victims, sharing jokes with the former while surprising the latter by rebuilding their homes and paying for their children's education. The first African-American billionaire, she has donated over 400 million dollars to educate the poor, often stressing how education was the key to her own success and willing them to do the same.

She should have been just another statistic of lower class livelihood. After all, we in India see so many similar young children falling victims to poverty in our country every day. The difference is that this girl who was raped, homeless and a mother by age fourteen did not give up on life. She aspired to be more. And she knew to learn from her past mistakes and give to others that which she yearned for most as a child - a non-judgemental heart, an open ear, a kind word and a warm hug to remind everyone that somebody still cared about them. 

This is my entry for Tanishq's "As Beautiful as Your Work" contest.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marvel vs DC Comics Based Movies.

Author's note #1: This is a geek post featuring investment planning and comic books. Yes, exactly what I said. So read at your own peril. 

When people talk about the benefits of long term planning, I always use the example of comic-based movies. It is just a more appealing method to explain to people of my generation, instead of trying to explain the benefits of 9% compounded interest and 8% annual inflation rates, gilt and equity, stocks and bonds. So what is my explanation?

Now, for this to make sense to you, I think I should place the basics on the table right now.
The two chief contenders are DC comics and Marvel comics.

DC Comics includes names like: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and their collective group, the Justice League of America (JLA).

Marvel Comics includes: Spiderman, Daredevil, The X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and the collective group, the Avengers.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Godyears - Movies, TV shows, books and reviews

Godyears - Laughter and Happiness

* - Author Favourites

  1. *My 1.34 crore resume : This is how I'm gonna get Facebook to pay me 1.34 crores or more. 
  2. *Ask Uncle Rosho : I think I'd make a great agony uncle... Don't you ? 
  3. : This is why I have to make my own matrimonial tests to find the perfect bride. 
  4. *Benefits of being a Premium Blogger : aka my demands whenever you enter my blog. 
  5. *God is in the fine print : A college for those who want to be a God Man 
  6. WeChat contest with multiple celebrities : Post 1 and 2 
  7. *The Superstar Criterion How to assess superstars in Bollywood.
  8. *Chinese whispers : What happens when a simple gets passed along from one person to another. 
  9. My Majestic strut : Why do all my attempts to impress girls end up like this ? 
  10. *I am the superhero SpiderButtBat : Self explanatory, right? 
  11. *Winkey-smiley kissy face : When emoticons attack. 

Godyears - Heart beats

* - Author favourites

  1. *To the stranger I love : A letter to someone I love... and have never met till date.
  2. *After all this time? Always : The truest depiction of love in fiction
  3. *I need you to know, my child : A letter from a mother to her unborn child. For a dear friend of mine.
  4. *Hidden Spectrum: What was the secret that stopped him from asking her out? 
  5. The letter : Another letter to the person you love...
  6. *Love is : A comic strip you have all read. The love story behind it you have never heard of.
  7. *Son of a greater God : A tribute to the one I call my God.

Godyears - Life lessons

* - Authors favourites

  1. *Jungle Parable Sometimes the best lessons about love and letting go come from the unlikeliest sources. 
  2. *Once upon a time 25 years ago Being good at heart is what makes people will remember you for. 
  3. *Make a Chit Be your own saviour.
  4. *A quote which defines you What one quote do you identify with the most?
  5. Embers On surviving disappointments in life.
  6. *Within that inch, we are free Never give up on your morals, no matter the opposition. 
  7. *Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud Help those who need you... even if they don't ask. 
  8. Chocolate and a bitter pill If we just slow down and observe all around us, we can see magic all around us. 
  9. *Restarting life at 14 This billionaire known around the world chose not to give up after losing everything at the age of 14.
  10. Dignity under pressure This national award winning actress was thrown out of a dozen movies because of the industry's superstitious blind beliefs.
  11. *A few good men Humility is the difference. A Blogadda Spicy Saturday winner. 
  12. *The woods are calling The journey through life is similar to one through a forest 

Godyears - On being a doctor in India

What is it like being a doctor in India? Considering that the first medical post of Godyears was written back in 2005 when I was still an intern, I would say it's been one hell of a ride.

* - Author favourites

*Doctors, defend thyself : Still remains the most read and commented post in my blog after all these years. A Blogadda 'Saturday Spicy Pick' winner on the harsh reality of being a doctor in today's India.



Godyears - The Unseen Observer

* - Author favourites

  1. Live free or die hard  Based on the "pub beating" incident in Mangalore, 2009 
  2. *Within that inch, we are free. Stick to your morals.
  3. *Doctors, defend thyself  The reality of being a doctor in India
  4. The Damini Conundrum What would you do if you came across a girl being molested ?
  5. *Break a nose and twist some balls, girls Nobody is going to save you girls from India's rapists. Do it yourself.
  6. *The right to die The Aruna Shanbaug case for euthanasia 
  7. Blueprint for redeeming India  Staying safe in India
  8. Know that you are not free Being a democracy is different from being free

Godyears - Oh my God.

                                                                                         * - Author favourites

  1. Miracle Worker A discussion with an atheist on a real life event that appears to have a divine hand. 
  2. For want of a moan Yes.. sometimes we ask too much of God. 
  3. *The Ice-Cream Stick House 
  4. *Friday never ends God has a lot to answer for... starting with that damn "It's Friday" song. A Blogadda Tangy Tuesday pick. 
  5. My God, My prankster What do you do when God is hell-bent on playing pranks on you ? 
  6. *The God Complex A real life event that tested the faith of many of us in God... and his true intentions. 
  7. *Tetrapack Gods The true flaw of our religion - our willingness to believe in anyone 'claiming' to be God. 

Godyears - Fiction

* - Author's favourites

Romance, Comedy, Horror, Thrillers, Divine tales or just a lesson in life.. choose your poison !!!
For a list of my stories available in print or media, click here.
  1. *Shaktiman and Dirty Ganga India's best superhero is coming to save the day... and he ain't coming alone. Soon to be a major action movie. P.S. Funds needed. 
  2. *Father of my son A crystal ball look into what life maybe for me years from now as I tackle two of man's greatest challenges : My kid's first love and an angry missus ! A BlogAdda Spicy Saturday Pick of the Month. 
  3. The War Maker A follow up to "Father of my son". A look into the wonderful ballet of fights within relationships. 
  4. *The Jungle Parable Would you be willing to learn one of life's most important lessons from an animal ? 
  5. *The stranger I love I've never met you in my life. But I love you. 
  6. *Old school A story of young, innocent love... based on personal school memories. 
  7. *Heartstrings The day we tell someone we love how we really feel is always memorable. 
  8. New beginnings Even seniors have trouble in asking a girl out. 
  9. *Hidden Spectrum: What was the secret that stopped him from asking her out? 

Godyears - Days of my Life

* - Author's favourites

  1. *Premium Blogger Being chosen as one of 10 Premium Bloggers of the country by Blogadda.
  2. *Featuring in Indian Express 
  3. *My interview Self- explanatory.
  4. *Online reviews for Urban Shots : Bright Lights and the Book launch Great reviews for the book and my story. 
  5. *The 'Ten Shades of Life' Book Launch.  
  6. My first published story ( Paperback ) Published in 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Doctor's Soul'
  7. *YEAR 9 of blogging begins. It really has been an amazing journey.
  8. Winning Indireads short story contest
  9. *Ruby... wonder dog. Dogyears  The trial of Ruby  Take a 'Bow'  Dog wars  2 of my favourite things  It's a dogs world  RIP Ruby 1999 - 2013
  10. *Snoopy... vampire dog. A faithful hint of citrus and coffee  Snoopy File - 01  The dog, the bone and the tree 
  11. Heartstrings - ebook: My short story Heartstrings available as an e-book too.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Contest entry: The 'FRIENDS' reunion

Being a doctor takes it's toll on your social life. Always being at the beck and call of patients or a hospital ensures that getting free time at the end of the week is a luxury rather than a given. Even when we chat on the phone nowadays with old college mates, you can hear the nostalgia in their voice as they talk of the good old days when we could relax after a grueling day at the hospital, watching sitcoms and movies on the shared dorm television set while having dinner. So if I had the choice of hosting a party, I know exactly what I would do.

Step 1: The Guest-list
Who better than my fellow friends from medical college who I grew up with and who would truly cherish the opportunity to not just have a break from the grind of hospital life but an informal party like old times where we could just sit, relax and have a fun weekend revisiting old memories.  

Step 2: The 'Save the date' cards.
Have you tried to get a doctor on a weekend? Tough, isn't it? So imagine the odds of getting 15 specialists AND their spouses free on the same weekend! It isn't going to happen without a very early set of 'Save the date' cards being dispatched via email, informing them of the date and driving instructions to get to my place.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Contest entry : Play to your strengths

Every teacher teaches us something from a prescribed text or note. But the best teachers are those who impart wisdom from their heart – because that is the lesson that remains with us forever.

As an undergraduate, I used to be envious of many of my co-batchmates. Some were pure geniuses who understood the subject just after reading it once, while others were the ‘by-hearters‘, who memorized whole text books ad verbatim. While the former usually excelled in practical exams, the latter group invariably made a big impression during theory exams.

And then there was my kind ; the type of student who spent hours trying to understand how various drugs were supposed to act on various aspects of bacteria and always ended up cursing the people who made such long and tough names for these 5000 plus drugs. We were the type who made the externals frown and the internals develop premature grey hair with our bumbling ways during the exams.

It was during one such internal evaluation that was going horribly bad that I voiced the above theory to the pharmacology lecturer taking my viva ( as part of a plan to get his sympathy, I recall ! ). I still remember his fun laugh and warm smile ... and his advice.
“Don’t try to be someone else. All of us have our strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths. Think of what you are good at and use it to help you remember.”

Contest entry : The meaning of respect

This incident took place a couple of years ago.

A bunch of us post-graduate doctors had gone to attend a medical conference in Coimbatore. As it usually is during such conferences, various topics from diabetes to cancer were discussed in detail by senior professors and faculty members, highlighting their personal observations and newer treatment regimens. At the end of a lengthy afternoon session of lectures, all of us took a break for high tea wherein the speakers and the students could interact on a more personal level. As is the case usually, medical queries soon gave way to friendly banter. Senior professors spoke of their children and how they were studying or settled abroad in various continents of the globe. Of the senior staff, there was just one professor who sat quietly and watched with a serene smile as his compatriots spoke of their children and their successful careers. As the other staff got up to leave, one of the students asked this old man about his children and whether he was a doctor too.

The other senior doctors looked at him with what we students perceived at the time to be an embarrassed grin and we instantly regretted the personal nature of the question to this distinguished staff member. The smile on his own face though never dampened as he looked down at his cup of tea. He finally replied "My son is more into games than medicine. He plays cricket."
Residents who were there later confirmed the thought that crossed all their minds simultaneously : That the kid was some brash guy who was living off his dad's name and earnings, playing in local leagues and squandering the family wealth. We had all seen such children during our lives, we knew.
One of the residents persevered. "Does he play for Ranji league?", referring to the cricket tournament of the country based on state selections.
Again a sheepish grin. "Well, he used to a while back, but not so much these days."
Seeing the man trying to cover the embarrassment of his obviously spoilt brat, some of the doctors felt sad for the distinguished doctor. It was then that a resident picked up on the clues in front of him and asked this mild mannered doctor who had travelled all the way from Hyderabad to teach his junior colleagues "Sir. What is your son's name ?"
The man looked up at him and said in that familiar unassuming soft voice that he had passed on to his son "Venkata Sai."

Monday, January 28, 2013

The best movies based on comic books / graphic novels.

Comic books.
For some reason, people associate those words with silly fantasy stories of flying men in multi-coloured tights and masks, fighting equally bizarre megalomaniacs who want to rule the world.  A true comic book fan would tell you that comic books have long been a mirror to society and it's own dilemmas, mirroring real life events and raising debates within imaginative minds. They have stopped being 'for kids' a long time ago... in some cases, the level of maturity and the themes in comic books far surpasses that which a young child ( and perhaps some of our own adults ) could possibly comprehend. 

I wanted to make a list of the best of comic book / graphic novel movies, imagining there would be a few dozen to choose from. Imagine my surprise when the final list I rounded up crossed 70 ! And this is after discarding sure-fire contenders like Tintin and Persepolis on the grounds that they were animated movies. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bad boys : My entry for the Get Published contest

Love is beautiful. Love is enchanting. Love is divine. 
Love is a whole lot of other wondrous adjectives, no doubt. But sometimes, love is also about driving the other person insane with your eccentricity. Sometimes, it is just about making the other person laugh till their belly aches and helping them remember, even years later, why they fell in love with you. 

Let us peek into the dining room of the Ravis where a father and son sit down for a heart-to-heart, reminiscing about the one woman they both love. And let us pray, for their sake, that she isn't around to hear them !!

Extract :

He watched his son's wooden expression and knew instantly what bothered him. He couldn't help it. He had always been a keen observer. His power of deduction and reasoning were well honed skills. They had been an integral part of his nature ever since he had played the main role in the school play of a Sherlock Holmes story, way back in 5th standard. Well, technically, he'd been cast as Watson, but any true mystery lover knew that the real hero was always Watson.
"Hmmm ?"
"I know you miss your mother and wish she were here."
He watched the boy lift his gaze from the mahogany table and stare back at him. Once more, Ravi felt his son's love for his mother emanate through those sullen eyes. This was going to be hard on him.
"You don't have to hide your feelings. You can be honest with me."
"Dad..." he started off, his words trailing away mid-sentence.
"Yes ?"
"I was just wondering what's for dinner tonight?" 

He's a brave boy, Ravi mused. After all, he hides his feelings so well. The alternative, that his deductive skills were not what they once used to be, did not cross his mind for more than a brief nano-second. After all, every true genius knew not to second-guess his... well, his first guess. He had read that thought in some profound book, he recalled. Was it Weiss? Murakami? Freud? Filmfare? He couldn't remember.

"Son, did I ever tell you the story of how your mom and I fell in love ?"
He heard a loud, exaggerated groan from across the table. 
Poor boy, Ravi thought. He must be really hungry.  

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs fromYashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Go to the following link and click the heart to help get it selected.