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.

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."