A Tribute To Two Great Doctors.

“The great psychiatrist Dubois once said, so rightly: “Of course one can manage without all that (a doctor’s compassionate approach to a patient) and still be a doctor, but in that case, one should realize that the only thing that makes us different from a veterinarian is the clientele.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl in his book – The Doctor And The Soul.

Ever since he opened his clinic, just opposite to our home, in September 1995, Dr. Vishnu Poptani, a General Practitioner has been our family physician. A wonderful human being, a personal friend now, and a GP with extraordinary diagnostic skills, it was he who first diagnosed a cardiac problem for Urmeela and directed immediate hospitalizaion in the year 2001. He also got another equally human and wonderful cardiologist Dr. V S Srikanthan to hand, who took immediate charge and enabled Urmeela to live happily for eight more years, under his first class supervision.

I shall fail in my duty if I do not pay tribute to these two extraordinary doctors who were the only ones that Urmeela would trust and was comfortable with. Both were able to break the distrust and reserve, that Urmeela had for doctors in general, and it was always a treat to watch these two doctors with her. Gentle, yet firm and so affectionate and kind in their directions, that it was as though they were members of her family, rather than professional medical men.

Dr. Srikanthan warned me right in the beginning that I should not become his patient too, and guided me in my own well being too. He always remembered my own business and other interests and when on the periodic check up visits with Urmeela would ask me about them and offer some interesting insights too. This despite a waiting room full of patients impatiently waiting to see him and I owe a great debt of gratitude for all that he did for the two of us.

Dr. Poptani, called Urmeela “Mom”, just as Ranjan called her, and it was he who gave her the final farewell certificate. His attachment to her and me was obvious when he wrote that out in his clinic, where he insisted that I accompany him, after he had ensured that nothing more could be done for her.

I keep hearing about doctors who are impersonal and rough-shod and recently had a first hand experience of such treatment, when I had taken my father to a specialist for consultation and treatment. It took a great deal of self control for me not to tell him about these two other doctors who handled their patients in a humane and compassionate way.

I do not know if it already is done, but it may be a good idea for Medical Schools to have a course on how to handle patients and their care givers. If they do, I shall recommend that these two extraordinary physicians be made faculty.

Thank you Doctors Poptani and Srikanthan.

There Is Both Madness And Reason in ‘Love’.

“Always, there is a drop of madness in love, yet always, there is a drop of reason in madness.”
– F. Nietzsche

Since the recent loss of my wife, I have been trying to make sense about love, death, attachment etc at a personal experiential level. All the theory and philosophy that I have studied and am in the process of learning has been of no help whatsoever.

Death of a loved one is a traumatic experience. The aftermath of the initial busyness brings one down to earth with an inexpressible sense of emptiness and loss. No amount of platitudes like ‘time is a great healer’ etc, has any effect. One has to live through it. I am doing that and finding my own way of handling the new situtation.

In my search for some answers, I returned to one of my old time favourites, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig. I had read the book in the eighties. The first time, it went right over my head, but it was being talked about so much, that I read a couple of times more before it made some sense to me.

This is the third copy that I have bought and this time, I found what I was looking for in the Afterword. During the narration, the author goes on a cross USA motorcycle trip with his young son Chris. Some of the scenes describing the trip, conversations with Chris etc, are remarkable in themselves, but the afterword is something altogether different.

Chris, as a grown up young man of early twenties, gets killed by a couple of muggers. What Pirsig goes through with that loss is so beautifully described by him and the way he concludes the narration resonated with me sufficiently and strongly enough for me to come to grips with my own sense of loss and inability to let go.

Yes, there is both madness and reason in love.

Whine Bar Mark III

The inspiration for this post has come from Grannymar’s posts. She has this wonderful ability of taking ordinary daily events and making very interesting posts about them.

I decided to emulate her with some of the things that strike me as odd, and realized that by right they should be classified as whines and so, with Conrad’s permission, I have decided to use his Whine Bar trade mark to post some whines.

A friend of mine belongs to a Religious Sect and she sent me an email with the beginning ‘A retired Indian devotee….’ I could not resist the temptation to mail her back and ask her for details. I asked her if he was a retired Indian, or a retired devotee or what? The background to this banter is her ribbing me about my current occupation – that of a retired hippy. She of course believes that it is an oxymoron! Now, there is something for a Retired English Teacher, David at ‘From the Magpie’s Nest’to whom, I might as well ask if he is a retired Englishman or a retired teacher or what!

Having got rid of that mail, I read the newspapers and came across some really odd things like underpass, foot over bridge and a few others which offended my sense of the aesthetic. So, I shot off a couple of letters to the editors, knowing fully well that they will not be published. I asked of course, why words like subway cannot be used and whether a bridge can be under something or the other, besides whether there are any arm over bridges to his knowledge.

Then came the icing on the cake. Another friend sent me a mail in response to my post on love as to why I did not delve deeper into the phenomenon of lust. I have assured him, that Conrad’s hawk eyes will not miss the opportunity to respond via a comment on this post to that query, as I would rather not respond. I hope that Conrad does not let me down.

Before I sign off, let me recommend a wonderful book by Lynne Truss called Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

“A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
“Why? asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I am a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

Since Conrad believes that a lot of exchanges should take place in our blogs, I leave this post with the fervent hope that my readers will respond with their own whines of similar nature.

I Love The Love In You

Jean Browman’s post ‘How To Stay Happy Always’ caused a bit of a discussion on the use of the word ‘love’. It also resulted in some off blog discussions by email. That has motivated me to attempt this blog.

The first time I heard the word was when I started playing table tennis and badminton as a young lad. The score always started at love all. I always identified the word to mean zero. That memory comes back whenever I see a tennis match on the television and with it a smile too. The association of ‘love’ with zero or nothing is quite amusing.

Then nature stepped in and I grew up fantasizing about ‘love’ totally associating it with ‘lust’. I know from many secrets shared with me by other young people of about my age, that this was their understanding as well. In fact, I am led to believe that even among adults that this understanding is alive and kicking today.

The reader must understand that I come from a background where parents and children do not affirm their love to each other by words. It is something that is taken for granted. So, when I started reading novels in English and saw and heard the word in English films, I was quite confused. That confusion has not completely disappeared yet.

My confusion further got and continues to get confounded whenever I hear things like ‘I love my car’ or ‘I love pop corn’.

So, when I was led to musing about the word ‘love’ after reading Jean’s post, I decided to do the only sensible thing under the circumstances. I went to the dictionary.

I am not surprised at what I found there. Everything that I have written about here, features there and some.

One word, so many meanings, nuances and interpretations. Can you add your own meanderings through life with this word?

The Whine Bar – Mark II

Those of my readers who missed Conrad’s update on his whine bar, I strongly recommend a visit for some boost.  I also refer to his post on telephones, which has something to do with this post.

I have come across something incredibly true and which appeals to me for its honesty and simplicity, besides its humorous presentation.  I urge you to see this.

Does it resonate with you like it does with me?


I went on a nostalgic trip recently when it rained on my parade.  I do not believe in serendipity and when I came across this post by Linda, I just could not stop with just seeing the video.  Gene Kelly led me to Fred Astaire and that led me to the following extract.  It also led me to a quote as interesting as the one given by Linda in her post
“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness
has never danced in the rain.”
~ Author Unknown
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to Dance in the rain.”

Now for the extract which is simply out of the world.

“Gifts come from God, presents from men and women. Serious talent is largely a gift from God. Charm is a present men and women bestow upon one another. No one is born charming, though charm comes fairly easily to some and is apparently quite impossible for others.
“Charm has to do with pleasing, light-handedly, sometimes to the point of fascination. He or she ‘turned on the charm,’ we say, by which we mean that a man or woman cast a spell, however fleeting. Temporary enchantment is the state to which a charming person brings us. Charm is a performance of a kind; it is virtuosity of the personality. Charm is confident, never strained, always at ease in the world. Charm is not pushing; it has a fine sense of proportion and measure, never goes too far, never stays too long. Charm is Noel Coward, entering a party wearing an ordinary suit, discovering every other man in the room dressed in white tie and tails, and blithely
announcing, ‘Please, I don’t want anyone to apologize for overdressing.’ … “Charm is elegance made casual, with emphasis on the casual. Charm mustn’t seem too studied, forced, overdone. As Fred Astaire knew in his light bones, charm is bright, breezy, pleasing in and of itself. Charm knows when to turn itself off, when to depart, which is why it is invariably wanted back. Charm puts things interestingly, amusingly, surprisingly, sometimes originally, but never heavily, never too insistently. …

“So many traditions of charm are European or Asian in their provenance. English charm, French charm, Italian charm are perhaps the chief variants. …Americans can be amusing, hilarious, winning, immensely attractive, yet seldom full-out charming. … Charm tends to the aristocratic, and American charm, in the nature of the case, doesn’t quite qualify. When it attempts an aristocratic tinge, it comes off as fake English or stuffily European. American charm, to be truly American, has somehow to combine the aristocratic with the democratic, while straining out all traces of snobbery….

“American charm, at least as on exhibit in the movies, was best portrayed by Fred Astaire. Although he dressed English-aristocratic, in his movies Astaire always bore boy-next-door American names such as Pete Peters or Huck Haines. In most of Astaire’s movies, his manner was sometimes just slightly big city wise-guy, but also gee-whiz small town. … Once he is on the dance floor–just him and the night and the music—his charm kicks in, the girl is his, the movie’s over, you walk out of the theater (or, more likely nowadays, rise from your couch before the television set), and, humming the flick’s final song, wonder why in the hell it wasn’t given to you to be able to move as lightly, as wonderfully, as absolutely charmingly as Fred Astaire.”
Joseph Epstein, Fred Astaire, Yale,
Copyright 2008, pp. 53-60.