As a kid, my brother had different ideas every day about what he wanted to be when he grew up. A truck driver, painter, clay idol maker… Any new thing he saw, he wanted to be that. I wasn’t like that. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. Or a teacher. In fact more of a teacher than a doctor. Probably because my role model was my mom, a teacher. And I have always loved to describe anything in detail to anyone who cared to listen.

Then fate landed me in medicine, and I consoled myself that I could still teach. But somehow I had always thought that teaching kids in a school would have made me happier. The desire, adequately expressed to the family after 10th class itself, was nipped in the bud with many arguments which mainly included inadequate financial remuneration, lack of growth beyond a limit and that I was probably cut out for something larger.

I was, of course happy learning and later practicing  medicine. And forgot about being a school teacher. A few days back however, stressed with my exam, worried with the uncertainty in life and many such mundane excuses, I snapped at my dearest mom about how I would have rather been a teacher than a doctor. And no one had any business pushing me into this long uncertain alley! Talk about being thankful to the lady who believes in your talent, supports you in many ways through your education, including caring for the husband like her own son. (OK ma, I know you deserve an apology better than this!)
“You can still teach, PGs, interns and the students” she said with pride in her eyes.
“Well its not the same as shaping young minds. Like making a pot out of clay and such stuff” I said in retort and stomped out.

Then one day, I left my home keys at the hostel. While I was turning back to go fetch my keys, my dearest neighbor invited me over for a cup of tea and even offered me to camp at her place till mom arrived and opened the door. While I was enjoying my cup of tea, her daughters walked in and started regaling me with the tales in their school. Imitating their teachers, calling them names, enjoying the fact that some of their school mates are good at back answering their teachers which included saying “I’ll take you to court.” My head was spinning (yeah I was tired too) I mean, as a kid I have imitated my teachers too, but never did I have this amount of disrespect for anyone. Not even for the ones who couldn’t teach, were blatantly partial to some students and such.

I speak as if I’m so old, but with passing years, the respect we have for our elders is diminishing exponentially. More so for teachers, I noted. Mom was right. If I was a teacher to these students, I would have probably given up on them. If any one of my readers is teaching such children, my salute. I know you are doing a job for which no one is probably thankful. The students who do not know what they are doing, their parents who probably are lacking somewhere in imbibing the right values in them and sending them for tuition classes since they were gametes.

Thanks mom, for seeing the talent in me, for having a foresight which I probably would never have. And for many more things I cannot put into words.




Of course I am thankful and grateful for a wonderful life, family, husband, career etcetera . This list is for those smaller things in life for which I am really thankful

I am thankful to Gujarati women of yore who came up with this recipe to probably do away with left over rotis and equally thankful to the modern Gujarati women who sweat it out to make these khakaras for sale for mortals like us. I have survived on this snack for over 10 years now. While in the younger hostel days the adventurous variations like “Pav bhaji” and “Pani puri” flavoured made good tea time accompaniments, now I choose the routine plain or methi flavoured. Now a days often it makes up for a missed meal, to buy time till the next one.

Mobile Phones
Sometimes I wonder how we even lived so many years without this one. I still remember the rainy days during my childhood when we would wait for mom to return from work hoping she is safe, wondering where she must be, pacing by the window. Or the hostel days, rushing to the phone hoping its from home, waiting at the public telephone booth for a turn to make an STD call. Mobile phone has suddenly made it all easy…from locating the spouse on railway platform to short messages from the brother abroad saying I’m fine. And I am not talking of the fancy gadgets. A simple phone is all I want (and have) and need.

Continuous Supply of Electricity
One of the few pleasures of living in a Metro… no load shedding. Having lived for a short while in places where electricity has been conspicuous by its prolonged absence makes me value this resource and wastage of any form irks me.

I am glad good things in life come as paperbacks and hardcovers! And love my parents for building a small neat collection for me. And I hate myself for having lent a few of my books to people, no one returns a lent book. Only a fool lends a book. Greater fool is the one who returns it.

There is lot more I am thankful for and that will follow soon enough…….This one post deserves a part 2


The Mourning

Being an anesthesiology resident in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology OT at Nair Hospital was no mean job. There was the routine OT list, the emergencies and the cranky surgeons and sometimes even crazy seniors to handle. But the job has to be done, right and that too with a smile, and we did it.

December 2009, while the routine OT is still on, we get a call, ‘Emergency Laparotomy for an unruptured ectopic gestation in the fallopian tube’ which means an emergency surgical exploration of a lady who had conceived, but unfortunately the fetus was outside the uterus in the fallopian tube. Fallopian tubes are the tubes which transport ovum or the embryo from the ovary to the uterus. I went to the waiting area to see this lady pre operatively. She looked distraught and strangely familiar. I could not place her, but she was familiar nonetheless. She was past 35 years, and had undergone a tubal recanalisation surgery few months ago. I noted down the rest of her medical history, did a quick physical examination and explained the surgery and anesthesia to her. She knew her baby could not be salvaged, being in a place where there is neither nutrition nor enough place for her baby to grow. The whole point of the surgery was to save her life, lest the tube rupture.

After taking her consent I did something I had never done before, I asked her a question that was too personal– the reason why she had undergone a recanalisation surgery, or a surgery that involves reversal of a tubal ligation. The answer was obvious… she had undergone a tubal ligation which is, for all practical purposes, a permanent method of contraception. Then for some reason, she wanted to have a child again so late in her life. I was curious to know the reason.

“I lost my son to brain cancer” she said with a few tears in her eyes.

I was starting to figure out why I knew her…. still I persisted

“Where was your son admitted and how long ago did he die?”

“He was here, at the same hospital… He passed away last November”

“His name was Aditya?  I asked her to which she did not reply but broke down into tears instead. I did not pacify her, I broke down with her too into a discreet few tears.

I remembered Aditya very well. He was a 10 year old boy operated for a malignant brain tumour and had died in the ICU a few months after the surgery. He had died while I was posted in the ICU and was on duty. And he was probably the only patient whose death and the suffering prior to that had affected me so deeply,  probably because of his tender age. I remember having shed a few tears for him after seeing his grandmother break down once in the ICU. She was the one who mainly cared for him, with his sister and mother visiting on and off.  While I cried for him when he lived, I somehow did not mourn his death when he died in my arms, in front of my eyes. And I mourned for him the day I met his mother once again, a year after his death.

Being doctors who see death and suffering so often does make us tough but some incidents like these do break our tough outer layers and touch our hearts and make us cry. 

Disclaimer: The kid was not named Aditya. The name has been changed to protect the identity of the child and his family.

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This Precious Life….

On Thursday night, A called his wife M from office, and told her he will be home late. Few hours later in the middle of the night a stranger called M and told her that he had admitted A, to the hospital with multiple injuries. Few hour later, in the morning, doctors declared to M that they could not save A and he was no more….
 Life is so unpredictable…. In the 3 years of their married life, A and M would have made so many plans for their future. A name for their child not yet conceived,  the dream car to buy from their funds saved, so that A can use a car to travel to work instead of his bike, the place where they want to build their retirement home. She had probably cooked his favorite dinner that night. But he never came home to relish it. Fate had some other plans for them…..

Life gives you cruel surprises. I guess, we must live each day like its probably the last day of life. Never leave home or go away from your loved ones with a frown or some harsh words…lest you never return to make amends.

This is How You Do NOT Bake a Cake

The Do’s, everyone will tell you them, here are the don’ts that I have learn’t the hard way, i.e personal experience

1) Don’t bake till you have at least once seen someone bake either in real life or on TV or an authentic video. Small Things like how to fill, grease, flour and line the pans are very important.

2) Before you start out, have all your things together. The cookware, the spoons, whips, ingredients, measures….everything in place. My routine cooking is very intuitive. I start cooking, then walk around the kitchen, gather stuff and ingredients while I am cooking and that works fine for me for my roz ka khaana. NP claims I am a great cook, which I believe he says to convince himself and to gear himself to a lifetime of my radioactive cooking. (OK, I am not that bad, but not great either, a little better than average is quite where I am). But baking requires a little more effort than your routine cooking. At least in the beginning. So be well prepared.

3) Read the recipe carefully. Trust those from good books. Sites I am not sure. Cooking blogs are generally good, but do not go by the pics. Awful stuff can look awesome in a few fancy photographs. If a recipe seems complicated, please stay away. Use your intuition before you cook. This is presuming you are a newbie like me (since you have reached so far). Start with simple things first. Like a basic sponge cake.

4) Follow the sequence, yes. But do not take things THAT seriously. Like at the fag end of the recipe they will tell you to drop the mixture in greased and flour dusted tin and put it in an oven preheated for x minutes. No one will tell you that the tin must be greased and dusted before you begin. And by the time you are done the oven better be pre heated. Once the batter is made, it must be baked soon. Leaving it out for long will result in cakes that do not rise enough.

5) The tooth pic/knife/fork test, again do not take it SO seriously, the way I did. Kept poking my cake so often that it looked like a pock marked cake by the time it was fully done! BTW also beware, opening the oven too often during the innumerable fork tests is not good, the heat is lost out.

6) Prepare small portions at the oust. Expect some wastage and failed experiments before working out exactly how much heating your portions, your oven need. My first cake had a charred crust and rest was fine after I literally tore off the crust. Second was absolutely tasteless and charred mess. Third was too dense and sweet but overall not bad. Fourth attempt a year later with previous gyaan was much better but past “burns” made me poke it too often and my cake collapsed and got dense as the poking spoiled the top and let the air inside the baking cake escape.

7) Remember, Fahrenheit and Celsius were two different people with contributions to science similar yet different. So read carefully the temperature stated on the recipe and carry out appropriate conversions. Your oven may still need different temperatures so watch your cake get baked, this is not the time to watch that silly reality show on TV.

8) Finally, whatever you do, whether the outcome is a good cake or a damaged cake, your kitchen will end up smelling like heaven (that is how I imagine it smells), of course unless you char it way too far. And do not get discouraged, its really not rocket science, baking cakes, only practice makes one perfect. So happy trying.


There are these moments…..

…when you are so tired, dying to hit the bed. And when you do, you realise you are too tired to even fall asleep!!

…when you wish you could change the direction in which your life is drifting….

…when things go so well you wonder whats wrong!

…when things go so so well that you need to pinch yourself to know its real.

…when things you are confident of doing well screw up royally and what you fear you won’t manage goes fantastically well

…when you wished you looked in your photographs as nice as others look in theirs!!

…when you wished you could shed in a night the pounds you gathered over a year….aargh


Nameless Post

So I can’t think of a good name for my post……

Rainy day and I’m home today with my hot cup of tea. Home not because of the strike….I have been visiting college in spite of our MARD strike. Attending meetings, taking part in rallies and the works. But the rains lashing out at the city have kept me home. Every year there is one July day when Mumbaians stay home thanks to heavy rains. So this year, hopefully this was that day……

Over the past few days, one thing I have learn’t about myself…Mint is probably my favorite flavour! I love mint in my tea, mint chutney in my sandwiches. I love Baskin Robbins Mint Chocolate icecream (People with no taste dare to call it toothpaste flavoured ice cream). After Eight is one of my favorite chocolates. Recently I went shopping to Fabindia and ended up buying a mint soap for myself (Loved it too).

Visited Bangalore and stayed with Nagesh’s cousin and his family. Loved the city, loved my new family. And loved the workshop on mechanical ventilation for which had gone to Bangalore. Or Bengaluru? Suits fine……
Small regrets….I couldn’t meet my best buddy in Bangalore, thanks to my short trip. Couldn’t catch up with a dear friend with whom I had stayed a year ago when I was in Bangalore, who, with his family had been extremely nice and accomodating when I had visited them over a year ago, thanks to my lack of planning and an ounce of laziness…..

MIL has now moved to Colaba, again, thanks to jijaji being shuttled off to Vizag by the Indian Navy……so me back to home plus work…. sigh