Thursday, August 27, 2009

Akshta @ Pasir Panjang ,Marathi Mandal Ganeshotsav,Nasik,Mumbai


Friday, August 14, 2009

Godavari Ghat at Nasik – a distressing experience

Sept 2003 issue of Times of India reported Raj Thakre’s blue Print of Nasik : " A jogger's park along the Godavari ghat with the trees to be planted along the route, , snow-theme park, a health spa, boat club and an amusement park ".

Somewhere in the by lanes of my memory labyrinths lie a wonderful memory of Godavari Ghat that refuse to smudge or fade. Image of me holding the fingers of my grand mother, going along the sloping road from Bhadrakali temple to Godavari Ghat. Standing along the river in the twilight, youngsters wearing ‘red langoti’ diving off from the trapezoid shaped ‘cement block’ that stood in the middle of the flowing Godavari river . That cement block may have been served as the measuring device to know the depth of the river.

My visit in 99 to Godavari Ghat shook my childhood image and another visit last month is now threatening to tatter that image forever. It pained me that see the plastic packets chocking the standstill water of Godavari that was regulated due to summer water shortage. Stagnant water was inviting mosquitoes to breed with vigor. Nicely laid down steps along the ghat almost designed to wash everything from , clothes, utensils,vegetables to animals and human being. The washed water joined the main stream. A small drainage pipe below the bridge on one side emptied its contents , pushing the stagnant water bed cluttered with floating flowers and leaves offered by devotees . Water just did not have any force to spill it over the bank that was in place. It was now pathetic to see the condition of this place.

Brendan and Ellie in their blog 'Yatra across India' vividly talks about the difficulty that westerners face when they see the reality conflict with the hopes and the fascination they had come with “ In the sticky Indian heat, I had to fight a strong urge to leap into the water like everyone else around me. But once I had a closer look, the health risk became all too apparent. I saw a young girl pooing on the stairs. People washing utensils with dirty soap water swirling into the river. Later I read that people get hepatitis, jaundice, and similar nasty diseases from taking a dunk into the holy water. The river Godavari seems to be indicative of a broader national conundrum – how to reconcile religious beliefs etched into the Hindu psyche over generations with modern day notions of health, sanitation and science. Making annual pilgrimages to the Godavari where the exiled gods Rama and Sita are believed to have lived is part of this devotion. Hence to question why they decide to enter the water is like questioning why Catholics need to be baptised or why Muslims make their daily namaz towards Mecca. People still believe that the river, Rama and Sita will protect them and to question this belief for some would be to question their faith.

River harvesting discusses the tragedy of Godavari - second largest river in India. Godavari is not suffering from the same source of distress as that of Ganges. Ganges has a problem of half burnt corpses from those who cannot afford cremation, chemical waste from textile and brass making industries, and untreated sewage. For Godavari, domestic pollution accounts for 82% per cent of total pollution and industrial pollution about 18 per cent. This is a good sign for Godavari river that can be corrected by strong civic administration . Raj Thakre's grip on Nasik is evident from the votes his party MNS secured in general election and through the presence of his posters, banners across the Nasik. If he has a will, he can still make his dream a reality

Nasik has expanded its industrial base. Ambad Industrial Estate with its well laid down grid of roads give positive impression of Nasik. I am sure all these industries would be happy to be the part of beautifying Godavari Ghat – that remains the soul of Nasik. The easiest would be to hand over the place to charity organizations like Rotary/Lions club or managed by a private contractor who can maintain it from the revenue collection of car parks or charging fee for the visitors like they do at national monuments.

While going to Shirdi next day, past the town of Sinnar, we crossed the bridge over Godavari River. This time, Godavari looked cheerful despite being muddy from the chunk of mound that she carried with her. Winding river edges chiseled at different angles look making visible fertile brown earth that gave green top with string of grape vineyards. Godavari must be happy to leave from the clutches of urbane settlement of Nasik.

My Nasik Blog gives some nice photos of various temples along the Godavari Ghat

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Sunday, August 09, 2009


'Is there any way we could be forewarned of this dreaded disease? Can this be avoided?' I asked Dr. Udwadia, whose skills in combating complicated physical disorders that require intensive care are legendary. ‘There is no solution that one can do that, Even if one discovers gall stones in gall bladder, they are harmless. Generally, no one would advice to have them removed'. He continued. ' It is only in rarity that these stones may pop out from the bottom of the bag , come to bile duct and block the mouth of the pancreas thereby beginning a rapid chain of events that would bring a human being on the threshold of life and death'.

I was witness to two incidents of Pancreatitis that turned horribly fatal. Usually Pancreatitis (chronic) is associated with alcohol abuse but in these two cases, both became victim of 'gall stones' leading to 'acute pancreatitis'. I think one should be lucky to have it quickly diagnosed. I felt, most general physicians don’t always detect the symptoms quickly and often try to cope up with other possibilities. I wonder why routine abdominal ultrasound screening is not part of medical check up. I guess it doesn't justify the cost and like Dr Udwadia said, there is no remedy unless symptoms show up.

Losing one's appetite (anorexia) and in turn weight, Vomiting are of one of the definite indicators of the onset of pancreatitis. But often we neglect this attributing to various other reasons. When acute abdominal pain begins, we rush to clinic or hospital that first alleviates the pain (rightly so), order X ray, routine laboratory tests and by the time the results come in, another day is lost. By then patient's condition worsens. A CT scan is ordered. Again possibility of in-house CT scanner is one such factor that is consuming a vital time. Getting appointment for immediate CT, transporting a sick patient, getting immediate radiologist's diagnosis, all this takes one more day. Meanwhile, physician is restless about the patient’s worsening condition and asks for surgical intervention to look at the possibility of intestinal entanglement or any other reason. Meanwhile, laboratory tests arrive. They confirm the onset of Jaundice. But CT scan can only confirm the final diagnosis. When radiologist confirms the onset of Pancreatitis, an intensive care battle begins. Is hospital ready to handle such emergency? Do they have intensivists with high end medical gadgetry like sophisticated ventilators, syringe infusion pumps, nursing staff with expertise of such acute care? Does the hospital have endoscopy unit in case they need to attempt? Can they provide acute dialysis facility? If this hospital doesn't have it all that, Can ICU bed be secured at the hospital who has this facility? Acute Pancreatitis has 50 % mortality but that's after patient has a chance to get treatment. A decision has to be made and time is ticking away. A factor of 'luck' decides if one has a fair chance to battle with Pancreatitis or give it up before the battle starts.

Both my father and a dear friend were lucky. They managed to get an intensive care bed in a hospital that had efficient and expert clinical team that had experience in managing this situation. Next few days, it's roller coaster ride. Vital physical parameters do get taken care but after few days fortunes fluctuate every now and then. Success on one front opens up another two new battle fronts. A clinician warns, ' A recovery if at all happens, will be long drawn slow affair but any time a situation may worsen so rapidly that only few days would all be there to say goodbye to dear life'. At that point onwards, my father and friend took two different paths. One towards the progress of slow recovery while the other towards the ravine of death.

My friend was younger (in mid 30's) was in fitter physical condition than my father in late 60's with accompanying diabetes. But this long recovery too makes one so vulnerable. A pancreas that's corroded by its own juice leaves remnants of dead tissues that need cleaning through surgeries. A little or no Pancreas left means patient is lifelong insulin dependent and prone to every infection. How can we control our surroundings like Air, water, food and people around us? Can one live in sterile environment all one's life? Is this possible in an Asian environment? The answer was and is sadly 'no'. My friend too after spectacular and miraculous recovery landed up again in the intensive care to battle the infection. Body already weakened by antibiotic bombardment, crippled with diabetes (having pancreas removed) made it difficult for another repeat of previous success. He too succumbed.

Four ' F' make one prone for Gall stones. Forty age, Female, Fertile woman and Fat. So all factors are associated with woman! I am curious to know the percentage of acute pancreatitis with woman.

Two bitter incidents were also coupled with knowledge of one happy incident. A female cousin, plump, mother of two but not yet in forties had to undergo emergency surgery for acute appendicitis and surgeon discovered gall stones. He took them out as he repaired her appendix. A smart move indeed.

August 8th is the day when my father succumbed. It brought the memories linked with Pancreatitis. During my annual check up, I asked if I could include a check on the presence of my gall stones. The answer was negative.

Today is Singapore's 44th B'day. Happy B'day Singapore. I read the news that Singapore's ruling party is looking for a person in 30's to lead them in the next general election. A bold and pragmatic move that has caught up with the rest of the world, after Obama became president of US.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Taj Mahal and Lalitpur on Rakhi Purnima

Raksha Bandhan reminds me of my journey from Gwalior to Agra. I had been to Gwalior to visit Cancer Institute - that was to be part of the beneficiary of JAICA aid for CT scanners.

Visiting Agra and seeing Taj Mahal was a dream come true. Agra is in UP and belonged to Northern region while Gwalior was in MP, part of western India , my sales territory. Getting a chance to visit Gwalior gave me my best opportunity to see the Taj. Gwalior being just few hours train journey from Agra. Holiday of Raksha Bandhan came as a special boon . I took a mid day train that stopped at almost every station. Little kids dressed in traditional Indian attire, boys with rakhies tied on their right wrist, red tilak on the forehead while girls decked up in shimmering, glittering chunidars looked very adorable. Moms wore their choicest jewelry while dad carried boxes of sweets. Every station would have new set of families board and alight making me my first northern experience memorable. I realized the importance of raksha bandhan festival in India. In mumbai, during the month of shravan, more fanfare was accorded to Govinda - Dahi handi and Nagpanchami. Moreover, I don't have a real sister to have felt the importance of this festival.

I stayed at some cheap hotel in Agra but went straight to Taj. Those days, Taj would be open till late hours. Little did I realize that it was a full moon day. The grandeur of Taj basking under cascade of moon light was enchanting . I realized the real worth of the beauty of Taj under moonlight only when I saw the Taj on normal day. I must have sat their on the grass for an hour or so soaking the ambiance. I was devouring her beauty as if I had no second chance to see the Taj in my lifetime.

I had with me my new Ricoh camera. This compact camera must not have captured Taj at the night, as I don't remember seeing any developed prints But I don't have a photos of next day visit to Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Cerebral images of Taj on the full moonlight are still vivid and intact so is the image of the Lalitpur Railway station between Gwalior and Agra . I find the name Lalitpur very sweet and melodious . While In Gwalior, I had stayed at Lalit Mahal palace hotel - a former palace of Scindia family. This may be the reason, name Lalitpur must have assumed a royal aura. The additional sweetness came from the images of Raksha bandhan festivities.


Sant Dyneshwar, Konkan and Walwalkar Hospital through Dr Ravin Thatte

A long ago, a business friend from South Korea had arrived in Mumbai after his visits to other parts of India. I took him to the Elephanta caves - the cave temples to Shiva, on an island ,10 km from Mumbai harbour. This was my visit to this place too. During the chat, he commented ' I have been to different parts of India, every one was enthusiastic in showing me the great monuments of India of different centuries. Why no one is showing me something of this century ?'. His comments made me realize the validity of his remark. We tend to preoccupy ourselves with history leaving the current accomplishment unnoticed.

At jewellery shop in Shivaji Park while keeping Akshta occupied and entertained, my probing eyes reached for a box that stacked some books. What more can I ask for ? I pulled up a nearby wooden stool and started flipping through this hard bound Marathi book that talked about the famous personalities from Konkan. What impressed me about this book was the quality of the paper, print and illustrations. As I started rummaging through the pages, I realized the utility of this book in making Akshta aware of some of the great Maharashtrian personalities.

Upon my return the Singapore, it took me few days to finish this book. The impact of this book initially appeared to just limiting to expose my ignorance of many aspects of Maharashtra. but now it would definitely be a far reaching .The author Dr. Ravin Maidev Thatte - a Doctor, Plastic Surgeon and Ex Professor of LTMG Medical College, Mumbai is a consummate writer who is candid, honest and balanced while expressing his views . In his book 'विश्व हे मोहरे लावावे' , he covered a small journey from Panvel to Chiplun - a distance not more than 300 kms. This journey is about the people who came from this part of coastal Maharashtra and also about a health care institute in a small place called Derwan. This magnificent project conceived, built , nurtured and maintained by dedicated professionals who have passion for delivering modern health care service with a missionary zeal to do it selflessly . They bring with them a spiritual essence of 'Bhakti' that transcends into ' Seva'. As much as I enjoyed the pages of Kokan's illustrious people , I admired the exemplery work of Walwalkar Hospital. I remembered the words of my visitor from South Korea. Dr.Thatte has rightly put the present accomplishment of Konkan along with those of past centuries

A terrain of mere 300 kms, and this place has produced four Bharat Ratna (Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve , Vinoba Bhave, Dr. P. V. Kane . I was aware of the other personalities like Senapati Bapat, Veer Savarkar, Golwalkar Guruji, Krantiveer Vasudev Balwant phadke , Ranglar Paranjape, Kavi Keshv Sut, Sane Guruji, Shivaji Maharaj, Samartha Ramdas and Lokmanya Tilak. What I didnt know about was the voluminous work of Dr Mahamahopadhya P. V. Kane and the visionary work attempted by Mr.Raghunath Karve on Family planning.

It requires a courage to launch a magazine in 1921 to talk about family planning, woman sexuality and her health. Mr Raghunath Karve embarked on pragmatic progressive approach on woman empowerment thereby extending the pathbreaking work done by his father Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve. But his attempt was far ahead of the time. He was ridiculed, opposed and even dragged to the court for publishing vulgar ,obscene magazine . Its sad that he passed away before his father. Even in 21st century, we still carry the same mindset and approach when it comes to family planning and population control - a single biggest obstacle in the nation building. What if our society then had taken a cognizance of Mr Raghunath Karve's efforts on woman health and family planning ?

The work of Walwalkar hospital and ethical values practised by Walawalkar Family, Dr Netaji and Dr Suvarna Patil, are indeed commendable. These people, give me a ray of hope that there is still ' incorruptibility' in the health care in India.

Knowing Dr. Thatte and reading his work has been a revelation. His sincere approach, choice of appropriate Marathi words sustains interest not just in his book but to know about him as a person. His passion in Sant Dynaneshwar's literary work made me reach for his book on Dyneshwari in English. Dr . Annirudhha's Malpani's blog : The Patient's Doctor gives a link to his book ' The Genius of Dynaneshwar' . I have just gone through part of this book available in Adobe format.

Mungi Udali Aakashi (मुंगी उडाली आकाशि) is a book written by Padmakar Gowalikar addressing and evaluating personality of Mukta - a sister of Sant Dynaneshwar. Manjiri on esnip has uploaded the reading about the life of Sant Dyaneshwar. I am not sure if this reading with same name as 'Mungi Udali Aakashi' is for the same book. But it sure is captivating and riveting to listen to this.

A journey to the literary work of Sant Dynaneshwar has just begun and am sure it will be an exhilarating experience. Thank you Dr Thatte for taking me to the new heights of Sant Dynaneshwar and introducing me to the Walwalkar Hospital.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lokmanya Tilak & New English School, Bandra

From the class third till the eleventh, I studied at the New English School, Bandra. The name English remained only for the namesake, everything else in the School was Marathi, including the teaching of English language.

In those eight years, this school underwent a physical transformation from tin roof to asbestos one with a another roof top structure came next to the first one. What remained unchanged was a brass bell whose frequency of tolls would announce different events and the calender day of August 1st - birthday of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. This day was commemorated, year after year , with only one agenda - that of public speaking competition.

Every year, select students would participate in classroom speaking competition on Lokmanya Tilak and they covered four aspects of his life. ' Swarajya maza janmasiddha hakka ahe'(freedom is my birthright) , I won't take a beating for a crime that I didn't do (incident of groundnut eating and making classroom a mess) , his publishing kesri newspaper , writing Gita Rahasya- a commentary on Bhagvad Geeta and starting public celebration of Shivjayanti and Ganeshostava. The order of these points would shuffle but what didn't change was the same faces of public speakers and the order of the winning candidates. My involvement as a back bencher remained only to the clapping.

Last month, while evaluating the business feasibility of a new venture in India on the manufacturing of pharmaceutical Glass tubing and ampoules , I bumped on to one more aspect of Lokmanya Tilak that is as exemplary as the other fours that my classmates had drilled . India's first glass factory, in Talegaon near Pune was set up by Lokmanya Tilak in 1908. This plant was financed by collecting one paisa per family per month from the masses and was named as PAISA FUND GLASS WORKS. It seems that this plant continues to be in production. I wonder if Eagle Glass has any connection with this. Mr. Ishwar Das Varshnei, a chemical engineer from MIT , an ardent student of glass manufacturing came in contact with Lokmanya Tilak and this led to establishing of Paisa Fund Glass Works. Students of the Samarth Vidyalaya, an institute associated with Lokmanya Tilak , were trained in glass manufacturing and set up other glass factories around the nation.

Aniruddha (Raju) Dhongade, a brilliant student and my school classmate, thrived every year , while extolling the glories of Lokmanya Tilak in his audacious oratory style. He won best public speaker trophy, year after year , on August 1st. I wonder if he still has in Indonesia , all those winner's gifts and trophies.

I would be curious to visit New English School on August 1st and see if the tradition of Public speaking competition is still in practise.

P.S.: Akshta listened intently to my narration of the Tilak's classroom story. When the story was over, her first immediate response was 'mazya kappaila Tila'

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