Friday, May 29, 2009

Music to your ears

We are surrounded by of all kinds sound. To the existing sounds of nature, life in its varieties has added many. Advent of humans and the machines has magnified the sound many fold. Human ear and the ability to appreciate sound have evolved over years and it tolerates and appreciates and enjoys certain sounds that it grew up with for many thousands of years. This includes the chirping of birds, the flow of water, the rustle of leaves, the platter of rain drops and the whisper of your lover. It also accepts and reacts to sounds of thunder, the howl of the dog, the creak of the squirrel and the cawing of the crow. But it finds some sounds difficult to accept. Man made sounds like the automobile’s growl and the screech of the horn, clanking sounds of the machinery, sound of aircraft taking of and landing, loud sounds of laughter and grief are some of the examples which can drive the owner of a sensitive ear crazy.

Some sounds are great for some and not for others. The thwack and chuck made by the golf club when it hits the ball cleanly are heavenly to the golfer’s ears but makes no sense for the nongolfer. A music lover may go to ecstasy hearing classical note of mandra which may be just a humming sound for the ignorant.

Absolute silence when there is no sound at all which you can experience in the early hours of morning can be bliss. Will it be bliss if it is so all the time? I don’t know. May be after one dies one goes into this state where there is no sensual experience at all. Could be great if one knows it. That is the unanswered question.

Our MPs

We are a poor country and 50% of our people manage to live with less than 50 rupees a day. But we love pageantry, extravagance, pomp and show. The latest figures which was sent to me by SMS, deals with remuneration of our MPs [members of parliament]. These are elected representatives who are elected to serve the people. Going by the Gandhian model which most from the present ruling party purport to follow, these figures are ugly to say the least.
Salary 42,000,Office expense14000, travel expense Rs8 per KM, daily TA/DA Rs 500,train travel free, 40 air trips free[per year],no rent at MP’S hostel at Delhi, free electricity, water and telephone.

Total Rs 32 lakhs [32, 00,000!

More to the Climatic [Jasmine?]

Some of you have enquired about this creeper. My friend Dr Subramanyam insists that it is a veriety of Jasmine [he has sent the picture of the plant he has grown in a pot], where as my wife thinks otherwise. Both are avid admirers of Jasmine! The picture is the close up of the flowers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Singh is King

Some time ago I wrote about our low profile economist prime minister Manmohan Singh and about the Great Indian thamasha. Time has now come when I must write a post script.
The great Indian thamasha was concluded and the election results were announced within 12 hours! Despite the electronic voting this was an extra ordinary feat. The results were astounding. After nearly twenty years of repeated fractured mandate, the electorate this time gave Manmohan Singh and his UPA a decisive majority. What is nice about this victory is that voting took place across the dividing lines of caste and religion. Money and muscle power did play their part but it was true of both the groups.

That the UPA has a large number of MPS who are in the age group of 25 to 35 is a very welcome change and augers well to future of the Indian nation. The chief Satraps of the UPA, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her heir apparent Rahul Gandhi seem to be genuinely interested in the welfare of the poor Indian, has struck a chord in the voter.

Demise of the regional parties means the hold of caste and language based politics will hopefully take a back seat and the country’s interest will now take a priority. Economic and social reforms can now be accelerated without the hindrances of these parties and their chieftains.
So, it looks as though, tie country is in for a period of stability and progress.

So our Singh has indeed become a King!

Song and dance of the Bulbul

Bulbuls [F.Pycnonotus], especially the one called the red vented bulbul are present all over the country, both in urban and rural setting. But I rarely have seen this bird in the developed localities of the city. Therefore when I heard the fruity whistle repeated over and over with ten second intervals, I was thrilled. I rushed outside to see where the song came from. I was rewarded in the sense the bird [did she know?] flew in from a tree branch and sat on a TV antenna, 15 ft from where I stood. She proceeded to preen herself and did two to three turns so that I can have a good look at her physical attributes. This done she proceeded to sing a few notes, stood still for a few seconds and flew away. This morning too I heard her notes and saw her at a distance alighting on a nearby coconut tree.

Why was I so happy? I am happy at the sight of any bird even the common place crow. But the arrival of the bulbul was special. I had not seen a bulbul in my backyard in the many years I have been here and neither have I heard her song. The sighting on two successive days in the breeding season meant there in nesting activity and this bird has chosen this area and thus a new life has arrived in my locality. From an environmentalist’s point of view we have not done too badly.

My warbler friends arrived a bit late this year but what a relief it was to see them and listen to them. So my dear readers, all is not lost as yet!

Boom bloom of the Climatic

There is a plant nursery a few kms away from my home, managed by the physically handicapped, where I occasionally go. When I went there 6 months ago I saw for sale, a creeper plant [name Climatic] with a few white flowers that I liked. I bought three of them and planted them in the plantar box which borders my rear balcony. They grew slowly in the beginning and rapidly two months back and showed signs of budding a month ago. When they flowered they shook me with their extravagance. The before and after pictures are of two of them.

As you can make out, I am just learning how to post pictures and also to how to take them!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Majority and minority

We often hear about majority community and minority community. I can understand when it is said in the US that black [African] Americans are minority and the white Americans are in the majority. In India too if someone had said blacks are in majority I would agree though we are really different shades of brown but blackish brown is majority when compared to whitish brown. But the practice of calling Hindus as majority community and Muslims as minority community, I fail to understand. Let me explain. In reality there is no one community called Hindus.

The term Hindu was coined to name the large conglomerate of different sects/castes/communities/ tribes that had existed to the east of the river Indus, by the Arab traders/Invaders around the tenth century. It is good to know a bit about these people who came to be known as Hindus. Historical [epigraphic, archeological] evidence exists of immigration of humans in successive waves over the last ten thousand years. The Harappan civilization was probably peopled by the ancestors of the present day Dravidians. Before them were the aborigines the remnant of them can be found in our hill regions [mundas of MP/Jharkhand]. The so called Aryans came with their cattle and caste system some time four thousand years ago and settled along the major rivers of north India. So we the people of India who are called as Hindus are the descendents of all these migrants and even today we don’t have any uniformity of language, food, religion and culture. We are hundreds of castes, communities divided by many customs, etiquettes, Gods and Goddesses, many and different holy books and teachings and worse, feelings of being superior and inferior. We do not have one religion in the true sense.

The followers of Islam came around the 9th century and made this country their homeland and they prospered like many others who did before them. Many locals got converted to Islam by choice, force or other inducements. They now form 15 to 20 % of our population. They follow one religion and the teachings one prophet. No other group in this country has this percentage of the total population. So Muslims are the de facto majority community in this country.

So when we speak of majority, in true sense, it the Muslims and not the so called Hindus who really don’t exist!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leave them to their ways

I think it was late Norman Cousins who said that the medicine that is being practiced today is frontier science and there is more that we don’t know than we know. This truth is appreciated more by older doctors like me than by the younger ones. This is because of the experience of watching some die due to inexplicable reasons and some who survive once again inexplicably. This knowledge has made me if not encourage, not to discourage patients seeking cure by alternative approaches when there is no definite remedy available, such as homeopathy and naturopathy. But my experience with these is generally disappointing. I have had a homeopath treating a patient of mine who had tuberculosis of the lymph nodes of the right side of neck some five years ago. The nodes swelled and swelled with tubercular pus and ultimately gave away with copious discharge of pus which went on for several months before healing took place by scarring. This was how Tubercular infection ended in the old days before the advent of effective chemotherapy. Of course the homeopath took the credit for curing her. She came to see me couple of months ago, this time there were swellings on the left side. I had an opportunity to examine the other side where in healing had taken place with scarring. The whole of the neck under her skin was devoid of tissue and there was a healed scar well hidden in the dimple above the inner aspect of collar bone effectively coumaflaged by a necklace! This time too I explained to her as I did previous time. Thankfully she agreed to the chemotherapy and she is well on her way to cure and hopefully I will have succeeded in getting rid of the germ and it will not show up elsewhere again!

It is well known medical fact that quite a few ailments especially one like headaches, back aches, mental ailments do well initially whatever may be the therapy. Allopathy, homeopathy or anypathy, they get better, and some for ever get rid of their complaints. These are the persons who spread the word around regarding the miracle cure. Most illnesses are self limiting and it doesn’t need a doctor to cure these. Here lies the success of the alternative systems. Curing the illness which is self limiting any way! Recently I have had a patient who had a huge hydrocele [collection of fluid inside the testicular sac] who was being treated by Ayurvedic medicine! It was only getting bigger and bigger and when I saw resembled a small coconut!

Sometimes, I do feel I am biased against these systems of therapy as I see only their failures. But recently there was a review article in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, debunking homeopathy with facts and figures. So despite this knowledge why do I leave my patients to their ways? I don’t do this without first trying to dissuade them. But I cannot and will not force them as often it is of no use especially in chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes.

Latest to this list is the ever growing popularity of Yoga in it different forms. Here again, as a form of relaxation to the ever active mind it may be helpful but curing an existing illness it is doubtful. In a recent double blind study that I know of where spiritual healing was tried against conventional healing in cases of chronic back ache, failed to prove that it is of any use. People also seek help as they have no alternative, like those who are terminally ill with cancer, but I am yet to see one recovering. All of them ultimately die. But the believers are a different set of people who are brain washed into believing what they are told. It also gives them a pass time, some thing to do. But the greatest danger in these practices is that it takes away the ability to think differently and hinders their personality development.

I have seen this happen to many followers of these spiritual healers, god men and women over the many years I have spent in the practice of medicine.