Monday, December 31, 2007

Holy Wars--Religious Conversions

TOI in its Edit today(here) have asked Hindus to do introspection and try find out reason for converting from Hinduism. Then proceed glibly to provide the reason as " Social ostracism of Dalits and Tribal s". But does converting to Christianity or Islam remove social ostracism? It was true when Islam or Christians were the rulers and they protected converts from Hindu social discrimination. In society Converts belonging to ruling class were higher than "Native Hindoos".But in today's Constitutional Democracy conversion brings no benefit,rather it adds one more hurdle.For Hindus they are now Christian/Muslim Dalits or Tribals. Upper caste Hindus are not going to accept Dalits as equal just because they have converted to Christianity or Islam.Conversion is historically associated with defeat and conquest by other religious group and converts invite ire and hate of their birth community.Converted Dalits even loose the constitutional reservation in Jobs and Education. Thats the reason for increasing clamor for extending benefits to Converts.
The question we have to ask is 'why are they converting from Hinduism.?'It is not Caste or other Social evils like Dowry.Because Dalits are discriminated after conversion.In India Christian and Muslims are equally conscious of their Caste,and they share equally other social evils like Dowry and female foeticide. Women's Social status in Islam is worse than that of Dalits in Hindu society,but are Muslim women converting to other religion? Liberal Hindu religion should be able to get more converts from other religion which are more regimental,dogmatic and dictatorial.
Main reason for Hindus converting to other religion is not reasons advance glibly, but fact that there are no efforts to Propagate this Glorious Liberal Philosophical religion.If you want to Propagate Hindu religion than immedietally you are branded 'COMMUNAL'. Only religious organization which tries to do this work is 'Communal' VHP. Missionaries do lot of good work like establishing Schools, Colleges, Hospitals,Health Centers,Shelters for poor and underprivileged.But from where do they get the money to carry out these activities? From donations given to Churches. Hindu Temples(Churches) are flushed with money donated by Hindu devotees but these funds are managed by Govt. appointed committees as per guidelines issued by State Govt.of the day.They are not interested in propagating Hindu religion,running schools or Hospitals in tribal areas,or providing help to poor with the aim to attract/keep them to Hindu religion.Recently Shri Saibaba Sansthan spent 60Laks of the donation money on President's visit to Shirdi.Tirupati Devasthanam and Jagganath temple of Puri are not known for running School,Colleges,Hospitals or Health Centers/Shelters in nearby Naxal infested Tribal Belt of Andra Pradesh and Orissa.Sabrimalai Temple is under the control of Athist Communist Govt.Vaishno Devi temple Trust in Jammu has done nothing for thousands of Hindu refugees from Kashmir.
This great religion has now only 900Million followers-90% of them in India.If this trend continues and it will, then by next millennium fate of Hindu religion and Civilization will be same as that of other ancient religions-it will be on the brink of extinction-like Zorastrian(Parsis).--PK.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Winds of Change- Greetings

Till 3-4 years ago, during Diwali and New year I would receive 70-80 Greeting Cards from Friends, Colleagues, Diagnostic Centers and Pharma firms wishing me and my family, a year full of happiness, peace and Prosperity. This gesture would be reciprocated by me and month before Diwali I would go through the process of selecting Card-CRY, Helpage or cards from some other Charitable organizations.Then would come the matter to be printed on the card. As these cards served as surrogate advertisement, informing receiver about attachments to various hospitals, Consulting timing and New facilities being offered, lot of time was spent in drafting the subject matter. Then came printing of the cards and most difficult part-writing names of the recipient,signing the card and writing address on the envelope. It was practice session which proved very useful when there was wedding in the family. Posting was easy with advent of courier service.
This year I have received only 5 greeting Cards. 3 from the Pharma cos. and two from the relatives who always send Greetings on Post card-reminding me that Post Card still exists. But Inbox of my Cell Phone is full with 50 messages,some very simple and other elaborate, some are in Hindi. Inbox of my email has many messages and flash cards with sound and noise of the Crackers bursting.( Now I pay to receive and download!!).
With SMS and e mail, it has become very easy to select Greeting and send it. Selected email-flashcard can be sent- in seconds- to entire contact list which includes all friends and relatives who matter. As sending email and flash card is free, it can be sent to everyone by click of the mouse and receiver feels that I am still a close friend who remembers to send him greetings. SMSing Greeting is more personal and effective as recipient has to view it and then delete to make space for more SMSs. This has virtually finished the Greeting Card business except for Valentines Day cards.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winds of Change

Today I went to Udipi restaurant in Andheri West for Cup of south Indian Filter Coffee. Person who took my order was Marathi manoos. Two waiters were North Indians-one was Bihari and other appeared to be from Haryana-Delhi. Surprise ! Nepali Boy was cleaning the Tables and other one was serving water( First thing you get as soon as you sit in Udipi Hotel).
Gone are the days when shetty boys came from Manglore and worked in Udipi Hotels of Mumbai at the bottom of the ladder-cleaning tables and serving Water-gradually moving up to finally own/manage a Restaurant. Kutchhi Shopkeepers who used to get people from their native place to work in the shops have now switched over to employing people from Bihar and Orissa. IT/BPO has definitely changed employment avenues in rural areas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

HIV Capital of the World??

Finally the Cat is Out of The Bag !!. For years India was suppose to be HIV Capital-having highest number of HIV cases. This year on World AIDs day,Health Minister has finally accepted that we did not have correct figure of HIV infected population. Pune based organization has finally done Scientific Survey of HIV infected people and brought down the figure from 5 million to 2.5 million !!. This should now help to understand how disease spreads and what should be our strategy to reduce the spread. Unfortunately awareness level is going down. Free sex without protection is acceptable. Young generation is more worried about Pregnancy than HIV infection. Multiple partners,casual sex,one night stand is again in the vogue. Are we heading in the direction of Sub Sahara Africa? There whole generation is affected by HIV and the workforce is depleted. We cant even decide what and how should we impart sex education to High School teenager. All our efforts are directed in working on Economic Miracle and Double Digit Growth rate. If HIV spreads at present rate than by 2015 we will have to spend much more on providing Health care and recent example of USA has shown that Health care expenses can drag economy down. It's time to wake up.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Good Bye my Blacki Baby. Rest In Peace.

Finally it happened.
After week of treating my baby Blackie with IV fluids,Lasix,Rantac,Dextran,Sucralfate. We felt that he is improving. His tongue was regaining pink colour. He was weak but could move around in the room. we were force feeding him and he was retaining it. He was passing good quantity of Urine. Stools were of normal colour. His Blood values were not increasing. He would recognize us and would wag his tail. we were getting hopeful. it was taking heavy toll on me. Giving just 400 cc. in 3 hrs to a dog is real effort and to do it twice a day , more so. we had to lift him and take him down so that he could pass urine. If he cant then I had to Catheterize him.
I had started his Iv drip and gave Inj. Lasix. after 100 cc he got up and started making cooing sound to indicate he wants to eat something. He drank about 300cc Water mixed with electral solution. We were overjoyed. His Iv drip was discontinued. He was taken downstairs where he passed good amount of Urine. We put him in his room and with much releif sat down to watch 'Main Hoon Na' on cable. After an hour or so he walked out of his room and came to his usual place in Drawing room. He stood there swaying a little. I took him back to his room and made him to sit in dog position.
After the picture was over K wanted to sit there for a while. We were feeling at ease. Blacki has started taking feed and passing urine on his own so now things should get better.There was glimmer of hope.We sat there for an hour or so,planning for Diwali.Before going to sleep K went to see Blacki. He was standing and his breathing was fast. She called me. i tried to make him sit. I was wondering whether i should get oxygen cylinder to ease his breathing.
Suddenly he ambled towards K. put his head on her lap. She started patting and baby talking to him.I was stroking his back and could feel the very rapid breathing and fast heart rate.He sat down and K called out to me that he is going, i felt that breathing had stopped and heart was going into Fibrillation(Flutter). He slowly lied down, Took 2-3 gasps and it was all over. I felt more pain and sorrow than ever before. More than what I had felt when my parents,close relatives died. There were no thoughts about what future holds for me-thoughts I had when my parents died. There was only sense of very very deep loss. He had demanded/wanted nothing from me but always gave me lots of love. No conditions were attached to that love. i didnt have to reciprocate. His love, affection and joy on meeting me were always there.Everyday,every hour,every minute. This memory of unconditional love will always remain with me. we will always miss him and remember him.
Good Bye my Blacki baby. Have a nice higher life. Rest in peace.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pet Problem

For a month now I am busy with my Pet Blackie's treatment. He is 12 yrs old Pom, and in these 12 yrs I never had to visit Vet except for his Vaccination and occasional check ups. Two yrs ago he developed a Cystic Lump below Anus. It was not troubling him and Vet was not sure about the origin of the lump- it was not Malignant tumor. Last May the cyst burst but healed on its own. Last month the Cyst burst and there was lot of bleeding. Vet advised that the cyst be removed. So Blackie was admitted in Parel Vet.Hospital. At his age there were risks and we were worried. His Blood reports were normal but Heart was enlarged. His operation went off without any problem and next day he was moving about, eating milk and bis.,passing Urine and stools. But his stools were Black and Sticky. His recovery was fast and on 4th day Vet at Parel gave permission to bring him home. We found him little weak, wouldnt go for his daily rounds in Soct. and stools were still Black. we suspected that this is altered Blood and he may be Bleeding in Intestines due to Operation stress Ulcers. Now he had developed cough and would sit down after walking a short distance and had stopped taking feeds. We took him to Vet in Juhu(near Pratiksha) and he felt that it was 'Kennel Cough'. Blackie was treated with usual mix of dext-Saline,Antibiotics,etc. He was going down. We could see that he was getting weaker by the day but his Vet or Vets. at Parel Hospital couldnt diagnose the cause . They continued to treat it as Chest infection-Bronchitis- and we gave Nebulisation,Asthalin,Higher Antibiotics and IV fluid.Our repeted suggestion that this cough can be due to LVF ( Left Ventricular Failure) were ignored. By this time he had stopped eating completely so we started force feeding him with milk. Then we realized that his Tongue had become very pale. He was loosing Blood somewhere( Most likely from Ulcers in Stomach or Intestines). We were desperate. My baby was very very sick and these Vets cant even diagnose the cause. We decided to go for Blood Tests and new Vet. Blackie was taken to Vet. Swali and he felt that Blacki is in Renal Failure.Urgent Blood Tests confirmed this. His Haemoglobin was just 4 Gms(30%) S. Creatinine was 9 mgs and BUN 63mgs.
He was still passing Black stools. he was put on Sucralfate (which covers the ulcers and stops bleeding), Inj. Rantac,Lasix and Iv fluids. He had Post Op. Acute Tubular Necrosis or Low GFR due to Anaemia and LVF. At last we knew what was wrong with him and can now focus on treating the cause rather than just shooting in the dark.Now we are giving him IV fluids and Lasix and hope to get his Creatinine down,stimulate the Renal function. Luckily he doesnt have Pain. He is not breathless. His stools have become normal.He still not taking feeds and we are force feeding him. But prognosis is not very good.We are late by some 10 days. Had his Vet. diagnosed the problem earlier,Vets at Parel Hospital( who are teachers/Proffessors at Vet College) listened to us and been more proactive than he would have had better chance of recovery.We can only pray for his recovery and treat him and give support so that he can give his best shot at recovery.
I feel sorry, when I Google Searched his problem I find that we are so much behind the West in treating our Pets.We dont have decent hospital or equipments.Our knowledge is inadequate and most important there is feeling of Deja Vu.Its just a Dog! When humans are not getting proper treatment who can advocate better treatments for Pets? Even commercial interest is not stimulating better facilities for Pets. Huge stray population has increased the negligent attitude of Vets and ordinary people. ---PK

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

E Pill-Emergency Contraceptive pill

I am really pissed off with the TV advertisement of Cipla's Emergency Contraceptive pill. Don't get me wrong. I have no cultural or moral objection to this advertisement. On the contrary I feel its very very effective advertisement, and there lies the problem. Since the airing of these films I have had patients who had used these pills and were pregnant. There are girls who are sexually active and want to use this pill as contraceptive method. Now this pill is meant to be 'Emergency' contraceptive and one should not have emergency every month or 3-4 times in a month. Inadequate knowledge, easy availability in Chemist shop without prescription and lack of supervision by medical personnel can result in complications. If one is Sexually active on regular basis then Regular,more effective Contraceptive methods under Medical supervision should be preferred.
First of all , it's Emergency contraceptive pill, so it should be used only in an Emergency.That means that if you suspect that contraceptive method used by you may not work( Condom broke or slipped off or semen entered the Vagina. or you missed to take the pill or safe period was calculated wrongly. In the case of Rape it should be routinely given.) It is not as effective in Preventing Pregnancy as regular contraceptive methods like Condoms, Birth Control Pills or IUCD-Copper T. Its no more effective than 70-80% ( There is no good Clinical data for this as well). It contains Hormone Estrogen and Progesterone and will alter Hormone Balance and period can be delayed. multiple use may make period irregular. Besides there are side effects like Nausea and Vomiting, Venous Thrombosis etc. Though these side effects are not usually serious.
Finally my pet grouse. E-Pill does not protect from Sexually Transmitted Diseases like Candida and other infections, Herpes and fatal HIV and Hepatitis B & C. This is more dangerous then Pregnancy! Most effective Emergency Contraceptive is to Carry good quality Condom in your purse and ask the Man to use it properly if he wants Sex. If he refuses then walk out for your own good.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Media coverage and frenzy of the fans seen for last 1 month during Court Judgement,arrest, their stay in jail and finally release on Bail and homecoming in the case of Sanju and Salman, makes me wonder what makes Film Stars such a celebrity. Their fans are from across the Class and Caste, Religion and Social Status, Industrialists & Politicians to Dons.Highly trained professionals to humble daily wage earner. Its not Bachchan or Khans, even chhota mota filmstars/TV actors,Anchors, item girls with 2 dances to their credit and even 'Kallumama ' has fan following. Anyone working as an actor in Film or TV becomes famous and has fan following. Sometimes it is short lived-from few months to few years- but for other Lambe Race ka Ghodas, it is lifelong. They even get elected defeating political leaders with years of experience in Politics. If Amitabh or Shahrukh were to stand in an election against even Soniaji and Rahulbaba, no one will predict the outcome. Unfortunately many of them are petty,megalomaniacs with inflated egos and self worth. Uneducated,ill mannered, uncouth and habitually they throw their weight around. In a Public functions they are given more importance as guest then performer or person in whose honor the function is being held.
I fail to understand why this particular community -Actors-are given such a high celebrity status. Directors,Music Directors,Writers,and all other professionally connected/Creative people don't find even mention in Media and are virtually unrecognized. Is it something to do with our inability to come to terms with and accept concept of 'Film',where you can see a person doing everyday things on screen?. Is that the reason for amazing success of 'You Tube' and hundreds of clips-many absolutely useless and bad- it receives daily. It is excellent subject for research.
Similar to this is our fascination about Aeroplanes and Flying. Most of us would look up to see a plane when we hear their Engine sound. Few years ago when 'Air Deccan' came out with Tickets in Rs. 500/- ,my car driver wanted to fly in plane. He wouldn't believe that flying in plane is one of the most boring experience. Pilots are held in very high esteem. I can understand about Fighter Pilots but Commercial Airlines Pilots receive so much help from technology that flying in most of the cases is made simple and safe. Compared to them Drivers of ST/BEST and Blue Line buses have real difficult task. Is it that after 100 yrs we have still not come to terms with and accept that we/Machine can fly.--PK.

Salman-Jekyll & Hyde

After a week long drama,which received widest Media coverage, Salman Khan got Bail in Chinkara Case and returned home from Jodhpur jail, a tumultuous welcome from 3 F's, family, friends and fans. His family and friends have suggested that Salman received this harsh(!) sentence from court as he is a Celebrity. His image as Spoiled Brat is because of undue coverage given to his drinking binges, Brawls in the party, Midnight calls to Vivek, Banging door of Ms. Rais home for hours, his alleged links with underworld etc,etc..... He is in fact suppose to be really nice person,helping friends with tips on acting and Body building, giving presents to friends, helping unit hands with money and he even gave money for treatment to Mr. Dhasal.He still resides in modest 2 BR flat -a floor below his parent's home. If this is true then his behavior is typical of Dual Personality and he needs psychiatric help from competent person. If people like Salman-forget everything else but he did go hunting with his co-artists and killed Chinkara knowingly. At that time he was filming for Rajashri film and his cherector in that film is very soft spoken,non violent one, who doesnt get angry or raises his voice ! If after pack up he changes to a person who picks up gun and kills Hiran-Chinkara,then it calls for probe in his personality and behavior. I am amazed by the frenzy of people( And Media as well) in Jodhpur and Mumbai, who wanted to have glimpse of their favorite star and idol. If for todays youth-this is not youth which is in TV studio- but one which takes part in College Elections, is present in large number in protests and venting anger on Professors and VC's. by breaking furniture- Salman and Sanjubaba are the idols then fate of "Rising India" of UPA will not be different than 'Shining India" of NDA...PK

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Reading news item about ms. Mallika Amar Shaikh's efforts for Financial help for her husband Fiery Dalit writer/poet Namdeo Dhasal brought back memories of 70's when Dalit Panther movement took off and had some relevance. But to my mind it brought memories of Mallika's autobiography, which I had read then. Mallika who is daughter of Leftist Shahir Amar Shaikh had vividly described her experience during her first pregnancy and particularly-her delivery in B.M.C. run Nair Hospital. She wrote about behavior of staff in labor room, where she was made to lie on dirty delivery table and at the height of unbearable labor pains, she was slapped, pinched on thighs and buttocks and taunted with most sexually explicit remarks.

Having worked in labor wards of Municipal hospitals, I know that each and every word was true-no exaggeration. Patients are left on Delivery table with no one around them, If she shouts in pain ,she is abused, shouted at and even slapped. Sometimes hours pass before resident doctor in charge ( busy with other emergencies) realizes that particular patient has not delivered and then she is re examined and future action carried out. Usually there is no feedback from the Nursing staff to Doctors regarding progress of a patient. What surprises me the most. Nursing staff,Ward boys and Ayahs come from the same 'class' as patients. Many of them stay in the same locality.Even then why there should be such an animosity and poor behavior and treatment with no compassion? In case of Medical needs they patronize the same BMC/Govt. hospitals. Doctors who usually belong to higher(Richer) class have better attitude and are more compassionate. People belonging to same class should treat them better, instead reverse is true. Is it because of the frustration of their lives and daily grind they face, force them to take it out on people who cant hit back?

I hope situation must have changed now but I doubt it. BMC/Govt. has no money, desire or expertise to run Maternity Homes or Hospitals. They would gladly hand them over to Pvt. parties in the garb of Charitable trusts, if they can navigate the deal through political minefield of BMC. If this cant be done than they are allowed to get dilapidated by willful neglect and then discontinued as in the case of Cooper Hospital or many Maternity homes,to be rebuilt and run by Pvt. Charitable trusts. Besides only those who cant afford services of Pvt. Nursing Homes or Hospital patronize BMC hospitals. These hospitals could provide one with best of treatment at almost no cost,provided Paramedical staff can give service with compassion and authorities have will and desire to infuse much needed funds and resources.---PK

Sunday, September 02, 2007

New IT Return

Finally last week I could manage to file my Income Tax return.Though everything was ready in April but new IT form had not come. Last week I had appointment with my Tax Cons. Gone are the days when one could sign the return,give all relevant challans and papers and let consultant file return at his convinience. Now everything is online and this year no enclosures,so you have to be present when he fills in details,computes your income,tax payable,tax paid and refund -if any -and take print out and then sign it.
TC checked everything on his computer screen,cross checked with me and then clicked 'print'. HP printer got into action and in minute or two print outs were in the tray. TC collected the bunch.
I asked him: "How many prints you need?"
"Three".t th
"But these are lot of papers"
" Yes,but this is one copy. From this year IT return has 30 pages. From last year's one page SARAL form now we have 30 pages Improoved,Taxpayer friendly return."
and he called in his peon and asked him to get 2 sets of Photostat copies.
From next year onwards when you apply for Loan, Visa to travel or even credit card, you will be asked to submit last 3 yrs. IT retuns with computation. You will have to submit almost 100 pages of IT return and sign each and every page. Dont be surprised if your application is rejected! Because it will be difficult to asses what is your income from this confusing return. What Fun!!---PK

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Game of Rummy

Friend called in the morning.
"What are your plans for the weekend?"
"Nothing in particular."
"OK. we are meeting on Saturday/Sunday for card session.One day at my place and next day at your place."
"Sure. Will you contact everyone?."
"see you on Saturday, 5 pm."

This is the usual conversation on Thursday for last many yrs. Majority of weekends are spent playing cards-Rummy. we are 11 people in the group so dealing 13 cards to everyone is a painful task. Game takes time and those who have packed indulge in small talk on Politics, Markets,Family matters etc. Stakes are low so there are no opportunities to win significant amount. We tried out other games. We played Bridge, Tin Patti with various variation, but nothing would be attractive after 2/3 sessions and we would go back to playing Rummy. Agreed Rummy doesn't need level of skill and intelligence of playing Bridge nor it requires aggressiveness,false bravado or financial strength and ability to take risk as in Tin Patti. Rummy is slow game and gives you time to socialise, converse and interact with other players. Ideal game for group of old friends. But more than this, it is the nature of the game which attracts people.
* You have cards where everything is ready. Suits(Sequences), Jokers, you have to just show your winning hand!
* You have good cards. 2-3 Jokers, chances for sequence but no true Sequence. one card and you can win! but... you don't get the card and you pay highest amount.
* You have 2-3 Jokers,a sequence but you are waiting for that one final connecting card( 4th card). Its not your day so you don't get that card,you loose.
* You have a sequence,1-2 Jokers, you are progressing slowly. Next pull and you can show and win. But.... you loose.
*You have one True sequence,1 Joker but your game progresses with each pull and .. you win!!
* You have 4-5 Jokers but rest of the cards have very poor connection. No way you are going to get that true sequence. You pay the highest amount. Its punishment game. You know you cant win but you have to play.
* Same scenario as above but luck favours you and you get the true sequence. You don't win but don't loose much.
* Some days your Luck has deserted you. You don't get good cards. You pack up more games than you play. Ones which you play goes nowhere and you steadily loose small amounts.

Yes. Attraction of Rummy lies in these similarities to our everyday life situations. when you look back you will find numerous occasions which resembles various scenario described above.As in life, LUCK plays major and important role in shaping your Progress and Destiny. Your education,intelligence,connections and every thing is second to the element of Luck.If you can play the game of Rummy with equanimity than you will be able to handle triumphs and disappointments in your everyday life.

Friday, June 22, 2007

After the evening walk in Mountain View Park, We sat down on the bench next to barbecue . I realised that there was a Cell Phone lying in the corner.My first thought was that someone forgot to pick up phone after his sojourn in park. But years of staying in India had made me weary of picking up unattended items in Public places. It can be a IED-we are always warned. I hesitated. Best thing, do nothing and wait for some time.Owner will show up.But if it rings? Then should i answer the phone? How insecure our life is in modern times !! Waiting there, I thought about the owner of the phone. If he cant get this phone back he is going to have tough time.I remembered the amount of time & effort it took to put in all the contacts and other data from my old phone to new phone. Poor guy is in for lot of trouble. I hoped that he had not put in his favourite songs or photos in the phone.
After waiting for some 30 mts or so, I decided to take risk. This is US and not India. Probably less likely to put IED in cell phone. So I picked it up,it was Nokia phone.Unlocked the keys.Nothing happened and then Screen lighted up,From menu went to contacts. Few American names-so this doesn't belong to Desi or Asian. Next in the list-Dad,Home,Mom ,work- ah ! this is no IED. Now confidently I selected the Call log-received call-and called the first # in the list.After few rings a lady answered the phone.
Me: "Hello, whose number is this?"
: Dan, my Boy friend's. Hey... did you find the phone?
Me: " ya, I am in Public park in Mntn.View. Come over and collect it."
: " Dan, someone found your phone in park." to me" He will be ther in 10 minutes"
Me: "Sure, i am sitting opposite car park"
I disconnected the line.
In 10 mts Dan was there with his Dogs. Visibly relieved to find his phone. Thanked me for my effort.
But I wondered. Would I do the same thing in India?May be not---PK

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alaska Cruise

For almost 2 years, I was planning to take cruise vacation. Star Cruises from Singapore and now Mumbai was always an easy choice. But visiting Penang, Phuket,Goa, Cochin etc was no fun as i had already visited these places and they offered same shore excursions/activities that one can have by visiting Goa. Alaska was ideal choice. It was very different from the all the places i have visited earlier. But Alaska Cruises are costly and one is not sure of weather conditions in Alaska. There may be severe cold or rain and fog that can spoil your trip completely. But big Cruise ship was an added attraction and those on Alaska trip are best of the lot.

For Alaska cruise one has to start preparing from Nov. for next June cruise. Cruise calender is out in November with all the sailing for the next season-Mid May to October. Its a difficult task to choose a cruise that is good but not very costly,and visits places that interest you. Normally cruises start from Seattle(US),Vancouver(Canada) and go north and return or it starts from Seward ,Alaska(US) and travel Southward. Usual port of call are Seward,Janue,Skagway,Kitchikan and Price Rupert among other. I had selected round trip from Seattle with halts at Januea,Skagway and Prince Rupert. One requires Visa for both US and Canada (Single entry).By March one should have Visas ready as its time to make full payment which is non refundable.

My cruise sailing was from Seattle in may end.Cruise Liner was Royal Caribbean. We reached Pier. Our luggage, tagged with special tags with my name and Cabin No. was screened and checked in.Now we had to wait in long que for our check in. As everyone had done e-check in,the process was quick and soon we had our Plastic cards which would work as our Cabin door keys and as Credit card for all the transaction on the cruise. Since our luggage would take some time to arrive, we decided to explore the Ship. Unfortunately Cruises are hyped up vacation. Though the ship was big, facilities were on par with any good resort on land. Rather Five star resort would score highly on every count. Our ship had two main Dining areas.On 9th floor deck was Self serving buffet which had something for everyone. There were Fruits, salads, Veg and Non Veg. main courses, special Dish for the day, soups and Deserts. Sodas and juices were available a plenty.But menu was same everyday,very few changes. Other was Main Dining area, where one can have sit down four course dinner with Salad, side dish, Main dish and desert. The choices were good for Non Vegetarians -especially Sea food lovers as Salmon,Cod,Shrimps were always on the menu,and Lobster and crab alternately- but for vegetarians , it was really tough.They hardly liked anything -except desert. For them Fast Food at Solarium on 9th Floor deck serving Fries,Pizzas,Burgers, Cookies was heaven. They survived on them. Then there is 24 hrs Room service. There were number of well stocked Bars. As one is not allowed to take Alcohol on board , if you want to have drink you have to visit bar.Many bars were located at vantage location and one can really have good time in the bar. There was Disco. after 10 pm. Shows in the afternoon and Evening. Bingo sessions, Magic shows, Culinary ,Yoga, Dancing classes.One can read in Library -though their collection of books was poor.- or play Cards in Card Room. There was well equipped Gym. and Spa. Two heated swimming pools and 6 Jacuzzi or Whirlpools.There was Casino with slot Machines,Poker,Roulette Table. For Children there was special Playing area. On board shopping was Tax free and Duty free-but their inventory was not great. There were speciality restaurants.
But it was confined space. As if one is under house arrest in 5-7* Resort.On the day of cruising there was nothing to do. With sea all around you as far as one can see and waves which makes you sea sick as you walk about unsteadily, after a while it gets boring. To top it, The cabins are really, really small. Though I was prepared for Cabin size after my experience with Nile River Cruise in Egypt- i expected little bigger room in such a big Cruise liner. Room and bathroom were compact and small. It makes one Claustrophobic. So on Cruise ship feeling of Isolation and Claustrophobia is always there. You don't like to go to your 'small' room. On the Decks vast sea all around gives you the same feeling. If you are prone to Sea Sickness then only God can help you. Nausea and Drowsiness makes your life really miserable. You long for Terra Fir ma-Land-under your feet and when Ship docks at port you are impatient to get out of the Ship and on to the land, where you feel at ease. Unfortunately this Cruise vacation comes at pretty high price-never less than $150/per night per person.Cost of Shore Excursions are extra(Say about $500-700 p.p.).
So Is it worth to go on Cruise vacation? Well, I am not sure. One thing I am sure of 'It is not very good Value Vacation for the Money spent.'
It's pleasure to be in cool Bay Area after very hot and humid Mumbai.In the evening, went to the Public park in Mountain View. There were about 70 people enjoying the cool evening. Soccar was played in central area.There were elderly people taking their walk, young couples with Baby in the pram. Children cycling, toddlers on the slide and swings under the watchful eyes of Grand parents.It reminds you of your park in Mumbai/Delhi san the heat.
What surprised me the most was that most of the visitors were Asians-( South Asians (Desi) and East Asians-mainly chinese) and Maxicans. White Americans-may be couple of them jogging,but no African American. May be this walk in the park is legacy of British rule in India, which Indian middle class has adopted and transported to US.--PK

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Do We Own Our Icons ?

Shobha De in her column in today's Sunday Times (here) asserts that Public Icons are owned by Public. Our Bollywood first family of Bachchans owe their name,fame, wealth to Public adulation. Fans, Journalist have all the right to invade their home and take part,photograph the Ash-Abhi wedding. This is a dangerous assertion and makes mockery of Personal Privacy laws. If Amitabh doesn't extend invitation to Journos or his fans,is it ethical to insist on attending the function?
Shobha De is also an Icon. She is what she is today because Millions of readers -me included- read her column, Books for last 30 yrs or more. Does that give me right to attend her Daughters wedding or insist on taking wedding Photos. Should I insist on knowing their plans for quite(!) Honeymoon?
It's difficult for me to understand why Media-the so called important pillar of our great Democracy-insist on covering such events for days. What national or Social cause is served by knowing thee Menu of Dinner served in Ash -Abhi wedding or number of sweets served in Karishma Kapoor's wedding. There are so many other topics concerning people.Media's creative energy is better spent in highlighting social causes. People and even fans do not have right to know stupid mundane things about film stars life.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beaches of Konkan--Hirnai

During last long weekend. I went to Hirnai near Dapoli.It is small village with 3 seaside Resorts/Hotels. It's off the Mumbai-Goa highway,some 300 km. from Mumbai. You travel to Khed on Goa highway and get off towards sea passing through the Khed town.It's hilly region and one passes along winding road through Dapoli. Now the air is clean and fresh. The foliage of Goa is missing but there is sufficient greenery to soothe the eyes.There are Coconut groves and Supari and Cashew plantations.But most famous export of the region is Ratnagiri Mangoes and there are many Mango farms. This year Mango trees were blooming and one can expect good crop. Suddenly road takes a turn and you are facing sea--shining in afternoon sun with Fishermen's boats giving it a perfect picture.
Beach was beautiful,nice ,soft sand and absolutely flat for almost a km or so. Very safe for swimming. Even at full tide,children can go in 100 mts and water would be just waist deep.No undercurrents or shifting sand.Most amazing thing was, waves would not break till end and if you know how to float or have Life jacket than you can just float on water bobbing up and down,no breakers to hit you and throw you off balance.There is hardly any drift. Swimming was more fun than what I have experienced in Goa.
But downside was that there were no other facilities.No sundecks Sunbathe,no shacks for Beer and Fish/Prawns. You have to keep your clothes on sand and a stray Dog may go through them for food or pee on them. It wont get stolen because except for the tourists staying in resorts there is no one on the beach. 3 hrs. of Load shedding in the afternoon is the worst. .Hotel Sea Face where we stayed provides 2* facility and Sea food is really good,the service is really poor and housekeeping is non-existent.The place is good for a short vacation if one is tired of going to same old places like Matheran or Mahabaleshwar.

Swiss Rail-Not so perfect.

Lalu Yadav presented dream Railway Budget. Rs.20000 Cr. earning from Railways is way beyond any ones expectation. But this success story doesn't mean that Rail travel is comfortable or Trains are punctual ,clean and safe to travel. Far from it. when traveling experience of Train in India will match that of European or other developed nations than trains will be 1st choice . There is tremendous mismatch between the two. At present train travel is preferred by those who can't afford air travel or to places where air link is not available.
Swiss Travel service-especially the Rail Line is famous for its comfort,punctuality and works like clockwork.Trains are impeccably clean,very comfortable seats,Map of the route is everywhere,it is punctual to the minute,regular announcement on PA system in train,Timetable which is easy to understand and best of all-not crowded at all.One wonders at the Economics of running almost empty train.Unfortunately during my stay train travel in Switzerland was marred by glitches in Rail service. On the first day traveling from Geneva to Interlaken via Bern,train was terminated at Thun as there was accident between Thun and Spiez. We had to travel by bus with all the suitcases,and Bus was more crowded than BEST bus in Mumbai !!.On 3rd. day,while visiting Luzern,train was terminated at Hergiswill and we had to complete onward travel by Bus. As we had Swiss Pass this was possible otherwise one has to buy costly ticket. On final day returning from Interlaken to Geneva Airport,train arrived on time at Lausanne,but halted there for more than 15 mts and was late.It was terminated at Geneva City and started it's return journey to Bern on time but I had get off at Geneva with all the luggage, change the platform-had to pay for the luggage trolley- take next train to Geneva Airport.
Swiss Rail Line usually runs perfectly but it's single line system at most of the places and hence even a small problem can potentially throw the system in disarray. They can put the system back on rails in short time besides number of people traveling by train in Switzerland is far less and easily manageable.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Transfer of Power

Kanchanben first visited me 15 yrs ago. She was a Gujrati lady from Saurastra region,wore bright colored Sari in Guju style and a big round Red bindi adorned her forehead.Kanchanben had an air of authority which was palpable. Her writ run in the family matters.She accompanied her Daughter in Law Manjula,who was Pregnant. Kanchanben's husband was Cloth Merchant and had shop in Mumbai. Her eldest son helped in family business. Manjula was fair and beutiful. She had to cover her face with Ghungat and talked very softly. It was difficult to hear her and take proper history. Kanchanben would prompt her and admonish Manjula to tell me about all her complaints.
Investigation and Medicine that I had prescribed had to pass muster with Kanchanben.I had the feeling that Manjula was not allowed to follow all the instructions,especially about rest and exercise and food she should eat. Manjula had no say in the matter, everything was decided by Kanchanben. Manjula had normal delivery and Kanchanben was present in the delivery room.She was first to cradle her Grandson.Post delivery, Manjula had to follow all the traditional things thats carried out post delivery.Me and Neonatologist were completely ignored and hospital routine was tossed out of window.Same routine was followed when Manjula delivered again after few years. Kanchanben was in charge of all the social and family matters and had last word.
Last year Kanchanben lost her husband.
Last week Manjula came for consultation.Kanchanben was with her. I just couldn't recognise her. she had changed completely. She was wearing very plain,pastel colored saree.Big Red Chandlo had disappeared.Her hair were disheveled and face was haggard. Manjula was in charge,and did not allow Kanchanben to say a word. She readily agreed to get investigations done and took appointment for follow up visit to show the report.
Manjula kept her appointment but she had come alone.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Doctor's Dilemma

I know Mrs. Arora for last 25 yrs. Her youngest son was born in my Nursing Home. Since then she and her daughters have consulted me often for their Gynaec. Problems. I have attended her Daughters weddings. Her elder daughter delivered a baby boy 9 yrs ago. We had very good Patient-Doctor rapport.

Last year, I was in my consulting Room one evening and a young man rushed in. He was Mrs. Arora’s neighbor. Mr. Arora had severe Chest Pain with Sweating and apparently he had Heart Attack. He wanted me to visit and examine Mr. Arora. I explained to him that I am a Consultant Gynecologist and I don’t have Doctor’s bag, Injections etc. I would be of little help to Mr. Arora. At the most I can give Pain relieving injection. He should contact G.P. who can be of more help to Mr. Arora. I promised to contact G.P. of the area and ask one of them to visit Mr. Arora. Young men hurried off. I phoned Dr. A. and requested him to visit Mr. Arora urgently.

Dr. A. visited Mr. Arora, who had a Heart Attack. Already a Doctor was there. GP. gave him necessary injections, and even Oxygen from Portable Oxy. Cylinder he had in his bag. He called up Cardiac Ambulance and in 30 mts. Mr. Arora was in ICCU receiving treatment. He had massive Heart Attack and couldn’t make it. Mr. Arora died on 3rd. day. I attended the chautha.

After 2-3 months, Mrs. Arora met me in Shopping mall. She was little miffed and didn’t return the greetings. She told me that she felt very bad that I did not visit when Mr. Arora had Heart Attack. Had I visited him and given treatment,Mr. Arora would be alive today. I tried to explain to her that in these emergencies GP.s are better than consultants as we don’t have Injections and other tools necessary to tackle these emergencies. GPs deal with these on day to day basis and they exactly know what to do and how to transfer such cases to nearby Hospital. But no explanation was good enough for her. Till this day she holds me responsible for her husband’s death.

With rapid advance in Medical Science, it is very difficult to keep in touch with other branches of Medicine. As a matter of fact it is very difficult to keep abreast with new theories and treatment modalities in our specialized branch. It is a loosing battle. We don’t have sufficient time to read all the new treatments being offered today. I find it difficult to read completely ‘Year Book’ which gives synopsis of Papers published 3 yrs ago in various Journals!! If I have to appear for MBBS exam. for renewal of Registration-as suggested by our Heath Minister Dr. Ramdoss- I don’t think I can clear it at First attempt!! A frightening thought. But I am sure I will be in good

Kingfisher Airlines Credit Card Fraud

Last month Kingfisher Airlines was hit by Credit Card fraud to the tune of Rs.1.5 Crore. Modus Operendi was very simple. When the credit card was given for Bill Payment in ‘Time & Again’ Restaurant-an upmarket Restaurant in Andheri Mumbai, person preparing the Charge slip would memorize 3 digit ‘CCV’ printed on Signature panel of the Credit Card. 16 digit Credit Card No. is already available on copy of the charge slip. He would then pass on this info to his colleagues, who started a Travel Agency and would book Tickets online on Kingfisher Airline Website. These tickets were then sold at discount. Almost everyone on Blogosphere must be using Credit Card extensively and can be victim of this type of fraud.


Please scratch out the last 3 digit printed on signature panel of your Credit/Debit Card, after noting it down at safe place as you would do for Online Log In username and Password for your bank account.

When Credit/Debit Card is used for any transaction in Shop or Restaurant, it is swiped and Machine reads data from Magnetic Strip. ‘CCV’ is needed only when online transaction is done.

A year ago, I had scratched out ‘CCV’ nos. from my Citibank and Standard chartered Cards and I have been using these cards for transactions of Rs. 250.00 to Rs. 21000.00.

Incidentally I have sent repeated e mails to VISA Security and Citicard-India, suggesting that ‘CCV’ should not be printed on Credit Card but sent to Customer by Courier as is done with Passwords. VISA promised to consider the suggestion. There was no response from Citicard or SCB Card.