Thursday, November 6, 2008

So yeah.

So I just won the Rhodes Scholarship.
Yay me!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Unbearableness of Being.

Like someone said, we are the children of nothing.
There's no great war that defined our resilience, when we could all break out in choruses of Vande Mataram with Hemant Kumar's music.
No great depression that tested our perseverance, when we could end up writing films and having Henry Fonda clench his jaw and say what were apparently words.
No freedom struggle, when we could sing Ekla cholo re while going to the bathroom and feel we are part of something larger.
No counter culture movement, when we could pretend we loved Joan Baez and Jefferson Airplane, and spout invective while high on God alone knows what.
No Emergency, (unless you count my 15 day stint tainted with blood and gore), when we could shuffle around in Kurtas and feel important, all the while thinking what the fuck has JP Morgan to do with any of this jail business.

Agreed we have the internet and free porn and sites to download free music from, but what good is it when I am stuck in the hospital 25 hours a day?
Agreed we have reality shows we could cry hoarse about and be known as the voice of India, if you know what I mean (of course you do); but Derek O'Brien is doing that already anyway.
Agreed we have Global Warming and Al Gore and electric cars and Leo DiCaprio, but that is like 12,ooo miles away.
Agreed we have the Beijing Olympics and the prospect of a Tienanmen square, but what chances that Jeff Widener pops up there and I get to be The Unknown Rebel? I am sure Dermatology wouldn't give me permission to so much as go to Byatarayanapura, let alone go to Beijing and face a bunch of tanks.
Agreed we have cloning, but have you heard a name beyond Dolly? Agreed we have the Spirit and the Opportunity too, but we would get to Mars sooner than we would get Deve Gowda dead, which is never.

So really, nothing defines us, unless you want to call us The Undefined and sound like a Clint Eastwood film, which is never a good thing. Do these bomb blasts define us? No, they don't. They just define Breaking News, in a weird literal way.

I represent nothing. I represent nobody. We are all a motley crowd defined by nothing new. Do not even get me started on the iPhone.
As an intern in a big medical college hospital, I am a bottom dweller. There is nobody beyond me on this side. And there was a time I used to say the exact same words, and feel exactly the opposite. I take orders from people who are aberrations in the concept of evolution, from people who are human mutations of the bird species that went extinct in Mauritius.
I listen and nod when they say they write fan mail to Chetan Bhagat.
I nod along when they listen to "We got a little world of our own" in the Emergency Room and say Rock is so awesome.
I laugh my head off when we are trying to resuscitate a patient three heartbeats away from death and the radio in the ER screams "Kolle nannanne..." (Kill me).
I sometimes get confused about the meal I am having. Supper, lunch, dinner, breakfast, snack... all different words for the same thing - Carbohydrates. Much like us interns. Roger, Rohan, Romeela, Rusvan, fair, tall, dark, blonde, white, Kannadiga, Slovakian, Herzegovinian, Kongaati, all boundaries get blurred. It's always a nameless, faceless, pair of legs that locomotes, and carries with it a pair of hands that can write, and a pair of vocal cords that says "Yes, ma'am" to the call of "Intern, go bang head against wall."
I have come to hate people, because people always have something to say, and it invariably involves central lab, biochemistry lab, microbiology lab, biopsy reports.
I am traipsing a path dangerously close to both insanity and indifference. It's tragic that I don't stick to one side.

There is so much I can tell you all about how disgusting and how exhilarating being in a hospital could be. The transition between the two does not take longer than two seconds at times. But that's for another post another time. Or for another book, which, going by my atrophied brain status would be called something as imaginative as The Devil Wears A Stethoscope or something.
For now, I gotta run. There is some PG throwing super convulsions because I did not get some report (that nobody gives a shit about anyway).
Oh yes, I am stealing somebody's internet right here in college. Suck on it, medico bitches.

The travails, the travesty, and other such trash.
Ah, internship.

P.S.: The initial bit had nothing to do with anything. I just love Tyler Durden.

P.P.S.: Thanks for all the mail. I am, erm, good. How are you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

In which we tell many things mostly random.

While telling you all that I am severely blogged out, I realize I am also churning out posts at a regularity that could match Amitabh Bachchan's Friday outings.
Geez, the man should take a break or something. Or stare into a crystal ball or something. Wherein all will be white owing to his vision being clouded.
By cataracts.
Owing to him being ancient.
That the man should continue to act despite that Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom eye-vomit costume speaks of bravery that is well worthy of the Godrey Philip Award, but he must realize we, the poor audience, aren't quite in the same league.

So why am I, evidently minus the baritone, myasthenia gravis, 6-foot frame and the eye-vomitness of it all, forcing myself upon you unsuspecting people who had thought that the life of an online monkey was no more than a year?
It is in view of finding myself in situations that are far too absurdly idiotic for them to go without being considered thus by a hundred other people as well. Yes, I do need approval from random strangers that there is action in my life and that you are in awe of it. But then again, that is in direct contradiction to the well-accepted adage which when very succinctly put reads, Blogs happen when nothing else does.
Well, who said I was perfect?

What I am though, is a flower.

I am completely aware of the uber-mensch implications of the above line, thank you very much. But yes, that very line was told to an audience of awestruck individuals in the confines of the department of Emergency Medicine by a man we will henceforth refer to as Pig.
Now, why Pig? Why Flower? And why o why, Emergency?
There lies a story.

(Ooh. Look at me simulate curiosity)

So, I am in the village, right? Of Puttamma, of Growth Hormone, of Ragi mudde, the general rusticity, the specific scabies, yada yada? Now, what I am expected to at the end of my tenure there as an intern is to present a project, a Field Study to be specific, profiling a certain health issue hitherto not looked into, in the area I am working in.
So, what did I choose? Psychiatry. (Keep those wisecracks to yourself. No, really.)
So, what did I choose in specific? Psychiatry in Ob-G. (Now, let's see some).
Having thus come to a grand association of streams, the Monkey went to speak to Pig; Pig being porky (the wit, it burns) and a Professor in Community Health.
Pig looked piggishly and said, "Oink. Funtaabulous da, thambi. Oink."
"Gee. Thank you, sir"
"Okay da, now go to NIMHANS."
"Yes da, for your project. Go talk to hotshot epidemiologist there, and become hotshot yourself."
"Gee. Thank you, sir"
"Now run to mental hospital. Take someone along."
"Go man. Oink."

The project which was to be fancifully titled Evaluating the Efficacy of a Screening Tool in Identifying Risk Factors for Development of Psychiatric Illnesses in Antenatal and Postnatal Women in a Rural Area in South India or Some Such Shit That Seemed Longer, was spoken about with uninhibited gusto. The enthusiasm on the face of one of the interns involved was enough to give the sun the jitters and that on the other one enough to make a firefly feel like King for two decades. You figure who was who. Let's make it harder for you. The first intern wasn't me.

After this heart-piercingly interesting one hour, we decided we would make this visit to NIMHANS even more Damn-God-This-Is-Orgasmic interesting by visiting the most sun-filled and ever entertaining portals of the... Tuberculosis Sanatorium!

And just when I thought that the day had me so filled to the teeth with orgasms that if I opened my mouth I would only moan, I came up with a-nother grand idea to make this Day Out In Vegas a total Stripper Filled Sell-Out. Dean Martin, eat. your. slutty. heart. out.

I say to myself,
Hey, it's a bright sunshiny day.
Let's get stung by tons and tons of bees!
And look like Tun Tun threw up on me!

And that was exactly what I did.

Something buzzed in my left ear.
I vigorously tried to shake it off.
It wouldn't go.
I said Shit.
It still wouldn't.
I said Fuck.
It still wouldn't.
I said What the fucking hell.
It still wouldn't.
And then I finally thought I would say Oh My God, Help.
Which was when a bunch of them went into my mouth. Big Black Bees. At about that time, I panicked. Like my house was on fire. Only worse. Like I was on fire.
Which was right about the time I started running and jumping and shaking and screaming and yelling and hopping and howling and HOWLING. Meanwhile the dear friend that accompanied me said, "Shirt nikaalo, shirt nikaalo". Now, I am chased by a hundred bees. I could do with something covering me, right? Wrong. For, I took off my shirt. One of the side-effects of bee-stings is dementia. Or something. So, I took off my shirt. And the bees thought, Hee-haw more surface area. And took generous bites. Which hurt like mother-of-fuck.
Which was when I continued, in all my semi-naked splendor, with bees actively engaging in thinking of me as a pincushion, to run and jump and shake and scream and yell and hop and howl and HOWL.
There were about sixty people around me. A few just looked.
One of them laughed. The others guffawed.
It was just another day at NIMHANS.
Half naked guy running berserk, jumping flimsy barbwire compounds, and screaming Fuck-O-FUCK-O-FUUUUUCK, save me from this hell.

One kindly gent then flung a bed-sheet across to me owing to him getting terrible gag reflexes just watching my Somalian refugee phenotype. It was electric orange and had many Mickey Mouses on it. They all had broad smiles on, like Mickey Mouse generally does and I don't. Under the happy gazes of the sadistic electric orange Mickey Mouses, I finally got some alone time. And I examined self.
Not. a. pretty. sight.
I then looked for the places the bees got me.

The bees then buzzed off (Ooh). My friend, her of the great "Shirt nikaalo" suggestion (do you perchance have the hots for me?) scampered all over NIMHANS and got my keybunch, my mobile phone, my backpack, my shirt, my dignity. Wait, that hasn't returned yet.
The Casualty Ward in NIMHANS (which is surprisingly frill-free, no actually bloody damn basic), had terribly slow doctors, but one good nurse. She gave me a maha-painful Avil injection and said, Go oaf du yuver hawzpidul aa, deyy vil teyg gare (I know, they are everywhere and all that).

I was towed off to our hospital where I made the evening more exciting by swelling up grotesquely, getting rashes all over and throwing up blood. I also gave the Emergency Medicine staff a little bit hell by vehemently denying them any access to my veins. They got frustrated and poked me anyway. I contorted my face rather grotesquely.
Many friends came. They all laughed.
Many more friends came. They all laughed some more.
All the while I was swelling up and looking red and healthy, which was also when Amma turned up and said most excitedly, "Kempakke, gunDakke aagidaane" (He is red and fat, I like him perennially bee-stung).
The rash and the swelling would just not come down. So I stayed in the hospital where I wore the hospital uniform that would have made veteran Kannada actor late Vasudeva Rao look sexy in contrast. I also didn't bathe for three entire days which was like the best thing ever. Which means nurses coming in batches and giggling Bees, bees wasn't.

So were the following lines:
1. What were you doing among the birds and the bees?
2. What's the latest buzz?
3. Are you making a beeline for work tomorrow?
4. I'd make more jokes, but it would really sting.
5. But, bee positive.
6. Earlier you were just a monkey, now you can lay claim to an ape-iary.
7. Beauty and the bees.
8. Honey.
9. Thambi, you are a flower. (I had 40 odd hypodermic bee stings on me, sisters were poking pretty much every one of my veins, but that hurt.)

Anyway. Among other things -
- I turned a year older
- There was supraaais party in the village at midnight
- Then they all gave many many birthaday bumps
- Conducted many (okay 6) deliveries
- One of them delivered right on the hospital corridor
- One of the kids didn't cry at all, and our neonatal resuscitation kit in the village is from the 1920's, meaning it doesn't exist.
- Then I realized these kids were brand new fresh 2008 maal, and I from about the 1920's
- Shit I am old
- Bloody young kids with no PG Entrance Exams, no internship, no age issues and ooh-look-I-am-so-cute-I-poo-in-my-chaddies-and-suck-my-thumb.
- Shit I am old, like AK Hangal old.

To relieve this stinging depression, let's end with the Spunky Monkey guide to bee-ting the bees. (Aren't I just on fire) -

A. Don't go to NIMHANS.
B. Don't walk down the road even if you want to drink Goli Soda.
C. Don't ever say The Bee Movie sucked. Or that Jerry Seinfeld isn't really Ha-Ha funny.
D. Don't listen to your friends when they ask you to strip.
E. Especially when you are running from the bees.
F. Don't run from the bees.
G. Jump into a lake.
H. No, really.
I. Lie flat on the ground and close your ears.
J. Don't say Fuck and Shit and Fucking Shit.
K. Motherly characters around frown on you, and nurses throw looks of extreme disgust.
L. They won't throw clothes at you even if they were returning from the laundry with 100 fresh bedsheets.
M. If nothing works, HOWL.
N. Like HOWL.

That's it, really. I'm off to the village tomorrow, and it's rather late. Besides, you would by now have realized that the post has "yawn" written all over it, and "thought" pretty much nowhere.
Take care, and bee good.

And now, buzz off.


P.S.: How many are still reading this place? Let's find out...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Injessun kodi saar, baadi eet aaguythe - Part 1.

There was this ajji. Old, like very. With veins that popped out like cable wires, but ones so flimsy that to get an IV line through them is like solving Fermat's Last Theorem. Only worse. The theorem does not have troubles of double puncture and weird huge haematomas. Or may be us fresh interns just suck ass.

So we were all like sitting and generally being Ooh Aah about Ragi mudde and stuff. Then this ajji, quirky as hell and much loved for it, walks in, and we could hear her from like a mile or something. Cos she came with Acute Severe Asthma. And, she was chanting her constant refrain of the past 15 years - Yammo naan sattoyteeni, Yappo naan sattoyteeni. (Madam, I'll die off; Mister, I'll die off)

So, we were like Illa ajji, Illa ajji. (No dude, no dude)
And then she got worse and worse, and even as we were following the protocol, and even as I was checking her blood pressure, and even as we were talking about referral, she went silent. Like dead silent.
CPR didn't work. We saw some movement, but later realized that it was her kaddipudi (tobacco) sack obliging gravity. She had had it with life okay.
And then we were all like Shoot, Ajji illa, ajji illa. (Granny no more, granny no more)

So, we were like bummed out for a bit, and I was all like Shit, the fuck with this medicine bulljack, I will go become a hermit and attain enlightenment saying Aum.

And later that evening, this guy, nine years old with Growth Hormone deficiency walks into the clinic for his daily Growth Hormone shots. The size of a tittle mouse, and about as tall as your kneecap, he started dancing to Onde ondu saari, kanmunde baare (Superhit Kannada track from Sandalwood, with Golden Star Ganesh), facial esspreshuns and all.
And he was like Neevu maadi saar, neevu maadi saar (You also do, you also do) And then I was like No dude, full bummed out I am. And then he was like Neevu maadi saar, neevu maadi saar. And then I was like No dude, full bummed out I am.
And then I thought a mosquito bit me in my shin, and then realized it was this guy biting me in all exasperation.
And then I was also all Dayumn, Onde ondu saari, kanmunde baare. And then the kid got so happy that he jumped 3 cm in total joy.

And then I was all like, Shit, the fuck with this medicine bulljack, I will go become Bollywood side-dancer and attain enlightenment singing,
Ooooom Shanti Oooom, shanti shanti Ooooom.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Cat Who Sleeps Through Hiatuses

"Eyy, how's that radio thing of yours coming along?"
"Oh that. Let's just say that in the hierarchy of *insert radio station name here*, I am pretty much the Pluto."
"Baby! You got outed?"
"What? No!"
"Then, I am the asteroid that won't be named until 3400 AD."
"Why 3400?"
"'Cos that's when the Martians will first mate on that asteroid and then destroy it, 'cos it was all too hard? I don't know?"
"I wonder what Martian sperm looks like."
"Oh those Martians. They will reproduce by Sporing."
"Ah, interesting. But what of infidelity then? Paternity issues? Family structure? Those light blue eyes that popped out of nowhere?"
"Mars, will be a free society."
"Meaning open sex?"
"Yes, sex will be had, of course. But the spore-sperm - it will arise from the pineal gland and float upward and fertilize random Martian female engaged in sitting."
"Oh, the seed from the seat of the soul. Shiva's third eye. Shiva, whose symbol is a phallus. The lingam. A little too obvious, but then it's you."
"But why the female only? On Mars, why can't the male bear children?"
"Oh some things can't be changed."
"But there is the gender pattern intact; male, female, sex, sperm la dee da."
"Who said Mars would be boring? I didn't."
"So, random spore comes and hits random woman, and there would be baby Martian?"
"Exactly. And it travels real fast. Shoot, and you are pregnant"
"But you would have to be constantly naked for that to happen?"
"Oh yeah, a crucial thing. Mars will be a nudist society."
"Wait. Did the Martians evolve from Britney Spears and the Malayalees?"
"That, is a palpable possibility."
"But, if it's a nudist society, would pornography be an industry on Mars?"
"Touche. And shit! I don't understand why so much money is being spent on those Martian expeditions then."
"Say what is the point to space exploration anyway? I mean, you don't go looking for an identical sand grain on Kovalam beach anyway, no?"
"It's a deep-seated philosophical question, involving the human psyche's need for reassurance that they are not alone, so that it does not mind-bedwet."
"Baby, are you okay?"
"I ate the canteen Idlis"
"I know. Times, they are a changing."
"No sweetie, you still suck at science fiction."
"But you collect stool and urine of random strangers."
"And you sweetheart, live in a village."


"Amma, this rice is RED"
"And this is plain rice I speak of. You do sense some problem, no?"
"Oh, like that-a?"
"Like that-ay."
"Some Mantra-akshate rice got mixed ya"
"I am not eating. Throw maadi"
"Yow! Friday it is. I am not throwing Lakshmi-symbolic rice and all. And it is prasaada. Press it to eyes, say Krishnaarpanamastu and eat off. Red, white, what difference?"
"Mo! What you are doing kidding-a?"
"Shett it I say. What you want me to make? Those pidja-type thingsa?"
"Maa, this is vermillion. It will give me Minamata Disease, and cause my death, you know? Mi-Na-Ma-Ta!"
"Ree, I told you. He is talking about Meenu and Maata (Fish and Blackmagic). We've lost him, haven't we?"
"You have to over-react, no?"
"Really, all our tredishuns and cushtoms and culchur and habbas and haridinas and shaastra and maDi and mylige and aal that. We are The Last Of The Brahmins."
"Okay ma, I will eat. Just don't start the Brahminism Gaan With The Wind speech."
"You little chipmunk with muLL-handi (porcupine) hair, how much you speak! That too, now you are living in a village. You will not even get this red rice there!"


Yes, I live in a village.
Even beans smell like chicken and pork.
And everybody eats chicken and pork.
I don't eat chicken and pork.
The company I am forced into, it sucks.
Then again, any company extracted from the college populace would suck anyway.
But the village gives ample opportunity for "writing". It's all stored in the head. But the need to type it out to people has died. I do not know why.
For now, I have nothing left to say. Besides maybe,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who knew I'd last this long, and who knew there'd be a post this soon.

But there is a reason. It has been one year since I have been perpetuating and unleashing unheard amounts of mediocrity upon you all. Cat's Cradle, Spunky Monkey, venivididormi turn one today. (How cool is it that they all share their birthday huh!)
So yay!

The blog has been like a support system in its own way. Every time somebody jeered at me, or said something rude, I'd say to myself, "Say all you want, I will go back to my place where there are people that actually like me". You all. Thanks for making me feel happy about myself. I know all this sounds like a beauty pageant winner speech, but this will probably the most I will achieve anyway. Especially since that book deal hasn't come my way yet. Dang, what must one do to get one. Get a life, and have lots of sex, and write about it, you say. But should it be that hard?

The blog has given me very good friends and most of them don't think I am obnoxious. So, that's lovely. The blog has made me respect writers a hundred times more (Chetan Bhagat is not one). It has made me realize that I write crap, and that there is so much to learn from so much brilliant, understated, clear, concise and beautiful writing there is in the blogworld. So until we get there, we will call this exercise typing.

AND, haven't you been reading the blog? This is a notification post; the latest one remains this. Go read.

So blog, today you can walk a few steps independently, transfer a toy to the examiner and say 2-3 words with meaning. You are one!
Thanks for everything.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Do Medicoids Dream For Salaries To Leap And Pizzas To Be Cheap? Yes they do, yes they do.

So, anyway. I cower in my seat and hope for the baritone behind the wickerwork curtain to convince me all is not lost, yet.
Yes, I confess.

I do not get poetry.
When I read blogs that are full of apparently fantastic verse, I merely nod and say "Ahaa ahaa, that is some deep writing, that is. Who knew it even had meaning?!"
I do not get it of course. I do not understand all the fuss about Neruda, or Ghalib, or Walt Whitman, or Wilt Whatman, or WhateverTheFuckElse, merely because well, I do not, I cannot.

Especially when they,
in specific,
exotic Tamizh species like

Kanniyakumari Kalabhimanjari Kattabomman insist
on writing
With obvious dis
regard for rhyme and more
so for reason and most of
meter! Do you under
stand this?

I do not, I can tell you. No stand, certainly no understand. But that does not mean I do not admire people who can come up with verse like that. How cool must you be to put together disjointed words and make people believe you are all super literary. It must be the FabIndia clothes you wear.

I give you - I do not attend book release functions and ask insightful questions about the implied profundity in lines like,

The opossum.
It wept, but its
penis did not,
The tail however
did not either.


I do not wear thick glasses, and smile beatifically at wistful turns of phrases printed diagonally in sombre-colored hardbound editions of The Poetry Of Azerbaijan, Palau, Vanuatu And Whatzitsname.

And I almost certainly do not "hang out" in coffee places, Koshy's leading the pack, because I don't know, there's too much South Bangalore in me, or there's way too much Cantonment in them, or may be,
A. I do not have enough kurtas
B. I do not read Kafka/Yamanaka/Kawabata/Gabagaba or hold books by them in public places and wish I be seen because,
C. I did not go to Christ College/St. Joseph's.
D. God, the coffee there sucks.

So yeah. One way to shut me up, or insult me without having me know is to hurl abuse in verse at me. I will smile like the village idiot, like Virus Cama, and you will have your two minutes of fame. But that's hardly the point.

While we are at it, let's also discuss why being a Medical Student/Doctor is such a bitch. As opposed to being say, a Software Engineer. Or, a Corporate Lawyer. Or better still, a Head Hunter (the name, damnit, the name.)

[Aside: This will be a long post. And those who do not like long posts, or me, or long posts written by me may leave right away. But this is what I want to write, this is my political purpose. The same political purpose that Orwell talks about in his magnificent, magnificent, magnificent essay about Why He Wrote. I found the essay, thanks to her.
In retrospect, it seems like an epiphany. He talks about everything I would ever have wanted to say about why I wrote myself, but could never bring myself to, owing to largely non-existent writing skills.
(I still write anyway, but that's because I have an inexplicable God Complex that urges me To Create. Inanity is what is mostly created, but then I call myself Demigod - that's what Shah Rukh Khan is anyway.)
Before you proceed to read this tirade, please go read it, and just may be, it influences the way you look at your own writing.]

Now for the express political purpose of abusing bandwidth. I have of course already discussed why I chose to be a doctor and the slightly unhealthy situations involving halitosis and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome that ensue because of it, but here I will tell you how the society discriminates against us and snuffs any retaliation from our side by calling us Gods and quoting random lines from the Vishnu Sahasranama to quantify as much. The doctor crowd is of course pleased as hell and forgives all iniquities on the society's part (including alcoholic mobs going on rampages).
But I, am already God, and hence do not take this downright lying lying down.

1. In the beginning, there was CET.

There are far fewer seats for the medical course than there are for engineering. I choose the latter stream in specific, as these two are the only career choices for Brahmin Boys In South India. No, make that Any Human In South India. Hence, the tirade will be mostly concentrated in comparing and contrasting the two streams (comparing and contrasting being a grand favorite with question paper setters in the medical course).
Now, right after class ten, some of us got bouts of idealism. Mostly because one certain Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty operated upon a 12 hour old baby's peanut sized heart, and it lived, and the press went crazy, and your mum did too. And you did too. So you went ahead and chose PCMB (Biology) and realized that you cannot rely completely on a medical seat, and hence had to read Math with the same fervour, in the hope that you would at least land in some Gowda/Reddy/Shetty engineering college.
So, while wondering about the point that lay in differentiating only to integrate, you also wondered ceaselessly about Angiosperms and Gymnosperms and where exactly their penises were. All said and done, it also meant you had to study that much more, and attend tuition for another subject thus also threatening bankruptcy at home, as a result of which you had to make do with two not-so-square meals.
And you still went ahead with all this.
And four and a half years hence you have an epiphany whose background music is the Tata Indica jingle. Dumb da da di dumb dumb.

2. Then there was college, but not before some serious injury to your crotch.

Ragging, as a rule, is more severe in medical colleges. Since you deal with the anatomy of cadavers, it is only fair that yours be dealt with by somebody - is the seniors' theory. Fair you might say. But that rule somewhat does not extend to all other arenas. After all,
- you are not washing your patients' bikes
- or running far and wide to get cigarettes to your patients
- or writing your patients' painfully overdue practical records
- or SMS-ing answers to your patients while they are giving exams.
- And you are certainly not chased by rabid dogs when you went asking for money house to house because your patients wanted to organize a college fest.

Slightly out of logic, wouldn't you say? But then, this is medicine. Logic is killed in its very inception. Sorta like how the iPill works.

3. Then there were urine, feces, irate pregnant woman, irate pregnant woman's irater relatives, touchy kid who wouldn't stop crying, touchy kid's mother who wouldn't stop yelling, and you in the midst of it all.

After the pretty much all-explanatory heading, I still feel the need to add, which should tell you that much worse has been had.
Did I tell you of the old man that had a hydrocele (Water In Balls) who was an exam case and who would just not strip?
Or of the man in the OPD who insisted on euphemisms like "I'm losing a lot of my genes"? If you thought he was sleeping around too much and forgetting his jeans the morning after, you aren't too wrong. Only in this case, the man was sleeping with himself, and whenever he felt bored, he saw the need to "lose more genes" and now it had become a matter of routine to lose genes around 12 times a day.
If you thought all this was funny, wait till you present these cases in front of your professors. They'll pretty much strip you, and you don't even have a hydrocele damnit.

4. Amidst all this, there are also minor distractions involving hairloss, traumatic nailbites, concussions owing to banging of heads, dehydration due to much crying, et cetera.

And they are mostly centered around exams. It is a rather curious coincidence. Also extremely funny, because the medical exams are designed to be student friendly after all. I mean, see -
- There is no choice in exams as opposed to Engineering exams.
- The passing mark is 50 as opposed to 35.
- There are no breaks whatsoever between exams.
- Which generates a lot of prayers for the Prime Minister/Chief Minister's death during these exams.
- If you fail even one paper - theory/practicals - in the first year, you are picked off the batch and ostracized and be made a separate batch which is fancifully, not to mention sensitively, called The Odd Batch or The Irregular Batch.
- The first class cut off is 65% as opposed to 60%, and the cut off for distinction is 75% as opposed to 70%
- The number of pages for compulsory reading during final year is around a mere 7500 pages.
- Do you want more than these to consider this, one swell setup?

Really, I have long failed to understand why my friends whine so much about the inhuman quality of these exams, or about why so many of them have nervous breakdowns.
Clearly, giving exams in MBBS is quite a joy.

5. And did we talk about the money involved? Did we did we?

We did not. It costs a LOT. Let's not get into the specifics for I wish to not be depressed for more things than I am already depressed about. I will however say that the money that has been spent is a tad more than the GDP of Burundi, or one of those Micronesian Islands. As a result of which I have had to look for early alternative employment to prevent choking myself using those darned fee receipts. As if that were not enough, the post graduate courses are costly enough for you to voluntarily up the dose on your Appa's anti-hypertensives.
Let's not even go to USMLE. Unless you want me to come and lynch you, or rob you as may well be the case.

6. It is time we documented the breezy working conditions.

It is true that those boxlike glass-steel buildings do get hurt at times.
Like when? Like when Rajkumar dies. There was one, and he died, case closed.
But us, is another matter. Rajkumar may be only one, but pregnant women there are many. And sometimes they die. Just like that. One moment they are all "AAAAAAAAAA", the next they are not. Just like that. In some cases, they fall off the table; but let's just say they can die. Despite medical help.
The mob goes on a rampage and destroys most things in sight.

48-hour shifts, cranky consultants, crankier patients, crankiest relatives, collecting reports from across the campus, generally feeling like the scum on the seabed - breezy.
And you computer types, that central air conditioning can be a bitch at times, no? God, 23 degrees instead of 24.5 the other day must have killed you.

7. And damn, at the end of it all, they don't even send us to the US.

These IT types. See, I have lots of cousins who are in this typist business they fancifully call IT (Or that's what their mothers say to matrimonial agencies).
They must type real fast - they earn too much and wring their wrists one too many times. Whatever the reason for that one may be, I know one thing for certain.
They only shop retail. And must have only cornflakes for breakfast. And must also possess a black large Samsonite suitcase. Which must have a handle to pull it with. Specially in airports. Which have aircrafts parked heading to different places. Specially the United States.
And when they consume cornflakes for a meal, pack Chutney Pudi and Puliyogare Gojju in the black Samsonite suitcase, and pull it in the airport, and say at the check-in "Frisco" instead of San Francisco, is when the entourage of 20 that has paid 50 rupees each to enter the airport is fully convinced that he has grown to be a Complete Man.
"All those days when I used to wake him up in the morning at 5:00 for those KSR tuitions, and those times when he used to take those godawfully crowded buses to Vijaya High School... it all comes to a culmination here. Bhagavanta, nijvagloo eega kaNN biTTyappa neenu (God, you opened your rather lazy eye now)", goes the mother who has to be dressed in a red Kanjeevaram saree and who would have instructed every one of the members in the entourage to not dress in black, "no, not even underwear". A final smearing of vermilion from the Dodd Ganesha Temple near BMS College of Engineering (where you studied Electronics/Computer Science), you are ready to take on the world.
At that one moment, you can take on even Chuck Norris.
And win.

This never happens to us.
Should we choose to go to the US, the entourage comprises of three people including yourself. And the father will be chanting -
That house we all live in? It's in the bank. Just saying.
That house we all live in? It's in the bank. Just saying.
That house we all live in? It's in the bank. Just saying.

I can go on, but I am tired, as are you.

I know that most of you computer guys will be frustrated bald old cubicle animals with a 6-month pregnant paunch and a bad digestion problem soon enough, but at least you will be rich frustrated bald old cubicle animals with a 6-month pregnant paunch and a bad digestion problem.

I know that our standing in the society is far higher than yours will ever be (suck on it, chumps), but our first 800s will come by the time you have your first Bentleys.

I know that we can do the eyebrow-raising and the I-Save-Lives-What-Do-You-Chump saying, but really, we wish we could just save enough money to pay our mess bills.

I know that money isn't everything, but I also know that Jangamesh Bileekattematha aka John Blake can pay for his own pizza. Every night.

And into this situation have I landed myself. Call it informed ignorance or conscious cataclysm or such other alliterative allegories, but this be the fate I chose for myself.
So, while you shake your head in disbelief at the length of this post, the ranting therein and want to scream out a loud "Monkeyyy", remember now that you have to prefix it with a Dr.
Yes, discerning ladies and gentlemen, I am now Dr. Spunky Monkey.

The world did not see this coming.


P.S.: I barely managed to scrape through. The university is getting an earful.

P.P.S.: To not forget the intent of this post, us doctors (ah, will you hear me be smug) have a fucked up deal. Respect-shispect, I 21, gimme the moneys.

P.P.P.S.: My anonymity is a farce. Apparently some three new people know who I am. So long as they aren't from college.

P.P.P.P.S: I do this P.S. thing a lot, don't I? Sucks.

P.P.P.P.P.S: What are you waiting for? Go drop a comment.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rasik Balmaa and other stories.

Hello, Hindustan ka Dehradun? Hello?
Hello, main Rangoon se bol rahaa hoon,
Main apni biwi Renuka Devi se baat karna chaahta hoon.

Mere piya gaye Rangoon
Kiya hai wahaa se telephoon!
Tumhaari yaad sataati hai
Jiya mein aag lagaati hai... the first song I registered in my head as a Hindi film song. Yes, even before Ek, Do, Teen. The song is from a film called Patanga made back in 1949, and had caught my attention as a 3 year old because the song made delightful rhymes with words like Telephoon and June, Rangoon and Patloon.

Aji lungi baandh ke karen guzaara, hum bhool gaye patloon
tumhaari yaad sataati hai, jiya main aag lagaati hai

While I got none of the pant-forgetting love that the two shared across the border over a telephone, what I did get was that this was a song I liked very much. As also this other song that came to my notice during about 1989-90, called,

Afsaana likh rahee hoon, dil-e-beqaraar ka
Aankhon mein rang bhar ke tere intezaar ka

Years later when I tell the yuppie-crowd-with-the-Iron Maiden-shirts that surround me, that this song was actually sung by Tun Tun, or Uma Devi as she was known then, the spectrum of responses beats even the ones 2001: A Space Odyssey got on its release.
Some are awed; because the 70's to them is old, and 40's was the time Adam and Eve lived and they weren't aware that music existed then.
Some are nonplussed; they look at me and say nothing, but sport a look that screams "There is such a thing called life; we have one."
Most are just amused, and do nothing to hide it. "You listen to Porcupine Tree. And you are talking of a song by a fat comedienne from the 40's. Dude, what time are you from?"

I don't know what time I am from, but I certainly know what time these songs take me to.

They take me to a time we went to sleep listening to Chayageet and Aapki Farmaaish on Vividh Bharti, and wondering where or what this Jhumri Talaiyya was exactly and how poor it must actually be that its people had to write in incessantly to a radio station to play their favorite song. (And wondering who exactly named their children Bunty, Chintu and Pinky and if they managed to live through school without at least one attempt at slashing wrists, their own or someone else's.)

It takes me back to the time when we would wake up bleary eyed to grudgingly get ready for school, refusing - with all the defiance a 4 year old could muster - to drink milk, promising to not dirty the uniform by slinging mud at other kids, and listening most intently to a voice on Bhoole Bisre Geet, even as Amma was expostulating her own brand of catechumen ("Tumbaa thaley haraTe maaDbeDa, puTTa - Don't be too cocky, sweetheart" - how well she knows me that woman) while carefully parting the always stubborn (Brahmin-boy oiling notwithstanding) mop of hair.
Now I realize that the song I heard back then was,

Rasik balmaa...
Haaye, dil kyun lagaaya tose, dil kyun lagaaya?
Jaise rog lagaaya.

I remember asking Amma, "Amma, who is singing in that box?"
"That," she said, "is Lata Mangeshkar."
"Manga-na?" (Monkey-aa?)
"Adu neenu, eeg horaDu late aaythu" (That is you, chipmunk. Now leave, it's getting late.)

To a mind that was limited by vocabulary and oblivious to the adequacy of metaphors, the voice was cotton-candy good. It felt like coming down a big slide, or going upswing in a giant swing. In other words, it stayed.
Exhilaration as a word would take a lot more years to become part of my lexicon, but I can safely say now that, that was what I felt on a lazy weekday morning, with the ghoda-gaadi with its langda-chaacha fussing impatiently. (Did anyone else go to school in a ghoda-gaadi? I think not. Wait, my brother did too.)
That was probably where my tryst with old Hindi film music began. And like the voice that has defined it over 65 years, that too has stayed.

We are a family full of crazy film music fanatics. And temple fanatics. And Kannadiga pride fanatics. So much so, we were conditioned to do a full saashTaanga namaskaara if there came on television a picture of the Shringeri Sharada Peetham, or the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple, or the Raghavendra Swami MaTha in Mantraalayam.
Also, we were expected to stand up and show respect every time a picture of Sir M. Vishveshwaraiah turned up on TV, pinocchio nose-Mysore peTa and all. To Amma, he was everything she ever wanted her sons to be.
The ultimate Kannadiga symbol of pride, she would beam. (This despite him being a Telugu Brahmin - Amma's least favorite kind, and him having married four times, a most ghastly act in most Ammas' eyes). But nothing could or can shake her belief off the fact that Sir MV was the greatest Kannadiga ever. And the brother and I gladly obliged her by standing up for a moment every time the great man with the big nose was shown on TV.

To my 5-year old analytical self, this standing up and showing respect act extended to anybody I considered great. Like, great.
And so, Amma still tells all who care to listen, that her little son was so taken in with Lata's singing that he stood an entire half hour when a concert of hers was airing on TV. I, of course, choose to not believe her. I could never have been that stupid, being my line of argument. Which of course doesn't hold out for long, for mothers have amazing memories when it comes to letting the world know of the tales of half-their-chromosomes' stupidity.
"Aane mEle koorslilla antha Agra-ne egr hOgO haag kirchidde neenu, gotthaa?"
(Do you want me to start on the tale of you threatening to uproot Agra with that shrill cry of yours, just because you couldn't sit on a frikkin elephant?)
"Or the time you almost agreed to go as Gommateshwara for the fancy dress competition?"
"You have been stupid appa, Monkey boy. Just you say yes to whatever I say. Doing fancy MBBS from fancy college does not take away the fact that you were the kid that almost peed in his chuddies watching the Zee Horror Show."

Okay, may be she is right. And why not, I say.
Lata, despite whatever people might say about her deteriorating vocals ("She sings like she is getting a tonsillectomy done without anesthesia") remains the only one I have ever considered being close to perfect. Listen to any of her songs between 1947 and 1969, and the one thing that strikes you most is how effortlessly beautiful the singing is. It's like pouring hot wax into an intricate mold. It sets just right.
Be it her songs for such excellent music directors as Salil Choudhury, Madan Mohan, SD Burman or Sajjad Hussain, or mediocre ones like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji or RD Burman (HOW overrated is this one! Pah.)
Be it her excellent abhangas in Marathi or her path breaking Adhunik Sangeet in Bengali or her pitch perfect Meera Bhajans in Rajasthani, the woman has crafted each song with a felicity may be even she is not aware of.

Which is why, it is a little disconcerting when the 20-something crowd of today shows an Andekhi anjaani si or a Hum toh bhai jaise hain as an example of the "legendary Lata prowess" and wonders what the fuss is all about. "And the Bharat Ratna? For that one?"
Their apprehension, unfortunately enough, is not misplaced. If we, the self-confessed Lata fans continue to listen to her, it is more for an emotional reason than vocal, so to speak. It is in reverence to the woman who once possessed the best set of vocal cords that God ever created. For, we will never forget that it was Lata who gave us Mohe bhool gaye saawariya, or O sajnaa barkha bahaar aayee, or Kuchh dil ne kahaa, or Ae dilruba nazrein milaa or thousands others like these.

Through Lata began my understanding of Hindi film music.
The dholak beat became synonymous with Laxmi-Pyare,
convoluted but delightfully 'breezy' tunes swung the baton to Salil Choudhury,
easy-on-the-ears meant Chitalkar,
too-many-violins-too-high-a-pitch meant Shankar Jaikishan,
and so on.

The greatest accomplishment of Hindi film music as I have come to realize, is a position it and only it can lay claim to - that of furnishing a song to every human emotion known. The second greatest, as I now understand, is its innate egalitarianism.
For every Eena Meena Deeka, there's a Haal-e-Dil yun unhein sunaaya gaya. For every Jinga-lala-hoo, jinga-lala-hoo, hurr hurr, there is a song that makes most of words I have never understood, like AngDaayiaan, karvaTein, kashmakash (Is it some kinda dish, this Angdaayi, that every one is khaa-ing angdaayi?). It appeals as much to the masala-chai-sipping-Dostoevsky-discussing crowd as it does to the auto-driver-who-swears-by-Himess. I have yet to come across a kind of music that has enthusiasts belonging to a spectrum as wide and as varied.
(I agree "Hindi film music" in itself isn't a genre, but we talk broad categories here and it certainly qualifies to be one.)

It is imperative here that I tell you all that this is no isolated statement. I am very catholic when it comes to music (No maa, for the last time, that does not mean I am Christian and No, my name won't be Fernandees or Jaan or Jaarj).

MSS appeals to me as much as much Opeth does. I do believe In The Court Of The Crimson King is the greatest ever progressive rock album, and that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the best ever album, of any genre. I enjoy Iron Maiden as much as the next guy (not if the next guy is my brother, then no). I could hang posters of Ustad Amir Khan on my walls, and would pay to watch Susheela Raman perform.


if I were to ever consider a form of music to be after my own heart,
if I were to ever think of the one aural experience that has come to define my musical sensibilities,
it would have to be being lulled into sleep as a young child with the little black Philips transistor crackling a fine crackle, and singing,

Dheere se aaja ree akhiyan mein
Nindiya aaja ree aaja, dheere se aaja
Chupke se nainan ki bagiyan mein
Nindiya aaja ree aaja, dheere se aaja...

P.S.: This post is a direct fallout of my getting a job at a radio station that specializes in old Hindi film music and has some fun people to work with. So yay me!

P.P.S.: I realize the post has been most unMonkey-like and very self indulgent. So, you guys can fill the comments section by telling me a, your earliest memory of any music and b, your favorite Hindi film song (preferably pre-90's)

P.P.P.S.: I also realize how lame this is, but hey, cut slack maadi.

P.P.P.P.S.: And all you Pineapple Thief-ridden kewl asses, do listen to some of these "boring-no-electrical-guitar-and-GOD-no-distortion" songs. They will not give you an abscess in your butt. I promise. And even if they do, come to me, I will drain them. May be that will get you off your high horse.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fuming Crap and Tattoos on Buttcracks.

You know mornings? The beginnings of days?
They are dreadful.

You know what's even more dreadful?
Having to wake up; (even if it's only because the local temple poojari thinks Ganesha would oversleep if He did not listen to MS Subbulakshmi generating 130 decibels on a tape player that has survived Hiroshima.)

You know what's most dreadful?
Having to wake up in (to) a city that is increasingly reminding the Monkey of the birthplace of subspecies Oye Yaar Vot-Ijeet.

As if outsourcing its collective moron batch month after month in early morning budget airline flights was not enough, Dilli seems hellbent on establishing a more concrete relationship with Bangalore by outsourcing its much irritating weather as well.
Us Bangaloreans do not understand the concept of season, unless it is spoken of in the context of When did Phoebe get pregnant with her brother's triplets? (Season 4). See, we live in a thermostat, untouched by the Anemoi.
We would bring out the sweaters during the winter only to make the world think we too can feel the cold that one is expected to during the winter, and that we are not lepers with all our nerves eaten away.
We would do the cotton shirt-watermelon juice routine during summers, because May is supposedly an extremely hot month of the year. The truth of course was that the temperature would remain a brilliant 24 degrees Celsius throughout, occasionally hitting a mighty 30, which would have the early morning Grandpas conference near Arya Bhawan, Jayanagar reverberate with the tut-tuts of walking sticks, and conversations hinting at catastrophes.
"Mr. Krishnaswami, 30 degrees, can you believe it? The city has gone to the dogs"
"Absolutely Mr. Rao, the dogs you say? I would say hot dogs. Ha Ha Ha."
(See, they are also part of the Laughter Club whose sole purpose is to scare the mongrels away. And me.)

But now, is another matter.
Summers are hot, and winters are cold. And we so hate sticking to protocol. Especially one that is over-enthusiastically endorsed by the city of Oye-Yaar-Vot-Ijeets. The realization of the extreme cold happened when Appa refused to wake up even as the clock struck 8:45, and Amma asked Brother S to eat from the office canteen for five consecutive days. I, however, had my epiphany in the John. I should probably call it Jaan, or better still Janaardhan. For, we are huge fans of the Indian toilets. The weshtrun type, you pliss keep to yourself. It's unhygienic, uncomfortable and most of all unsatisfactory. The experience, for lack of better words, is.. unwholesome. AND, it is anatomically incompatible.
While the Indian version, despite being a tad difficult for those with redwood girths, makes the experience wholesome. (It's the pressure, I tell you.)
So, you know when I realized it was cold? I had studied the previous night about something regarding observation of crap and how many things can be understood by the exercise. So, I thought, I have crap. I will also observe.
And guess what I saw?

Fuming crap, damnit!

Like freshly baked buns. Fine fumes emanated. And I thought I was dying or I had the Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome or that I was dying or something. Then I asked a few representatives to observe their own crap, only the early morning specimens. And they reported similar results too. So, if I am answering exam questions, or better still, when I am writing my own book of clinical medicine (these days, everybody can), you sure know what I am going to include in the chapter Winter Season And Associated Afflictions. The patient may complain of fuming feces, especially during early mornings. It is no cause for alarm, and it does not mean that the patient has Gerstmann-Struassler-Scheinker syndrome.

So while we are at it, let's also talk about Amma's visit to a baby shower or Seemantha (NOT to be confused with Sobhana, which is First Night, okay?)
She comes back, all exhausted. Turns to me and goes,

"You like girls?"
"..with taatoos?"
"Like, what is the point of these things?"
"It's not like these taatoos are saying Om, Shree, Attilakkamma Devi. It's some halli (lizard) with fire in its mouth!"
"Whatever, I am dragging nothing. It's true ma, Spunky Monkey"
"So what is the point of these things, these taatoos?"
"Some people believe it is an expression of their personality, and integral to their being, and that it speaks a certain something about themselves, that they never could put in words"
"But why on buttcracks?"
"Oh that is for fashion purposes, Amma"
"At a Seemantha?!"
"It's kinda permanent Amma. You can't choose to take it a discotheque and not take it to a baby shower"
"It's permanent?!"
"Ha, for the most part"
"Rama rama, what will people think of her when she is 60, and goes to the Ragigudda Temple for the Hanuma Jayanti celebrations with a halli breathing fire on her buttcrack?
"A hip grandma?"
(While we were beaming about Amma not getting my terrible puns, she started yet again)
"These names. What sort of a name is Ni-ki-ta?"
"A good one?"
"Muchh baai (Shett up). Sounds like some China-Japan name"
"Russia ma? Remember there was the Russian guy?"
"China-Japan-Burma-Russia all same. What difference?"
"Yeah. Nobody can speak Kannada anyway"
"See, I am not telling that they should have long long names from Lalitha Sahasranama like Rajathaachalashringaagramadhyasthaa. That would be silly. But what is wrong with Himaachalavamshapaavani or Sree Varamahalakshmi, you tell me."
"You have a point amma, you know you are always right"
"Okay, what do you want?"
"Remember that guy Avinash, that B.Com type fellow who had colored his hair blond? I asked you that day for something no? To pierce my left eyebrow? And you said Yes, remember?"
"Haan, ma"
"Eyy, just you read that book full of grotesque pictures and do well in exams. Hubb chuchskotaante, sundaraanga. (Wants to get a piercing done, this chipmunk. I shall do nothing but cock a snook)"
"Say what you want, I am SO getting it"
"Pah, I have had it with you kids of this generation. Do whatever you want. Naraka only awaits you. Chitragupta is writing it all down, I will have you know. Taatoos, piercing, Ni-ki-ta, your brother's electric guitar, what not! AND we have that firangi wedding come this weekend. Sonykudi, changa-manga, oh-god. There's too much happening. I think I will go sleep. Rama, Raghavendra, kaapaaDappa. (Rama, Raghavendra, save us all)"

Later that night, we got a call from our Big Maava. His wife was admitted in the hospital with some back problems. This, only about a month after a new daughter-in-law came to their house. Since then, one decrepit grandmother has kicked the bucket, the Maava's son has had a near fatal accident, and now this. Last I heard, they were on a manic search for that astrologer who fixed the muhurta for the wedding and said, "Raayare, idu Raja Lagna" (Mister Maava, this muhurat is fit for the Kings").

Testing times these for our family.
And it doesn't help that the Monkey gives his final year's final exams a week hence.
Like Amma would say, "Rama, Raghavendra, kaapaaDappa."