“Everyone who enters our house must be offered water, a cup of tea, and snacks. If it is lunch or dinner time, offer meals. Never differentiate, be it poor or rich, friend or enemy, someone you like or dislike, offer them the best fresh food you have. You will always be happy when you feed someone. Also, never even tell a beggar that you don’t have food, it is already humiliating for them to have to beg for food”, she taught us. She scrupulously followed it herself.
My mother, Dr. Usha Kalidas Deshpande, insisted that no one should ever be hungry.
In spite of herself being a fulltime professor who was much involved in teaching, whenever I returned from school, she was usually available to make hot fresh poli / chapattis and my favourite curries. Dinner, as a rule, was almost always made by her. She remembered the food choices of my father’s friends, their students, my friends etc., and often cooked something quickly for them to eat whenever they visited.
“A man who does not sometimes cook for his family cannot fully understand his woman”, she often said. My father fully supported her views and sincerely attempted to cook till we all told him that he can instead take us to a hotel. He was happy, and so were we! (Although he made delicious omelettes!)
Mom taught me to cook too, right from making chapattis (of course the first few I made were disco chapattis). This immensely helped me in later life as a single parent, as I could often cook things that my kids liked (at least the poor boys said so then). Needless to say, we follow the food / host rules set by mom at our home even today. I loved the “Poli / Chapatti / Paratha” made by her so much, that when she passed away, gave up eating these.
Today is her birth anniversary.
Every year that she was alive, I had asked her “What would you like for a birthday gift?”. From the time that my salary was 1250 INR per month as an intern till two years ago when I could get her anything she could wish, her answer never changed: “I have everything, what else can I want?” with a smile! She was never fond of any jewellery, luxury or show off, so we always wondered what to gift her. Now after she has left us, we have finally found the right gift for her.
We (my sister and myself) have decided to start a new tradition in our mother’s memory: annadaan / food donation, whereby at least one hundred people will be served complete meals on this date at a center near Pune.. My children have gladly agreed to continue this tradition after me. Anyone from any religion / caste / age will be served, the only preference will be for the really poor and sick.
It is said that one should never speak about anything that one does for anyone else. I am guilty of that crime here, but the only reason to write all this is: most of the mothers feed their children along with their friends too with this same love. If this motherly bliss is passed on, also including those who really need to eat well, those who do not get to taste a complete meal every day, it will be a real tribute to one’s mother and a tiny return of what we received from her. One can of course always choose the form in which to remember one’s mother, I have chosen this, and felt like sharing it for my close ones as well as for those who knew my “Annapoorna” mother, Dr. Usha Kalidas Deshpande.
Dr. Rajas Deshpande
16th May 2017
White Paper of a Doctor’s Dilemma
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Sir, I come from a family of doctors, who have always practised high values in Medicine. There was always this burning desire in me to do good. I felt that the country needs young doctors who are willing to work hard. but somewhere something inside me has changed. Now, with the on-going assaults against doctors, this clinical establishment act in West Bengal and in general the distrust and anger the public has against doctors, it has suppressed my older self. So much so, that I’m considering going to the USA now, even if that means doing residency all over again. I see my batch-mates and friends who went to USA after MBBS, really happy, earning well, enjoying holidays with friends and family. I do not envy the work part, I will always choose a day in the Operation Theatre rather than at the movies or hiking.. just that slowly my main motive for becoming who I am today is fading away.”
What a heartfelt question, a dilemma not only haunting me, but many doctors, especially from the younger generations, who started out to do something good for the country, have been dynamic, brilliant and hard-working, and now want to leave India!
Dear Dr. S,
Firstly, yes, the times have changed. Doesn’t the first page of most standard textbooks teach us: “Medicine is an Ever Changing Science”, now we must add the external scenario to this. We must change accordingly. Add laws, add medically inept judiciary, add media, add too many impractical conditions of practice where among the two sides involved in a profession, only one is legally answerable. I should write a prescription not of the best medicine I know, but of the cheapest one. In the face of lost faith and partial law, no relationship can be very cordial. Nor can any empathy be forced for a patient who suspects the doctor of wrong intention or inadequate skills. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Given the increasing number of Google empowered pseudo-literates and even genuine illiterates who are now questioning every medicine prescribed, every test advised, not because of curiosity but in an obvious visible distrust, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep patience with practice. The combination of a western/ over-legalised medical service with a free-monger society, where instead of education, science, research and health, the taxpayer is happy paying for corruption in almost every sphere, lifelong deluxe travel, food and living expenses of everyone who has been elected even once to almost any civic body, no one wants to think logically about why there is healthcare failure in such a huge country that generates such high taxes.
Recently a headline about “Doctors prescribing costly medicines” hit the media. Why doesn’t the government make available free / cheap healthcare for everyone? Make all medicines free at all government hospitals. Why expect those who invest decades in making a medical career and then practicing under loans to keep on working with minimum incomes? Why aren’t there any laws against the corporate hospitals? Why don’t the same politicos speak about some of the capitation fees institutes that generate trillions, and also allow the quality of the medical education to be compromised? I wish the prime minister also says some day that we will make all medical education free for all merit holders, because the country needs more doctors. Why make it difficult at both ends for the doctors? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I can also be a high handed hypocrite and advise you the humbug: that a doctor is a social servant, that a doctor must only choose to live the life of a saint and never think about earning or a decent / luxurious life, that the society needs you etc. We live in a society where while searching for a groom, every father’s first question (if not the bride’s) is “How much does he earn?”. The stupid thought that a doctor should not earn a profit for his talent and hard work is redundant. If the society needs good doctors, it must also learn how to remunerate and treat them. It should also learn not to generalise that every doctor is corrupt. It should be intelligent enough to know that medical care can neither be free nor can be entirely based on charity or profitless structure. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
But our society is far away from understanding this. The “High” of hate and criticism drives mobs berserk in the land of logicless thinking, and we Indians lead this game. To be opinionated by media and illiterate politicos and speak without studying is the sign of a degrading time. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
My dear friend, I will be honest with you. Ten years ago, I strongly felt I should return to India and serve people. I doubt it now. I have urged hundreds of students to return to India after their higher medical education in the west. Now when some doctor is beaten up, killed or tried by media before law, I don’t feel justified to urge anyone to stay here.
You have only one life, and living it fully, enjoying health and peace of mind, joys of living is also your duty to yourself and your family. Are you inclined to do social work without recognition, with allegations and trials, in a society that refuses to respect a good doctor? Are you inclined to let a “Social change in the attitude of public over decades” take effect, by which time your career / life will be almost over? Are you ready to be tried by the media, taunted by the court even before being proven guilty, and punished by those in power, not because you are wrong, but merely to please people? Are you prepared for a scenario that even if you do 50 years of cleanest practice and save thousands of lives, when you are blasted all over the media for your first mistake, not a single patient will stand up and say”This is a good doctor”? If so, stay in India, this country really needs very good and honest doctors, even though it cannot respect or trust any. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
In this country without a healthcare vision for the future, this is indeed a sinking ship, with opportunistic invasions not only from various unrecognised pathies, but with a society that is increasingly destroying the possibility of good healthcare for all in future, in its quest for free, and cheap, under the threat of violence.
If you want peace for yourself while doing good to the society and earning well at the same time, choose a developed and civilised country: at least payments are better, you get time for yourself, the law looks at both sides, and politicos can be questioned. You can also fund some health charity in India from your earnings there. Last but not the least, no F. B. will raise a hand upon a doctor, and still will be justified by law, media or government.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Please Share Unedited.
The Music Called Life
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“What prize do you want”? My father asked me after I finished my tenth standard exams well.
I was desperately awaiting that question, knowing him well.
“A Sony Walkman” I replied almost instantly. I got one, the most basic Sony model, and lost myself for weeks in the stereophonic effects, collecting songs and recordings that had best quality. Right from the scratchy sound at the beginning, made by the record player needle-tip on the record disc, to the realization of different soundtracks on right and left, with separate sounds of each instrument. One favorite hobby was to select and follow only one instrument from the whole orchestra throughout the song.
Besides the music of MJ, Madonna, Beatles, the Indian stereo effect songs were a pleasure too. Ye bambai shehar haadson ka shehar hai (Kalyanji Anandji) and Pag Ghungroo Baandh, Thodi si jo pee lee hai (Bappi Lahiri) had the best stereo effects from the headphone. Kishore Kumar, Lataji, Lionel Richie, Cliff Richard, and Bee Gees became addictions. The collection grew enormously.
A cousin returning from the USA bought himself a Bose audio system, I was 18 then. I remember arranging the exact angles of the speakers, all directed towards one single chair at the center of the room, then taking turns to listen to “How Soon Is Now” (The Smiths). The strong wish that I must own the best music system for myself, make a music room in my home dawned that day, and is still thriving within me.
Much later, on a birthday, returning after ward work, I found a huge parcel at my hostel door, and the watchman told me that a fan had left it there. I had told some friends how I loved “Experiencing music”. Opening the box, I found the most advanced 8 speaker Panasonic music system, the home theatre one. That was one of the best gifts I ever received. The effectiveness of listening to music as a treatment for one’s negative moods is beyond question. I feel that good singers , those healers of soul, are better doctors than many medical degree holders,as their love songs and happy songs cure many a sad minds. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Recently when I listened to great music all the night with a very precious friend, a beautiful soul who understands that each instrument and even the voice of the singer has a different expression, other than the lyrics, who can feel music imprinted upon blood just as I do, I realized what I was missing in life. With this friend, the hear beats of life have become stereophonically audible again to me!
Technology has started drowning music into sounds, taking out meaning to be replaced by sound effects, we have almost lost the appreciation of the intricate fineries of meaningful music. The true feeling of listening to music is much like being underwater, if at all to compare: unless you drown yourself in it, you don’t feel it right!
Talking to patients, students, colleagues, this thought grew into a major revelation: we are losing our fineries not only about music, but also about feeling out other people: near and dear ones as much as strangers, both can have so much more meaning than the “bodies and words” that men and women have become now! There’s so much beauty in almost every human being who dares to preserve individuality without either copying anything or looking down upon anyone else.
An alert, feeling, self-aware mind that dwells upon the here and now is the best song nature has ever sung to me: and also the highest state a human mind can achieve. Unfortunately, we are lost in the digital-technology jungle, and take pride in either losing ourselves, escaping or running away from ourselves, or searching ourselves outside our own conscious reality. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I have decided for now: that I want to live this music experience without compromising: I want to to feel every bit and piece of the music that life brings to me, through songs and their lyrics, through the rains and the sun, through eyes, touch and silence, and above all, the resonance that it generates within me.
Only Love can match the beauty of good Music.
For the music called life is never sad, and I want to always walk towards a happy inner peace.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande