Tag Archives: food

Annapoorna

Aai.jpeg

Annapoorna

“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

The Official Daily Murders In India

The Official Daily Murders In India
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
She was breathing heavily. Pale and weak, she could barely speak. The ghoonghat covered her head, but her single eye that could be seen had given up hope. She looked at me just as she would have looked at God, begging to save her, or at devil, begging to end it all.
20, pregnant for the third time, in her eighth month, she was on the verge of death.
Her in-laws and two daughters accompanied her. “She has always been weak. We ask her to eat well, but she does not like to eat at all. You fire her, Doctorsahab. Ask her to eat well. How else will the child get food? This is her third child”. Somehow, the emotional words of her mother in law appeared as dry as the moving appeals of a political leader.
“She will need admission. She has very less blood (haemoglobin) remaining, she may require blood transfusion. Where is her husband?” I enquired.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“He has gone for work. He said he will talk to you on phone”.
I asked them to call her husband immediately. She was admitted. They could not arrange blood, she was transfused enough to settle her heart rate and blood pressure. The obstetrician saw her simultaneously, and took over.
Her husband had a guilty expression, but did not talk. The mother in law took charge. “What can we do, doctorsahab? He has to go to work. We try our best to treat her well, but she is very slow. She was probably a laadli (excessively beloved) at her maika (parent’s home), now she cannot work. She does not even eat well. Who will do the work at home? My son married her with the normal expectation: that someone will take care of his home and parents, and give him a son. Now if she cannot do it because she cannot work or does not eat, what is his fault?”
“Does that allow him to kill her, his wish to have a child?” I asked her.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Millions of Indian girls, married too early and too deficient already, are forced through pregnancy after pregnancy for their socially expected “duty” of producing a son. Poor diet, low levels of iron and other essential vitamins, minerals and proteins push their health to the verge of extreme torture: pain, weakness, breathlessness and many risks to health and life. Such a health status of the mother also badly affects the child, and many children are born with defects that are rarely noticed until they grow up.
This shameful phenomenon is seen at all levels of financial status, literacy, or location. It takes less than five thousand rupees to correct the maternal nutritional status and maintain it throughout pregnancy. Many cheap and healthy diets are recommended. But the love and care for a woman that must come from the in-laws is lacking in most cases, and the society that is busy with black and white money, patriotism and other higher causes in life, does not have time to correct black mind sets: of owning the health and life of a woman.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Thousands of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, Medical Officers, Interns, Resident Doctors take it upon themselves to fight with this situation desperately: spending their own money, time and effort, in an ocean of apathy called social attitudes and administration failures. Hundreds of private practitioners and hospitals make available free treatments, counselling, investigations, consultations and other help for the pregnant women who cannot afford it all. All this is never acknowledged. Every OBGYN practicing in India, especially in rural India deserves highest civilian awards for doing far beyond their assigned duties. Instead, they are tortured by one-sided laws that presume everyone guilty of mal-intention.
There are many laws that the society can use against doctors. The Supreme court can appoint any number of judges on any big financial or other institutes and seal their accounts, suspend them, even call for midnight hearings. The government can meet overnight for special issues. But nobody has time to stop the “forced motherhood on deficient women of India” that causes thousands of deaths every year. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Do we have guts to make a law to make “Physical Fitness” of a woman a compulsory criteria before she becomes pregnant? Can the OBGYN society or IMA float a request for such a law, where it would be possible to punish the husband / in-laws for enforcing pregnancy upon a weak woman? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
What do you call such a society that kills starving women and their children by expectation?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Food, Sex, Addictions and Privacy: Seriously!

Food, Sex, Addictions and Privacy: Seriously!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

An old man of 82 was admitted in London ON once with stroke during his “regular” morning lovemaking with his contemporary wife. An accurate history and onset time is necessary so we can use a clot buster injection within 4 hours of onset. He qualified and eventually recovered too.

I was amazed at the calm, expressionless responses but courteous attitude with which everyone in the staff treated him there, the couple was never embarrassed by any of the staff or doctors. Upon discharge, the patient asked Dr. H, an authority in the world of stroke, with a cute wink if he could continue his “Morning routine”.

A smiling and about twenty years younger Dr. H replied he could, so long as he took the prescribed medicines, and joked with a return wink that he (Dr. H) envied the patient, making the patient smile!

A twenty two year old unmarried female student came for suspected Multiple Sclerosis once. “I smoke grass (marijuana) for recreation, doc. I also take oral contraceptives often. Does this affect my illness?”. Both her parents sat there without any change of expression, and did not interfere at all with any part of the consult. I couldn’t help remembering the contrast panic and beating up by parents in some of my Indian college mates I knew, whose only fault was stealing a cigarette from their Father’s pack! Also the whole-family-humiliation-screw meeting in which the traditional family-nerds irritatingly shine!

In India, people seldom relate correct history for the shame attached to it. I have witnessed some very embarrassing moments, when doctors (especially junior) openly, loudly ask sexual / urinary history or addiction details to the awkward patient, while their colleagues exchange blushed, meaningful and pregnant glances. This is an obvious turn-off, and whether it is sex, sphincters, alcohol or smoking, no patient likes “Open Questioning” about this without adequate privacy. Then too, people talk only if respectful dignity is offered by the doctor. One must ensure such privacy, but never miss to address this issue out of shame or embarrassment. A history of STD or HIV risk must be asked where important, with relevant but properly formed questions, without a condescending tone. Many doctors half the age of patients actually humiliate the patient in a hope to make him / her quit alcohol / tobacco / smoking. Such patients are irreversibly hurt by open humiliation, and this should best be left to professional / experienced counselors.

This is also why many patients (especially the older, less educated, depressed) who have had heart attacks, spinal cord problems, accidents, strokes etc. hesitate to ask a “Loud Doctor in Hurry” about physical relations and addictions. Some refrain from normal life out of unnecessary fear, which may contribute to their depression. If the patient feels embarrassed or awkward, it is the doctor’s job to reassure and address these issues. A pre-discharge counselling meeting is essential. Fortunately the younger and educated generations even in India are now quite open and frankly ask their doubts without feeling “unnecessarily” guilty.

Actually, every patient, rich or poor, deserves privacy for any health discussion. It is a sick scene to see patients in a queue in most govt. / municipal hospitals having to openly answer such questions in absence of proper space. Overworked and authorityless doctors are helpless here.
My internship days.
A civil surgeon (administrative post) took what we call “Babaji Rounds”: smiling, hand-waving rounds just to ‘show’ the patients that “I am the boss”, talking sweet to every patient and firing everyone among staff. Administrative rounds like these are medically useless, but some depressed patients feel good, and some good administrators correct the service deficiencies.

One thin built religious leader was admitted with acute shutdown/ failure of kidneys. No urine output. Blood pressure very high, we struggled to control it. When the CS came to his bed, the worried wife asked: “Sir, what should I give him to eat?
The CS beamed a big angelic laugh, patted on the back of patient and said aloud “Anything he wants.. icecream, fruit juices, milkshakes..”.
“Samosa?” asked the lady..
“Yes sure”, said the CS and told the patient: “Eat more if you want to get better soon”.
The patient touched his feet and said “You are like God Doctorsaab, my illness is half better just by seeing you”.

That diet would have killed that patient, had not our fuming medicine professor (after a caste based solid expletive for the CS) asked me to rush back and stop the excited wife from feeding all that to the patient!

The CS didn’t even know the condition, diagnosis, or other details. He never wrote anything on paper (Capital or Small in verbal instructions??), but could have severely damaged patient’s health, just by his careless advice under pretension of knowing what he didn’t.

Point:
Many unqualified people / quacks/ and some qualified doctors too advise via verbal instructions trivially. Patients blindly follow these instructions. Right from “Shudh Desi Ghee (Clarified Butter)” to herbals!
This is equally or far more dangerous than bad handwriting of a good doctor.

Advice about food, exercise, sex, work, posture, sleep, physiotherapy and lifestyle are all parts of the consult, equally important as the medicines. A good doctor’s routine will include this advice for every patient. Patients should also consult a specialist for their illness at least once in the initial stage, so he / she can plan out long term holistic plan and the regular general / family practitioner can follow it up.

Some patients take advantage and ask the same things repeatedly. In a busy clinic, a personalised printed advice can be given. In a crowded OPD, as in charity and govt. hospitals, a “general instructions for a disease” booklet will go a long way, or special group counselling can be advised.

Things are changing. Many newer generation doctors are making good friends with patients especially from their own age groups. Fortunately, even the youngest doctors still do not use colloquial phrases like “Aish Karo” (Enjoy to the hilt), otherwise some perfectionist patients may really follow it to the core!

Because “Chalte- Chalte” / hurried advice, however trivial, may prove dangerous.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande