Thursday, December 27, 2007

To hell and back - The 2004 Tsunami - Epilogue

Some people I met after the tsunami tell me how lucky I am that I was part of a historical event. Excuse me! I would really have liked something less unnerving than a tsunami to be part of history.

Seriously the whole experience was so scary that no one can ever wish for something like that.

And personally for me, the tsunami marked a turning point in my life. A few months after that I had an infection in my PD exit site. This infection marked the beginning of the end of Peritoneal Dialysis for me. The infection subsided with antibiotics but resurfaced a few weeks later. The exit site infection graduated into a tunnel infection. The PD tube was repositioned. Did not help. Eventually I had peritonitis and had to discontinue PD forever.

And with PD was gone my independence. My ability to travel meaningfully. My freedom from fluid restriction. My freedom to eat whatever I liked. Nocturnal Home HD is good but not as good as PD. PD was a completely unshackled life. NHHD is like having one toe chained!

Was all this due to the tsunami? No one knows. They argue saying the infection started 3 months after the tsunami. So, it cannot be. I don't know why it happened then.

Globally too, odd weather has been observed after the tsunami. It snowed in the Middle East. There were floods in Rajasthan's deserts.

I have no idea if all this related. Maybe its all due to global warming. Is it time for us to become really serious about the issue? Is our existence at stake?

Do we need more than a Nobel for Gore and Pachauri? Do we need some more action at the grassroots?

The big countries discard theories suggesting that we're nearing doomsday. The problem is that these things cannot be proven. But don't we see a pattern emerging?

The stakes are too high for us to ignore the warnings.

A few weeks after we got back, we had a small party at my house. We played TT, laughed and joked about the whole thing.

From left sitting on the couch - me, Venkateshwar, Pushkar and M V Krishna; Pavan on the floor

I guess there was a bond the five of us had formed for life. We might go our own ways through life's twists and turns but we will never forget those hours we spent together on the beach of Mahabalipuram.

To hell and back - The 2004 Tsunami Part 3

It looked like the water was less violent by then. Everyone except me went back to the room to try and salvage what was left.

All this while, we were thinking that this was something very local, something confined to this resort, something that was at the most confined to a kilometer around where we were.

We had no inkling that this was one of the worst natural disasters to have hit mankind.

The resort staff was in total disarray. People were shocked. No one knew what had happened. The gushes of water and the receding continued but with a much lesser force. We went to the resort owner's cottage and kept our stuff on the 1st floor and went and sat on the terrace unsure of what would happen next.

After a while, Pushkar and Venkateshwar went down to try and assess the situation and decide on what to do next.

They came back after a while and told us that our taxi driver had parked the car on a road that was high enough for the water to reach. We decided that we would go to the car and head back to Chennai.

In the meantime, we slowly learned that similar incidents had happened in Chennai too but the main city was safe.

We went down and took our stuff and walked towards the exit of the resort. To do this we had to actually almost swim across a large pool of water that had collected between the road and our side of the resort.

We finally got into the car and started out. We were advised by the locals to take the old Mahabalipuram road since parts of the new one were inundated.

On the way we saw a lot of panicky people.

We reached the city of Chennai in a few hours. On the way we called our folks at home and told them we were safe. We drove straight to Apollo Hospital where there were no signs of anyone knowing what had just happened. A couple of relatives came there. We got first aid at the casualty ward, had some food at a restaurant and then went to a relative's house. There, during the course of the day, through the television news reports I came to know the magnitude of the damage that had been caused in so many places.

I took the evening flight to Hyderabad exactly a day after I started out. Those 24 hours were probably the most eventful I would ever have had.

Epilogue

To hell and back - The 2004 Tsunami Part 2

We woke in the morning at around 7. We stepped out of our rooms and were chatting about nothing in particular. We then decided to have a quick breakfast and get ready, sit on the beach for some time and then head out.
The lull before the storm - a picture of the sea about half an hour before it rose


Unknown to us, the tsunami had struck Indonesia by then and wrecked havoc in many areas. Thousands had already died and many times that number were homeless.

We obviously did not realize that the mother of destruction was heading our way. Blissfully we went about our morning ablutions excited about the day ahead.

I ordered an Idli for myself, finished my Peritoneal Dialysis exchange and was watching TV. MVK came down and was fiddling with the camera. After a while, he went to his room to get ready. Pushkar went to take a shower.

Suddenly, water came into the room from under the door. I did not know what to make of it. I just shouted out to Pushkar. The first gush was barely a centimeter deep. The water went back as fast as it came in, only to be followed by repeated gushes, each bigger then the earlier one.

By then Pushkar came out, wrapped in a towel and we were both wondering what the heck was happening.

Thoughts crossed my confused mind trying to make sense of the situation. I had heard the previous day that this was a full moon day and was wondering if the tide was a little stronger than usual due to which the water had come this far. I was puzzled why no one at the resort had warned us about this. I thought this might be a regular occurrence and the resort management did something stupid by not telling us.

Pushkar made his way towards the door. By then we were both neck deep in water. The room door was closed. The pattern of the water continued. Huge gushes of water inward and then a surge outward. The pressure of the water was intense.

We still had no idea of what was happening.

Pushkar forced the door open and was petrified with what he saw. As he would describe it to me later, he saw a huge wall of water coming towards us.

He slowly made his way out of the room. There was a window next to the door that had a concrete cover. He shouted out to me to get the hell out of there. I slowly walked towards the door. It was quite difficult. The inward gush of water forced me backwards. The outward gush took me towards the door but shut the door too. I glanced to my side and noticed the television set, refrigerator and cots bobbing up and down in the water.

Was this it, I wondered. The last way I wanted to die was by drowning. Random thoughts crossed my mind. The risk of infection of my exit site (the point in my stomach that had the dialysis tube going in), the dirty water I had ingested, everything was scary.

The next time the water came in, the door opened and before it could close with the outward gush, I put my left leg in between to prevent the door from closing. I then forced myself through the doorway and managed to get out of the room. Pavan and Pushkar helped me and pulled me out. Slowly we made our way to a higher piece of land and caught our breath. In the next few minutes Krishna and Venkateshwar also came there.

I learnt later that Venkateshwar was outside the room when the water came towards us for the first time and instinctively darted away from the water. The surprising thing is he did not even get wet!

Pavan and Krishna had had a harrowing time too.

Part 3

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

To hell and back - The 2004 Tsunami Part 1

I got an email from M V Krishna this morning addressed to Pavan, Pushkar, Venkateshwar and me wishing us a happy 3rd anniversary. It struck me instantly that today was December 26th, exactly 3 years after the tsunami of 2004 in which the five of us were caught and escaped miraculously.

The email brought back memories of that day and the days preceding it.

It was nearing December end - a time when there is not much work happening in office because most of our clients are off for their annual Christmas break. Some of us wanted to go to some place for a few days and chill.

Unfortunately, we had not planned in advance and because of that many places like Goa were ruled out. Travel bookings were also increasingly difficult. Accommodation was even more difficult to get.

Finally, an uncle in Chennai managed to get us 3 cottages at a resort in Mahabalipuram for the 25th, 26th and 27th nights. 6 of us - Pavan, Pushkar, Venkateshwar, M V Krishna, Srikanth and I were supposed to reach on the 26th night and Uma and her kids were to reach the following day.

Unfortunately Srikanth met with an accident on the 25th morning and had to drop out at the last minute.

The rest of us set out and reached Chennai late in the evening. We took a taxi and headed out towards Mahabalipuram. We toook the picturesque new Mahabalipuram road which ran parallel to the East Coast of the country. Even in the night the sea was beautiful. The strong waves, the pollution free atmosphere and the great weather had all our spirits up and we were looking forward to the great time we were going to have.

I remember making a comment. I told the other guys that however much fun we would have, we would tell Srikanth that he was lucky he did not come because we did not have any fun at all so that he would not feel bad at missing the trip.

I did not realize at that time how prophetic my words would turn out to be.

We reached at around 9 in the night I think. We checked in to our rooms. To our delight, we were given rooms right on the beach. There was sand under our feet as we stepped out of our room. We freshened up and went to the open air restaurant. We finished dinner and then went to relax at the beach.

There was a row of reclining chairs which we sat on and were laughing and joking for about an hour. We planned for the next day. We would come back to the beach the next morning after getting ready, spend some time there and then go over to the Mahabalipuram city and do some sight seeing. I had learnt about the Shore Temple and the Pandav Rathas during my school days and was looking forward to seeing them.

We then went over to a table tennis table and played for some time. It was probably around 2:30 in the night. We were all quite tired by then. We decided to call it a day and went back to our cottages and tried to get some sleep. Pushkar and I were in one cottage and Pavan, Venkateshwar and MVK were in the neighbouring cottage.

The tiring day and the fun and games we had just had were taking its toll. Sleep was our master in a matter of few minutes.

Unknown to us, a few thousand kilometers away, a few thousand meters under the sea, nature was planning her next revenge against mankind for taking her for granted. Two pieces of earth slid past each other unleashing great power from within. This caused the displacement of a mind numbingly large amount of water which started making its way to land at a huge velocity, with a huge amount of force.

Part 2

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I like IndiJoes despite...

... having to wait for about an hour to be seated at the lunch buffet
... having hardly any vegetarian dishes at the buffet
... the ladies, at the table we were supposed to be given, taking half an hour after the bill was presented to get up
... the unpleasant sizzler odor filling the entire restaurant

Monday, December 24, 2007

Baba Ramdev and legions of his fans

A silent revolution is sweeping the country these days. Scores of people in city after city are rising at 5 a.m. to attend the 'Yog shivirs' of Baba Ramdev.

What exactly is different about this swami? Why is he so popular?

People swear by his pranayams, other yogasanas and his herbal and ayurvedic medicines.

A lot of people have apparently benefited from his remedies. And he mostly recommends only pranayama - a simple, effective and free therapy that promises to cure problems from cough and hair fall to cancer and hepatitis.

How genuine are these claims?

In his daily television program on Astha, we see a large number of people testifying that they've been cured of a variety of illnesses only by Pranayama.

Swami Ramdev himself claims that lakhs of people have been cured and there is a book that has chronicled many of these instances with laboratory reports before and after practicing pranayama.

The swami is strongly opposed to multinationals entering the country and is dead against junk food ('burger yaani barbaadi ka ghar') and sodas ('thanda matlab toilet cleaner').

My grandmother is a huge fan of the baba. She does not miss watching the program every single day. She participates in any discussion on the baba and vehemently supports him. She gushes with appreciation for his oratory and simplicity. Being a chronic diabetic however, I often wonder why she does not try the baba's solutions for diabetes!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Cola flavor

I've often wondered about the cola flavor.

I always thought that the cola flavor was not based on any natural flavor and used to pay glowing tributes to whoever invented it. I kept saying that the inventor of the flavor really deserved appreciation because he invented something that beat every natural flavor when it came to soda based drinks. Worldwide, colas top the list when it comes to consumption of sodas.

Unfortunately, that was not accurate.

Not many people know that the cola flavor comes from cola nuts, a species of trees that grow in the rainforests of Africa. I myself realized it when I googled this.

I am really a cola guy and love guzzling down bottle after bottle, the harmful effects notwithstanding.

For the record, Thums Up is my favorite. I find Pepsi too sweet and Coke too 'mediciny'!

Xylocaine Anesthetic - an oxymoron

Most people on dialysis use Xylocaine which is supposed to be an anesthetic before cannulation.

This is because the needles used for dialysis can be quite painful. So, before putting the needles, a small amount of Xylocaine is injected into the site where the needles need to be put.

So far, so good. The problem is that the Xylocaine itself is quite painful! Granted that it reduces the pain that would have otherwise been there if Xylocaine was not used. But why would something that is supposed to reduce the pain cause pain itself?

I read somewhere that ultrasound waves are being tried with some success for local anesthesia. I wonder how that research is going. Let's hope we see some good results soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Religious fundamentalism

I don't have anything much to add to this topic after all the discussions, opinions and debates we have heard in different media. But I read something interesting this morning in the newspaper.

Sania Mirza, the tennis player has come under fire from the Muslim religious heads because she entered a mosque in jeans and a T shirt. They compared her to Taslima Nasreen and said that their likes are doing these kinds of things intentionally to insult Islam. This is preposterous.

I don't want to argue on whether that was wrong or right but let's assume what she did was wrong. Do you really think she would do it to insult Islam? Why on earth would she do that?

And even more preposterous is this: A Hindu organization from some other state (I forget which) has come out in defense of Sania! What has this incident got to do with the Hindu organisation?

We have fundamentalists in all religions. People who just want to give a religious hue to everything. Without thinking. Without realizing what the consequences may be. What are they trying to achieve?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Looking good

I have realized over a period of time that looks are important. Good looking people generally have a better deal in life.

People are more likely to listen to what good looking people have to say. In a job interview, a good looker is more likely to get the job.

I have also seen some newspaper reports of research that proves this.

All this, I believe is sub conscious. Unfortunately. If it was being consciously done (of course, there are cases where it is being consciously done, but that is not what I am referring to), it is relatively easier to correct. But if it is not being done intentionally, the individual being biased does not even know he/she is doing it.

And this has nothing to do with gender related attraction. A (straight) man is as likely to be biased towards a man as a woman.

I have myself experienced this many times. Many, in my office are biased towards better looking people at different levels.

I myself might have exhibited this trait some times. Again I'm not consciously aware of this but it is possible.

The mind, as I said before is amazing in many ways!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's in a name?

I always thought my name was easy to pronounce.

Alas! I was wrong. I never realized how many different ways people could find to pronounce my name.

It started in Class 5 in school where teachers would call me Kamaal. It so happened that in the batch before mine, there was another guy who was called Kamaal even though he spelt his name Kamal.

Things became worse at work. But only with people from the US.

Margie called me Kemaal. For Kevin Shea, its Kaamal.

Danny Kao from Apple calls me Camel. Shucks! Can't complain though!

I often think that with a name as simple as mine, you get so many variations, what must be happening to someone with a name like Namboodiripad?

Noodles with tadka!

We've got a Rajasthani cook these days.

She's very good at traditional stuff. She makes very good gatte ki sabzi, dal bati, kadhi etc. One day my mother asked her if she knew other stuff. She said she knew Chinese dishes like noodles, fried rice and sweet and sour vegetables.

So, we thought let's have a change and asked her to make that for dinner.

When we sat down for dinner, we realized to our horror that she made noodles with a tadka! The fried rice had haldi and kaju!

We learnt our lesson that day. Stick to the tried and tested with this lady!

Sultan Sherbet at Sahib Sindh Sultan

Sahib Sindh Sultan is a restaurant belonging to the BJN group at City Center on Banjara Hills Road No. 1.

I went there a few days back. Getting a reservation is really difficult unless you go at an odd time. I went there with my brother on a Sunday at 12:15 in the afternoon.

The food is really great but what took the cake was the Sultan Sherbet.

It is a drink made of saffron and sandlewood with a hint of lime. Never before have I had a drink with these flavors. I am generally a mocktail guy and love trying out drinks with different ingredients. But I've really never had anything like this.

The drink is really refreshing. Each sip leaves you energized. The taste is so purifying that you feel an aura of spiritualism enveloping your senses.

Try it. You will love it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

When lightning strikes

I have been thinking about Pavan Joshi these days.

Pavan's story has been very similar to mine. He's probably around 8 years younger than me. Struck with kidney disease at a young age. Both of us were in our early twenties when our kidneys shut down. Both have had a failed transplant. Both then switched to PD after the transplant. Pavan of course, has just started PD while I did about 8 years back.

When I hear his story, its deja vu for me. Except that a lot more stuff has happened since I started PD. The tsunami, the infections and the switch to home hemo.

When such a thing happens to you at such a young age, it can be very difficult to deal with. Your whole life can change in a way that nobody can ever imagine. Only people who actually go through this themselves can ever realize the whole gamut of issues a person in this position has to go through.

Your plans for life, your dreams, nothing is now the same. Just when you were about to start your life, a cruel twist in the story ruins everything.

There's another guy I know whose kidneys packed off at a young age. Chaitanya. He used to dialyze in KIMS too (just like Pavan and me). But he was lucky enough for his transplant to be successful. Really hope it lasts forever.

But for guys like Pavan and me who have to live continuously with the compulsion of dialysis, life is very, very different from the lives of people at that age.

Everything you do, everything you think, your whole life is dictated by your dialysis. You have to factor this in in everything. Fortunately, we are seeing improvements in treatment outcomes and the quality of life especially for those who do PD and home hemo. But there's no denying that you have to make compromises.

And it is very important to have a positive mindset. I try to be as cheerful as possible. I try not to think of the problems I have. This really helps. And I believe that it helps you feel better too. Somehow, the mind controls the body. If you feel depressed, even physically you feel worse.

Working full time is an important piece of my overall well being. It helps me focus on different things rather than worry about my health all the time.

But there are times when I wonder how life would have been had this problem not been there. The things I would have done had I a normal life. Unfettered, unchained, free. It would really have been very different.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Medical Profession

The Medical Profession is different.

You can afford to cheat, lie, be unscrupulous, care a fuck in every other profession but not in the medical profession. Yet, ever so often I come across people in this profession who do just that.

You might argue that for the individual, its like his profession and he (to use a random gender) does not see it as being 'different'. He is in it to earn his living. Why should he see it as any different?

The point is, what is at stake here? The health of people, for God's sake! The lives of people.

Inspite of knowing this, people do things which are downright unacceptable. Things which smack of cruelty and show their utter disregard for the patient's well being.

Another problem I have is with their egos. This will prevent them from listening to sense. The very fact that this has come from another source (another doctor, the internet, your own common sense) will make them believe that it is crap.

I'm not saying that everyone in the profession is like this. But many are.

They will do anything for their financial benefit. They might take a cut from the medical companies for things they prescribe or even recommend an inferior drug/equipment because they get a better commission.

And they will do all this without a tinge of guilt.

Do these people even realize what patients go through?

Stick two thick needles in your fucking arms every night and lie there with pain every now and then. Wake early morning waiting for dialysis to complete. Go through the rest of the day groggy because you haven't had a good night's sleep. All this to be able to eat and drink what you want.

I'm just referring to my dialysis regimen. But I'm sure others with kidney disease have similar problems and so do others with other chronic problems.

It really makes my blood boil the way some of these people in this profession treat patients. They don't understand what they are going through. And they are in the best position to understand them. If anything they should be more caring and understanding than the rest of the population.

I know of people who get angry, are condescending and downright mean towards some patients. They really never realize what patients go through.

That is why I'm trying to get as much control over my dialysis as possible. I want to be as less dependent on these bastards as I can.

I've already started cannulating on my own. Hope to take on more soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Damn the dam, enjoyed the falls

After enjoying my last weekend trip to Hogenakkal, it was time for another trip. This time, 6 of us from office - Kalyan, Venkateshwar, Nagasrinivas, A Srinivas, Ankur and I decided to go to Nagarjunasagar for the weekend. In the end it trned out to be a Sunday-Monday trip because of various reasons which I will not go into here.


A view of the dam

We set out in 2 cars at around 7:30 in the morning on Sunday. After a horrible breakfast at Ibrahimpatnam, we reached Vijay Vihar, an APTDC hotel at Nagarjunasagar at around 10:30. We checked into our rooms and headed out towards the Launch Station to take a boat to an island called Nagarjunakonda that housed a museum. We bought tickets for the 12:30 boat.

We had lunch (a simple South Indian buffet) at a hotel nearby. A Srinivas was very keen on not missing the boat (because he could not get tickets for this boat the last 3 times he had come to N'sagar). He told us it was at 12:20 to make sure we did not miss it! I'm sure he's going to become a very good Software Project Manager one day!

We got on to the boat, reached, saw the museum and got back in the same boat. Now I'm not elaborating this part because I really wish we had missed the boat. The whole thing was that boring!

We returned to our hotel and had a refreshing swim in the hotel pool. We then had dinner and went to sleep.
In the Vijay Vihar pool

The next morning we woke up late, had breakfast at the hotel (good Idlis, Wadas and Tomato Bhaath), got ready and started for Ettipotala Waterfalls. We got there in about half an hour.

There is a park that has a point where you can see the falls. There is another path using which you get to the base of the falls. We took a few customary photos from the view point.
At the 'View Point'

There is a restaurant where they make food only to order. We ordered our lunch there and said we would go to the base of the falls and return and have lunch.

We started off on the path to the base of the falls. It was an arduous trek. A long flight of steps (which Venkateshwar insisted, was hundreds of years old) and some rocky terrain later we reached within striking distance of the water.
Within striking distance of the water

Some of use debated whether we should actually go under the water or not. The path was strewn with rocks which were very slippery because of the moss that had collected on them.

I badly wanted to go but was scared that I would slip. A Srinivas then deftly made his way right to the base of the falls. Ankur went next. I decided to go too. Slowly, watching every step, I made it to the spot too. Venkateshwar could not resist and he made it too!
At the base of the falls

The whole feeling of being under cool, natural water falling on you is unbeatable. And though the water looks mild from far, when you actually stand under it, it can hit you quite hard. The four of us had a whale of a time under the falls.

This was even better than the Hogenakkal falls because in Hogenakkal, they had constructed a concrete platform under the falls for people to experience the falls. But here, it was pristine, pure nature. The water falling from up, you on the rocks, trees all around.

And I have to thank A Srinivas for this because if he had not made the first move to go under the water, I guess none of us would have gone.

After about half an hour under the water, we got back and slowly made our way back to the point from where we started. A hot lunch awaited us. Nothing grand. Just simple and tasty.

Once we finished our lunch, we headed back towards Hyderabad.

Overall it was a good trip. A tad tiring in the end but fun nevertheless.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why I hate BPOs

I hate BPOs.

My brother works for Deloitte & Touche. They call him a Research Analyst. Sounds fancy, eh? Well, I don't know too much about what he actually does but the designation sure sounds like he is working on the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics.

Anyway, that's not my problem.

My problem is the timings. BPOs have crazy timings. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, the BPO employee is awake. And this ruins the best part of my day. Let me explain.

For the last year and a half, I have been enjoying a half hour every morning of peace, quiet, solitude and tea. This is my best time of the day.

But ever since my brother has been put on the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, my peace has been snatched from me. The best part of my day has been purloined. He comes home at about 6:45 in the morning just when I've put the tea to brew and puts on the television set which happens to be in the room next to the lawn by which I sit. And then watches one mindless program after another. Friends, Seinfeld, My Wife and Kids, WWE wrestling and what have you.

This totally ruins the atmosphere which I cherished for so long.

I'm going to give my brother an ultimatum - either change your shift - or your job.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wave pools, a waterfall and some great fun!

This weekend, with Pushkar and Jiten, I went on a short holiday to Bangalore and Hogenakkal.

I've been wanting to visit a waterfall for a long time and finally the trip to Hogenakkal materialized. The run up to the trip was not without its share of ups and downs though. From an estimated 7 people, we were down to 3 in the end. But we had great fun.

We reached Bangalore on Saturday in the morning and were off to Wonderla, an amusement park about an hour's drive from Bangalore.

Its really a great place with a lot of water based and dry activities. There's a wave pool that simulates waves on the beach, a rain dance section, water slides and a whole lot of dry rides. I have a video of my favorite ride. You get into a small open car. It goes up an incline and then comes down real fast into a pool of water that splashes all over you!

We returned to the hotel around 7:30 in the evening. Had dinner at Woody's in Commercial Street.

Next morning, we started off at 6:30 for Hogenakkal. We had breakfast on the way at a restaurant (called A1) at a Reliance Petrol Station. Surprisingly tasty stuff.

We reached Hogenakkal at around 10. We almost got taken for a ride when some locals led us to believe that we would need to walk for 3 kilometers to reach the place where we would get on to the boats and be taken to the waterfall.

I called A Srinivas who had been to the place about a month back and he told us where to go. We went there and after a bit of bargaining, found ourselves in a putty (a basket shaped boat) in the River Kavery.

The boating trip was interspersed with long and short stretches of walks (Jiten always had to carry the oar while our boatman, Velu carried the putty, Pushkar carried our bag and I carried myself). We were taken to see some really beautiful waterfalls which had a lot of water because of all the rain that the region had got recently.


Jiten at one of the waterfalls

There was one especially breathtaking view of the waterfalls on three sides of a gorge, one side of which was Tamil Nadu and the opposite side was Karnataka (Velu told us this about 5 times).

Pushkar and I at the 20 fall - wallah gorge

At another place, where the water was a little calmer, I actually got into the river for a swim. This was exhilarating. I've swum in many pools before but there's something about nature that is different. The water was not half as clean as a pool but was very refreshing.

Swimming in the Kaveri

We then went to a quiet part of the river bank which had some rocks and were given a massage by Velu. I went first.

The massage was torturous to say the least. I always thought massages were meant to relax. This was an assault on the senses. The way he hit, pulled and slapped - you could be excused for thinking he is getting back at you for bargaining on the rate.

Jiten went next. As if the physical assault was not enough, he then waged a mental war on me (while Jiten was fighting the physical one). He showed off his body and he told me that my body was horrible. He advised me to go to the gym (adding casually that he got his body without a gym - only by rowing the putty).

He spoke in Tamil (and the only two words of Tamil I know are Anga Ponga - which mean please go there) but I could understand what the scoundrel was saying because it was accompanied by some animated gestures and agitated facial expressions.

I don't take comments about my physical appearance too lightly. I had half a mind not to pay him anything for the massage but relented because I knew he was trying to be humorous.

He then washed off the oil from our bodies and we proceeded to the spot we began from.

The return journey was uneventful. Had dinner at a place called New Shanti Sagar at Koramangala and started our journey back to Hyderabad.

Overall, we had great fun on both days and my long overdue vacation finally happened!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fluid restriction

The human mind is amazing in many ways.

Let me give you an example.

Most patients on hemodialysis are on a restricted fluid diet. They can have only limited amounts of water, juice, drinks, ice cream - basically anything that is water at room temperature. Most patients are allowed to have only a liter of fluids a day.

This is because the kidneys of patients on dialysis do not work as required and do not remove the excess fluid from the body. Whatever excess water collects in the body manifests itself as a weight gain. So, if you have had 1 liter more than what your body has lost, it will show up as 1 kg additional weight.

When I was on Peritoneal Dialysis, I had no fluid restriction prescribed (as most PD patients). This is because PD is good at removing water and it removes it continuously. I used to measure my weight every morning and I never gained any weight.
This meant that PD was removing all the water I drank.

On PD I could also measure how much water was being removed per day and it was never more than 2 liters a day. This meant that I was not drinking more than 2 liters of water a day.

Now, I'm on Hemodialysis. Daily nocturnal home dialysis. I dialyse for 6 to 8 hours every night of the week (Except Sundays). I have to check my weight before dialysis to check how much fluid is to be removed and after dialysis to see how much was removed.

So, there is this monitoring of how much I've gained per day. That screws things up in an unimaginable way.

Let me explain.

Have you heard about Lenz's Law? Lenz's law states that induced e.m.f. opposes the change in flux producing it.

In lay man terms, whatever the flux (don't bother about what this means) tries to do, the induced e.m.f (again, don't bother) opposes it.

The mind follows Lenz's law in a way.

Whatever the mind is told to do, it opposes it. If the doctor tells you don't have sweets, the mind will want to have sweets in a way like never before.

I am not supposed to have too much water. I will want to have water like never before.

When I was on P.D, there was no checking, no monitoring. So, it was all ok. I had only about 2 liters a day.

Now, I'm on HD. I need to make sure I don't drink more than 2.5 liters so that too much water does not have to be removed during dialysis. I cannot drink less than 3 liters and that too restricting myself. Not allowing myself to have water whenever I feel like. And thinking about it all the time.

Can you believe it? I am actually drinking more water than I was when there was no restriction and I still feel terrible about having a restricted fluid diet!

The amazing human mind.

Wasted Weekends

Another long weekend passes by without much ado!

I always look forward to a long weekend. Time to relax and enjoy! But when the weekend actually comes and I do not have anything much to do, I feel terrible. On the morning of the first day, I desperately try to plan something to do for the weekend but rarely does anything materialize.

Some friends are not available. Some are not as adventurous. Sometimes, tickets and hotel bookings are not available.

In the end, it all ends up in a few afternoons of sleep, television (yawn!) and things extremely mundane.

How can I change this?

Of course! "Please plan!" Pearls of wisdom from the wise man! Two words from Dinesh that can inspire generations to come! (I knew I was good at hyperbole!)

Seriously, planning is the key. Look out for that long weekend (or even a regular weekend, for that matter) and plan. You can get travel tickets easier and cheaper. Room bookings are easy. Friends will be willing given enough notice.

I've decided that I'm going to plan a 'weekend getaway' every month. And I'm going to plan in advance.

Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Passion

I like people who are passionate about something in life.

For many people, life is one drab, dull routine. Wake in the morning, go to work, come back, see TV and go to sleep. They have nothing to look forward to, nothing in their life apart from their family and work.

Some people, on the other hand, have a passion for something other than work. The life of these people is enriched by this love.

May be a hobby, a game or something else. They look forward to spending time on that and enjoy it thoroughly. They look forward to an opportunity to spend time on this.

I strongly believe that this passion actually makes them work better, work smarter and increases their productivity. The mind gets a break from the daily routine and when it gets recharged during the time spent on this activity, it can work much better.

It can be something simple as gardening or a game. Some people love to dance or sing. Others like to read. But there really must be something in life that one should look forward to.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dinesh is a father!

Dinesh's wife Yogita just gave birth to a baby girl Niharika!

So, Kamal Kumar and Dinesh are both dads now!

Chetan is going to be one soon too (around January!)

What fun!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Swimming

Swimming can really relax me.

That's one thing that I reeeeeeeeally love.

That is why, even in this weather, I go to the club pool every Sunday morning for a swim. I'm going to try and go on Saturdays too.

There's something about water that I love. Its so refreshing, so invigorating that I can spend hours in the pool doing nothing specific.

Of course, I do swim to get some flab off but I also do a lot of relaxing things like just float aimlessly in the water, just leave my body loose in the water and go underwater just to get my head entirely submerged for a while.

The feeling is heavenly.

Does this have something to do with the fact that I'm on a restricted water diet?

I don't think so. Because I loved the water even before my kidney problem. In fact, just the day before I took my vaccines, I swam a kilometer in the club pool!

But definitely, there's something about water that attracts me. My current obsession is with standing under a waterfall! I badly want to go to a place where there is a waterfall where I can get completely wet. And I'm talking about one which falls with a lot of pressure.

My ideal holiday would be to go to a river, a beach, a waterfall - basically any place where the primary focus is water!

Inti pairs

Inti Pairs or family names are really interesting. Most Telugu people will have an inti pair.

For example, K Venkateshwar is actually Kunta Venkateshwar and Kunta is the inti pair. I love remembering everyone's inti pair.

For example, Lugalupu Nagasrinivas, Adusumalli Srinivas and Shyamala Kalvakolanu. Some people, put the inti pair at the beginning while some put it in the end.

People spell their inti pairs in a variety of ways. For example Pushkar vacillates between Angeena and Angina - oblivious of the fact that the latter actually means a condition marked by severe pain!

Some people also have a surname along with the inti pair, for example, the Reddy Thums - Kartik and Jayadeep. Here Thum is the inti pair.

Some other inti pairs I like - Dindukurthi (Sravan), Dantuluri (Sudheer), Akula (Seshadri Charan), Bawoor (Lagumanna), Palepu (Srinivas / Janakiram), Vadaga (Prashant Naidu), Mahankali (Shravan Kumar), Sandadi (Kalyan), Gunnala (Sirisha), Guduru (Pavan).

Let me know if you come across some interesting and nice sounding inti pairs!

My dream home

For the last few months I've been dreaming of having a home.

A home that is in a place that is very quiet, in a place where there is hardly any traffic and the air is clean and cool.

It is not very big. It has 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a drawing room and an entertainment room which has a home theatre system. The bigger bedroom opens out into a lawn where there is green grass, in the middle of which is a swimming pool. The pool is shaped like an amoeba and has some rocks at one point through which there is a small waterfall that falls into the pool.

At one end of the lawn is a small temple.

I would really love to settle down in a house like this. A house that is a place where you really look forward to return after a tiring day of work. A place where you can wake in the morning to a cool breeze, sit by the lawn and have a cup of tea. Where every need of yours is taken care of.

In life these days, not only the body but the soul also tires and the house has to be a place where both body and soul can relax.

I really hope that some day I can realize this dream!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Customer Service

Akbar writes in Tata Indicomm’s Customer Care Sucks:

"So, finally the local technician came yesterday and he says that it was the communication gap between the customer service and him that took him so many days to come!!! Fucking kidding me? Communication my ass gap?"

All I can say is Welcome to India!

Customer Service is something which we just don't get here. I have experienced first hand terrible customer service from many of the major brands in India - from Wipro to LG to Whirlpool to ICICI Bank.

And there's no option like switching brands because its the same everywhere.

Companies have scant regard for customer satisfaction. Something does not work as advertised, you call customer care. First of all they speak to you as if they're doing you a favour. Then you have to work according to their timings. They don't care if you're working. They don't care if you have other commitments. You have to leave your work and stay at home at the date and time they've given you (if at all, otherwise its simply a Monday morning or a Wednesday afternoon unless its a in-the-next-two-three-days).

And then they don't come at the appointed time. You've somehow managed to reschedule things at office so that you can be there when the guy comes. But he doesn't show up. Then you call Customer Care again. And ask. Pray, why didn't the technician come. You get a 'held-up-in-another-call' kind of crappy answer. Never mind if you missed office for this.

Finally, when the guy does turn up, you usually do get the work done. But, you feel so frustrated at the effort that went into this that you feel like shit.

I suggested to Akbar to switch to BSNL for his internet connection. But I must really add the disclaimer that I'm not responsible for any problems he might have with them!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Darjeeling Tea

For a long time, I used to hate tea. And then I went to Darjeeling on a holiday.

On a 'site seeing' trip, we stopped at a tea shop by the road. It was quite cold and foggy. My parents (avid tea drinkers all their lives) ordered 2 cups of tea. I don't know why but I asked for a cup too. When the tea arrived, I took small sips of it. I was enjoying it so much. The mild flavor, the aroma, the whole experience was so uplifting, I actually had another cup.

That was the last though of tea for quite a while. After a few years, I read an article on the Darjeeling toy train. At that point, it all came back to me - those 2 cups of tea!

I suddenly craved uncontrollably for that tea and promptly got myself a pack of Darjeeling tea from our regular tea vendor.

I then started having a big cup every morning. I got someone to make it initially but realized that you needed to have passion for the tea to make it properly. They would boil the water less one day, put too much milk the next and too much sugar the next. So, I decided that I would make it myself.

So, I religiously boil a cup (200 ml) of water, pour it into a small bowl which has 2 teaspoons of Darjeeling tea, cover it with a lid and let it brew for 5 minutes. Then I pour it out into a cup, put about 2 teaspoons of milk and a teaspoon of sugar to get my manna for the day!


And I enjoy it best when I have it in my house, by the lawn, early in the morning when no one else at home is awake, there's no noise, there's absolute peace. And when I take a sip of the tea, the aroma and the taste together pamper my senses. And when I close my eyes I feel as if I am in the midst of a tea garden on the slopes of a hill in Darjeeling!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paryushan Parva

So, another Paryushan comes to an end.

This year, it was hardly different from the rest of the year. I hardly did anything. So, all around me people were on 8 day fasts, pratikramans both times of the day, going for vyakhyans etc. I did only the the samvatsari pratikraman and a couple of other pratikramans. On samvatsari day, I did not even do naukarshi.

What a far cry from a few years back!

I quietly reminisced the 8 day fast I myself did. The times (even after kidney disease struck) when I would invariably be the guy saying most of the sutras doing the pratikraman. Atichaar was kind of a monopoly!

Every year I would gear up a few weeks before paryushan arrived and learn some new thoys and stavans, revise atichaar and Ajit Shanti and then really do a good job during the parva in the pratikramans.

I even knew the "Cheenk no kausagg" vidhi by heart!

I would usually do an upvaas on samvatsari day. But after kidney disease struck, I only managed to do an Ekashana some times. I also did a pausadh on samvatsari day once.

How things have changed! Can I give my health as an excuse for all this? I don't know! But I realize the things happening to me one after another and think that it definitely has something to do with my health. My mind is worried these days and with that frame of mind, I am unable to think about religion and spirituality.

I've started eating root vegetables - abstinence from which is the "most important" thing Jains are known by.

I don't know where all this will lead to. But I was getting sick and tired of the restrictions.

When you don't have other things to deal with, its easier to keep up to your religion and go the whole hog in trying to follow things. But I've reached a stage where I was getting increasingly frustrated when I could not enjoy myself when I was out, had to keep worrying about finding something suitable to eat.

I know many people do it. I know many people follow it very sincerely. I'm not sure how many of them have to deal with problems like mine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Steaming hot Idlis on Sunday mornings

Poorna Tiffins was a place introduced to us by my father's friend. A very unassuming place. No tables, no air conditioning. Only some chairs arranged in one half of the place and the other half used for cooking.

You get the world's best idlis there.

Every Sunday morning I religiously drive down to the place (my parents accompany me most of the time) and happily gorge down about XX (number has been censored) of those small, steaming hot idlis bathed in ghee. They even put ghee in the chutney (makes the chutney less spicy, some say)


But those idlis are truly heavenly. And the taste of the ghee makes it even better. You slowly take a piece of the idli, take a little chutney with it and put it in your mouth and you are transported to Paradise. The idli literally melts in your mouth and pampers your taste buds.

Other folks have other stuff on the menu like a dosa, pesarattu, puri etc. but I stick to the idlis!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ten years with kidney disease




On July 14th this year, I completed 10 years with kidney disease.

What a journey it has been! The vaccines I took on that day changed my life in a way I could never ever have imagined.

What would life have been like if renal failure had not happened?

Probably would have flown to the US with my Akron I20, probably would have switched to MS (CS) to another university, would have completed it and then hunted for a job.

Would have worked for a few years and then got into a Business School and also completed my MBA and would have been working at another job. And yes, would have probably even got married somewhere in between!

A normal life... like many others'.

How different my life is now.

What were the major events that shaped up these last 10 years instead?

The time when steroids almost brought back my kidneys to life but lost them again to save my lungs which caught a bad infection.

The failed transplant.

The switch to CAPD.

The infections post tsunami.

The switch to daily home hemo.

My encounter with the dragon.

My Left Ventricular dysfunction.

Giving up on the dragon... for a while at least.