Sunday, September 30, 2012

What a birthday!

On 28th of September, I celebrated birthday number xx. God, that number makes me feel sick! So, I masked it. Anyway, in what has now become a routine, the NephroPlus folks barged into my room at midnight as I was undergoing dialysis. They brought cake and played the guitar and sang for me!

I went to three of our centers in the city one by one and they had the cake cutting ceremony at all three centers!I was planning to go only to the headquarters but the other centers would have none of it. One of them threatened that they wouldn't leave the center until I came! At the other center, they were upset that I was spending only a little time with them! They almost locked me up in the cabin to prevent me from going anywhere else!

I went out for lunch with my fellow-directors at NephroPlus to Indijoe's. Dinner was with the family at  my favorite restaurant, Little Italy.

All in all I had an unbelievably great birthday! Honestly, when people shower so much love on me, it is quite humbling. I feel really touched. Mohsin, one of our technicians once remarked, "Khuda ne aapki kidney le li, lekin uske saath itne chahne wale diye!" (God took away your kidneys but gave you so many people who love you!) This makes me wonder. If I did not have kidney disease, would I have got so much love? Well, I really don't know. But truth be told, I would prefer healthy kidneys over all the love! hehehehe....

Here are some pictures from the day:

NephroPlus team at my house at midnight when I was on dialysis

NephroPlus Founding Team at midnight

Banjara Hills Center pics:

NephroPlus Directors

ESI Sanathnagar Center pics:

With Mohsin, Lead Tech at ESI center

Family Dinner at Little Italy:

With nephew Naman

Sister-in-law Anjali made my favorite Mishti Doi garnished with a lotus flower!

On the left: My grandmother, Dr. (Mrs.) G. Fernes, my mother, my father. On the right: my niece Nidhi (making the face), Naman and Anjali

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I miss writing software!

The last serious work I did in software was a project for the Jain Dialysis Trust where their coupon distribution system was automated. I remember I had deployed the software and reached their office a little late on the day it was about to be used. I wasn't very worried because it was tested thoroughly by Ankur, my former colleague from Effigent (and a brilliant tester). As I entered their office, I noticed patient beneficiaries carrying papers that seemed familiar. A closer look revealed that those papers were coupons generated using my software! I was so thrilled. It felt really great! I almost had tears in my eyes!

For months, the trust did everything manually. Writing out coupons by hand, painstakingly collating data into registers, tallying cash against the coupons. Now everything was automated. The coupon distribution system that would involve 10-12 different people could now be handled by 2-3 people in the same amount of time! This whole project was coded by me! I never felt so ecstatic! Software gives you this kind of high.

I gave up my career in software to a full time job at NephroPlus in October last year. I have not done any coding for about a year now. I miss it!

There are things I did not like about software - the deadlines, the hurry to get something out there even if it was not perfect, the tension that comes with a production app having problems and so on. But the high you get when you see something that you have produced being used by users and actually making a difference like it did in the Jain Dialysis Trust project is unparalleled.

Even in my career in software, the period that I worked for Grene was most satisfying. My work at Effigent was mostly managerial. Managing teams of people writing software. Managing software teams never gave me the high I got from coding! My work at Grene was pure coding. I was the only developer on iOS and WebObjects. I was the only guy working on what I was producing. I thoroughly enjoyed that work. Of course, most software jobs would not be like that (unless of course, you are Jayadeep!). You generally work in a team in which you write a small part of the whole product. In Grene and the Trust projects that I did, my code was basically the whole code! So, I guess the satisfaction was that much more!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Politically, these are depressing times

For the first time in ages, we saw the government do things right. The measures they have taken to revive the economy, the way they did not bow down to Mamta Bannerjee's dictats, the Prime Minister's speech are all things that should have been done much earlier. But then, by now we are used to the Congress doing things that are "too little, too late".

However, the series of scams with no parallel in the country's history, a trademark of Congress regimes, has left little doubt on how they are going to do in the next elections barring a dramatic change in the way this government functions.

Unfortunately, what is the alternative?

The NDA looks like it is in a terrible mess. Nitish Kumar has already given enough indication that his allegiance is up for grabs. Narendra Modi is at once the BJP's biggest asset and its biggest problem. Project him as PM and they will lose out on Nitish and many others as well. Without Modi as PM, there is no one who has the charisma and capability to win a general election. And then there is L K Advani who is still threatening to run for PM.

This leaves us with the horrible prospect of a third, fourth or what-have-you front cobbling up a majority which has no single big party calling the shots and will be about as stable as the joke of a government we had run by the likes of Deve Gowda and others during the period between the Narasimha Rao and the Vajpayee governments.

Unless the Congress shows extraordinary courage and takes some bold decisions which bring the country back on track and acts really tough on the corruption issues dogging the country today and brings to book the culprits (which looks extremely difficult given the people alleged to be involved) or the BJP gets its act together and decides on one leader and projects him or her starting immediately so that the nation respects their leader like it did Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the next general election is going to end in an unmitigated disaster.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The trouble with doing things every other day

I take 30 mg cinacalcet every other day. It is a very useful drug to bring the level of Parathyroid hormone (PTH), a very important hormone in the body whose chief function is to control the level of Calcium in the blood. I need to test the level of PTH in my blood regularly to figure out whether I need to modify any medication doses.

The trouble is I take cinacalcet every other day. So, it seems like the level of PTH might be going up and down depending on whether I have taken the drug or not. I am not sure of this. It just seems that way. There should be a few hours in the day after taking the drug when the level of the drug in the blood should be higher than otherwise. Which means the level of PTH should be lower during these few hours than otherwise. How do I figure out when I should be drawing my blood sample to ensure that I get a correct reading of my PTH level?

Similarly, I have recently started dialyzing with a high flux dialyzer every other day. I use a low flux dialyzer otherwise. High flux dialyzers give much better clearances and are also good at removing the so-called middle molecules which are known to cause severe problems in long term dialysis patients. Now, I draw my blood samples for regular tests every month. Should I draw the sample on the day I have dialyzed with the high flux or the low flux?!

Samples drawn after the high flux dialysis are bound to contain less toxins than those drawn after low flux dialysis!

I really have no clue about the answers to these questions.

If, on the other hand, I was taking cinacalcet every day or was dialyzing with the same dialyzer every day, there was no problem because every day is like any other day. Drawing blood on any day would give you the same result.

Any suggestions?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Writing for myself versus writing for people

I once mentioned to Srinivas that I write whatever I write on this blog for myself. Because I enjoy writing. I don't care whether people read or like what I write. I write purely for myself.

Yesterday, when I published the survey, he appeared surprised because the survey was a way to gauge people's reactions to my short stories. He asked me why I was interested in knowing whether people liked my short stories when I wrote simply because I enjoyed writing and I wrote for myself.

This set me thinking. What he pointed out was true. Why did I want to know what people thought of my short stories? Wasn't it enough that I enjoyed writing them?

Creative pursuits are often meaningful only when appreciated.

Though a painter might enjoy painting stuff, he will probably feel completely satisfied only when people who view the painting appreciate his work. A musician might enjoy composing a piece but he will derive much more satisfaction if his composition is heard and applauded by an audience. Similarly, though it is true that I thoroughly enjoy writing, I feel really good when someone leaves a comment on one of the posts or when I see the hit count on this blog increasing.

If I was truly writing only for myself, then I would not publish it on a public blog, right? So, I guess, I do not write only for myself. I write for people to read. I hope people appreciate what I write. I hope what I write interests them and intrigues them enough to keep coming back.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How Facebook saved my life

Life? Well, no, not exactly. But read on...

A few days back, right in the middle of Paryushan, I felt feverish in the evening after the pratikraman. When I checked, it was 100.4 degrees. I took a Dolo 650 mg and got on to dialysis. The next morning, though the temperature was normal, I felt weak and had aches all over. I decided to take the day off.

I sat at home and slept and watched episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" that Rohit, my colleague at NephroPlus gave me. I felt a little better by the evening. I got on to Facebook and posted the following: 

"Spent the day at home. Had fever last evening and was weak-ish this morning. Spent the day seeing four episodes of The Big Bang Theory and sleeping! Feeling much better now."

Guess what? This post got 6 likes, 10 comments and I got call from a friend! I was so thrilled! One of the comments was from Adil Asim, a friend from school who I have not met or spoken to for the last what - twenty one years??! This is what Facebook can do!

It feels really nice. Some people criticize the interactions we have on Facebook calling it artificial and what not. I couldn't agree with that. Facebook gives me moments like these where it feels nice to know that people whom I barely interact with in real life have written a "Get well soon" message for me. 

Its not like I do not have problems with Facebook. Their privacy features suck. I also get bugged by people who suddenly log on to their accounts after days and post like a gazillion pictures that have gyaan inscribed on them probably posted by someone else on their timeline or that they have received in their email as a pathetic forward. Gyaan once in a while is ok. Not when it is in a flood all of a sudden that clogs your timeline with crap. Good thing is you can block all this and some poor unsuspecting souls have received that treatment from me over the last few days. Serves you right!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teacher's Day memories from HPS

Today, September 5th is celebrated as Teacher's Day all over India. At The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet where I studied, Teacher's Day was huge!

The morning would start with students doing what the teachers did at the Morning Assembly right from the prayer to the announcements. Classes would then begin albeit with a difference. The senior school students would take classes for the junior classes! The teachers would get to relax the whole day! It was after all, their day!

The afternoon would usually see an entertainment program put up for the teachers by the students. This usually included a whole lot of comedy and live music.

I had the privilege of being a part of our school beat group. Our group was hugely popular among the teachers and students alike.

One Teacher's Day, we did Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall". The song is a little irreverent to teachers but what the hell, this was HPS! Our teachers really enjoyed the song. In fact, our principal, Mr. S. K. Bose was seen snapping his fingers to the song! Here's a You Tube video of the song:

To all my teachers who shaped my thinking, helped me hone my talents and made me what I am: a BIG thank you! Here is a list of teachers I can remember from my school days:

- Mrs. Kanthi Rajan
- Mrs. Korobi Mukherjee
- Mrs. Prabhakar
- Mrs. Swadesh Sridhar
- Mrs. Deepa Chandra
- Mrs. Usha Bhargava
- Mrs. Shanti Sam
- Mr. G. Jayanand
- Mr. Govindrao Deshpandey
- Mrs. Akamma Koshy
- Mrs. Leila Parker
- Mrs. Roopali Mansukhani
- Mrs. Kamala Jagadeeshan
- Mr. M. A. Bari
- Mr. Devadattam
- Mr. Chandrashekhar
- Mr. Krishnam Raju
- Mr. Maruthi 
- Mrs. Suzy John Mathai
- Mr. Ramanachary
- Mr. Punna Rao
- Mr. Srikanth
- Mrs. Nirmala Abraham
- Mrs. Geetha Shyam Sundar
- Mr. Suresh Sharma
- Mrs. Kamala Jagannathan
- Mr. Sai Sunder Rao
- Mr. M. S. S. K. Subramanyeshwar
- Mr. P. Narayan Rao
- Mr. Sathyanarayana
- Mr. Dennis Powell

and one special teacher whom I can never thank enough - my English teacher for five years from Class 8 to Class 12 - Mrs. Marien Oommen. It would not be an exaggeration to say that any success I have achieved in my life is due to her. I got to be a part of NephroPlus only due to my blog and I give the entire credit for my blog to her. Thank you ma'am!