Friday, July 27, 2018

Gujarat Diary

I have been wanting to travel for some time now. I hadn’t visited many of our newer centres. So, when Daxesh Patel from our Gujarat centres pinged me one afternoon at work saying I should visit for the launch of the Gujarat centres, I decided that I would attend the events. There were two launches scheduled, one each in Surat and Vadodara, both set up inside the reputed Sunshine Global Hospitals.

Clean and Green Surat

I landed in Surat on a wet afternoon and took a cab to the hotel. After freshening up, I left for the centre which was situated on Dumas Road, right next to the International Business Centre. One thing that struck me as the cab took me to Sunshine Global Hospitals was that the city was very clean and modern. Tall buildings amidst green lands, most of the main roads had tracks for cycling and pedestrians which made commuting very pleasant. I wasn’t too sure if this was the case with the less prominent roads.

One thing was for sure - Surat had come a long way from the days of the plague

As I got out of the lift, I saw a couple of girls wearing the NephroPlus green coloured uniform making a colourful rangoli of the two logos - NephroPlus and Sunshine Global. I was impressed with their enthusiasm. I went into the centre and met the team and the guests on dialysis. The centre was doing an excellent job and the guests all seemed very happy with the team and the facilities. I had dinner with the team at a restaurant close by.

Team mates doing the rangoli the evening before the inauguration

“Surat nu jaman ane Kashi nu maran”

That’s a traditional Gujarati saying that means “Eat in Surat and die in Kashi”. Presumably, these are the two ultimate things in life. I had heard a lot about the Undhiyu and the Ponkh of Surat and wanted to definitely try them during the trip. Unfortunately, many frantic phone calls to the famous restaurants and joints revealed that both these delicacies are available only in the winter. So I had to settle for the lesser pleasures in the culinary landscape of Surat.

On the morning of the launch, I took a cab to Jani Locho and Khaman House at Adajania Gam and ordered a plate of Locho. It was a soft, steamed dish with the consistency of upma but the taste that reminded me of Khaman Dhokla. It was topped generously with butter and sev and served with a sheet green chutney. I loved every bite.

Surti Locho

Once I was done, I wanted to have the famous Jalebi and Fafda. I was directed next door to the Jani Farsan House and they packed up some Jalebis, Fafda, Kadhi and some sautéed and salted chillies. I took this packet and headed back to the hotel where I enjoyed the whole combination. Kadhi with the Fafda is something I have seen only in Gujarat. Jalebi and Fafda is also available in Hyderabad but no one serves it with Kadhi.

Jalebi, Fafda, Marcha and Kadhi

The launch went off very well. It was however time for lunch and I was starving. I took a couple of my colleagues and headed out to a place called Kansar at Nanpura which served the Gujarati Thali. This was very similar to the Rajdhani Thali I was used to in Hyderabad but there were two sweets which were really excellent - the Fruit Shrikhand and the Khajur and Anjeer Vedhmi. I did not have much of the regular phulka, dal, kadhi and vegetables but helped myself generously to these two sweets.

The Gujarati Thali at Kansar

Khajur Anjeer Vedhmi

Train Ride to Vadodara

I took a Double Decker Air Conditioned Chair Car Train from Surat to Vadodara. It was a very pleasant experience. Sitting on the window seat of a train that passes through the interiors of almost any state in India can be an enriching experience. I saw blankets on the earth of different shades of green one after the other interrupted by a lone tree once in a while. This was a welcome change from the landscape of the cities.

We reached by 7:30 in the evening. I checked in to my hotel and headed straight for Mohanthal, another thali place in Vadodara situated at Vadi Wadi. There I met our team from the existing Vadodara centre at Raopura inside Shreenath Clinic. This was a bunch of highly dedicated and very capable dialysis technicians. I also met with our Medical Director for this centre, Dr. Kamlesh Parikh and his wife, Dr. Dipti Parikh. After a very engaging conversation on a variety of issues ranging from how NephroPlus was born to the government’s healthcare policy to whom Gujarat was going to vote for in the next election, we drove down to Paras Pan Shop where we got to see things like Smoke Ice Pan and Fire Pan. Dr. Parikh and my colleagues Vinit and Daxesh tried the Smoke Ice pan which had plumes of smoke gushing out from their noses once they put the pan in their mouths.

The Real Heroes of the NephroPlus Story

The inauguration of the centre was done the next morning by the Guru of the hospital owner, Dr. Bhikubhai Mehta. We had a press conference after that. I spent some time with the centre team after that and again with the team at the Raopura centre. 

NephroPlus Surat Team (in Sunshine Global Hospital)

NephroPlus Raopura, Vadodara Team (in Shreenath Clinic)

NephroPlus Manjalpur, Vadodara Team (in Sunshine Global Hospital)

I was amazed at the dedication and the simplicity of the teams. These people (and all our centre teams) are the real heroes in the NephroPlus story honestly. Genuine change is being brought to lives by these nameless and faceless clinical teams who toil day after day, taking care of our guests and changing their lives. Their names don’t appear in newspapers. No stories are written about them. Yet, they develop such strong bonds with our guests that they make the dialysis centre a second home. They serve selflessly, incessantly, even if there is massive rain or a general strike. We have seen many examples where our teams have risen way above the call of duty and done more than what their job demanded of them.

When I meet our centre teams, see the genuine warmth towards our guests and think of the impact these people are making and how they are achieving the vision of the company, my eyes usually swell up. I don’t need to worry about what is happening in the centre. I can sleep in peace. 

Thanks so much, dear team mates!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Interest or career growth?

Many people do stuff only if it is useful. Which language to learn? Spanish or Mandarin because it will be useful for me in my work. Who to become friends with? X, Y or Z because they will be useful to me in the future growth of my business or career. Where should I go? A, B or C so that I can meet new people who could help me expand my business or in my career.

I find these thoughts very hollow. Passion, genuine interest and what your soul wants is being thrown to the wind. Finally, it all boils down to what would help you grow your bank balance.

I am learning Portuguese because I like the language and not because it could be useful to me in the future. I bake bread not because I want to become a professional baker. Everything does not have to be about career for me. 

I like to do things because I have a passion for those things. I genuinely enjoy those things. I like to make friends with people not because they might be useful to me in the future but because I genuinely like them.

Is this thought process because of the stage of life I am in? Is it a function of age? Is it because of my disease which enables me to see life from a different perspective? 

I don’t know the answers to these questions. and neither do I care. I do and will continue to do things only to satisfy my soul and not to fill my resume or LinkedIn contacts list.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

What’s up?

I’m doing a number of things these days. Work keeps me busy for a lot of time, most of all week days. But I am able to allot my free time to some interesting activities.

I have been meditating for ten minutes every morning for about 200+ days without a break. I have added a ten minute meditation session in the evening as well. I do this almost as soon as I come back from work. I really like the new avenues meditation has opened up for me. I will write more about this later but it has given me the most important realisation that the mind is not really who I am. What the mind thinks are not necessarily my thoughts. Intriguing? I couldn’t agree more.

These days, the most of what I write is for myself. This sort-of ties in to my meditation routine. I have started keeping a journal. That is why the number of my blog posts has gone down drastically of late. Journaling is said to be one of the best habits that can be developed for the mind. I am also working on another long-term writing ‘enterprise of honourable, dangerous consequence’. More details later.

About a year or so back, I happened to hear some conversations in Portuguese. This drew me closely to the language in an inexplicable way. I had a yearning to learn the language ever since then. I started learning it from January this year. I use an app called Babbel. I am almost through the Beginner’s courses and will soon move to the advanced level. Learning a new language is an excellent way to exercise your mind.

On Sundays, I leave home at 8 in the morning, go to Govind’s in Banjara Hills and have my fill of steaming hot Idlis and Vadas. I then go to the Secunderabad Jain Temple where I teach a bunch of about 30 kids from the age of around 12 to 16 about spirituality and the Jain religion. I try to keep my class free of dogma. I encourage the kids to ask questions and not accept things that don’t make sense. I also teach them not to disparage other religions and help them understand that hate in the name of religion is the worst possible insult to your own religion. I believe this is a golden opportunity to shape the thinking of these impressionable minds. Ordinarily, they would not be exposed to much other than the traditional views - if you do this, you go to hell, do that and you get rich kind of bullshit that is peddled in the name of religion these days. So I am glad I am giving them a slightly different, more universal concept of religion which may actually help them shape their worldview better.

Apart from this, I am swimming almost every day. I have also started doing some strength-training. I found myself struggling to get up from a chair without the help of my hands. I was advised on the Internet to start some strength training. I have a physiotherapist coming home 5 days a week in the morning for 30 minutes of flexibility and strength training. It has already shown remarkable results.

I have a lot to look forward to in my day. Now, the only itch that remains unfulfilled to some extent is that of travel. I really want to travel more. I am going to work hard on this aspect over the coming weeks.