Aug 28, 2014

Dogyears : The couch dog

So I tried to make Snoopy a guard dog this month...

That elixir of knowledge, Wikipedia, defines a guard dog as "a dog used to guard against, and watch for, unwanted or unexpected people or animals."

I thought I would start his training with something simple so I set him off with the stray cats that roam around our house premises. As you can see, in the initial forays, he proved to be quite excellent at it and would track down any cat and chase him/her out of the house. But then slowly, I started to see a pattern.

dog Godyears beagle
Be gone, vile creature! The bones are for me...
meeee, I tell ya!

The cat and her kitten were returning back and were even more confident this time around. How was that possible when the house had the best anti-cat security measure in Snoopy? The more I looked into it, the more I started to suspect that bribes had been given to him by the cats to look the other way. I mean, literally, look the other way!!
You don't believe me? See the photographic evidence below of him pointing out 'where the cat has run off to' and tell me if you realize why I'm starting to get a little suspicious.

dog Godyears beagle Snoopy
"Roshan! He went that-a-way!"
"Umm... Snoopy? Are you sure?"

Aug 20, 2014

Home cooking - Malabar style

Every city comes with its quirks and eccentricities and my own home town of Kannur - the land of looms and lores - is no different. We tend to be more popular for our political misadventures but when all is said and done, there is one thing that you have to love about us - our home cooking.

Traditionally, Malabar cuisine refers to the style of cooking peculiar to the Northern part of Kerala. That long coastline that envelopes the regions of Kannur, Thalaserry and Kozhikode provided us with two wonderful gifts - an abundance of seafood and a glorious history of experimenting with flavours, recipes and spices obtained by all those foreigners who traded across our spice route for centuries. Thus there tends to be distinctive Arab, Chinese and even Portuguese influences to some of the styles of cooking and spice mixes used, giving rise to a diverse range of well-seasoned and delectable dishes that appeal to most foodies who drop by.

seafood Malabar Kannur chicken crab fish dish
Some of the best dishes that Malabar cuisine has to offer

Aug 15, 2014

Myriad Tales - A Season of Thrills, Chills and Spills

  • As the grand old warrior Bheeshma lies upon the bed of arrows, he is approached by a vivacious young reporter to recount his hilarious interpretation of what really transpired. 
  • Two inspectors posing as palmists, one absent minded detective, one surgeon, one hot secretary all are there for the industrialist's exhibition showcasing a legendary priceless diamond. Oh yes, I forgot... somewhere in that exhibition, a thief lies too, waiting for his chance.
  • When as aspiring musician is framed for the abduction of his girlfriend and the murder of her grandfather, he finds himself racing against time and the long arm of the law to uncover what really happened.
  • When a Christian priest from abroad visits a village in Kerala that is terrorized by a mysterious creature, he finds similarities to a legend closer to his own home country. But to defeat this inhuman being will require more than his knowledge and prayers alone... he will need to win over the trust of the staunchly ritualistic guardian of the village... the temple head.
  • When a foreign lady arrives to buy paintings at an auction, the local Indian dealer decides to make a quick profit by overcharging her. Knowing that she is being fleeced, she is still ready to buy them. What does she know that the dealer does not?
  • When a mysterious woman sits opposite him and engages him in a conversation, the young man is only too pleased to chat with her. But slowly, her words seem to gain a sense of foreboding which leaves him uneasy. Is she warning him of something he cannot yet fathom... or is she a threat herself?  
  • She returns to her office suffering from partial memory loss. She remembers being brutally attacked by someone in the office. If only she could remember who it was.
  • Hooking up a bikini clad bombshell in Goa is a dream come true for the young college guy on vacation and would have earned him bragging rights with his friends. Now if he only had his spectacles on and knew which girl he had hooked up with among the bevy of girls out there.
  • When the nation's education minister is assassinated, the political frenzy and mayhem begin. It falls upon a young officer and his team to delve into the murky cyber underworld and unravel the true motives of the people behind the murder before they find him first.
  • A young man's returns home to find his aunt murdered. He soon realizes that he has at some point during the night crossed paths with the murderer. He does not know who the person is. Unfortunately for him, the murderer seems to remember him well.
  • An over-amorous couple get a new sex toy that has some very stimulating features which showcase themselves at the most inopportune moments. 'Nuff said! 
  • What happens when the self proclaimed world's best detective realizes that his prodigy is now a wanted criminal? Prepare for a wild cat-and-mouse game.
  • A peaceful stay at an ashram soon turns into a race against life and death as a young couple find themselves caught in a web of deceit involving Godmen and the city's underworld.
  • Set in 18th century England, a mistress finds herself in the unenviable position of delivering letters between her lover, the Count and a Princess. When the Princess is murdered, it is discovered that she had been having an affair of her own. What wicked webs tie in all the pieces of this puzzle? Was this a crime of passion or was there more behind these deaths? 
These are just a sample of the stories coming your way. Sufficed to say, of all the books that I am lucky to have been a co-author in this year, none have left me as intrigued as this one.

Myriad Tales - A Season of Thrills, Chills and Spills boasts of over 30 short stories that encompass thrillers, horror stories and comedies. It also features some of the best new talent among the modern generation of Indian short story writers besides including published authors Suhail Mathur (the editor and presently number one in Amazon India under historical fiction for his book "The Bhairav Putras") and Vivek Banerjee ( author of "The Other Side" and my fellow co-author earlier as well in "Chicken Soup for the Indian Doctors Soul" ) amongst others.
Honestly, the sheer number and variety of stories and the directions they are all seemingly going in has got my curiosity piqued. I am certainly looking forward to this one. 

To pre-order the book at 20% off, click the link here

P.S. Oops. I forgot to mention. Mine is the horror story of the Christian priest in God's own country. I have based it on one of Kerala's most famous urban legends and offered an alternative view on the familiar story behind the 'creature'. 

Aug 12, 2014

You have only released my hand...

Yenepoya doctors friends love beach sunset

Author's note:
This is my take on The Moving Quill's "From 15 to 50" prompt where we have to write a flash fiction between 15 - 50 words, based any one of the 3 prompts provided ( check them out here).
For the record, the picture contains 42 words. More poignantly for me, it is a picture of my first batch of medical students having fun at the beach. I think everyone deserves to have that one memorable picture of them holding hands with their friends and facing the ocean waves, don't you? They have since gone on to become anaesthesiologists themselves and are presently working in various parts of the world.

Apothecary review: An engaging debate on the true victims of medical malpractice

In director Madhav Ramadasan's Apothecary, we follow the life and travails of the head of the neurosurgery department who is rushed into the same posh tertiary hospital 'Apothecary' he works in, following a road traffic accident. While he lies comatose in the ICU, he is visited by a patient from his past who seems to just want to talk to the doctor he once saw as his God. We witness the events leading up to the accident with the surgeon's mind slowly starting to unravel and the lines between 'life' and 'death' blur as he is plagued by some of the choices he has made and some which were made for him by the hospital authorities and pharmaceutical companies.

Suresh Gopi Jayasuriya Abhirami

There are a lot of positive points in favour of this film. 
  • This is one of the most earnest attempts to talk about the controversial subject of 'medical malpractice' in the Indian medical system. More importantly, it does not blindly paint doctors as evil money mongers but plays devil's advocate to its own theme, showcasing the fallacies in the system that cause some doctors to succumb to the lure of money. Unlike previous movie attempts at the subject, this is one that would leave most doctors nodding their head in approval while also simultaneously asking them to introspect a little. 
  • If you have seen his earlier effort 'Melvilasom', you know that director Madhav Ramadasan does not stick to the regular commercial format. Having written this script himself, he uses a non-linear narrative and holds you within the confines of that hospital right from the opening sequence until the end. There is no attempt to let the seriousness of the theme get diluted with unnecessary songs or humour. 
  • Attention to detail is easily the best I have seen in an Indian movie portraying the medical field. Whether it is the procedure of testing the nerves of the face, the position of a neurosurgery patient in the post-operative period or even the actual drawing of blood from the actor Jayasuriya himself, it has been researched and done right. That shows a director who is truly committed to his vision and unwilling to compromise.

Aug 9, 2014

If Ebola struck India: Don't panic but don't be ignorant either

Over the past couple of months, we have been so consumed by important national events (RaGa vs NaMo, Srinivasan becoming the ICC head et al) that we have totally failed to notice or even give any significant importance to that little microscopic thing back in West Africa that has been steadily moving from first gear to third as it increases its mortality count.

Why should we, of course? Africa is way over there and we are safe over here. Besides, if our movies have steadfastly taught us anything over decades and decades of 'not-so-subliminal' messaging, it is that we have the pristine pure holy Ganga water and temple-bell ringing procedure to save us when all medical methods fail.

First of all, a quick recap, before we reach India itself.

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) - Genus: Ebolavirus. 
  • First documented appearance: 1976 - Congo. 
  • Worst mortality numbers before 2014: Mid-400s. Has always been confined to Africa till date. 
  • Mortality in 2014: 1000 plus dead, till date.
  • Transmission: Direct contact with blood or any secretions from an infected person / contaminated needles / infected meat. Infected people may shed the virus for up to 30 days.
  • Most likely to get infected: health care personnel, friends and relatives of infected while treating/ looking after them.
  • Modus operandi: Attacks the blood coagulation system and then rapidly spreads to other vital organs. 
  • Symptoms: Once they start showing themselves after an incubation period, the symptoms generally follow the trend depicted below.

Image courtesy:

  • Fatality rate: between 50 - 90%
  • Cure: None.
  • Treatment options: Quarantine from general public to prevent spread

The Indian government announced earlier this week that there was no need to panic and they had everything under control for now. The fact that United Nations just declared this outbreak an International Health Emergency as of yesterday is far less reassuring.
Fine, I agree that there is a certain logic in not breeding panic. After all, if I were to do that, I would be no better than the communal hate-mongers I despise so avidly. So I would just like to engage you all in a very plausible and intellectual "what if" scenario, if you would bear with me. There are going to be a few moral conundrums as I paint this picture... hard decisions requiring a harder heart to bear.