Jul 3, 2015

Small alterations make a big difference

The best thing about the internet? There are so many wonderful sites online that we are absolutely unaware about until we surreptitiously come across them. Someone sends us a link and we read that article with an appreciative nod. Before we know it, we are clicking to see what else is there in the site and soon we are lost in the plethora of awesome articles available there, bookmarking dozens for future reference.

Rewardme has been that kind of an experience for me. Categorized under various headings including home, health, family, food, beauty et al, it offers you literally thousands of tips in the form of short succinct articles. I could talk about any number of those articles with you but I will choose to stick to one which was relevant to my family and helped influence some of our decisions over the last month. To be frank, we took a print out of said article and went about ticking off the things we completed in the list.

The article in question was, "15 little tricks to make your living room more inviting." and it was fortuitous that I came across it when I did because we were in the process of doing a little redecorating of the house. The article talks of how we need to give more importance to the look of the living room, seeing as how it tends to be the favourite place to spend time in most homes. They are right, of course and for far too long, we had delayed making any alterations, going with the "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" motto.
Anyway, the article did inspire us as we started modifying aspects, both small and large, within our living room till we finally incorporated almost all the points from the said list. So what did we do?

We did our research. We collected pictures from magazines that had ideas we wanted to incorporate.

When it came to choosing a central point, we eschewed the concept of 'the mid-point', opting instead to use the length to form two comfortable halves, each with their own central point. This also helped us de-clutter the anterior half of the room and made it more spacious for everyone as they walked across rooms. One wall in chocolate brown broke the monotony of white across the rest of the walls and gave us the focal point for the colours we would use for the rest of the room. 

The serene Buddha on the coffee table got the pride of prominence spot for the front half, greeting everyone as they enter the house.

Jun 26, 2015

The Goa #LiveLodgyCal experience - a ravishing ride to remember

There are three major lessons I have learned in life over the years:
1. There is no greater example of unconditional love than a dog.
2. To look thinner, eat healthy exercise always stand next to someone fatter.
3. When Harish Krishnan of Blogadda calls you and asks "Boss, Are you free on X-Y-Z dates?", you say "Hell, yeah!" and start packing.

A typical conversation between the two of us usually goes like this:
Harish - Boss, what are you doing on X-Y-Z dates?
Me - You had me at hello!
Harish - Uh... I did not say hello...
Me - You said it now. That counts! Now show me the buffet tables! Show me the prawns! Show me the ham! Watermelons! Show me melons!!
Harish (placing hand over speaker end of his phone) - Ankita, are you really sure we want this guy along?

Anyway... when the phone call arrived earlier this month mentioning 'Goa' and 'drive', I had no hesitation in clicking my heels and replying in the affirmative.

Thus it came to be that on the 19th of June, 40 of the most brilliant bloggers of the country left their homes from various sections of India - ranging from rural villages like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to metropolitan shangri-las like Kannur (yes, I live there. How did you guess??) - heading for one common destination: Goa. The rain Gods tried their best to halt our progress but backed off once they saw some of the mean tweets we wrote about them.

From the airport, we were whisked away and driven to the legendary Leela Palace Resort in Goa where we were greeted by team Renault and Blogadda. (Did I not mention earlier that we were going to Goa  for the #LiveLodgyCal event to check out Renault's Lodgy, already being christened as the country's new number one MPV by experts and riders alike?) 

I wanted to try out all the things I never get in Kerala...
which is why the first thing I did upon entering Goa was
have coconut water!
It is tough to describe the Leela without gushing and running out of adjectives. There is such a wonderful blend of sophistication and serenity that welcomes you right from the moment you enter the famed resort. With over 220 rooms and 800 staff on hand (4 per room!) waiting upon your every need, it is hard not to feel like royalty.  Wonderful water bodies within coexist alongside the clear white sparkling beaches a short walk away, making for an enchanting journey of discovery as you walk though the property.

You know you are in for something special when this is the sight that greets you at the entrance

After high tea, we headed off to our rooms where we lazed around for a bit, taking in the gorgeous views, both within and without, before heading back to meet up with the others.

Jun 23, 2015

Renault Lodgy - the new sheriff in town #LiveLodgyCal

I learned a lot about Renault over the weekend. I knew they were a French automobile manufacturing company but I guess I had the misconception that they were a relatively young company, my mind only being able to recall the Pulse and the Duster from their stable in India. Considering the fact that they were established in 1899, I guess that would make them a 116 year old 'young' lad, eh?

But you see, that is exactly my point. There was so much I was unaware of even as I stepped into Goa to test out the recently launched 2015 Renault Lodgy. Since their arrival in India in 2011, Renault has been on a steady upward curve with five car launches in 18 months culminating in the extremely successful launch of the Duster. In this short span of time, they have already established over 150 outlets across the country as of last year and are gearing up for 200 by the end of this year.

They also had a stellar track record which we need to be grateful for, I realized.
Renault are true innovators in the automobile field, credited with making the first sedan, hatchback and even multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). Since the launch of the first MPV in the world back in 1984, over 2 million Renault MPVs have been sold across a hundred countries over the years.

In India, the MPV segment caters to a very specific crowd, one that gives more prominence for practicality, comfort and space. And yet, the modern family demands more, does it not? It is no longer just about fitting seven family members in a car... we still want the best in ride handling, technology and features.

Enter the Renault Lodgy.

Image courtesy: the super awesome photographer DeckleEdge

Unwilling to rest on the laurels that they have achieved across the world, the Lodgy rode in to India in April 2015 and immediately redefined the existing benchmarks in the MPV category hitherto set down by the likes of the Toyota Innova, Maruti Ertiga and Honda Mobilio.

40 bloggers from across the country were invited by Renault in association with Blogadda to Goa for the #LiveLodgyCal event. Divided into teams of 4 randomly, we got to drive either the 85 PS or the 110 PS over the weekend. My team, the #FleetingFour ( consisting of SenthilKumarSammy & Prashanth ) got the 85 PS and got to drive over 70 kms from Cavelossim to Canacona beach and back, testing the Lodgy on various terrains to see if the numbers on paper matched the actual performance on the road.

Jun 15, 2015

Edelweiss Tokio Life - CritiCare+ : A white knight in times of need

As a doctor working with patients who are often in need of urgent surgical care and emergency medical assistance, one of the saddest sights that I often see is that of the loved ones of the patient distraught over the surmounting bills as the days go by inside the hospital. When one factors in that major diseases and procedures often require specialists and tertiary health care, it is easy to understand how big a strain has been thrown upon them in addition to the emotional suffering.

With stress levels rising and the onset of most diseases starting at a younger age, the need for health insurance is a must in today's day and age. The onset of a critical illness can be sudden, shattering the serenity of a home in an instant. Even as doctors work around the clock to heal you, the need for both you and your family to be financially stable during this testing period is essential.

Of the various health insurance schemes available, Edelweiss Tokio Life - CritiCare+ caught my eye for the benefits it provided to patients in their times of need.

The 17 critical illnesses that the scheme focuses on are truly debilitating in nature and sadly, more and more common these days. These include:

  • Heart - Open Chest CABG, First heart attack, Open heart replacement/ repair of heart valves, aortic surgery.
  • Malignant Cancers. 
  • Benign brain tumors.
  • Transplant of major organs - kidney, liver, bone marrow, lung, pancreas, heart.
  • Strokes.
  • Permanent limb paralysis.
  • Comas.
  • Major burns.
  • Total blindness.
  • Motor Neuron diseases.
  • Multiple sclerosis, aplastic anemia, kidney failure requiring regular dialysis.

Other key benefits of Edelweiss Tokio Life - CritiCare+ which makes it worth considering include:
1. Maximum entry age of 65 years.
2. Lump sum benefit on diagnosis of critical illness.
3. One can claim up to three times under the multi-claim option with a waiver on all future premiums after the first claim.
4. Discount available for large sums assured.
5. Sum assured ranging from Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 1,00,00,000.
6. Tax benefits for both premium and claim amount.

The true value of this critical illness insurance comes to the fore when you compare it with some of the policies put out by other life insurance companies in India. Many of the diseases listed above are noted there too but on the exclusion criteria unfortunately, something that the patient and his/her family would be unaware of until it is too late. And sadly, these are the medical ailments that often cause the biggest financial burden, both within the hospital and in the days to come.

Watching a loved one suffer is one of the most heart breaking events in the life of a person. During such times, the added burden of worrying about where to get money to pay for treating them can be overwhelming. Unique schemes like this are a true blessing at such times, helping the family provide the best care without worrying about the monetary aspect by being a life support when they need it most.

Jun 9, 2015

Why I hope you will take up the #100HappyDays Challenge

In 2014,when I started the #100HappyDays challenge, I was at a particularly low point in my life. I did not really expect much when I took it up but I knew I had to bring about some change in my journey. 100 consecutive days featuring at least one moment of happiness was the target in front of me when I began. 71% of those who took it up failed, the site warned me. I honestly expected to be in that 71%.

I did complete my 100 Happy Days last year. And in those 100 Happy Days, my life did change. I won awards at a national level, was published in more books in that small period than in the last 30 odd years of my life, visited more cities in those 100 days than I had in a decade, met movie stars & national award winners and made changes in my life that still reap me rewards today. Long after the challenge ended, the after glow continued with unique opportunities presenting itself and wonderful people entering my life.

I attributed it to the change that the challenge had brought about in my life... the need to find happiness amidst the sorrow and mundane; to spot the candlelight in the darkness. I chose to be happy and actively seek out happiness during every one of those days. And I did.

"It was just a case of sheer luck. The timing of all this happening just as you were going through the challenge was a mere coincidence." That is what many said. And while I could see the logic in their words, I still held on to the belief that seeking out the positive brought the positive into my life.

This year, in 2015, I took up the 100HappyDays Challenge again. I don't know many who take it up twice, given that the odds of completing it once itself is quite rare. But I wanted to hold on to my belief that I could attract goodwill and happiness via this challenge.

I failed.

May 22, 2015

This is your moment, Doctors of India. Make it count...

Okay. So that happened.

You write a regular blog post, hoping to hear the opinion of the usual 5-10 odd doctors who visit your site and the next thing you know, you are getting calls from friends while you are having dinner letting you know that you are in the front pages of national newspapers and on BBC.

Or as I like to call it, just another normal Friday at Godyears.

Jokes aside, I did not in my wildest dreams expect this kind of a reaction. I don't think any blogger could have, honestly. I expected the usual 300 - 400 footfalls at the blogpost before I could move on to some lighthearted post. Well, as of right now, the page views stand a little shy of 1.9 lakhs and I have no idea about all the websites who shared or opined about the post.

But thank you all. The vast number of comments that have arrived here as well as on the sites which allow comments and on my email have been supportive.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences, your memories and your opinions.

Just another life lesson from Scrubs

I guess I have to address the key issues of criticism too before I can get to what this post is truly about.

A lot of the criticism dealt with the "pole dancer" line which ended up being used by newspapers and media and ruffled a few feathers. While I did not expect them to lead with that, you know what? I am okay with it. I will gladly take the hit for that. The end point was that you all spoke up. And even in disagreeing with me, you actually ended up unwittingly proving my point.

You see, in the replies and rebuttals from fellow doctors and journalists who felt I was wrong to say such blasphemy, I kept finding variations of the same sentence "Yes, things have gotten worse and we need to change the way it is all going BUT... "

Well, here's my question... If you knew that the system had gotten worse - if you knew that things were decaying - why did none of you open up and speak about it?

Why did I have to be the little boy who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes?

Is that how you treat patients? You take histories and blood samples, look through the microscopes, identify the causative bacteria and... Nothing? You don't treat the illness? You just sit there watching the patient die a slow agonizing death?

When Dr Rohit Gupta was beaten up and the cctv footage went public, what did you do to let the public know that this was not okay? When a female doctor was manhandled, molested and threatened with rape for following triage, why did you not speak up louder?
Because it was okay? It was part of their job?

I stood up because I don't believe that suffering violence can be written off under the category of "part of the noble profession". These are not men and women trained in warfare that they know to defend themselves. For the same reason, I am afraid I will not accept comments where people try to shame me or other doctors telling us that if we can't handle the lack of facilities, man power, equipment and violence, then we not dedicated enough for the profession. That is just hogwash.
You can add a lot of things under the "selfless" package. But violence doesn't get in.

Know this - we are not facing this alone.
As the Week reported last year, 76.7% of Chinese doctors do not want their children to follow their profession for the very same reasons.  76 percent! Doctors from the two biggest populations on the planet are suffering the same level of disillusionment! It is a malaise that is affecting the profession all over the world. Now is not the time to silence voices asking to heal a wound gone septic.

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