Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lunch Meet...Chennai Blogger Group.

After a long discussion and often heated discussion on the Blogger Page running to around 40 posts, the chennai blogger group finally agreed to meet for lunch at Hotel Matsya, T.Nagar. This was a new experience for me - as I usually end up spending the New Year eve with the same old gang- year after year....(with apologies to Raj/Bobby/Bala- you guys rock, but custom stales and variety spices you know?). So off I was, on the appointed time - to meet people who I had seen only online and hoping to recognize them by their profile pics.....and as per the mail from Kalyan, I had with me, my formal clothes -Blazer et al, in the car....hoping to see how the others turned out first and then doing a quick dress change to fit in with the group.

I reached Hotel Matsya - 10mins after 12 and went in to greet the organizer of the meet Kalyan, who to my amusement- I learnt was still on the way, leaving to me the honours of receiving the arriving members. So I left the cool waiting hall and came out to sit in the open cafe- a strategic area, from where I hoped to snare all those unwary people who came straight to lunch (skipping breakfast)- in the hope that Kalyan would provide them a feast to remember -on New Years eve.

With my Dark Glasses on....I was scanning the crowd MI-4 style - for anyone who looked even vaguely like a Blogger (BTW, how do you define a blogger's appearance?..answers at the end)....and as time went on, I had a sneaky doubt whether the venue had been shifted and i was not notified and was destined to sit at the cafe for the next two hours before leaving for home- hungry and angry. I called up Jothi to ask for updates and he told me that he had just woken up and was going into brush and would be with me in half an hour.....That really sent my BP up and I was mentally contemplating murder when Anand showed up, instantly identified me and walked up to join me. We had an interesting 10 mins together- cursing the lazy people who always showed up late.

Now, that i wasnt the lone  மாங்காய், but had company...we spent the next few minutes scanning for Kalyan..whom i was confident of recognizing from his french beard paraded prominently on his profile pic. That led to a few hilarious mistaken identity calls...when i hollered a "Hey! Hey! Kalyan...Coem here" to anyone who walked past us with even a hnit of a beard..with my dark glasses on..i was must have looked an intimidating sight for the last guy i called literally ran into the restaurant without glancing back at us.

And then the next two arrived.....Hema and Ashwini. Now, you must have heard the phrase....big things sometimes come in small packages. That was proved by the appearance of the terror poet of our group- Hema. Given the erudite quality of her poems, i really was expecting someone a bit more older and mature and was surprised to see that she was just a kid. shows, that you should not pre-judge people.

Ashwini, too turned out to be a surprise. i have read her blog, seen her profile pic - but sitting next to her, i couldnt help looking at her facial profile...(i know, i know, i cant help looking at people from a professional viewpoint). She had a perfect facial bone structure- the kind we often labored to achieve artificially. Her Brow, Nose and Chin ( what we call the Esthetic Line- Glabella/Nasion/Menton Points) - were all in a perfectly straight alignment. At that minute all i wanted (more than anything else) was to look at a X-ray of her skull- to check whether it was a perfect bony alignment or merely a soft tissue alignment....but then i reasoned it out- that she might agree to have a photo taken with me - but if i asked to see an X-ray of her..that would be the last we would ever see of her...So i suppressed my professional curiosity out of deference to Chennai Bloggers.

Ashok was the next to turn up and join us. Ashok and me were old friends- we had done the trip together when we had gone to the Indi-blogger meet in a Tata Grande. Ashok was the photo-blogger of our i made a discreet attempt to wipe my face and freshen up for the inevitable photo session to follow.

And then to my shock and horror- Kalyan showed up minus his crowning glory- his french beard. and after all the effort we had spent hollering at those passign by with even a faintest hint of a gone to waste- courtest of Kalyans razor. The last to join us- was the indefatigable commentator Jothi and with his arrival - having reached a respecatble number we adjourned inside to start the actual lunch meet.

After having booked a table for 20 and finally 8 of us showing up (Charan joing us inside just before the meal begun...எப்படி சரண் அவ்வளோ பக்கா timing??) and Hemalatha led the way...i guess, she had sworn off meals for the past two days- ever since Kalyan had posted the final details of the meet- to show us all- what a clean mind/healthy appetite is.....literally racing to the front of the line, she foreswore the salad bar to head for the starters...well, each to his own.

The conversation during the lunch was pretty general- owing primarily to the fact that we were all concentrating too much on the meal to start arguing/discussing passiontely on any topic. although i would really have to grant Matsya a minus star for not providing us with soup spoons for the soup- but forcing us to use a general table spoon. But i guess, the food blogger among us, Kalyan would be posting about it more in detail- castigating the management of Matsya....(go, Kalyan)

One of the trending topics during the meal was my blog posts and Jothi and Ashok were discussing it in a detailed way much to my discomfiture- as i generally concentrate on food when food is before me and coudnt defend myself properly. But its all among friends, right guys? So as the Lunch meet finally wound down, in walked Anuraag- just in time to join the group photo sessions.

As the bill came up and we all pitched in- Kalyan was seen frantically counting and re-counting the entire amount again and again. i was intrigued to see just how many times he would count before he would finally hand it over to the patient waiter hanging behind his shoulder for the bill amount and who, in all probability, would have made a better job of counting it and prompting if it ran low.

Finally, after settling the bill, we adjourned outside to the cafe again- where we started a round table conference on , what else, but books and the differeence between literature and fiction. there were some who found Chetan Bhagat intersting, some JK Rowling, there was even a fan of Ayn Rand...guess who?....but i found the silent (till then Anuraag) quite interesting...when he made a point- he really Made a point.

Well, we come to the end at last.After exchanging mobile numbers and promising to meet up again in the not-too-distant future we all split...

All-in-all a really great end to the year.....suspense/thriller/good food/conversation..there was something for everyone...enjoyed this much more than the previous blogger meet.

P.S.the answer to how to spot a blogger...if a male-look for the unshaven look/facial hair/crumpled clothes/jholna bag combo....if a female- look at the hands carefully- no Nail Polish? definitely a blogger....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Lovers Lament.......

Through the vale of darkness
The valley reeking fear 
Through the paths of the undead
The heart stricken by fear
Through the mighty oceans
The storms and sinking ships
Through the pitiless peaks
The jagged cliffs so cold
Through the deepest jungles
The poisons and beasts to clear
And even through the gates of Hades
Though the Grim Reaper himself guard
I’d dare them all together
I’d dare them all-alone, And
My Love, My dear Love, I will come for you
If I knew you were near.

For, Once, I let you go
And never knew peace at heart
For, Once, I thought I was cleverer
And laughed I’d thrown you off
Young I was and foolish
And never knew what I’d got
And then you left me forever
I woke and knew my loss
Words are just not enough
To express what I feel
I’d love to tell you All
If only we could meet

Heaven is where you went to
Or so your friends swear
When I have them sweating
A switchblade at their throat 
But all Heaven cannot hide you
From a lover like me
If Heaven is where you are
Then Heaven will I come
Watch out then O’Heaven
Stay away, off my way
For I’ll care naught for reputations 
Heed not for situations
If only My Love, I can meet.

Ramayana In Verse.....a Vaulting ambition on my part? or a foolhardy attempt?


Prince I was, a man born to be a king,
Of the Ishavaku race, the sun-gods heritage,
Beside the Sarayu we ruled.
Ayodhya the city, famed capital
Lording over the lands all around.
Rich and beautiful, Strong and bountiful,
Favoured by nature and the gods alike.
Dasrath was the king, my dad too
And wives he had a-plenty.
All of them barren, he prayed to the gods
And did Aswamedha-the horse sacrifice
And the gods responded, no longer stingy,
Four of us born, bro’s I had three.
The lands all around were happy,
The harvest was plenty,
The weather that year was mild
And only my step-moms were wild.
And there was the rub-
My problems began- as soon as I was begat
Of Kausalya- the queen- consort- dear mom.
As heir to the throne, the rightful Prince
And so incensed was Kaikeyi, da’s favorite
She begat strife on behalf of her son,
Beloved Bharat, my verbose bro.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Anjaneya Jyanthi...My visit to Veera Anjaneya Temple @ Kakalur

My Mom, when she woke me up this morning, had a question for me...."do you have anymore leave left?" now this was a loaded question which always made me could have multiple interpretations but always ended up with my not getting to work that day. So when i inquired what she had in mind, she told me that today was "Anjaneya Jayanthi- birthday of Lord Hanuman" and she wanted the family to visit the Lord Veera Anjaneyar Temple at Kakalur, near Tiuvallur, for as she put it "to pray that I get a good wife". This was usually the clincher for me. But I couldnt help commenting that "will God bring a girl by hand straight to our house? you, as parents should search more diligently, a suitable girl for me and searching on doesnt count" But nobody seems to have heard these mumbled dialogues of mine - so i called up the hospital and having reported the staple "stomach-ache" applied for and got leave for the day

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Normal Birth- is always a Miracle…

When is good news really good news? When do you feel the need to tell the truth regardless of consequences? Is it better to tell some good news and immediately follow it up with bad news?

I was in the canteen today having a cup of coffee when I got the call that I was needed in the labour room (on a emergency callover) for an eclampsia patient -that’s the condition when a woman in labour ends up having convulsions(fits) and starts bleeding from excessively high blood pressure and can die of bleeding.

Well, I rushed over there and took over the case and started the necessary treatment. Meanwhile I couldn’t help glancing over (occasionally) to the next bed where a delivery of a child was going on. The person doing the delivery was a postgraduate student of the gynecology&obstetrics department  and she soon pulled out the baby (naturally) and then without bothering to check whether the baby was breathing or not- she handed it over to the two house-surgeons who were assisting the birth (trying to learn  hands-on) and she went away.

The two house-surgeons, both of them just passed out graduates with only theory knowledge and no practical experience -were trying to make the baby breathe for the first time- and this has to happen withing the first 5-6 mins after birth to prevent any brain damage due to lack of oxygen

Unfortunately this baby was not responding even after 7-8 mins, at which point normally the doctors usually give up their efforts and declare that the baby was born dead. Meanwhile I was also so busy with the patient i was treating-that I only had time to glance over occasionally. By now 8-9mins had passed and both the house-surgeons (and me) knew that the baby was gone by now- almost ten minutes without oxygen to the brain? What chance had the kid?…the house-surgeons as per procedure should have called for expert help- if they realized that a case had gone beyond their capacity to treat. But stubbornly they kept trying the same old thing without asking for help- which is the highest crime you can do according to me.

Till finally, the staff nurse in the ward (prompted by me) went and called the on-duty pediatrician who came up and spent a few more minutes trying the same things already tried unsuccessfully by the two house-surgeons. He then as one final effort inserted a suction tube up the baby’s throat and vacuumed out the thick mucus plug which was obstructing the lungs. Suddenly, the baby took her first breathe and started crying .  The pediatrician handed over the baby to the two house-surgeons to complete the formalities and went away to wash. The two students consulted between themselves and decided to put the time of birth on the case sheet - as just a few minutes ago as they didn’t want to get into any trouble in the future..they were giggling that this was the time they would even use for drafting the horoscope for the kid. They then placed the crying baby beside the unconscious mother and went away. 

As no one told the mother that her baby had been without oxygen for almost 12-14mins and had died first and then come back- she would be very happy if she learnt the news. But will she be as happy if she learnt that because of the oxygen deprivation during the crucial period- her kid would be most probably a retard…oops a special-needs kid in the future? Will she be happy then- being saddled with a child who will never be normal her life-long but be a burden? Was this good news or bad news? that their kid had first died and then miraculously come back to life (getti-ayasu, as they call it)...or that because the kid was late in breathing the parents would have to suffer with the kid all their lives (especially financially) and it would have even been better to let the child die after the first 10mins when it didnt breathe ? who can decide that? thank god it wasnt my case and i didnt have to make that decision..

And this episode proves the entirely stupid idea of posting untrained doctors to rural areas as compulsory rural service- it would be an utter disaster for the rural people if that happens. Till junior doctors get enough experience they should never be allowed to treat patients by themselves- there are so many things which can go wrong and peoples health is not the place to gain political points. Those politicians who support this idea should be hanged.

My brief career as a Porn Photographer....for honeymoon couples

Is the cold season (off season in november) the wrong time to visit  any hill station? Recently I had to make an official trip to Yercaud because I had a workshop to do there for the state conference. It was strictly business- so I went with a couple of the guys from college on a triple-sharing basis. I had half-expected Yercaud to be deserted at this season but to my surprise it was bursting to the seams with honeymooners. Must be the wedding season or something and the rooms were full in almost all the hotels and lodges and the town was crammed with people everywhere you went.

I especially saw a lot of honeymoon couples wandering all over the town hand-in-hand.  And more of them doting all corners of the so-called Rose Garden which was a pale copy of the Botanical gardens of Ooty. Everywhere I turned a corner- there pops out a couple cuddling close together for some quality time (at 3PM in the afternoon???? Yeech...). I saw cuddles, huddles, hugs and even two Kisses...which broke up on my sudden appearance. Rather than disturb people carrying on "their" official work, I had to walk back to the center of the park in a hurry (carefully closing my eyes- what a pavaam/innocent guy i am) where the crowds were milling about and the chances of my witnessing something XXX-rated was lesser.

Here there was more trouble in store for me- I was constantly pestered and irritated by certain pesky couples asking me to click their pictures while they posed in various abominable romantic poses (cheek-to-cheek etc)...I felt like a Porno cameraman when taking some of the pictures- especially with the angles and poses suggested by the couples themselves. Of course I had my revenge on them, by asking them to reciprocate by taking my pictures while I posed in the same fashion as they did- making faces...And strange to say- one ultra-competitive couple ended up having a big fight over me...Uh! its not like that- if it came out wrong - what I was trying to say was, the hubby first clicked me while wifey was looking on in the background offering suggestions. At the end of the shot, the wife walked up to the husband grabbed my camera (before I did) and scrutinized my picture- what came out next was a sarcastic and withering update on her hubby's non-existent photographic skills..the lady requested me (rather ordered) to go back to my position commenting that she would take the picture this time and show how it is done- and in the mood that she was I hastened to comply. So she took the picture, then beckoned me over and together we scrutinized the result.

I could no way see any difference between her husbands and hers(both were atrocious)......but would I say it to her face? (mad - I am not) I praised her about how superbly she had taken the picture vowing in my mind to erase it first chance I got. She then turned with a sneer and started blasting her husband again and this time the poor man - probably incensed by the scene of his wife and me with our heads close together discussing stuff intimately- started shouting back at her in equal measure and I took the opportunity to walk (escape) away from there without looking back till I reached a safe distance from the weird couple. The funny thing was I had noticed the newness of the mangalsutra on the girls neck- they couldn't have been married for more than a few days- so all this rage at the husbands incompetence pointed to only one thing- the girl was obviously ranting off her disappointment with her hubby in something else ...I am sure, you, the reader can connect the dots.

And finally comes the most interesting part, what happened the next morning as I was preparing to check out and leave Yercaud for my trip down to Salem Junction and thence forward to Chennai. I had got up quite early (for Yercaud) at 7 Am and had poked my head outside the door preparatory to going out for a solo walk- my friends were all snoring loudly and would have killed me if I had suggested they join me in some exercise at that early hour. The morning was misty, drizzling and intensely cold and I changed my mind in an instant and opted (wisely) to head back to bed for another hour. And then it happened. the door of the neighboring room opened- a girl - another newly wed honeymooner came out wrapped in a shawl and hollered inside "come on, its a lovely climate, we will go for a walk before breakfast". I was standing outside my door near the balcony railing and I turned back to stare at the room inside. The husband was still in bed half propped up on his elbows and looking with horror at the mist outside he screamed in desperation "But look, you cant be serious, its freezing outside- you will freeze, come back to bed"

And then, the wife turned halfway and said (wait for the punchline before you clap) "OK, so what if I come back frozen, you are there to warm me up arent you?" she said this with an arched eye-brow and for one minute I envied her husband - a man whose wife was so proud of him in all matters (said & unsaid). I almost clapped then- but felt it wouldn't be proper. So I went back in to lie down all alone on my bed (my friends dont count)and wait for the day to come, when my wife will demand of me to warm her up after a cold walk......

So, the wait for my wife to come continues (my turn will come some day soon) while my Yercaud trip was over so quickly....with just memories of my photography masterclass..

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sight-seeing....on a Rainy day.

(Discalimer :Parental Alert- you have to be 18 years and above to read the contents of this post. All Characters/names and incidents are purely imaginative and a work of fiction. Read at your own Risk)

Madras where I live has a very brief rainy season- it lasts at the most a couple of weeks. And hence when the rains finally turn up- we have learnt to enjoy it to the full. One of the greatest pleasures of a damp and rainy day is to curl up in bed with a spine-chilling horror novel- one of the old classics would do fine. If you really have to go out on a rainy day....I prefer to travel in the car with all windows closed. Thats because the rains have a peculiar effect on me- they make me very horny- especially when I am commuting in the city and on all the roads, wherever I look, there are happy couples going about on motorbikes, the girls sitting behind with wet clothes and draped on the guys like a close fitting garment- suggesting all sorts of things to my fertile imagination....HA! the travails of being a Single Male......

My dad, on the other hand has certain peculiar ideas of how to spend time on a rainy sunday morning- regardless of my protestations at being denied my usual sunday-sleep-a-thon. He wanted me to go see a girl- the usual girl-seeing ceremony- early on a sunday morning. This was the first I had heard about it- and when I asked him for details- he replied curtly (in his usual way)- the horoscopes had matched and if I wanted to see the girl- I had to get ready and come in person, 'cause they werent handing out any photographs of the girl, they were very traditional.

And so we went, all three of us (plus the driver) mom jabbering at how I always seemed to choose the worst possible dress to wear to girl-seeing- out of my entire wardrobe. I gradually tuned out my mother’s droning and looked out the window -just as a sleek and slim female body slid by my slow moving car in a flash; accelerating smoothly past, on a Honda Activa bike, raising my lust quotient up by a hundredfold in an instant and just as I glared hard in her direction she had melted into the rain-fed distance leaving me with an instant hard-on, which I had to get rid of, as soon as possible. For, just think of the questions on the brides family’s mind if the groom turned up for the girl-seeing ceremony with a humongous erection clearly visible in his all-too tight pants; as my mom insisted that I always wear the smallest sized pants I had- to minimize the size of my waist which to put it mildly - was a sign of my growing prosperity and professional success…I shook my head to clear that girl on the bike but couldn’t get rid of her. If the world was coming to an end by 2012 as the climate change people kept screaming, that was the kind of female body I wanted to spend the end of days with..

Anyway, we finally reached Tiruvanmiyur and alighted at the girls house, with the confirmation being a plaque reading "Dr.V******, Prof (retd) Veternary college, Chennai". They were waiting out at the door- the parents of the girl. The girl's father seemed a decent sort, a short, skinny guy - but totally mismatched by his wife...she was tall, fair and an absolutely well-preserved lady in her early forties. If aunty was any indication- the girl must be a stunner, I thought, my hopes soaring with every second. And then we were invited inside and seated on a low comfortable sofa in the drawing room by the girls mother. As the elders exchanged pleasantries on nothing, I leant back and waited with bated breath -for the ordeal to start. And then like a breath of fresh air- a tall, slim, sexy, beautiful girl in a simple salwar, with minimal jewellery and absolutely no make-up, wafted in with a plate of eatables and went about distributing it to everyone in the room.

So, this divinity was who I had to come to see? I felt a thump in my heart as I stared star-struck at her and she handed over to me a plate of sweets and savouries. My hand shook as I reached out to accept the plate from her and as I accidentally touched a finger of hers, an electric current shot through me. And as she handed it over she glanced at me and gave me a smile. It wasn’t a coy, half-smile, it was a full-on beaming grin. Maybe she was just amused at my reaction on seeing her – the way I was salivating in her presence. But of course, I couldn’t help it, she was that beautiful. As she finished serving everyone and moved on into the house I leant back with a shame-faced grin on my face. This, this, was the moment I had been looking for. This was my ideal match for marriage. That sweet smile playing on her lips as she handed my plate, that meaningful look in her doe-like eyes, that, oh so, innocently contrived touching of feathers, everything indicated her approval of me. I was in heaven. If I had a mangalsutra in my hands right then, I was ready to tie it on her neck at that very instant.

And then tragedy struck- by the un-looked for entrance of yet another girl, who came and sat in the chair right opposite us. I made the connection immediately- this was the original piece, the girl I had come to see, the other must have been a servant maid. Tall and well built ( a bit too much) this girl was clad in the proper dress- the traditional Kanchevaram silk Saree, heavily draped with jewels, and had a thick coating of make-up which just coudnt hide the fact that she was a little (to put it mildly) mature and manly, with a forbidding expression on her face- as if she hated the very thought of this ceremony. 

My head was all in a whirl. I felt like I had been double punched by Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in tandem. And I could feel the Titanic of my Love slowly sinking beneath the cold waters of the Atlantic, after having crashed on this ice-berg sitting opposite me. And then my mother had her usual "oops" moment. My mom had been busy in a discussion with aunty, who was sitting on the other side of her. And now she turned around to the girl in front and asked "Is this your elder daughter? how many kids does she have and what does her husband do?" ....... The silence which followed this question must have lasted for mere seconds but felt like eons as I sat there cringing at my mothers statement. She had made the fundamental but unpardonable mistake of confusing the two girls, but all I could hear - were the sound of those airliners crashing into the Twin towers of my life.

 And then the girl's father started protesting volubly “No, no this is Subashini the girl you have come to see, she is working at Sify Communications as a networking engineer....The other one who came first is my younger daughter Sushmitha, she is very young, she is just doing her final year engineering in Rajalakshmi engineering college”. My mother immediately realized her mistake but nevertheless ploughed on blustering bravely “Sorry, I didn’t see the photo- you didn’t send us the photos- so we couldn’t recognize the girl" . All perfectly true, but made no iota of difference to the major blunder she had made. 

I thought, I had maybe one chance to put things right- I could ask to speak to the girl in private and apologize profusely for my mother’s mistake (everything except falling at her feet if necessary). But the girl had gone in by then and her father turned down my request saying they were a very traditional family and their blasted traditions did not allow it. So we escaped out of there- with our tails between our legs- and as we travelled back- the entire car was filled with a gloomy atmosphere. My mom couldn’t bear the silence and finally blurted out in a defensively belligerent tone “What? She looked so mature didn’t she? Like a woman who had already borne children and not like an unmarried girl...." After a minute I said "Mom" in an exasperated tone "That was un-called for" She thought it over and then said "Ok,  we will go home and then call them up and apologize" My dad said at that juncture "Better to leave it alone for a couple of days and then we can call....the wound will have time to heal". So we all agreed to that.

Meanwhile i thought to myself that I would have to lie low for the next couple of weeks, change my route and so on- to avoid the contract -killers that girl was sure to hire to get me......

The things my parents do......and the problems they get me into....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On how I swallowed my EGO....and made good.

One day out of the blue 3 months ago, someone from Salem called me up and introduced himself as the Organizing Secretary (Scientific) of the up-coming State Conference at Yercaud and asked me about my willingness to conduct a workshop for the delegates, as he had been impressed by my speech at the last national conference. I immediately agreed and we brain-stormed a couple of topics before we agreed on Laser surgery as both apt and interesting for the theme of the conference. I mailed him my CV and Photo to be included in the program brochure and then I called up my friends to find out who was attending that particular conference and made plans for booking tickets and hotel stays together.

A month later I came back home to find that a brochure for the conference had arrived and opening it eagerly was confronted with the announcement of the workshop under the title which I had suggested but with the presenter printed as Dr.P.A.....WTF? I thought ....who is this guy? No one I knew had heard of him. the blurb under his name was exactly what they would have written for me too..everything fit me- except the name.  I immediately called up the conference secretary and enquired. He apologized profusely, attributed it to a printing mistake and then assured me they would get it corrected in the next mailer.

One more month passed and I got the 2nd call for the conference and the name was still there staring at me. This time, a little pissed off, I called him up again and when I asked him pointblank, he told me that yes, my name had been removed by the central committee after much deliberation. And the reason he offered was that the central committee members had objected to me because I was from Chennai. They had accused the Chennai people of dominating all scientific programs in the state of tamilnadu and had decided to give a chance to someone from the southern part of the state- whether deserving or not- to encourage them. Completely disheartened by this blatant parochialism, I called up a close friend to commiserate and he informed me that as per his enquiries (from his secret sources) the person who had replaced me Dr.P.A. was a native of chennai, a very recent graduate of a private university in chennai with no records of any academic achievements and was simply there on the program because he was working as an assistant of the famous Dr.A of Chennai, man with much influence and a past bigshot of the association.

When I expressed my anger and indignation, pointing how Chennai is also a part of Tamil Nadu and this was downright insulting to intelligence and told my friend that I was going to drop off the conference, he counselled me to treat it as a jolly tour with friends- as all the arrangements had already been made and it would be difficult to change them all now for my sole benefit.

And this is how I landed up in Salem, the day before the workshop. When I had checked in at our rooms and was making the preliminary rounds of the conference venue, I was approached by the conference secretary who wanted a private word with me. When we were alone in the room- he told me that the workshop had generated tremendous interest, that over a hundred practioners had registered and some of the oldest graduates of Madras Medical college were there to learn about lasers and the organizers had arranged for a dozen patients with interesting conditions to be operated on the next day. So whats the hitch, I asked? The problem, he told me, was that the upstart who had replaced me having heard these details had taken funk and had failed to turn up citing an illness to his father.

I almost laughed out loud- serve him right- before I remembered the anxiety attacks I too face - everytime I go out on a big podium to talk to the stalwarts of my profession sitting below watching me keenly. And then the organizer asked me to fill in for the missing speaker. I declined immediately, saying I had no notes, no presentation, no laptop, nothing with me then. But in the back of my mind was the thought that my name was not there- the rest were all mere excuses. He asked me to reconsider and left. As I was pondering the question- my friends came up to the room and I shared the news with them. They were unanimous that I should not forget the insult to my dignity and refuse to co-operate.

I sat there for a long time thinking over things before I left the room, went down to the reception- asked the way to the nearest net center and once there downloaded 3 pictures of a TV/a remote/and a family watching tv, burnt it on a cd and left. the next morning I walked up to the organizer and indicated my willingness to fill the  void left by our absent eminent speaker. even my close friends were astonished by my decision- but I offered no explanation to anyone.

I again had qualms when I entered the auditorium to see Dr.P.A.'s name plastered in big letters all over- announcing his condescension to deliver the speech. But better sense prevailed and I stuck to my decision. When the moderator announced me as a last minute replacement for the absent speaker(minus a family emergency), Iintroduced myself- ran my 3 slides onscreen and told the audience (filled with my gray-haired people who had flourishing practices before I was even born) that as you dont need to know who invented TV or how it works to enjoy watching it- similarly lets skip all the basic stuff about lasers and I will teach you to just use it. I mentioned wikipedia as a source if they wanted to educate themselves futher on the physics of lasers. And then I pointed to the TV remote and then said - as you know before the remote we had to get up and physically change the channel everytime we wanted to, but with the remote you can sit on the sofa with ease and do it in a relaxed way, simlarly, a laser is just a latest version of the scalpel and you can use it to cut tissue just like how used to do with a scalpel but with better comfort of the doctor. I proceeded to do 12 surgeries ( a mix of cases) in 3 hours without a break and walked out to everyones applause.

When I think back on it, I still dont understand why I did what I did. The other fellow had his name plastered in everyone single nook and corner of the state and yet failed to turn up. I did and went on to get them out of a mess, that they themselves had dug and still- I was just a face hidden under a mask. I got nothing out of it- except a small engraved memento- with a sticker hastily stuck on it to cover the underlying name. No name, no fame, no remuneration, nothing.

But still, I feel oddly pleased with myself. I dont understand why? Am I wrong? Am I a wimp and a push-over like my friends called me? then why do I feel so satisfied at having swallowed my Ego whole and burped?