Sunday, April 8, 2018

Understanding Son of Sharmaji

What is Son of Sharmaji or "शर्माजी का बेटा"?

Okay, to explain this concept, I will have to keep my political correctness in a corner for a while.

Indian parents, especially in the middle class of the society are by and large very competitive. They compete using their children. The definition of success of their children depends on how the neighbor’s/friend’s/brother’s/acquaintances’ children are doing.

“Sharmaji ka beta” (Son of Sharmaji - SoS) is a common term we children (and future competitive parents) use for those whom with we are constantly being compared.

No matter how smart you are, or how much well paid you are, there are one or several “SoS” who will be ahead of you. Parents make sure that the accomplishments of the SoS will be thrown at your face (subtly or directly) time to time. They think that it “motivates” you to do better.

It is actually motivating. Most of the times, it will boost you to chase that SoS only to find another SoS running miles ahead than you. It becomes a never ending race.

I do not want to undermine or insult our parents. It’s not their fault. They have been sacrificing a lot to make their children’s life better. They make sure that we get best of the education and opportunities. The same thing thousands of parents doing for their children around them. Now some of the kids in these thousands make it big. It benefits their parents spectacularly. The other parents also start expecting that their kids too do the same for them. A single such success story can fuel aspirations of hundreds of families.

This is because the structure of our society. At any point an average Indian has at least 10–15 cousins, 15–30 acquaintances and if the mother is working, another 30–40. Total around 100 kids to compete with. Chances are that even 5% of them are doing wonders financially/ Academically, the pressure rises for all the other kids.

A person from a developed country can only imagine why the big fuss.

Prior to liberalization in the early 90s, most Indians were almost on the same level of society - financially. That means, up to that generation everyone almost had the same opportunities (even though it meant that everyone was basically poor).

Liberalization, access to education and overall increase in awareness opened up real world and new opportunities for Indians like a floodgate. I think this is the point where even a common clerk started dreaming to send his son/daughter to the developed countries (specifically the US) for education.

An SoS working in the US could earn more than 10 folds in few years of what his parents had earned in their entire working life as a government servant/ bank clerk in India. It meant that they suddenly moved one level up from their current social status. No wonder it made others look up to the SoS.

Working in the developed country is just an example what SoS’s were doing. In recent times the area of influence of SoS has reached new horizons. Following is the not so comprehensive list of the typical SoS.

1. NRI SoS - Goes to IIT/NIT/REC/IIM. Works in US/Europe/Mid-East saves a ton of money. Sends more than required to the parents back home. Takes them on a world tour. Buys them a house in lavish neighborhood. Marries to a girl recommended by his parents gives them cute grand children who speak with them in an American accent over skype. Gets a green card - Moksha for his parents.

2. MNC SoS - Works on a higher position in an MNC in India. Does all the above NRI SoS does for his parents minus the American accent grand children and the green card.

3. Entrepreneur SoS - Starts his own company. Does all the things MNC SoS does with added pride.

4. Civil Services SoS - Becomes IAS/ IPS/ IFS. Pride for the parents plus respect in the society. Less money than first three SoS’s though. Smart grandchildren as the daughter in law/son in law would likely be of same cadre. High possibility of one or many of the grandchildren being of 1st SoS type in future.

5. Armed forces officer SoS - Mostly same as Civil Services SoS with more pride but much less money plus fear of losing him/her any moment.

We are also aware that we are the SoS for someone else lagging behind in the race.

I hope as Indian society and economic stature of India will improve, this SoS race will be a thing in the past. However, the times are far. India has at least 6–7 such layers of society stacked. If the SoS is forgotten from one layer, he will be there in the next lower layer for a generation or two. It also will mean nucleation of families.

P.S. As of today 3rd June 2017, there is one more SoS has born.
The NRI PM SoS - Leo Varadkar.
My mother gave me the familiar look while watching the news.

Originally added as my answer to a Quora question. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

That feeling when you see something amazing for the first time

It's quite uncommon that you see a movie or a series and immediately think to yourself that the actor you just saw performing was a great one.

I have had this feeling quite a few times with some actors. Even though I was watching them for the first time on screen, I was immediately drawn towards their charisma even though these actors sometimes had trivial roles.

Sometimes my intuitions were aligned with the world view and even though I was seeing the actor first time on the screen, it turned out that he/she was already a celebrated one.

I am presenting the list of such experiences when I had the feelings. Of course I had no idea if some of them were big shots like Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson before seeing them perform.

Christoph Waltz -

When I saw the opening sequence of Inglorious Bastards, I immediately told my friend who was sitting next to me that this actor was going to earn Oscar that year.

I saw Inglorious Bastards, multiple times for him. I admire Christoph Waltz and completely enjoyed his performances in his later films such as The Green Hornet, Water for Elephants and Django Unchained. There is no count of how many times I have watched the opening sequence of Inglorius Bastards, but the following one with James Franco in Green Hornet is equally enjoyable -

John Cusack - 2012

Michael Stuhlbarg - as Griffin in MIB3
Later saw him in many flicks such as Doctor Strange and critically acclaimed Shape of Water

Simon Pegg - MI 4 - Ghost Protocol

Patton Oswalt - Walter Mitty

Tyler Perry - Gone Girl

Jack Nicholson - Anger Management

Will Smith - Independence Day

Tessa Thompson - Westworld (TV series)
She was a delight to watch in Thor:Ragnarok

John Malkovich - Transformers

Maryl Streep - Series of Unfortunate events

Steve Carell - Evan Almighty

Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four

Robert Downey Jr - Ironman

Robert De Nero - Meet The Parents

Kal Penn - American Desi

Eva Green - Casino Royale

Renée Zellweger - Me Myself And Irene.

Eva Mendez - Ghostrider

Rob Schneider - 50 First Dates

Giancarlo Esposito - Breaking Bad

Benjamin Bratt - Modern Family

Chloe Moretz  - Kick Ass

Chris Pine - Blind Dating
Well before he became part of the great Hollywood Chris-Off :D

Mark Ruffalo - Just like Heaven

Woody Harrelson - Anger Management

I may have missed some of the names of great actors essentially because actors in the above list totally came across as a surprise.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Backpacking - Check! How to travel cheap.

I used following means while traveling solo in Central Europe.
  1. Hostel world dot com. Find a sweet spot by checking price, reviews, and location. 
  2. Blabla Car. Cheapest travel option of all. Plus if you get lucky you get to travel with locals who will share their stories and listen to yours. 
  3. Flixbus, Studentagency, Polskibus, Postbus. They are crazy cheap bus services and have routes all over. 
  4. GoEuro dot Com. This is a must-have app. It will give you all options with prices - Air, Rail, Road. I would rate it one of the 5 top apps in the world. I mean it. 
  5. I stayed at my friends’ in major cities. So be nice to people and make friends. You never know who will shift to which city in future. ;) 
  6. Ryanair - travel when they offer dirt cheap air tickets. 
  7. Durums and Kababs at Turkish shops. I did not spend too much and still had full meals. I would go to Lidl, Carrefour, Biedronka whenever possible to grab few sandwiches and Snickers to eat while traveling. Occasionally I tried local specialties even if it was a bit costly. My diet is huge. So, even after constantly feeding myself it was not sufficient to maintain my weight. I lost almost 2-5 Kgs in each trip. Worth it. 
  8. Free Walking Tours. A must if you want to know the places. You will have to walk a lot. Don't be stingy to tip them and do go on the paid Tours if your heart says so. You are there to experience things not to save money. 
  9. Day tickets for city transport. Most of the European cities have one pass for all buses, metros, trams etc. (Veperettos in Venice) 

Trains in Europe are costlier compared to other types of transport. Still, you can get good deals on some routes. Also, train journeys almost all over Europe are so scenic, you have to go for it at least few of them regardless of the money.

I must mention that I was in Europe for the studies and thus got a lot of time. I was flexible with the dates of travel. If you are on a short trip, or on a tight schedule, options like BlaBla car might not make sense. Still, you can save a considerable amount on other things I’ve noted above.


Above write-up is in response to the question on

How do I travel for cheap?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A story of a snowfall

We are a bunch of snow deprived people.

In 2007 I started working as a software developer in my hometown Pune, India. Not everyone will admit it but being freshly out of college and starting a job in software, means you are halfway through your dream of going abroad and seeing amazing places. Well, at least Facebook (Orkut back in those days) made me believe that.

So, one year down the line when I missed few chances to go abroad, it was the biggest turn down for me. The positive thing though was I made some great friends in my company. One of my friend and then colleague, Atul came up with the idea of going to see the Himalayas. He found out one group - YHAI[1], which is a non-profit entity. They organize highly subsidized adventure tours[2] for the young all over India basically at dirt cheap rates. We unanimously voted for it and thus born another dream. The Himalayas.. snow covered mountains so gigantic that it dwarfs every other hill I had seen in my life.

The news spread and few more friends and acquaintances showed interest in joining us. We decided that we would go by the end of December when snowing starts in the region.

We booked the trek of Dalhousie[3](Himachal Pradesh) for 8 of us 2 months prior to Christmas. Since it was early booking, we could easily get confirmed seats on a Train.

We could hardly contain our excitement because, for all of us, it was going to be the first snowfall. We completed the arduous journey of more than 2000 Kilometers first by train and then by bus and reached Dalhousie. We joined a large group of 40 trekkers.

During our 6 days of the trek, Kalatop mountain was the place where we were supposed to see and experience snow. We already had researched, and seen these photos of the place.

(Kalatop looked like this on the internet)

On the 3rd day as I remember, we were there. It was 31st December 2008. Since for most of us, the cold weather and terrain were far different than our hometown, the trek was tough. But the with the group energy and prospects of seeing the snow for the first time we persisted.

But as fate would have it, there were no signs of snow. The place looked like this.

Gorgeous, isn't it? Not for us. We were there for the snow you see. So at the night when the other people in the group was celebrating and welcoming the new year, we a bunch of sour guys locked ourselves in a room and played cards until past midnight. We were laughing and making jokes about how we bought the snow gears which proved useless.

The next stop was Khajjiar [4]which looked like this.

Yeah, I know.. picture perfect. But, where is the snow?

Most of us were contemplating fleeing the trek and go on a journey on our own to those distant mountains where we would play in the snow. One actually acted upon it. Mustafa, the most disappointing among us made an excuse to the trek leader and went away in a private cab which could take him to an icy place.

The rest of us reluctantly marched forward with all of the vanished enthusiasm. I remember on the last day of the trek I even stood up and when everyone was sharing their experiences that how they greatly enjoyed the trek, I, on the other hand, whined and whined in front of all that how disappointed I was that the trek organizers had put fake pictures on the brochures.

The trek leader assured me that it was just a flick of a nature that it did not snow during our time there and it must have been delayed by few days. In order to calm me down, he literally blessed (or cursed) me that if I come next year, I will see so much snow that I might wish that I had never wished to see the snow in the first place.

Of course, we enjoyed in the Himalayas (the Pirpanjal ranges[5]) being there for the first time. We had more than what we asked for. But we were ungrateful I guess. To rub salt in the wound, Mustafa, who had gone by his own, had some pictures of him playing in the snow.

Next Year Christmas 2009.

We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight. [6]

This time we were in Tawang[7], 2000 Kilometers to the east from where we were last year. A yearlong yearning to accomplish what we missed last time. This time it was the much deliberate plan. The same pack of wolves, now more experienced to the cold climate and to the world in general. We booked everything on our own. This time there was no trek group, no agency. If we don't see the snow, we were ready to go far and beyond. Since we were richer than last year, we went by air to Guwahati, Assam. First flight for us. Wow, that was exciting. We saw a giant rhino for the first time in Kaziranga national park[8]. First ride on elephant back and hopefully the first snowfall.

The day we entered Arunachal Pradesh[9], the sunrise state of India, the anticipation was so high. We had hired an SUV and as we started gaining altitude we saw frost first on plants. Everyone's faces lightened up.

And when we crossed Sela Pass, we saw a frozen lake there. First Frozen lake. We danced and skidded on the hard top of a water body. How freaking cool is that. But the wait was not over yet.

It was 30 December 2010. We were at Tawang - a historic place. Every inch of this land is a legend of valour and sacrifice. This place has become sacred with the blood of soldiers of the Indian Army who defended it in the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

We were leaving the next day back to Guwahati on a two-day long journey. "Is this it? is nature going to delude us again?" I thought.

It was cold 30th night of December. We went into slumber in a warm room. In the morning a friend came yelling inside my room. He pulled the bedsheets apart, a cold breeze of the morning sent a chill down my spine. I was about to swear at him and he shouted, IT's SNOWING OUTSIDE!!

It was unbelievable, we rushed to the window, saw it for the first time. Tiny specks of heaven, they were falling like a silent piece of music. A tear of joy rolled down my face. We hugged each other, we were laughing, crying making noises. The next thing we did was put on our jackets, shoes, and gloves. We rushed through the town's roads. The snow was becoming thicker, everything was covered in white. The cars, the houses, the aisles.

We came across a backyard of a closed school and saw that a whole veranda was covered with thick snow. Perfect place to make snowballs.

And we played and played till our feet went numb. The holy land had blessed us.

Realization of the prophecy.

By the afternoon of the 31st December 2009, we were ready with our bags packed. Tired but satisfied. The snowfall was still on. We were watching each other's happy faces. Our driver who was local told that we better hurry as we needed to cover a long distance in a treacherous terrain.

We started the journey back home. While crossing a post called Jaswant Garh - named after a legendary warrior of the Indian Army[10], we were stopped by the patrol and were advised to return. What we thought was the regular snowfall was actually an unusual blizzard which had blocked Sela pass. The happy faces turned into worried ones as our flight bookings were at stake. We requested them to let us through but the Army guys told that they would take no responsibility whatsoever if something ominous happens. We decided to listen to them and went back to Tawang which was 80 Kilometers the wrong way.

While getting back we had to get off the vehicle several times and push it through the snow-covered roads which were indistinguishable from the terrain. At first, it seemed like a fun and we even got some videos. Later when the snow entered the shoes and made our feet cold, we knew what it's like to live there.

(Even when we were walking behind the car for miles, I quite didn’t have enough of the snow. The guy carrying the mountain on snow is me)

We were already tired but pushed and pushed. All the time the words of the trek leader echoing in my ears "You will get so much snow, you will wish you that hadn't wished to see the snow".

It was 31st December for rest of the world, for us, it was the night we slept like there was no tomorrow.

The next day we started early. The driver had the impossible job of driving for straight 14 hours stretch. We bought some ropes from a hardware shop which we used whenever the car started to slide on the road. Once we crossed Sela pass, we thanked the Army personnel a million times as it was fully covered with thick snow from yesterday. Had we stuck there in the night, it could have very well been the last night of our lives.

Our driver was an awesome chap. He did it. We sure got our flight.

That was the most memorable 31st December. I did not celebrate it the traditional way, but boy it was worth it.

I went to Ladakh [11]a few years later, went on to live in Europe for a year. I saw all the seasons. Whenever it snowed, I relived the moment I saw it the first time. I appreciate that every weather and every terrain has the beauty of its own. We missed appreciating the beauty of Dalhousie in anticipation of what we wanted to see. Maybe in life, we do the same. Maybe that is why they ask to live in the moment. In the grand scheme of events, everything is okay.. everything is going to be fine.


[1] Youth Hostels Association of India - Wikipedia
[2] Participate at YHAI National Level Adventure Programs organized by National Office
[4] Khajjiar - Wikipedia
[5] Pir Panjal Range - Wikipedia
[6] Quotes from "Independence Day"
[7] Tawang district - Wikipedia
[8] Kaziranga National Park - Wikipedia
[9] Tawang district - Wikipedia
[10] Jaswant Singh Rawat - Wikipedia
[11] Ladakh - Wikipedia


Posted as an answer to a question on Quora.Com

Monday, December 25, 2017

The one with the Beef Biryani

I accidentally ate beef.

I once was travelling around south Karnataka, India with my friend Omkar, Martin and Kelly - exchange students who were from England.

Martin had his camera ready to click almost all the time and seemed particularly amazed whenever he saw cows on the road. When we were crossing Bandipur national park we happened to spot some deer grazing near the highway and I was excited because it must be the first time I had seen deer in the wild. I looked at Martin who was rather indifferent and didn’t bother to even touch the camera. I asked him that back in the city he was taking so many pictures of the animals and was there anything wrong now. What he said particularly struck me. He said that he sees deer in his backyards in England all the time, it was ‘the cows in the city streets’ that interested him more.

(This photo is Martin’s actual Facebook album)
We arrived in Ooty quite late in the evening and it was almost past the dinner time. So there were not so many restaurants open. We saw a place which seemed okayish. They had Beef Biryani and some other stuff on the menu ( It was before the nationwide ban on beef). Since I am from Maharashtra where most of the Hindu people don’t eat beef and eating beef is a considered as a borderline sin, I preferred to eat veg Biryani instead of my favourite dish - Chicken Biryani in such a restaurant. I asked the waiter if they had veg biryani. He nodded which I considered as yes. Omkar and Martin ordered something else which I don’t remember exactly.

When I was halfway through finishing my meal, I noticed that there were small pieces of meat in my Biryani. To me, it was okay if it was chicken and I assumed it was chicken. I called the waiter and since I didn’t want to make a big scene there, told him that he mistakenly has mixed some of the chicken biryani in my dish which was okay. He calmly said that it was no Chicken and actual pieces of beef as he just scraped the rice from the beef biryani carefully avoiding the meat pieces, thus making it a vegetarian dish. I was like - what did he just say..?

I almost had finished my meal and the waiter was standing there as if nothing had happened. I was pissed. I returned the remaining stuff and waited for few seconds to ‘digest’ what I had just done. Omkar was smiling at me but Martin started laughing hysterically. He knew from somewhere that I did something which was forbidden in my religion. He started pulling my leg as how I just missed my chance to go heaven and I was no more a Hindu and how my family would abandon me if they came to know.

Though I was disappointed, surprisingly I did not feel shocked or ashamed. After a few brief bank moments, I was fine. I told him it was okay. I said that I did not eat it knowingly and sure God would understand. He too seemed astonished that I did not create a big fuss out of it.

That was the only time I ate beef. Never again. Not because God would punish me, I know she has better things to do than taking notes of who eats what, it’s because I need to draw the line what I can and cannot eat. It made a good memory. My family and friends have a good laugh about it anytime anyone mentions it.
This was originally posted on Quora by me as an answer to the question : Whats the weirdest way your fast food order got messed up?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

पाश्चात्य मालिकांचे अनोखे विश्व - २

भाग १ लिहून काही वर्षे झाली. त्यानंतर पाहिलेल्या या मालिका. (प्रथम संस्करण १२-११-२०१७)


ही मालिका अगदी अनपेक्षित पणे मिळाली. किंडल बुक्स साठी मिळालेल्या पेन ड्राईव मध्ये हा फोल्डर होता. त्यात सीझन १ चा पहिला भाग चालू केला तर एचबीओ च्या मालिकांची गूढ सुरुवात होते तसे काही दिसले. म्हंटले बघूया.

वेस्ट वर्ल्ड हे भविष्यातले एक थीम पार्क आहे. तिथे एकोणिसाव्या शतकाच्या उत्तरार्धातली दक्षिण-पश्चिम अमेरिका उभी केलीये. या थीम पार्क मधली पात्रे खरी खुरी माणसे नसून अतिप्रगत रोबॉट्स आहेत. या यंत्रमानवांना असे काही बनवण्यात आलय की ते हुबेहूब माणसांसारखी झालीयेत.

त्यांना वेदना होतात, आनंद होतो, झोप येते, ते स्वप्न पाहतात, त्यांना तहान भूक लागते, वार केला तर ते मरतात देखील. त्यात कुणी सैनिक आहेत, कुणी काऊबॉय, कुणी खुनी दरोडेखोर कुणी तर नगर रक्षक. कुणी वेश्या आहेत तर कुणी चांगल्या घरच्या सुसंस्कृत मुली. साप, घोडे, कुत्रे हे प्राणी देखील यंत्रच. या सर्वांच्या अस्तित्वाचे एकच कारण - त्या पार्क मध्ये येणाऱ्या पर्यटकांचे मनोरंजन करणे.

या यंत्रमानवांना स्वतः विचार करण्याची निर्णय घेण्याची मुभा आहे. पर्यटकांना जिवंत अनुभव मिळण्यासाठी ती एक युक्ती आहे. पण सर्व यंत्रमानवांच्या प्रोग्राम मध्ये त्यांना स्वत:ची अशी एक आंतरिक ओढ (Core Drive) सेट करून दिलेली आहे. त्यामुळे ते जो काही निर्णय घेतील, त्यात फार काही मोठा बदल घडण्याची शक्यता नाहीच.

पर्यटक हजारो डॉलर मोजून इथे येतात, या पात्राभोवती रचलेल्या एखाद्या कथासूत्राचा भाग होतात. खून, दरोडे, मार्यामार्या, द्वंद, संभोग, युद्ध करतात. स्वप्नातही कल्पना न केलेले आयुष्य मोजक्या दिवसांकरता जगतात. या पर्यटकांना 'गेस्ट' तर यंत्रमानव पात्रांना 'होस्ट' असे स्पष्ट विभाजन आहे. 'होस्ट' कधी गेस्ट ला इजा करू शकत नाहीत आणि या नियमाला पर्याय नाही. पण गेस्ट या यंत्रमानवांना कितीही प्रमाणात इजा पोचवू शकतात. त्यातूनच या पर्यटकांच्या कोणत्याही, मग त्या विकृत का असेना, अशा इच्छा तृप्त करण्याची व्यवस्था केली गेलीये.

कथासूत्रादरम्यान मारले गेलेल्या यांत्रामानवांना परत फॉरम्याट करून पार्क मध्ये सोडले जाते आहे. तेच आयुष्य तेच कथासूत्र जगण्यासाठी. जणू काही त्यांची या जन्म मरणाचा फेर्यातून कधी मुक्तता नाही.

या यंत्रमानवांचा निर्माता डॉ रॉबर्ट फोर्ड (अँथनी हॉपकिन्स) हा एक अवलिया आहे. कथासूत्राची मांडणी, प्रोग्रामिंग टीम चे नेतृत्व ते पार्क च्या आतील लहान लहान तपशील याच्यात त्याची भावनिक आणि वैचारिक गुंतवणूक आहे. तो स्वतःला या जगाचा निर्माता म्हणवून घेतो. अशा प्रकारचे यंत्रमानव तयार केल्यामुळे त्याच्यात एक प्रकारची घमेंड आहे आणि त्यामुळेच तो कुणालाही जुमानण्या पलीकडे पोचला आहे.

अशा या पार्क मध्ये काही रोबॉट्स मध्ये "चुकून" नवीन अपडेट्स जातात. त्यामुळे ही यांत्रिक पात्रे सजग होतात. आपल्याला या कधी न संपणार्या वेदनेच्या फेर्यात अडकवले गेले आहे याची त्यांना जाणीव होऊ लागते. स्वत्वाच्या शोधाची इच्छा आणि सदसदविवेकबुद्धी जागृत झाल्यामुळे त्यांची लेखकांनी ठरवून दिलेली कथासूत्रे बदलू लागतात. हे असे का होते आणि त्याच्यामागे कोण असते हा या मालिकेचे मध्यवर्ती रहस्य आहे.

सुरुवातीचे भाग पाहताना या मालिकेच्या निर्मात्यांनी बळे बळेच खूप बौद्धिक वगैरे करण्याचा केविलवाणा प्रयत्न केल्याची भावना होते. पण जसे जसे कथानक उलगडते तसे तसे त्यातले कंगोरे लक्षात येवून आपण काहीतरी भन्नाट बघतोय याची जाणीव होते. काय खरे काय मिथ्या, आयुष्याचा अर्थ आणि सर्वाचे सार शोधण्याची धडपड, भारतीय संस्कृतीत असलेल्या पुनर्जन्म, मोक्ष या संकल्पना आणि त्याचा अर्थ लावण्याची प्रक्रिया दिसून येते.

नोलन बंधूंची निर्मिती आहे त्यामुळे ओघानेच आले की ही मालिका खरेच डोक्याला ताण असणार. (चांगल्या अर्थाने) कलाकारांचा अभिनय अतिशय सुंदर आहे, छायाचित्रण अप्रतिम. मागच्या वर्षी (२०१६) ला हिचा पहिला ऋतू आला. अजून दुसरा सीझन आलेला नाहीये.

ब्रेकिंग बॅड

मॉडर्न फॅमिली




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Grandma and the Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar Clinic at Nagar-Munnoli

This post is a reference to my review on Google Maps. I couldn't post it all there because of the size limit there. I hope that this review helps people who want to take their loved ones to Dr. Kumbhar's clinic.

Edit - 12th March 2018.
Please be aware that most of the doctors who practice modern medicines do not believe in Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's treatment. Please read comments on this post. One of the comment is from Dr. Deshpande and it is really informative.

My intention of this post is to make the readers aware of the logistics if at all they want to take their relatives to this clinic. I can no way confirm whether it really works. My grandmother was being treated with modern medicines, physiotherapy and also our care for her. One cannot tell exactly what worked and what not. Please take the advice of your trusted doctors before putting efforts to take your relatives to Nagar Munnoli. It's not a simple journey considering the condition of the patient.
Thank you.

Edit - 28th April 2018
I am getting calls from many people asking about my experiences. I am always ready to share knowledge and I don't mind attending phone calls essentially because I also have made such phone calls to people who were ready to share information.

In some of these phone calls, inevitably they ask for my opinion whether to take their relatives to Kumbhar clinic. I am not a doctor. I am an engineer who loved his grandmother above anything else. We did whatever we felt was right for us. In this process my mother was the heart and I was the brain. I made sure that she gets modern medicines and treatment even when my mother started with the the alternate medicines. I also was in contact with the doctors in the hospitals where she was admitted multiple times.

As far as I know each patient can show different symptoms and various degree of severity. Please make sure you get advice of trusted doctors always.

I took my grandmother (85 years old, Pune) to Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's clinic for her paralysis treatment.

My grandmother suffered a paralysis stroke on 20th Nov 2016. She just felt numbness in her right arm around dawn and waited for us to wake up. She told us that she is not able to move her right arm at all. Since she was able to speak normally, we thought it could be a temporary numbness. When even after 4 hours she was unable to move, we rushed to the hospital.

Doctors started treatment and told us that it was a paralysis stroke and her 90% of her right arm and 60-70% of her right leg was paralyzed. The doctor mentioned that the earlier patients get treatment in such case, the better they have a chance of recovery.

She spent next 1 week in the hospital with medicines, injections, and physiotherapist regularly working on her condition. Her condition was stable but we saw next to none improvement. She got discharge after 7 days with all the prescriptions, medicines and physiotherapy schedules.

During this week in the hospital, my mother came to know about Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's clinic from WhatsApp post. We decided to take her there. Since it was a long journey, I did not take my hatchback but my cousin arranged an Innova so that she could be laid back on mattress comfortably. We started from home on Saturday around 10.30PM. We reached to Nagarmunnoli via Kolhapur-Nippani-Chikkodi at 3.45 AM. We registered my grandmother's name at the person at the clinic, there were around 48 patients ahead of us. We waited in the car till our number was called. Since the clinic was in a small place. I had to check for every 15 minutes for our turn.

They started to attend to patients as early as 4.30 AM. Our turn came at around 7.30AM. We moved our car near to the clinic as other people who had been attended already were leaving and vacating the parking spot near the clinic. It was reserved for the ongoing numbers.

I had to carry my grandmother in my arms. Most people were using bed sheets, rugs to carry the patients. The doctor asked questions like "How long she was sick?" "Which part of the body was paralysed?" It was too much rush inside. There were 2-3 persons checking patients, I couldn't tell which one was Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar.
They asked us to get her blood tested. The lab was inside the clinic. We took her there. Fortunately, it had few beds where my grandma rested and my I, mother and my uncle waited.

After 30 minutes, we went inside the clinic again. The doctor saw the reports. They (assistants) gave injections to her on the left and right hips and one in the paralysed arm. The doctor gave prescription and list of things which to be included and avoided from her diet. He assured that she will be alright. Even in the chaotic clinic, his words of hope felt like a symphony. He also said that we had to bring her once in every 10 days for 5 times to complete the treatment.

The fees were Rs.500. Plus Rs.400 for the blood test. The medicines were of Rs.1400 which were available in the dispensary attached to the clinic. They didn't accept any debit/credit card. We were prepared. My mother had managed the cash somehow because it wasn't a month since demonetization.

We started back around 9.30 AM and reached Pune in the evening. My grandma felt fine. She even sat with us instead of sleeping on the mattress throughout the 6-hour long journey. In the evening, I applied the oil the doctor had prescribed and also gave her the tonics.

I am a skeptic and honestly was doubtful that we could get any positive results compared to the hospital treatment. But.. in the evening, the same day after we returned from Chikkodi, she moved her paralysed arm. She also bent it from the elbow. It was not less than a miracle. My logical mind could not believe what I had just seen.

We took her 3 times in total before she couldn't take the long journey very well. However, we saw significant improvement in her after each visit. She started to walk slowly, she started to move wrist and fingers and could apply gentle pressure to the exercise ball.

Every time they had the same 3 injections. Only the blood test wasn't done again. Doctor changed her oils and tonics each time. I should also mention that we continued with the medicines given in the hospital along with the Dr.Kumbhar's medicines. We also continued to visit the Hospital doctor where she was treated as soon as she suffered the stroke. Dr. Kiran Shaha on Villoo Poonawala hospital, Hadapsar was most kind and attended my grandmother nicely. Dr. Kiran Shaha actually suggested that we should not take my grandmother to such a distant clinic which in a hope to find a cure. He was of the opinion that medicines along with physiotherapy can only improve my grandma's health. He had good intentions. Considering that my grandma had to suffer the long journeys only to leave Dr.Kumbhar's treatment unfinished, Dr. Kiran Shaha's suggestions were reasonable.

I am mentioning important points here.
0. The clinic is closed on Wednesdays. Call them to know timings and holidays. Numbers are mentioned in one of the replies to a comment on this post.

1. Reach around 2.30-3.30 AM at the clinic. Register your name. They don't take an appointment on phone, so you have to reach early in the morning.

2. Take the patient there in a comfortable vehicle, preferably in an ambulance. The road till Nippani is good, but after that, it's still under construction.

3. If you can manage, spend a night before there. There are hotels, Lodges in Nippani which is 25-30 Km far from Nagar-Munnoli.

4. There is too much crowd at the clinic. People park their vehicles wherever they get a place on the side of the road. They check 20-30 patients per hour. Still, because of the sheer number of patients you have to wait longer if you register your name late. Reach early.

5. Toilets - The clinic has arranged a couple of them, but they are not enough. Carry tissue papers and water and use the fields around if you have to. No Shame.

6. I would suggest continuing modern medicines also along with Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's medicines.

7. Regular massage with the oils and physiotherapy is a must. My grandmother showed considerable improvement even after the first visit and it kept on improving.

8. This may sound unbelievable, but during our third visit, I rented an OLA cab which had yellow transport number plate. When we were crossing Maharashtra-Karnataka border, we had to stop at the road tax booth on Karnataka side. The clerk there demanded Rs.8500 (Eight thousand) to let us enter. He said that if the cab was to enter Karnataka, it had to pay tax for an entire year. We were shocked. It was 3.30 AM in the morning with my sick grandmother in the cab. We told the clerk that we are going to Nagar-Munnoli and there is an elderly patient with us. He said that if Police stops us, it would be our responsibility. We couldn't figure out if he was messing with us. The driver chickened out saying that the Police would confiscate his cab. We had to travel back to Kolhapure (80 Km backward) and hire a Tata Sumo with a white number plate. There was a family with a similar issue and they shared the vehicle with us. It was the testing time for me. I almost lost my cool to the clerk but kept it together somehow. So please check this shit before taking a yellow number plate car.

I will add some more photos of the place.

My grandma is no more. Even we were really hopeful seeing her slow but gradual improvement, her condition deteriorated when she fell off and broke her thigh bone in February 2017. She survived through multiple hospitalisations, and a surgery. Finally, when dementia got hold of her, we lost all of our hopes and prepared our minds to let her go. She passed away on 11th August 2017. I miss her every day. The only consolation I have is the feeling that I and my mother took every possible measure to improve her conditions. My grandma was a strong, independent woman with a taste for good living.

I am thankful to my close relatives who kindly gave us all the support we needed while going through this emotionally demanding year. My mother is a superhero for me. She lost not only her mother but a lifelong best friend. I wish I could be as strong as her.

Take care of your parents and grandparents. I wish your loved ones good health and peace of mind.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Witnessing history as it happens.

Saturday, 3rd September 2016.

A small dot on the world map. It's been a few weeks since I've arrived in Singapore. I must have heard about Singapore first time while my history lessons. The place where Subhash Chandra Bose took command of the Indian National Army.
In later years I heard more and more about this small dot. Most of it from my friends who had been here. Also, my mother visited Singapore a few years ago during her Thai-Malay-Singapore tour.
I knew that Singapore is a garden city and a financial hub of South East Asia.

Yes, all that I have heard is true. It's a beautiful global city. Awe-inspiring skylines, disciplined people, excellent public transport - obvious signs of a developed nation. I wasn't surprised. Perhaps you wouldn't be amazed if it isn't your first time in a developed nation. Thanks to a segment in one of the Marathi dailies, Sakal, I have coined a term for this obvious and rather uninteresting travel experience as "The Muktapeeth Shock".[1]

Singapore - beyond obvious. 

By God's grace, I got a chance to witness two special events in last few days.

1. Singapore won its first ever Olympic Gold medal in the Rio Olympics.

2. Haze over Singapore.

and I think I will witness a 3rd special event - The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix.

Singapore has gone mad for their wonderkid - Joseph Schooling who managed to secure a gold medal in Singapore's 51 years of existence as a country and that too by beating the legendary swimmer and his idol- Micheal Phelps.

There are congratulatory posters everywhere, news segments praising his extraordinary feat. Even our landlord wouldn't stop mentioning his name all the time. The taxis in Singapore carried a marquee - "Our Pride J Schooling" on their boards.

The second one was the Haze.
Image courtesy - The Telegraph. It is similar to this for last few days. 
On 26th August, when I left the metro station, I noticed that there was considerable smoke in the air. It was uniform and everywhere. So, I suspected if there must be a large fire nearby. It was strange.

In the lunchtime, the smoke was still there. One of my colleagues in the office, who is in Singapore for many years told me this - This haze was indeed from a fire. It was smoke spreading over Singapore from the fires of the rain-forests in Sumatra - hundreds of kilometers in the east. He said that it's quite common during August and September. Even the government issues statutory warnings and asks people not to leave homes for a few days when the haze is dense.

It immediately connected dots in my mind. I recalled the Petroleum Engineering lessons in Kapfenberg when he said "Palm Oil". A sudden gush of excitement rushed inside me. Indonesia has been burning their rain-forests for palm plantation so that they can supply the ever-increasing demand for palm oil to produce biodiesel.

I am excited by this feeling of experiencing something first hand after I had heard about it at the other end of the world. This is as close as I can get to my favorite hero - Indiana Jones.


On a side note. It was a totally freaking experience to see that a totally benign fruit called Durian is banned from public transport. It's a lot like jackfruit that we see in India but smaller. I could never gather the courage to taste it. Next time Singapore.


[1] In the segment called Muktapeeth, it had become a trend for oldies to publish their experiences of the first time travel to Europe or the US which contained unexceptional, insipid comparison on how they found the foreign country disciplined and clean and how people were friendly and blah blah. Yes, we appreciate you traveled far and beyond borders for the first time, however, someone else had already written what you are trying to tell now. Needless to say, the online comments section were full of brutal and insulting remarks on how the paper urgently needs to stop publishing these frequent "Travel logs".
Mostly I read this segment for the hilarious comments, but I think it did one good thing. It taught me that when I travel, I should try and reach beyond obvious. I try to do that at times. Okay, at least I don't bore someone with the Muktapeeth Shock.

Friday, September 1, 2017

गाभार्यातला देव आणि वाट पाहणारा कोहली.

आपला देश हा विविधतेनेने नटलेला आहे वगैरे वगैरे.. सर्व जातीधर्माचे, विचारसरणीचे , बहुभाषिक लोक गुण्यागोविंदाने राहतात वगैरे वगैरे.. हे असली वाक्य शाळेच्या पुस्तकांमध्ये आणि भाषणांमध्ये कितीदा ऐकली असतील?
थोडीफार अक्कल आल्यापासून आपल्या शहरातून (म्हणजे बेडकाच्या विहिरीतून म्हणा हवेतर) बाहेर फिरताना लक्षात आले की भारत देश हे खतरनाक वेगळे रसायन आहे. खरच आपल्या प्रांतामध्ये कमालीचे वेगळेपण आहे.
लोक बोलतात वेगळे, चालीरीती वेगळ्या, भाषा चित्र-विचित्र.. तरी हा देश एकत्र राहिला किंवा ठेवला कसा?

युरोप मध्ये गेल्यावर पहिल्यांदा त्या "वाह काय शिस्त आहे, काय स्वच्छता आहे.." टिपिकल मुक्तपीठ शॉक मधून बाहेर पडल्यावर तिथल्या शहरांची आणि लोकांचा एक ठराविक साचा लक्षात आला.
मला असे म्हणायचे नाही की युरोप विविध नाही. अतिशय सुंदर आणि निरनिराळ्या रंगांनी रंगलेला आहे. भाषा आणि चालीरीती खूप वेगवेगळ्या आहेत. पण म्हणूनच तो तितक्याच प्रकारच्या स्वतंत्र देशांनी बनलेला आहे.
पण या देशांचा धर्म एकसारखा, मूळ स्वभाव वैशिष्ट्य सारखीच. उदा. जर्मनी ऑस्ट्रिया मध्ये अभिवादन करताना "गुटेन मोर्गेन, गुटेन टाग, सेर्वुस" म्हणणार "डांकं" म्हणल्यावर "बिटं" म्हणणार.. तर पोलंड मध्ये अभिवादनाला "जीन दोब्रं, दोब्री जेन्या, चयेष",
आभाराला "जिंकूया, जिंकी" आणि त्यानंतर विनम्रतेने "प्रोषे" म्हणायची पद्धत. याच प्रकारची पद्धत संपूर्ण युरोपमध्ये आढळेल. शब्द बदलले की काम झाले. अगदी लहान मुलांपासून तर आजिबाइन्पर्यन्त एकसमान लोक असेच वागतात.
 युरोपियनांना या सवयी अंगवळणी पडल्या असल्या तरी भारतीय म्हणून प्रत्येक वेळा इतकं विनम्र राहणं एकदम कृत्रिम वाटायचं, वाटतं.

 हा.. तर.. सांगायचा मुद्दा असा की युरोप तसा भारताच्या तुलनेत बर्यापैकी एकसंध आहे. तरीपण युरोपियन युनियन मध्ये राहणे सुद्धा या लोकांच्या जीवावर येते. आर्थिक आणि राजकीय कारणांमुळे इयु कसेबसे तग धरून आहे.
आपला देश मारे जरी "जगातील सर्वात मोठी लोकशाही" म्हणून मिरवत असला तरी "युनियन ऑफ इंडिया" मध्ये राहायचे की नाही हा प्रश्न विचारणे पण गुन्हा आहे. कारण- हीच आर्थिक आणि राजकीय कारणे. खरेतर मी थोडा सेपरेतेरीयन विचारसरणीचाच होतो तरुणपणी.
म्हणजे तरुण आहे अजूनही.. पण त्यातल्या त्यात कोवळ्या वयात. माझ्यावर युरोपियन मॉडेल चा जास्तच प्रभाव होता. पण जशी जशी अक्कल आली तसे कळतंय की भारताने एक राहणे आपल्या अस्तित्वासाठी (अस्मितेसाठी नव्हे) गरजेचे आहे.
इयु, NATO सारखे मॉडेल वगैरे ठीक आहे हो.. पण तेवढे प्रगल्भ न आपले प्रांत आहेत न त्यांचे नेतृत्व.

भारताचे शत्रू पण बरेच आहेत. आपले शेजारी पण शत्रूच. श्रीलंका, इंडोनेशिया, चीन ने ७१ च्या युद्धामध्ये पाकिस्तान ची मदत केली. पाकिस्तान ७१ च्या युद्धाच्या बदल्याच्या आगीत एक दिवस जळून जाईन. चीन आपले वर्चस्व राखण्याच्या नादामध्ये कुठल्याही थराला जाऊ शकतो.
अशामध्ये त्यांना या भारताच्या विविधतेचा आणि बळाने म्हणा, स्वेच्छेने म्हणा वा नाईलाजाने म्हणा असलेल्या एकीचा तिरस्कार वाटणे स्वाभाविक आहे. त्याच वेळी या गोष्टीला ते संधी म्हणून बघतात हे पण ओघाने आलेच. त्यामुळेच या "संधीचा" वापर करण्याची संधी ते वेळोवेळी शोधत असतात.

मी पाकिस्तानी मुलांबरोबर राहिलोय. विश्वास ठेवा.. ते आपल्या सारखेच आहेत. पण पराभवाचे विष पचवणे सोपे नसते. त्यातला चांगल्यात चांगल्या लोकांनाही भारताचे वाईट झाले तर आनंदच होईल. [१ तारिक फतेह]

तर मग कोहली देवळासमोर काय करतोय?

हे चक्क विसरलोय. हा लेख कदाचित १-२ वर्षापूर्वी असाच सोडून दिला होता लिहिता लिहिता. थोडाफार अंदाज आहे कशावर नक्की लिहित होतो ते. लक्षात आल्यावर परत लिहीन.

Friday, July 7, 2017

केल्याने भाषांतर - २

केल्याने भाषांतर - १ च्या पुढे -

हनुमानाची श्रीरामावर अतूट श्रद्धा असण्यामागे काय कारण होते?

हनुमान वानरांमध्ये अतिशय बुद्धिमान, प्रामाणिक आणि बलशाली होता. त्यामुळे त्याच्या एवढा किंबहुना जास्त योग्य असा गुरु वा आदर्श त्याला त्याच्या बालपणी मिळाला नाही. रामायणात हनुमांचे दत्तक पिता केसरी यांचा क्वचित उल्लेख आढळतो. यावरून मारुतीला वडिलांचे फार मार्गदर्शन लाभले असे दिसत नाही. त्यामुळे आपल्या खर्या शक्तीची प्रचीती त्याला लहानपणी आली नसावी.

युवा मारुतीला आधी वाली आणि नंतर सुग्रीवाचे मार्गदर्शन मिळाले असावे. पण या दोघांपैकी कुणीही अतिशय प्रामाणिक आणि नैतिक अशा मारुतीवर प्रभाव पाडू शकला असावा असे वाटत नाही.

जेव्हा मारुती श्रीरामाला भेटला, त्याला आपण आयुष्यामध्ये काय शोधत होतो याची तत्क्षणी प्रचीती झाली. वानर जमातीला अयोध्येच्या साम्राज्याची कल्पना होती, पण या साम्राज्याचा सर्वेसर्वा इतका विनयशील असावा अशी त्यांनी कधी कल्पना केली नव्हती. श्रीरामामध्ये असलेली  दया, मृदुता, प्रामाणिकता आणि शौर्य मारुतीला आधी कोणातही दिसले नव्हते.

अशा जगामध्ये जिथे भाऊ भाऊ एकमेकांच्या जीवावर उठले होते आणि एक भाऊ दुसर्याच्या भार्येला बळजबरीने घेवून गेला होता (वाली-सुग्रीव), मारुतीला श्रीराम अचंबित करून गेला. ज्याने स्वखुशीने साम्राज्याचा त्याग केला, ज्याचे भाऊ त्याच्यावर अतिशय प्रेम करत होते अशा श्रीरामावर तो भाळला नसता तर नवल.
बहुपत्नीत्व समाजमान्य असताना आणि भावाची पत्नी (रोमा) देखील पळवून नेणाऱ्या वालीसारख्या राजा समोर असताना सीतेप्रती रामाची निष्ठा त्याच्यासाठी अगम्य होती.

अशा श्रीरामासाठी अशा रामराज्यासाठी मारुती त्याचे आयुष्य अर्पण करायला तयार झाला. राम हा मारुतीसाठी तोच महापुरुष होता ज्याचे मार्गदर्शन मिळण्याची जणू त्याने जीवनभर वाट पाहिली होती. श्रीरामाच्या रुपात त्याला ध्येय आणि प्रेरणा मिळाली.

जो कोणी भेटेल त्याची भक्ती आणि असीम निष्ठा मिळवेल असे गुण श्रीरामामध्ये होते. त्याच्या अशा गुणांमुळेच त्याचे तिन्ही भाऊ रामावर अतिशय प्रेम करायचे. रामाबरोबर येण्यासाठी लक्ष्मणाने सर्वस्वाचा त्याग केला. सीतेने रामासाठी वनवास भोगला आणि समाजाचे अन्याय सहन केले. भरतही रामाबरोबर वनात आला पण रामाचे शब्द शीरोधार्य मानून अयोध्येचे प्रशासन सांभाळले तेही राम परत येईपर्यंत अयोध्येत न येता. रामाची प्रजा देखील रामामागे वनात निघाली होती व रामाने समजूत काढली तेव्हाच परत गेली. एवढेच काय तर इतर वेळी उग्र असे विश्वामित्र पण रामासाठी मृदू व्हायचे.

थोडक्यात, राम हा असा महामानव होता जो प्रत्येक मनुष्यातले उत्तमोत्तम बाहेर आणायचा. यात आश्चर्य नाही की मारुतीला अशा मानवाबद्दल नैसर्गिक ओढ वाटली. हनुमानाची नम्रता आणि शुचिता रामाबरोबर एकरूप झाली. हनुमानाची निष्ठा रामच्या विनयात आणि श्रीरामाची निष्ठा मारुतीच्या विनम्रतेमध्ये विलीन झाली. दोन विनयशील, प्रामाणिक आणि कुशाग्र, पित्यास पारखे जीव एकमेकांना भेटले आणि अतूट झाले.
मूळ इंग्रजी लेखाचे मराठी स्वैर भाषांतर.
मूळ लेख - बालाजी विश्वनाथन, Quora.Com