Wednesday, July 30, 2008

3 Generations at Grant Medical

Congratulations to Ketki , my cousin Dr Dilip's daughter to have got admission in my college ,Grant Medical College [ GMC ], or rather I should put is as ' our ' college as my dad's father Dr Bhaskar Gaitonde or ' Anna ' , as we would affectionately call him , was also a student of this college in the mid 1920s --- thats it -- 3 generations.I remember at the time of my admission there was an interview with the deans of all 4 colleges . When I accepted the offer of GMC as per merit list , our dean at that time , Dr. Karandikar , got up , shook hands with me and said 'Congrats and welcome to this college , but may I ask you what made you think of accepting this college '. I had proudly replied ' My grandfather was a graduate from this great GMC and so I am pleased to take admission here '. It was late past 9 at night as the interviews had started late in the afternoon .I had rushed to the college office near the Dean's chamber as my friend called out that the cashier window was still open to accept fees . Oh ! what a relief to have that piece of paper -the receipt - in my hand . Yes I have got my admission !!In my internship we had a rural posting for 6 months at Kasara PHC . We always used to see the rather lonely life of the medical officers posted there , cut off from the cities and the modern world . Later on I had a Government job in the Health services , but fortunately stationed at the headquarters in Thane city . I had a touring job of the whole district and had to visit far off PHCenters . I always used to thank my stars for not being posted there as there was just no social life for the hapless Medical Officers --at least we now have better communication and also computers and the net to get occupied .

My grand father , Anna ,though a graduate from Mumbai and from a prestigious college like GMC in those times , chose to practice in the rural setup of southern Ratnagiri --now Sindhudurg district --in a town called Kankavli . I had often wondered why he had taken that decision and had asked my aunt -- dad's eldest sister as to why did he prefer a rural place to a big city like Mumbai . She had replied that his mother could not tolerate the polluted climate of Mumbai as well as the city life and would rather go back to the village area from where she hailed , and it is for his mother that he went back to the village to practice --Oh ! what a compromise --made me feel proud . Also recollected the novel ' Citadel '.

I was too young ---10 or 11 years old -- when he died in Mumbai after an attempted cardiac surgery , during which time he was staying with us at Worli . I wish I could have asked him this nagging question of his choosing a rural setup . I have heard stories , from my relatives and also from some of my patients , whose relatives he had treated , praising his work ----attending patients coming from far away villages , going for home visits on cycle as well as on horseback in all sorts of weather , conducting difficult deliveries and was a God to the people in a true sense. People worshiped him and his goodwill has made people treat the next generations respectfully whenever anyone visits those villages , which have become cities now .

Had he gone to practice there out of CHOICE or out of COMPULSION ???, this troublesome question will always remain unanswered for me and so I have built up my own analysis which may be right or wrong . Given a choice he would have remained in Mumbai and become renowned on a larger scale -- just imagine an MBBS graduate of those times !!!! He would have been more affluent and the next generations may have had a totally different outlook and upbringing . Though everyone in the family is talented , being on the top in a rural area on one side and grow amongst equals and in a severe competition ,on the other , is a totally unimaginable proposition . His adulations and stories about his achievements are narrated at all times and we do feel proud but my question is , in his heart of hearts did he savor those hard times or was he made to be a hero though within himself he had regretted leaving the city .

Here I am reminded of the Hindi movie 'Guide ' ,where Dev Anand in the end sacrificed his life being made to be a God man by the people . He was a simple tourist guide and he took the fast to death obviously against his inner wishes . The stress of Anna 's practice may have been the cause of his cardiac problems at an early age . He had to shift to Kolhapur to be in a place where better medical facilities were available .

I remember and miss Kolhapur very much, as we used to spend the whole summer vacation as kids , I don't have any idea of Kankavli as they had moved out before I was born in Mumbai . Thats my Dad on the left , the view of the backyard and veranda of the Kolhapur bungalow , my grandmother with her ' rungolee ' , myself in a villager's attire , my cousin sister Nandutai with me in the tonga and Anna ready to leave to the clinic .

Many students nowadays do not want Medicine as a career . One has to clear the CET and getting admission to good colleges is difficult due to reservation policies . Many private colleges have come up and charge huge development fees way beyond reach of a commoner . Compulsory rural posting after this for a period and hefty penalties for waivers . For post graduation there is another CET and the seat may be alloted in a place ,not of one's choice . After PG another dose of rural posting , if not accepted , a dose of penalties .

Congrats again for Ketki for having done so well and welcome to being a ' GMCite '

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Trek Continues

This is in continuation of the earlier post of 17th July .

In the evening we went towards the northwest direction to the very familiar sajja kothi area . This time we went by car as we had trekked enough in the morning. First we went to see the Dutondi Buruz area , the name suggests that it has 2 ways to go up and down .

Probably it was a watch tower to sight the enemy approaching and signal to the Baji Prabhu Buruz in the north and also signal to the south in the direction of Teen Darwaza and Ambar Khana . The area further to the south is called the Rajdindi and has many bungalows of the ' Rich and Famous ' , and due to vacation time were full of guests , with kids playing on the lawns. The famous Valley View Hotel belonging to Kiran Shantaram , as we were informed , is seen from here in the north direction .

From here we visited the routine of Sajja Kothi and further to see if our 'TREE' was waiting for us to visit and click its photo with the kids . Here is also the Baji Prabhu Buruz from where we can see the Vishalgad Fort in the far off northwest distance .

After spending some time there getting the strong , fresh and cool breeze into the system , we proceeded back to the Rajdindi area to see the sunset as this area gives an unobstructed view of the sunset . The sun was setting behind a plateau in the western direction and were informed that there are 3 such plateaus in a row , Panhala being in the centre . That was the last item of our trek . We returned back after a light dinner as we had planned to checkout early next day for the long drive back home .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trekking on Panhala Fort

Our visits to Kolhapur were never complete without a flying visit to Panhala. We used to leave for Panhala at about 5.00 pm , reach there in 45 min and drive directly to Sajja Kothi . Below at the entrance to Panhala , is seen the memorial for Shiva Kashid , who had sacrificed his life to help Shivaji escape when Panhalgad was under siege . After parking the car we used to walk towards the end of the cliff , see the picturesque terrain below , recharge the lungs with deep breaths of the fresh breeze and take snaps near a tree which has stood there strong over all these years and has witnessed Rahul and Supriya grow . As we near this place our eyes are always on a look out for this tree. This time we could not ask Rahul and Supriya to climb on top though they did make an attempt .Then we would walk back towards the sajja kothi , go up the stairs take snaps and come down and to the parked car. On the way back we used to wait at the stalls to snack on onion bhajjiyas , roasted corn and cups of ginger flavored tea . We used to reach back at Kolhapur by 8 pm . This was the routine followed almost every May end. We always used to plan to stay at Panhala and explore the fort on foot , but never materialized.

This year we planned it that way .We got the bookings for MTDC resort for the 16th and 17th May. As the check in time was 9.00 am I decided to reach and stay a day earlier at Kolhapur in 'our Opal Hotel '.We checked in at Panhala at 9.45 .After refreshing we decided to start our ' exploration ' On our way and near Tarabai Rajwada we saw the map of Panhala .Rahul and me clicked it and this became our reference map to route our way . When in doubt we used to zoom in ,study the map and proceed . We followed the road going towards the bus stand . On the way we saw a large lake where people were washing clothes and bathing . This scene is quite common anywhere in India -the hell with pollution and preserving beauty and history . As it was hot and dry in the afternoon sun we decided to return to the room and continue exploring in the evening. We decided to cover the south west part first . We walked to the Baji Prabhu Deshpande Circle first as that seemed to be the center reference point for us. From here we went towards the Hotel Hill Top area that covers places like Andhaar Bav ,Teen Darvaza and Ambarkhana . This place was crowded with tourists and had a lot of eating outlets as well as stalls . After snacking on 'onion bhajias 'and ginger flavoured tea we strolled on to a lovely garden dedicated to the memory of Shri Bhalchandra Pendharkar a renowned Marathi and screen personality of yesteryears,Teen Darvaza and walked back to the room .We then drove for dinner at Hotel Hill Top .

Next day we decided to explore the south east part. On the way we saw Dharma Kothi where history says that the poor were taken care of , then onto Kalavantin sajja ,below a view of sajja kothi as seen from the Kalavantin sajja area .It is said that Sambhaji , when imprisoned in the sajja kothi , could see the 'Kalavantins 'perform in the Kalavantin Sajja ,the ruins of which are seen below. We went down the road to the Shiva Kashid memorial and onto the plateau in the southeast . On the way we passed Parashar Guha ,a cave from the show but leading to a secret tunnel for a getaway to a nearby fort for soldiers in trouble . Next was Lata Mangeshkar's bungalow--originally belonging to Bhalchandra Pendharkar. Next onto the plateau from where we could see the ruins of the kalavantin sajja and sajja kothadi beyond . The view on the southern side was beautiful , a wide expanse of fields interspersed with villages. There was also some activities of construction -- like some star hotel coming up ---to destroy the natural beauty seen below from top . In the evening we decided to go to the north west part to see the sunset ,Sajja kothadi and 'Our tree ' . This will be in the next post

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baba Is No More

In the chronology of events ,this post should have been on the 1st of May . This is regarding the passing away of my father-in-law , Shami's father , whom we affectionately called 'Baba', at his age of 90 after a brief illness.

Baba had a very healthy life throughout . He never had any major illnesses except for colds . I remember his attacks of cold because of his very loud sneezes. At this age he was regular in his walks and had a very disciplined life. Being an aeronautical engineer it was always a pleasure to talk about his work and his comments on the launch of the giant Airbus 380 . He was a voracious reader and would interact on any topic from astronomy, history to sports . The great moments were when watching News on TV with him , especially his use of choicest words to criticize politicians. After retiring from Indian Airlines , he was working for Air Works for quite a long time and even after retiring from there he used to be consulted on an aircraft's final fitness.

Till last year he has accompanied us on a few trips and last May he surprised us by climbing the steep stairs of the sajja kothi at Panhala with the enthusiasm of a child . I remember him many years back, I think it was 1992 , on our trip to Alibag and Kihim ,he had enthusiastically ventured out for a swim in the sea with Rahul. It is really rare and fortunate for those who have had the company of both grand parents till the age of almost 25 . Rahul and Supriya lost one grandmother in November 2007 and now a grandfather .

We do miss him a lot .

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Shami's first post on the blog

Hotels are often advertised as luxurious, grand, good service and comfortable and their most common description is a “Home away from home”.
However, I beg to differ. No doubt, home is the place where one is most comfortable. But at some point in one’s life, one requires a place that is different from home. Most people opt to go to some place else when they take leave. They would not like to spend time home. Of course, the reason people go on tours, trips, vacations is to see the various exciting places, have a change of climate, spend time away from the same humdrum life. But mostly it is to escape the routine of everyday home life, no matter how comfortable and beautiful the home may be. You are always on call when you are at home, even if you are not a doctor! You are expected to answer the doorbell, the phone bell, deal with neighbours, bills, courier service people, postmen, the maid, and so many other intrusions. At some point you want out. You want some thing other than home.

This summer, we decided to go on a short vacation to Panhala from 15 to 18th May. However, we could get the booking of the MTDC resort only from 16th. So we decided to spend the 15th at Kolhapur. We reached there around noon and checked into the Opal Hotel. This is our usual hotel whenever we come to Kolhapur. We have been coming to this hotel since 1984 since Rahul was only 2 months away from his 2nd birthday.

As we had an advance booking, we were ushered to our room without much delay. We realised that this was a brand new double room in a newly constructed wing of the hotel. Later we came to know that it had been inaugurated only 2 weeks ago. After lunch in the hotel dining room, we rested and then went to Temlai which is nearby and is one of our favourite spots in Kolhapur. We retired to our room at night after the delicious ice cream at Solanki’s. The next morning, we had our breakfast and checked out. Before that we made a trip to the first floor of the hotel, which we had missed during our visit last year with Ayi and Baba. The familiar layout altered, new rooms had been constructed, a hall which could be used for a small function had been fashioned out of the enormous hall or sitting room which had been there earlier between the two rooms facing the driveway, on the first floor. However, the two rooms which we used to occupy earlier had been kept with their beautiful balconies in tact. We roamed around with a feeling of nostalgia, trying to figure out which was the corridor in which Rahul, Suppi and Ajit played cricket, the beautiful amazing bathroom at the far end of the corridor which was almost as big as half our house! The window of the corridor which looked on to the terrace adjoining the balcony of the room from where we had seen the colorful sari floating away in the pre monsoon whirlwind at the fag end of May. We had awoken Rahul from his afternoon siesta to show him the magic carpet!

We trooped down to the lobby to collect our luggage. Then we all sat in the car and as we drove away, I was filled with a sense of comfort, as if a soothing balm had been applied to my raw feelings. I don’t know why, a stay in a hotel should bring about this feeling in me. I decided then that I will put into words what this hotel has meant to me and my family all these years.

Our first association with Hotel Opal was in September 1984. We were on our way to Goa for Navratri festival. My parents –in-law and my brother in law and Rahul , Ajit and I along with our driver Pandey took the halt at Kolhapur. We intended to stay overnight and then resume our journey to Goa. The partners of this hotel are our family friends and know my father in law personally . All from our family stay here when on holiday or work. From the minute we stepped into the hotel, it felt very warm and comfortable. The driveway from the gate to the welcoming lobby , and the colonial bungalow look that the hotel has was very charming. In fact it was a old bungalow set in well kept lawns converted into a hotel. We were allotted two rooms on the first floor, facing each other across the huge sitting room. Each room had an individual balcony and a terrace leading from it to the side of the bungalow. The rooms being on the front side of the hotel gave a lovely view of the lawns, driveway and the road beyond. We spent many a happy hour on the balcony, chatting, playing, snacking and singing too! Rahul loved being in both the rooms. He would bound across the sitting room with its bamboo and cane furniture from our room to his grandparents room. Most of our time was spent together in one balcony. The room service person, one Mr Shivaji was really very nice and helpful. He would cook Rahul’s “maam maam” on the gas under the great wooden staircase, in an area which serves as a pantry for impromptu breakfast, tea, coffee, milk, etc. This is a system which continues to this day, even though the hotel boasts of a first class restaurant, which people come especially to dine and lunch. The pandhara Rassa , mutton and bhakri served here is to die for!

After our first visit, we came here very often. Each time, our heart would take memories more pleasant than the earlier. We would plan a vacation to Kolhapur , just because we would look forward to staying at The Hotel Opal,soak in the relaxing atmosphere, the unobtrusive warmth and friendliness. Sometime in the early nineties, we came here with Ayi and Baba,. This time little Suppie was with us too! This time we missed Shivaji. The boy, who had brought up our bags, said that Shivaji had gone back to his village. When we asked him his name, the boy promptly replied, Sambhaji! Suppi, Rahul as well as Ayi and Baba loved the hotel and Temlai as well, not to mention the premonsoon weather which presents itself with gusty winds, sudden showers and a drop in the temperature, A very bracing climate indeed!

In the following years, the hotel must have undergone many changes. We could not come as often as before owing to the children’s school and college exams, classes etc. But we used to here from Ajit’s cousin Ajay about the changes made to the hotel. We used to hope that the hotel would not lose its charm and grace and service. Rooms had been added, some Air conditioned, the dining hall had been extended, the first floor arrangement had been changed to accommodate more rooms. Change is an essential part of progress. If the hotel had to survive and meet the needs of growing clientèle's, it had to take the necessary steps.

We visited the hotel after many years last year with Ayi and Baba. WE were allotted AC two rooms on the ground floor at the back. They did not boast of any view. However, except the fact that one of the rooms was a bit musty smelling, the service, the comfort, and the cleanliness was faultless. The waiters, room service, etc was good. During that visit, we did not venture upstairs to explore the changes. Changes are necessary with time but the management has kept the soul intact.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Life on the Campus

This is the second in the backlog of posts to keep up the chronology of events .

After visiting Rahul's campus , I went back to my days in the hostel in our campus .When I was a student at the Grant Medical college , I stayed in the hostel in the final 2 semesters . I realized that as it was very tiring to return home late at night after extra lectures and go back to ward duty early in the morning , I decided to stay in the hostel. Till then I was commuting daily . We were very lucky that semester as a brand new hostel was inaugurated and we being seniors were given the first choice of the rooms . My group had done very well in the class and so being among the top we were given priority to choose the rooms . We were lucky to get rooms next to each other in the same wing and on the 5th floor , also each one had a separate room

It is good to have a good group when studying especially if one is staying in a hostel . One can interact on subject matters and also on family and social topics .

It is always good when there is someone in whom one can confide and share the pleasures and sorrows of life. It is human to have lows sometime , especially when one is away from the family , and it is at this time that very close friends come in the picture.

Many of my colleagues had an occasion to pair off and have become successful in their lives career wise and family wise till this date . I personally feel that this should be the way and very few are fortunate to find their soul mates on campus .
A decision taken at this level of education and at this mature age should always be appreciated. In this modern era parents do get surprised if their sons and daughters don't get a partner while studying . Parents should have confidence and faith in their children's decisions and help them settle in life. They should also pray for their long and successful life together , as there is a vast difference as students on campus and later on when responsibilities increase and tussles of life begin . That is the testing time to hold on !!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I am back

Suddenly got inspired to blog today.First I thought of uploading photos and then leisurely add the text to the posts whenever I get time . So many events have taken place since the last blog in February , that before I lose track let me try to piece them chronologically .
The first of the series to cover the backlog will be Rahul's convocation at IIM Kozhikode on 22nd March 2008

We reached Kozhikode by Jet air flight leaving Mumbai at 11.40 am. As Rahul was busy with the convocation rehearsals and as I was familiar with the area from our earlier visit ,we found our way to the hotel. Next day in the morning as we had nothing much to do we went to town to the Focus Mall , a departmental store, to get the famous Kerala spices. In the early evening we went to the campus . How I wish I had such a campus in my student days . I am sure the students must have been reluctant to go away from here. The sky was overcast ,there were showers the previous couple of days and though the arrangements were done for the outdoor function , we were told that alternate indoor facilities were on standby. We went to Rahul's room to help him get for the ceremony. That's him giving final touches in front of a mirror. All the students were instructed to collect their robes from the classrooms. We all parents were eagerly waiting , cameras ready to see them in their proud moments . A lot of running about was going on . We were told to occupy seats in the classrooms to see the live telecast of the ceremony which was to be held in the Auditorium due to rains . The students were asked to assemble at the main entrance for a group photo .Many parents followed them but I thought of getting good seats in the classrooms to click photos off the screen . The function was clearly seen on the screen and a special thanks to the staff ,students and others to have organized this live telecast so well. We never felt we missed out anything , though an outdoor function would have been grand . After the faculty and guests departed from the auditorium the students must have rushed out to the outdoor stage to have a satisfaction of being felicitated there. As we went out of the classrooms we could hear the screams and jumping and hugging and calling out to their friends and parents. We then had a buffet , went back to the rooms and did the final packing . Rahul and Jean Marsh had booked a car for both families to go back to the Hotel Sana . We had an early morning flight back to Mumbai , hopefully it was on time and it was a great victorious journey back . Grrrrrrrr !!! Never realized that an IIM K MBA greets everyone that way .

Congrats Sunny !! and on to a great career ahead !!!! All the best from us !!!!!!