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 '

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