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Monday, December 3, 2007

Examination blues

Exams have troubled my intestines enough. Before my profuse diarrhoea clogs Mumbai’s sewerage system, I have decided to do something about it.

Apart from studying, the only logical thing I could do is to understand the examiners psychology. After spending three years in medical school (and managing to pass in umpteen vivas), I have made an attempt to understand the mentality of these examiners. I don’t know to what extent it helps numskulls like me in preventing anxiety diarrhoea. But by doing so, at least I can know what to expect from an examiner.

A few types of examiners:

1. I-am-Hippocrates type:
This is a very common variety of examiners – who think they are the maai-baap of science and biology. They think they know everything, ranging from why ‘rats dig burrows’ to the theory of quantum physics. Lets call these examiners as Mr. Sab-ka-baap (no, they are not necessarily Chinese).

Mr. Sab-ka-baap enters the examination centre pompously with his (or her) neck extended. He kills a few hundred cockroaches under his feet and occasionally slips on banana peels. He doesn’t talk too much and spends most of the time fingering his mobile.

When a student enters his cabin for a viva, Sab-ka-baap welcomes him/her with a frown. Poor student is now faced with a volley of questions followed by volley of abuses. Basically, Sab-ka-baap has read only a few chapters and knows only that much. He has his own fixed ideas and phrases in his mind and the student must answer accordingly. Some baaps are very particular even about commas and semicolons. Most students end up getting poor marks and are heard complaining – “arey meri to maar di!”

Solution: Such baaps are difficult to treat. Best approach is to enter with a smile and greet him (remember to brush your teeth). Take all punches from him with a pinch of salt. Don’t give him the ‘tere-baap-ko-bhi-aata-hai-kya’ look. Fan his ego – the torture is not going to last long. The golden rule is – don’t argue, just give that orang-utan a flying kiss for his ‘great achievement’ as he manages to screw your case.

2. Happy-and-gay type:
Occasionally such examiners are seen lurking in certain examination centres. They are very content with life – chances are that they have caring children, loving wife and good neighbours. They laugh for no reason – as if nitrous oxide has leaked somewhere. Let’s call such examiners as Mr. Mogambo.

Mr. Mogambo welcomes a student in his cabin for a viva with lots of warmth, thereby giving airhostesses a run for their money. He strives in order to make the student comfortably seated. He asks simple questions, appreciates good answers and lauds the student. These examiners don’t know much theory – occasionally students are praised for wrong answers.

Solution: These examiners are easy to handle. Dress neatly, comb your hair and smile (eat happydent or such types of chewing gum). Laugh over small things (like a lizard slipping from a wall; his stupid jokes) but make sure your tonsils are not enlarged. Speak good English – he’ll give you marks for that. Don’t give him that surprised ‘arey-matka-lag-gaya’ look when he praises you for a wrong answer.

3. Aati-kya-khandala type:
These examiners scare the wits out of (some) females. They care a damn for male students. Such exam-side romeos get into the seductive mood on seeing fair, well-dressed and good-looking females.

Mr. Chipku really sticks to such femme fatales and doesn’t trouble them much in a viva. He cannot stand males – they are bound to perform badly in such exams. Females are asked very few questions and more time is spend looking at her ‘lip-movements’ and ‘eye-coordination’ than the actual answers. Eventually, some females end up getting embarrassed and males fuming.

Solution: Females who want attention need no solution. Those females who don’t want to get embarrassed may try – wearing ill-fitting dentures (then smile a lot), applying tonnes of oil on the face and hoping to get a quick pimple or two, eating paan, making weird expressions and grimacing, etc.

I wish I knew what males should do in such a situation.

4. Mummy-Papa type:
Here cometh the saviour! They are extremely affectionate and provide loads of TLC to the students. They are extremely down to earth and simple. Let’s call them Mr. Pitaji.

Pitaji’s are usually dressed in night suits. They constantly refer to the students as ‘Beta/Beti’. They derive great pleasure in being the universal parents. They ask easy questions, offer chai-coffee, push in laddoos, ask about your family history and show lots of concern for your ‘problems’. They make ask irrelevant things like how much your mother pays your bai for jhaadu-poocha.

They usually give marks – but may indulge in moral-policing. Their biggest turnoff is jeans. They like oiled hair and huge elephant-sized spectacles.

Solution: Pitaji’s usually don’t trouble students much. Tell them that you come from a very poor background and last night you were studying under the streetlight. Show respect – eat whatever they offer and greet them with folded hands (don’t make it very obvious by touching their feet). Oil your hair but make sure it doesn’t drip and spoil your bhaisahab-type shirt.

5. Apathetic type:
Even they don’t know why they are born. Don’t try palpating their thyroid – they may get irritated and throw you out. They are not interested in their surroundings and may not even look around if a person sitting next to them collapses. At times they may have the ‘main-kaun-hoon’ look.

Such people ask few questions, want specific answers and easily lose their temper. Students beware – they don’t like guesswork. They may be very rude at times.

Solution: These examiners give students the jitters; it’s not easy to tackle them. The best way out is – behave equally apathetic, answer to the point and don’t try arguing. They really don’t care how well you are dressed and sometimes may not even look at your face. Remember – they are the no-nonsense type. Don’t try cracking fattas.

6. Fluctuating Hydrocoeles:
These don’t fit into any of the above categories and their behaviour keeps ‘fluctuating’. They are often affected by mood swings and personal issues such as domestic fights, husband-beating, kitty parties, loudmouthed mother-in-law, chokra-chokri lafdas, society water issues, fights with local bhajjiwala, etc.

They may behave whimsical at times and poor students may be left bewildered. Often they appear very irritated.

Solution: It depends on the mood of the examiner. Find out from students who have already faced the music. Be ready with all your armament and go for the kill.

P.S.: Once you have followed all the advice, mentally prepare yourself – there are strong chances that you have flunked. Then go watch a Himesh Reshammiya movie. Cheers!

Thursday, November 29, 2007



I bet you have had enough of updates on various health problems and epidemics (if not then refer to K. Park, textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine). Now hear this one – there’s an outbreak of a new disease that’s called ‘desperation’. With massive number of people already affected, the incidence of this disease is constantly on the rise. Fortunately, it’s not as fatal as the aforesaid; nonetheless it’s very ‘invigorating’.

Although the bug responsible for the disease has not been discovered yet, there is a lot of information about the disease per se (courtesy: me). Maybe it’s a part of generalised thickening process that occurs in people who are thick-skinned and/or thick-skulled.

Let’s see the various types of desperation (again, courtesy: me):
Sensory: Here the ‘despo’ is the one who has an abnormal attitude that is limited to him/her and does not affect anyone else in general. It further subdivided into:

  • Wannabe: a person who wants to be or be like someone else or to attain some status or condition (basically - a fathead)

  • Show-off: The more benign variety; one who brags, a swagger, to make a spectacle of oneself, etc (a spout)
Motor: The desperation of the person affects other people around him as well. It can be either:

  • Despot: anyone in charge who acts like a tyrant, tries to force something upon someone, etc

  • Wannabe despo: Such a person has a serious personality disorder; is a combination of wannabe and despot type

There are some more kinds of desperate people who do not strictly fit into any one of these categories. If you are that desperate, you can go ahead classifying them.

It’s not very difficult to study this disease and it just took me one day to be able to systematise it into various subtypes. A desperate person can be easily identified by anyone; some observational skills are all that is required. Such a person appears very flustered, a bit agitated and a tad impulsive. He seems to be in extreme pain and misery – like a person with a full rectum but has no place to go and shit. He seems to be very interested in other peoples’ matters – as if he represents the next generation swanky peeping tom.

As I reached a railway station, I met many people desperate to get in the train; I also met some others who were desperately trying to get out of the train as it reached Bandra. What was really fascinating about my journey was the determination of some people to read the newspaper in such a crowded train.

Even I decided to join in (remember – if you can’t beat them, join them) and thus began reading a newspaper. I read about some politicians, who were desperately trying to win some random elections (including some army men from other countries); some businessmen who were trying hard to survive in a rat race – their name should figure in the ‘Worlds Richest’ list (some Indians who hate being called one – still we idolise them); some people are so desperate that they end up with rapes and murders (now this list is countless); some people are busy passing irrelevant laws completely ignoring the more important issues that plague our country (read: Desper-adoss and Despe-rjuns – if you are aware of the latest reservation and medical education issues).

There are students who can go to any extent to get as many marks as possible in an exam; there are others who desperately try to show as if they are not bothered about their results. While there are people who are desperate to look stylish and ‘sexy’ (just walk down the street – you’ll come across hundreds of wannabe babes and hunks), there are others who desperately tag along such people (I bet you have read recent make-ups and break-ups of Bollywood actors). There are people who desperately try losing weight (need I mention who?), whereas some starve to death out of sheer desperation (they have no money to buy food!). There are despos busy comparing non-specific stuff, writing reviews about random things and competing with others (imagine: people actually had the time to participate in polls comparing OSO and Saawariya). How can you miss out on people who have gone into depression just because Harshit has not been selected as the ‘Voice of India (some undiluted bullshit)?’

Where are we heading? I don’t know the fate/complications of this disease called ‘desperation’ – actually I’m not even interested. I don’t understand the logic of taxing ones brain too much.

The best solution – chill yaar! What difference does it make if Sachin Tendulkar was out on a 99? At such a level when it doesn’t even matter to him, why are we so bothered? Maybe we need a little break and concentrate on smaller things in life. Like your pet dog – he needs vaccination. Or your hyacinth – you haven’t watered it for days because you were busy finding out why a British Official has come to India and how were his experience in some local train. Or just check out on your mom; find out whether she’s taking her medicines regularly or not.

Of course! How can I forget! We cannot wrap up without mentioning those people who desperately write such articles in order to suggest impossible measures to improve the current scenario; then there are others who keep themselves busy commenting on the same.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

100 till I pass...

“Err… Do you want to be a part of Bombay Medical Congress this year?” A senior walks up to you and asks you a simple question.

It is for the first time now, that the pursuit of academic excellence takes a backseat and the desire to obtain something other than the satisfaction of overcoming the routine challenges posed by medical books takes over. Something, in the eyes of a typical Gsite, far, far more consecrated… and not to mention, lucrative (in the future, of course)…

So, what is this ‘something’ that every (well, almost every) Gsite craves for?

‘A certificate’!

Let us call such a Gsite ‘Mr. Certiphokut’.

“Definitely, I want to be a part of Bombay Medical Congress”, cries Certiphokut, “How can I miss out on an opportunity to obtain a ‘certi’?”

For the first time, unrest spreads in the entire batch like septicaemia and no one is in a mood to miss out on an opportunity to get hold of a certificate.

The hunt begins for more of such fortunes. Oh! Here comes Aavishkaar!

Psst… all Aavishkaar committee members get a ‘certi’ from the gymkhana.
Certiphokut strikes gold.

“I shall be the coordinator of Aavishkaar this year,” declares Certiphokut. “On second thoughts, is there a lot of work to be done? Can I organise literary events instead? Maybe vocals? If not, then Opiate? I think I’ll be best at handling publicity!”

By now, Certiphokut has made an irreversible decision. He (no offence meant, it could also be a ‘she’) wants 100 certificates before he passes his MBBS. He is not alone in his quest; he is accompanied by many other such like-minded ‘bounty’-hunters.

Next in the line are gymkhana elections. Yet another chance!

Which one of the gymkhana post is a maaf post? Let’s see:

GS : Gymkhana Sweeper

RRDD : Rotten Rodent in Departmental Dustbin

CSPA : College Servant with Persistent Allergy

CSFA : College Servant with Fistula-in-Ano

WPWS : Worker with Prader-Willi (Syndrome)

The more the merrier! The more the certificates one possesses, better are one’s prospects at USMLE and other such coveted exams.

Didn’t make it to the Gymkhana post of your choice (and ease)? Maybe someone was in an even more desperate need of the certificate. Our smart Mr. Certiphokut isn’t disappointed. There is a solution! Someone has said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures!” Perhaps Certiphokut feels the same way; he goes on to sign a pact with his competitor in the elections to castle post in the gymkhana.

Next on the list is joining the Rotaract Club and other such clubs (as many as possible… the more the merrier, remember?) What are the advantages of being a part of such clubs? You get to meet senior professors, organise maaf symposiums, create awareness about issues which people are bored of and, lest we forget, you get to collect some more certificates.

Mr. Certiphokut now targets workshops and conferences held in five-star hotels and venues with high-class ambience. On the first day of the conference/workshop, he goes there for registration. The next visit is scheduled for the last day – to collect the certificate. In some workshops, volunteers are forced to attend lectures which make no sense to then whatsoever. But Certiphokut is not concerned; as long as the lunch is good and the ‘certi’ is certain, he will brave all odds.

Many Certiphokuts do clinical research just for the sake of the certificate. Many members of this subspecies carry out research on topics that have been dealt with thousands of times in the past. But doing clinical research is definitely a learning experience even though it may have no relevant consequence.

Certain Certiphokuts present others work at symposia’ without making even an iota of contribution. This can be done with or without the permission of people who actually worked for the same; and to do this, all you need is to grab a CD with the presentation and borrow somebody’s laptop.

I’ve heard that certificates will also be issued to those who publish articles on their blog. Will I get a certificate for this one?

This is a certificate given to me by makers of my College Magazine - Gosumag 2006


A high profile company once invited applications for the job of a “Personnel Manager.” I do not know if such a post actually exists in industry, but I’m told that those applying for this post must be very knowledgeable and should be able to handle various problems effectively. These include handling complex psychosocial issues that somehow affect the employees directly or indirectly. Leadership qualities are obviously desirable.

Now a donkey applied for this post. He was given an appointment and was instructed to be present at least thirty minutes before the interview.

The donkey reported exactly thirty minutes before the scheduled time.

Soon he was called in for the interview.

The donkey decided to knock before entering the cabin. In an attempt to do so, he knocked the door rather loudly. Spooked, the interviewer literally jumped from his seat and nearly hit the ceiling.

“Come in,” he said regaining composure.

When the donkey tried to open the door, its handle suddenly came off. Poor donkey stood in front of the interviewer with the door handle in his hand! The interviewer appeared impassive; the donkey thought that he had probably not noticed the wreck. He quickly hid the handle behind his buttock.

Next, the donkey decided to walk towards the interviewer with an air of confidence about him and thereby, thoroughly impress him. But he didn’t know what to do with the door handle. He wanted to get rid of it as quickly as he could. Nervously, he dropped the heavy metal handle on the floor. The loud clang startled the interviewer, but he just didn’t understand what happened.

The donkey gave him a boorish smile and scratched his buttock twice.

“Sit,” he said coldly after a minute.

The donkey tried sitting on a chair, but slipped, and landed on it firmly with a loud thud. He yawped in pain.

“Be careful!” said the interviewer with profound surliness.

Soon began the interview –

“What’s your name?”

“Donkey” he replied.

“Where do you stay?”

“At home” the donkey retorted with tinge of vengeance and a bit matter-of-factly.

“What have you studied?”

“Books” he grinned.

Silence. The interviewer stared at the donkey for few minutes. The donkey stared back at him with blank looks. Both of them had an awkward mask-like expression for sometime.

“What is your greatest strength?” the interviewer asked.

“The fact that I know my weakness”

“Really? Tell me your weakness then…”

“I have gases.”

I didn’t wait any longer to find out whether the donkey was recruited. I decided to leave and mind my own business. I had just walked a few steps, when I heard a loud thud. This time I was sure it wasn’t a door handle.

Moral of the story: If you have gas, be careful when you try opening a door. The handle might just come off.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I have made an attempt to understand as to why ducks quack and not moo like a cow, but I cannot figure out why we have lectures in the afternoon; students can enjoy such a refreshing nap post-lunch.

Once, as usual, we were made to attend a lecture on histology at around 3 in the afternoon. The postprandial talk was supposed to be on certain superficial glands and none of us were curious to know which ones. The lecture was on in full swing and I was listening to the lecturer with great interest at least for the first 63 seconds.

All good things come to an end. I couldn’t take histology any more. After a heavy meal, circulation to my brain had drastically decreased…

…Half-way down, at 3:30, I woke up instantly when the lecturer pointed out to a student seated just in front and asked him what so-and-so gland secretes. Poor ‘ghasu’ couldn’t answer the question and simply stared back at her. However, she gave him a few hints to help him out. She was sure that he would be able to answer as it was very simple question. She waited patiently for 37 seconds.

I don’t know why, but whenever a student is asked a question, those sitting next to him/her feel breathless and edgy. Here again, I felt that the students sitting next to ghasu needed emergency tracheostomy. They were really distressed. Poor them!

Now the lecturer had enough. She was extremely annoyed and screamed at him, “See bum! arre SEE BUM!!!”

Obediently, I looked around, but I didn’t understand anything! Honestly, I was rather shocked at what she said. I thought for a while, but I still couldn’t make out any sense. What kind of a hint was this? See someone’s bum? Why on earth?! Does it have an answer etched on it? Or will it secrete something?

Meanwhile, I saw other batch-mates write that word in their book diligently. I had to stretch my neck forwards, sideways and in various angulations so that I could see what they are writing. A person sitting next to me rudely asked me if I was having a seizure disorder. I looked at him scornfully. That’s all I could do anyway.

At the end of the lecture, I asked a friend, “Hey, what was the question? What did the teacher ask ghasu?”

I did not ask my friend the meaning of “See-someone’s-bum”. Instead I changed my question to a less embarrassing one. Maybe he had understood everything and hence, he would be able to explain the correct sequence of events.

He coolly replied, “Arre she asked ghasu what is secreted by sebaceous glands and he could not even give such a simple answer, sebum!”

…I decided to slink away. I think i'm better off with cows and ducks. Phew!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kar kar kar… till you succeed

Believe me; obstetricians have even more adrenaline than a roadrunner. This was one of the first lessons I learnt in my gynaecology posting when I was in second year (MBBS). My first posting in gynaecology was therefore very ‘invigorating’. The sights and sounds in obstetrics and gynaecology are so beguiling that you may well miss the ‘Miss Universe’ pageant.

It was a lazy Friday afternoon. I still don’t know why we were waiting in the labour room (!); apparently a registrar had told a ‘sincere’ batchmate to spread the message in the batch that a female was about to deliver. Hence, we should wait to see the procedure after which she would take a lecture on ‘normal labour’.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a houseman came rushing towards the (very) attractive registrar. “4 cm… its 4 cm now!” he shouted. After a little thought, we guys figured out that he could be talking about only one thing. We decided to wait and watch. I glanced at my watch. It was 2:00 pm sharp.

The patient’s husband was anxiously waiting outside. He somehow managed to shuffle to and fro on a busy hospital floor. Going by his looks, anyone with brains enough to just survive could have mistaken him for Suppandi. His elder son was barely 10-12 years old but seemed to have more grey matter than his father. We were seated outside the labour room and waited for something obvious to happen. The registrar gave us a scornful look as our faces displayed ultimate levels of frustration and tedium. Interns were bored too and were trying to control their (postprandial) desires with great difficulty.

Then it happened! I had almost been asleep, but weird, unheard-of sounds woke me up instantly. I saw the houseman run towards the registrar shouting “10cm… this is it... finally its 10cm!!!” It was then we realised that he was not talking about the thing what we had figured out.

The interns followed close behind the registrar and the desperate houseman as if hell had broken loose or a skunk had let go. I sensed a disaster, an apocalypse or maybe just a love triangle; only to be reminded by a batch-mate that the same woman we had talked about was ready to deliver. I heaved a sigh of relief and sat back to relax again while a crowd of students gathered in front of that woman. I almost despaired at the lack of integrity among my fellow batch-mates who had gathered in front of the woman, totally absorbed as if it was a scene from a Gothic drama. Out of sheer curiosity, I too decided to peep in and find out more.

Arre bai kar kar kar kar… abbe kar na (slap on the tummy)… aise… kar kar kar kar (another slap)…” shouted the registrar. “Aye intern, pitocin fast kar, jaldi kar… pitocin, pitocin…kar kar kar kar…” she continued without a pause. “Mama, cotton gheyun ye lavkar…” she screamed in another direction. “Arre bai kar kar kar (almost threatening the female with fingers pointing suggestively)… kar kar kar kar kar” she continued as the female moaned and caught the flustered registrar’s attention. “Episiotomy de re… (Khach khach khach) Sister… sister… lavkar ya… arre bai karna… kar kar… (another slap on the tummy),” she continued to yell.

The commotion continued for another 15-20 minutes. We hardly blinked. We waited in rapt attention. The resident was sweating profusely. The houseman and the intern looked exhausted. But the houseman’s enthusiasm to assist his vivacious registrar kept him going. The intern too continued to run around getting more and more cotton from God-knows-where.
Finally the baby girl was delivered. I heaved a sigh of relief again and glanced at my watch. It was 5:00 pm sharp.

The elder son was already celebrating and singing some gibberish on top of his voice which went, “aalaa re... aalaa re...” His father was in high spirits too. They hugged each other with profound joy. They talked about how they would get new clothes for the new arrival. They talked about how they would teach him to walk (probably they had not noticed that it was a girl). They argued endlessly on who would get to subsequently potty-train the kid. I stopped listening.

The registrar had not finished yet. She now stood in an awkward position and tried to repair the episiotomy incision. “Aye bai, thamb na thoda… (khach khach khach)” she sutured the wound in no time. “Arre… arre aata aavaj nako…” she continued to scold the poor woman.

However, the elder son caught my attention again when he saw a tense look on his father’s face and expressed his astonishment loudly.

“Kaay jhaalaa
Father?” he asked in his broken English-cum-Marathi and helping his dad understand what he said by his actions.

name thevaychaa?” the ‘father’ asked with immeasurable tension on his face and in a
similar exotic language.

In fluent Marathi, elder son replied that he had heard of an English proverb that goes, “Child is the father of man”. So they should name the child ‘baap’, he explained matter-of-factly. They would then be able to show off to the entire chawl their vast knowledge of the English language and people would then look up to them. The ‘father’ instantly agreed and patted his son’s back lovingly. I stopped listening again.

Meanwhile, the ‘baap’ was taken by a neonatologist to a separate room.

The registrar, meanwhile, was too tired to take a lecture at 5:30 pm. We had borne enough of obstetrics as well. She got the hint early and we decided to leave for good, leaving the houseman and intern overjoyed.

As I walked towards the exit, the sounds of “kar kar kar…” were still ringing in my ears. This time I tried, but couldn’t stop listening.

Disclaimer: This article is an exaggerated satire of the architecture that exists in our hospitals. No part of this article represents/resemble any particular individual(s)/group(s) and it is purely fictional. The author sincerely appreciates the fantastic job done by the medical and paramedical staff of hospitals in India given the limited resources. The description of the patient, relative(s) and the process of labour are purely fictitious and has does not remotely relate to the institution of marriage/childbirth. The author's over indulgence is not meant to hurt any concerned party's sentiments. If any sentiments/ sensibilities are hurt, it is purely unintentional.