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Pondicherry has a unique charm for people of different hues, sizes, shapes, ethnicity and faiths. Some drive down with the singular purpose of unwinding and experiencing a spirit-ed upliftment of sorts. But many others pop up over a weekend, merely to soak in its spiritual ambience. Some hang around a wee bit longer, so as to be able to experience its spiritual vibrations. Many others keep coming back and even decide to settle in the city or its surroundings.

Spirituality and religion form an integral part of the allure of Pondicherry. Other than many spiritual hotspots and historic temples which it can justifiably boast of, the place is a spring-board of sorts for many places which would please a spiritual seeker as well as a religious devotee.

Of Spiritual Enlightenment

Besides meditating at either the Shri Aurobindo Ashram or the Matri Mandir, one can experience a heady spiritual upliftment merely by sitting quietly at a secluded place on the beach; being in communion with Mother Nature, aptly represented by the greenish blue waters of the Bay of Bengal.

Seeing the relentless rolling in of waves, deeply inhaling the salty air, pouring out one’s heart to the endless sea, watching the sun or the moon rise, following the movements of seagulls flying by – all these help one to attain a state of inner calm. Batteries get charged up. One can get back to one’s materialistic pursuits with a renewed vigour.

A dynamic awakening

But spiritual awakening comes about not only by adopting a static practice like meditation. It also has a dynamic dimension, which manifests itself through the mundane experiences of life.

Consider the unique experience of driving on the Pondicherry roads. It teaches one the virtues of Humility and Courage. When a millennial on his racing bike overtakes one from the left, one’s Receptivity improves. Bovines squatting on the roads quietly assert their democratic rights over whatever little road space is on offer, thereby teaching one the value of Equality. When a bus driver who believes he is driving an auto rickshaw instead suddenly honks from the side, a sense of Generosity coupled with the fear of life and limb helps one to offer him a right of way. The auto driver who delves unduly deep into the pockets of a lay visitor to Pondicherry also imparts a valuable instruction in Generosity.

Finding a parking space on the main thoroughfares needs loads of Perseverance. Upon a hapless pedestrian avoiding being run over by a speeding car, a sense of Gratitude towards the Divine descends. Sincerity of purpose is required while crossing a narrow road where two wheelers use a two-way as a four-way lane. When a traffic cop endowed with a stiff-upper-lip takes a lenient view of one’s inadvertent adventures on the road, vibrations of Goodness can be felt. When one has battled through the streets and reached one’s abode safely, a sense of Peace prevails.

Overall, one makes Spiritual Progress. One’s level of Aspiration goes up a notch higher. One learns the true meaning of Surrender to the Divine.

Even if one misses meditating at the twelve petals of Matri Mandir, each representing the qualities mentioned above, there is no cause for worry. Driving on local roads can also be an enlightening experience.

For Religious Succour

Ardent devotees of Lord Shiva treat Pondicherry as a part of the southern ‘Pancha-bhoota’ circuit, comprising Kalahasti (Air), Kancheepuram (Earth), Tiruvannamalai (Fire), Chidambaram (Ether/Space) and Trichy (Water). As an architectural marvel, the Big Temple at Thanjavur is not too far off. Overnight trains can transport one to Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari in a jiffy.

 

Those who revere Lord Vishnu just need to head to the famous Ranganathaswamy temple at Trichy and experience its strong vibrations. Kumbakonam offers a heady concoction of many deities who are eager to bestow their grace on any of their believers who choose to get benefited. Some who wish to specifically appease Lord Shani head to the famous temple at Karaikal.

The dargah at Nagore offers solace to those seeking upliftment of a Sufi kind. The church at Velankanni is not too far off.

Irrespective of the faith one professes, Pondicherry and its vicinity offer a wide spectrum of uplifting options.

With the Union Government recently pitching in for burnishing this facet of Pondicherry in the years ahead, blissful days are surely ahead.

Brand Pondicherry

Brand Pondicherry has many attributes. A cosmopolitan culture. Metro-like facilities in a small-town framework. Warm people. Excellent education. Great medical support. A thriving hospitality and services sector. Yoga. Ease of meeting public officials. And like the proverbial icing on the cake, spiritual enlightenment and religious succour.

Take your pick and experience the myriad colours of the rainbow called Pondicherry!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/pondicherry-a-certain-sense-of-gallic-glory-gone-by

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/pondicherry-the-little-indie-french-town

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/the-element-of-wisdom-in-management-a-seminar-at-pondicherry

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/the-travails-of-a-non-resident-pondicherryite

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/movies-with-a-puducherry-connection)

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In our lives, UBS played the role of a dynamic and bustling airport,
From which we soared in life´s azure skies, enjoying our flights of high
import;
Some took to exploring various corners of our Mother Earth,
Of CEOs, diplomats, businessmen and bankers amongst us there is no dearth.

While in UBS’ hallowed portals, we enjoyed bunking classes,
The brainy ones worked on assignments which were copied by the masses;
Cornering important books from the Central Library was a critical vocation,
For poking fun at our faculty, Student Centre was the prime location.

OB theories and riddles of Sales Forecasting kept us on our toes,
Figuring out Quantitative Techniques made us feel abysmal lows;
Twiddling our thumbs to read between the lines of a Balance Sheet,
Devouring the works of Philip Kotler was much up our street.

Weekend treks to Kasauli and Morni Hills were favourite gigs,
Midnight gorging on the greasy omelettes at PGI gate like pigs;
Catching up with first day first show of Bollywood flicks was the norm,
Securing high Class Participation marks invariably kept us in form.

(UBS stands for University Business School, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, from where your truly completed his MBA in 1976. This composition has also been shared on the Facebook page of UBS).

(One of the several related posts: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week)

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Your every ping

Makes my heart sing

 

A chat a day

Keeps blues away

 

Through emoticon

The heart is won

 

Your status update

Could seal my fate

 

Your profile pix

Is a heady mix

 

Of hot and sweet

I follow your tweet

 

And WhatsApp too

I follow you

 

On the Facebook

It is no fluke

 

That (your) every post

I like the most

 

On mails we chat

Of this and that

 

Until at last

Oh! Meet we must

 

Then I awake

Your profiles fake!

 

And all your pings

Of sweet nothings

 

Went out en masse

Alack! Alas!

 

My pal, my bro, my boss, my dad!

All got them, we’ve all been had!

 

And if all this has taught something,

Never ever trust a BBM ping.

(Soumya Mukherjee is an alumnus of St Stephens College and Delhi School of Economics. He earns his daily bread by working for a PSU Insurance company, and lectures for peanuts. His other passions, family, friends, films, travel, food, trekking, wildlife, music, theater, and occasionally, writing. He has been published in many national newspapers of repute. He has published his first novel, Memories, a novella, hopefully, the first of his many books. He blogs as well.

His permission to re-post this composition is gratefully acknowledged. It can also be found at http://www.differenttruths.com/literature/poems/ode-to-social-media)

 

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Those who practice as physicians in our society are increasingly looked upon with some suspicion. Dig a little deeper and one is apt to find that they are more to be pitied than to be censured.

A physician is denied the fundamental right to some solitude. Even at a social gathering, she is likely to be surrounded by wannabe patients who are keen to seek her impromptu advice as to the latest affliction the party of the other part has heard about and imagines oneself to be suffering from the same.

Close relatives are not too considerate either. A distant relative could call late at night, skillfully steering the conversation from children’s career prospects to the current bout of migraine she happens to be suffering from. If anyone in the circle of friends or relatives happens to be admitted to a hospital, the physician ends up spending sleepless nights, adroitly juggling her official commitments and personal relations, often messing up both.

Latest advancements in medicine keep them on their toes. So does the competition from various streams of medicine, such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and many other local variants of each of these streams. Superstitions, local beliefs, religion, social norms are but some of the constraints which need to be kept in mind. Legal tangles, such as those apply to road accident cases, keep them on the defensive.

In advanced countries, they face tough customer care regulations. In emerging economies like India, they suffer humiliation – occasionally violent – at the hands of irate relatives and well-wishers if the latter perceive the medical service provided to their kith and kin to be deficient.

Return on Investment considerations

To be a mere graduate in any discipline of medicine does not amount to much these days. Even to become a graduate, the hapless souls have to experience at least five and a half years of the tyranny of the classroom, with the trauma of a stint as an intern thrown in for good measure.

Monetary rewards obviously vary depending upon their choice of a career. They could choose to be in their own private practice, or join a private sector outfit, or become a part of the public health delivery mechanism.

If public spending on health infrastructure is woefully inadequate, private players end up playing an important role in the medical education scenario. Many aspiring physicians opt for a private sector skill provider. As a consequence, hassled parents end up shelling out sackfuls of the green stuff. Return on Investment considerations then determine the choice of their career.

The blue-eyed ones

The resourceful ones set up their own practice. If the going is good, some of them end up laughing all the way to the bank, what with hefty commissions coming in from such allied medical service providers as marketeers of branded medicines and diagnostic clinics.

Those who happen to be associated with five-star private sector health facilities have tough business targets to meet. This is not to say that patient care necessarily gets compromised, but an overdose of medical investigations surely leaves the patient and her family deprived of mental peace and some hard-earned green stuff.

When the costliest of medicines and gadgets get recommended by physicians, stakeholders of pharmaceutical companies and those in the field of medical equipment laugh all the way to the bank. Admittedly, quite a lot of money gets pumped into research and development, but it is open to debate as to how much profit could be considered rational and socially justified.

Much like the marketing honchos in the private sector who bring in business and resultant moolah, such physicians happen to be the blue-eyed boys of any entity which boasts of being a corporate facility.

The grey eyed ones

Physicians who are part of the government healthcare delivery system and happen to be conscientious by nature are often overloaded with work. Monetary rewards are often not commensurate with the efforts being put in. The eyes of a majority of them would be a dull grey, revealing a soul which is tormented and has given up hope.

Besides having to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals and making presentations at medical seminars, students have to be guided, examinations have to be conducted and internal meetings need to be attended. Administrative chores cannot be ignored.

Above all, routine patient care cannot be made to suffer. Patients, whether of the ‘in’ or the ‘out’ kind, descend in droves, all eager to jump the queue and catch the attention of the physician. The plight of those in most of the emerging economies is most distressing because the per capita availability of physicians leaves much to be desired.

Of Attitude and Inner Resilience

Much depends on the attitude of a patient. One could come across persons with a cheerful disposition headed for their second open heart surgery, relishing a deep-fried item with much glee. One could also run into those who worry endlessly over such transient ailments as a bout of common cold or sinusitis.

Physicians obviously deal with a baffling variety of patients with much finesse and aplomb. Nerves of chilled steel get deployed. A sense of detachment pervades their handling of a patient. Their inner resilience deserves to be applauded.

With such fine qualities of head and heart, one can merely admire the quality of their work which keeps upholding the reputation of their profession. The Hippocratic Oath might appear to be relegated to the background, but is surely alive and kicking.

In many streams of alternative medicine, the patient is taken as a composite whole and treated holistically. The inner resilience of a patient is accorded a higher weightage. Allopathy, the mainstay of masses in the times we live in, does it the other way round, where each organ is looked at and treated separately. In mathematical parlance, alternative streams could be likened to Integral Calculus, whereas allopathy could be likened to Differential Calculus.

Shoring up one’s inner resilience

There are indeed ways for patients to improve one’s inner resilience, so as to be able to handle the harsh slings and arrows of Fate in a more positive manner. A deeper inner connection helps. To achieve the same, regular introspection and meditation helps.

As the Mother has said, the right approach would be to simply disallow negative thoughts to gain a foothold in one’s psychical system. Patients obviously need loads of patience to be able to put this advice in practice!

(Note: Inputs from Dr. Shivani Salil Dr. Shruti Bhatia are gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/of-patient-satisfaction-quotient-motivation-and-kinds-of-patients)

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The Patient Satisfaction Quotient

It is well-known that the Patient Satisfaction Quotient is a function of various factors – the time spent with the physician, the quality of interaction had, the seniority of the physician in the system hierarchy, etc.

It follows that the following laws might apply:

Law #1: The more the time spent with a physician, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

Admittedly, this law does not apply to those perched on a dentist chair. Nor does it apply to those facing a minor surgical procedure without the aid of analgesics.

Law #2: The better the quality of interaction, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

This law is a direct derivative of the psychology of the individual. The more a patient is able to off-load her worries and anxieties onto the hapless physician, the happier she is apt to feel.

There are some exceptions here as well. A physician found making an inappropriate remark about the weight of a patient who is a member of the female of our species risks losing the latter’s goodwill.

Law #3: The patient satisfaction level is directly proportional to the seniority of the physician being consulted.

Amongst the well-heeled patients, the respect and admiration for a physician depends upon the amount of fee being charged, the waiting period to get an appointment, the seniority of the physician in the system, and the value as well as the rare availability of the medications being prescribed.

This one surely does not apply to the teeming multitudes who strive to keep their body and soul together day after day.

It follows that most patients using the public hospitals are left dissatisfied. It does not occur to them that the sheer exposure of such physicians is so very wide that the medical advice they dish out is much better. Superfluous investigations are discouraged. Medications recommended are often of a generic kind, saving the patient some precious money.

A Patient Motivation-Hygiene Proposition

Those familiar with Herzberg’s two-factor theory, popular in the realm of organizational behaviour, would notice a striking similarity between the situation envisaged in organizations and the one we are endeavouring to explore here.

In case of organizations, job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not part of a continuum. Absence of satisfaction does not necessarily imply presence of dissatisfaction. If the presence of Motivation Factors (respect and recognition on the job, for instance) improves job satisfaction levels, the absence of Hygiene Factors (such as physical working conditions, etc) leads to higher job dissatisfaction levels.

Likewise, satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels of patients perhaps tend to be independent of each other. If the treatment is effective in the long run, the satisfaction level improves. If the time spent by the physician is inadequate, dissatisfaction sets in.
In that sense, Effectiveness of Treatment would be akin to a Motivation Factor in the theory propounded by Herzberg.

However, the set of laws proposed above would be like Hygiene Factors, the absence of which would cause a patient dissatisfaction.

Patients of various hues

Patients obviously come in various body sizes, pocket sizes, shapes and hues. Amongst those who do not face a medical emergency, there are wide variations in temperaments. Here are some which might be of interest.

The Reluctant Ones

These are patients who believe that a doctor should be visited only as a last resort and that medicines need to be stopped as soon as the immediate problem is addressed. They believe that there is no need for any follow-up visit, till, of course, the next crisis strikes.

The Casual Ones

These are the ones who are casual in their approach. They may or may not follow either a doctor’s prescriptions or the food restrictions placed on them. Nevertheless, a medical consultation is akin to a pleasurable outing for the, so they shall keep coming back to see the physician. For a public service doctor, they happen to be a nuisance. For those in the private sector, they are a source of delight.

The Conscientious Ones

In this category fall the hapless and anxious souls who take their illnesses rather seriously. They take medicines regularly, and follow diet-related advice to the best of their ability. They tend to seek guidance at frequent intervals. Those who suffer from lifestyle diseases often end up forging a close bond with the physician, thereby replicating the age-old system of ‘family doctors’.

The Anxious Ones

Then there are the well-heeled hyper-anxious ones who take a magnified view of their afflictions, tend to be jumpy, worry excessively about prognosis, and keep troubling the physician concerned with inane queries from time to time.

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AyurvedaAyurveda, the Indian science of physical and mental well-being, is more than 5,000 years old. It may lack the kind of scientific rigour which Western thought demands, but its recommendations are highly effective.

Much of this knowledge gets passed down from one generation to the next in an informal manner – not by means of written texts but by way of sheer practice.

Here are some tried and tested recipes which could help one in facing challenges of a physical nature.

Gastritis 

  • Lightly roast ajwain seeds (50gms), cumin seeds (50 gms) and asfoetida  (1 gm) in ghee
  • Grind to powder and add 1 tablespoon of rock salt
  • Store in a glass bottle and use 1 tablespoon of powder before all meals with lukewarm water.

Heartburn 

  • Cold coconut water (1 cup)
  • Cold rice milk (half cup), if taken immediately when symptoms arise.

Constipation

  • 1 banana followed by a cup of warm milk with green cardamom daily at nighttime.
  • 6-8 figs and black raisins soaked overnight to be chewed in the morning followed by warm water

Lack of sleep 

  • Warm milk with ghee 5 drops, turmeric half teaspoon and honey 1 teaspoon
  • One hour before going to bed, watch or read any thing that soothes your frayed nerves and makes you smile and relax.

Chest congestion 

  • Roast 5 pods of garlic in mustard oil and apply it on chest every morning and evening.

Fever

  • Squeeze half lemon for its juice and add same amount of honey to the lemon juice.
  • Drink with warm water and sit with 2 blankets wrapped around.

These treatments are tested on oneself and have been found to be quite effective. This is traditional knowledge which is being shared here so all may benefit.

(Image, courtesy the world wide web, used only for representational purposes)

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Hapless parents who are always rushing from pillar to post to make the two ends meet carry a lovely responsibility on their tender shoulders – that of bringing up kids.

Families have shrunk. Technology has sneaked into the family space. Most parents themselves have one sibling each, and they also happen to be equally busy chasing their own dreams. The desire to enjoy independence from parents has led to the current trend of singular families. Kids no longer have the luxury of curling up in bed with the family seniors and listening to juicy stories and fables from the distant past.

kids-internet-1

Often, hassled parents, already bearing the guilt of not being able to spend enough quality time with their kids, get into a conflict with kids over such inane matters as the choice of their friends, the dress they wish to wear in their free time, and the shows they insist on watching on a TV or on an iPad. Arbitration facilities provided by family seniors in the past have all but vanished.

Fed by cartoon or game characters which shoot to kill, the kids gradually start believing themselves to be invincible. They take violence and physical intimidation against others to be a normal behaviour. The resultant chaos in the society is for all of us to see and brood upon.

kids tom and jerry

Pick up an old soft movie like The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins, and present day kids could be forgiven for looking at these askance. Put on an animation movie and you find an immediate arousal of interest.

Minimizing Screen Time, Maximizing Values

For hapless parents, there are two basic challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time.

No meal can be consumed unless a cartoon movie is not playing on the iPad perched on the dining table. The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works to bring about a semblance of discipline in the house.

kids-chhota-bheem

Gone are the days when family seniors used to control all the entertainment appliances in the house. Now the kids’ wish and expertise rules supreme. At schools, gone are the days of detention and punishment. In quite a few cases, teachers get the flak for not treating the kids right.

One does not resent the kids their present state. One merely wants them to be better prepared to face the harsh realities of life, as and when they need to forgo the sheltered lifestyle they take for granted. In some cases, stay in a hostel might help. In others, a special course to use the right side of the brain might help.

kids-brighter_minds

Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system, wherever feasible. Perhaps it is time to be soft as well as stern while dealing with kids. Perhaps it makes sense for them to get exposed to some sort of deprivation in life. A walk through a slum. Stories of kids who do not get to attend school. Gifting toys to poor children.

The corporate world has already woken up to the need of a woman employee to spend more quality time with her kids. Maternity leaves are getting extended. Paternity leaves are already a norm in the advanced countries. More options centered around flexible hours are being offered. Yet, much more can and needs to be done.

kids-panchtantra

In all cases, an outdoor sports activity helps. An addiction to reading books also helps. Even on internet, there is no dearth of such offerings as Aesop’s Fables and the Panchatantra.

What is essential is a strong connection with the real world and an exposure to the slice of virtual world which is steeped in ethics, morals and values.

(Notes:

  1. All illustrations are courtesy the world wide web.
  2. Brighter Minds is an educational initiative to equip every child with tools and methods to enhance cognitive functioning for achieving personal excellence, and instill confidence in oneself)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/on-the-children-by-khalil-gibran

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/kids-with-a-western-mind-and-an-eastern-heart

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/goofy-kids-p-g-wodehouse-and-some-spiritual-tenets)

 

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