Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Moment of death

A common housefly finds its death bed on the table in the OPD where it tries to get some warmth from the last rays of the setting sun. It was too lazy, ?delirious, ?stupurose to buzz off as I took this picture on my phonecam, shortly thereafter it died.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chandiagrh Carnival

I had the chance to go to the Chandigarh carnival today, its an annual do at the leisure valley. Went there about 4pm and Maybe because I was sleepy, or maybe there were no pretty girls around like last year, I found myself getting slightly bored. I longed to get back to my room and get some sleep. Eventually, thats what I did. I took some pictures though,the analogue ones still need to be developed but the phone cam pics I am posting. Enjoy.

I thought the stilt walker and the little girl made an interesting contrast, and an interesting arrangement. Could not get a better picture like this with my regular SLR, have become too used to automation. Felt a bit rusty using a manual SLR for candid work. RF's I simply cant get the hang of. I have to get that AF DSLR soon.

There was a Gatka party there as well. Gatka is a Sikh martial art and is practised mostly by the Nihangs. Its great fun to watch when done well. Hola Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib is always a great place to see the gatka, maybe someday I will post pictures of the Hola Mohalla.

Went out to have dinner with a friend, saw this cycle standing by an old banyan tree that is swathed in hose like light. Thought it looked quite pleasing.
More later.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bond grows up

Yesterday I went to the Govt college of architecture, sec 11 chandigarh along with my good friend and great photographer Sanjay kaushal . The purpose was to give a lecture on architectural photography. We were met by Bheem Malhotra.He works at the college and I am a great admirer of his watercolors. Sanjay put up a slide show of his landscapes that he has taken over the years, mostly in Ladakh and the tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh. Behind us, in the audience were a lot of pretty girls who went OOOOH and AAAAAh, all in unison. Inititally a source of great discomfort, I was relieved (somewhat anyway) when I found that those exclamations and ejaculations were closely temporally correlated to some good picture coming up on the wall. I took some pictures before the battery of the phone gave out.

The city of Chandigarh

I like the pattern of the shadows as Bheem Malhotra walks towards us.

A student sitting in the wierdly shaped lecture theatre finishes up on his work before the show starts.

Just came back after watching Casino Royale, the most Un-Bondly Bond movie ever. Quite akin to the Bourne series or even MI-1 in treatment. Bond is cold, kills without problems, is utterly cynical and untrusting, drops his armour to fall in love (yes, love and Bond!!), and gets double crossed only to learn that he has to get by not trusting anyone ever.
Bond is blonde, blue-eyed and very muscular unlike the earlier Bonds. But all said and done, its a fun movie and requires cerebral work to follow, maybe too many twists in the tale, but ultimately, I thought satisfying. The fun, innocence and the cherubic, comic book charm of the earlier movies is probably gone for good. And its almost 3 hours long, so better have something to eat or keep something in the fridge. Otherwise, like me it will be one long haul to the dhabas in sector 11 that wont serve after 11pm.

Mix veg was good.

Black dog is better !!!!!! :))

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Life goes on

Recently attended the first death anniversary of a close relative. In life, we were rarely close even though the relationship we had was one of blood. And my last moments with her were when she was no longer aware of what was going on. She left behind all that she had built, perhaps it was just as well that she did not see it all sold within a week.
Life really hasnt changed for anyone in material terms or otherwise. It has only made people grow further apart, differences crystallise only with time. As I stood out as I could not find the strength or conviction to get inside the temple, I saw these two kids having a great time. As I raised the phone to take a picture, the elder guy gave a nice swing to make for a pretty picture. thanx man.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Last Mughal

I have been reading The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.
And its quite a fantastic book. For starters, it is a scholarly work with scores of references, lots of research and the best part is that it reads like an exciting novel.
It describes the Indian war of independence/sepoy mutiny from a decidedly Indian perspective. Dalrymple, as has been pointed out elsewhere makes for an important contribution to the history of the events of 1857 from the point of view of the common man in contemporary Delhi.
Something that never fails to astound me is that the schism that exists in the perspective of Indians versus that of the British, of the arrogance and the genuine belief on the part of the British that all that was being done was actually for the good of those who were ruled over. This attitude, I believe still lurks somewhere.
It is also extremely interesting to observe the parallels between the concept of Jehad now and then, the inherent lack of self confidence of the Indian mind, the need to be servile to people other than our own and the passion with which we impede the progress and power of our own.
Some thing truly never change.
I just wish it was cheaper and maybe in a soft cover.

Went to the function held to mark the death anniversary of a close relative, a good time to look back and take stock. And it was amusing to see that life was still the same, and the choices made were an experience but little else. I wonder what life has in store now.

Guess I had too much dinner, and its time to sleep over all that is gone.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

18. 11. 06

Winter in Punjab starts slowly enough but picks up speed once it rains. Today there was a steady drizzle throughout the afternoon and when I woke up in the evening, the western sky was ablaze with sunset colours. Yes, winter has arrived.

Behind bars, waiting for everything to get over and a cup of tea. It was grey and gloomy and there was just a hint of misty breaths.

To capture a single raindrop..without disturbing it in its last moments.

The smell of the soil after a drizzle, and the feeling of dampness on the butt....heaven.


Long time since I blogged. After an aborted attempt at a movie set in PGI, which eventually turned out to be pretty pornographic, its back to mundane things. Stardom can wait.

Its that time of the year when the nights are cold, and sitting out in the sunshine is just about becoming pleasant. There are trees that are flowering and full blown winter is just round the corner.

The after-lunch cup of tea is becoming more attractive than lunch itself and food tastes better. I love winters.
PGI is buzzing with activity, all sorts of it. In fact, I even started and completed a BT today after about 5 years. I couldnt help feeling what we all become.

On the other hand, there is always hope as long as the will to move persists, and friends are always welcome. Of course, you need to have some in the first place.

There was a rededication ceremony today. We are all spick and span, all raring to go. But no one told me what the rededication was for. Some views of the ambit of the rededicationary changes (doesnt that sound almost Marxist?)

1. Never lose your way again and go where no man has gone before!!

2. Sharing knowledge increases it, pity its not true for barfi!!!

3. All people are created equal, but some are more equal!!!

4. A red carpet is desirable but not always mandatory!!

Life after all is fleeting and as I said once to great effect, all memories after all are false.

The bruises caused by getting beaten up by shoes however, persist a fair while.
Adios amigos!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The "Selhi"brity Blog

Dr. Zoe Selhi was here some days ago and wrote some pretty complimentary stuff about our health care system and the residents in PGIMER. Considering that the latter is so rare given our constant state of somnolence, sloth and gluttony; this is high praise indeed.
I am posting it all unchanged because as I always say, its wonderful to read something written by someone who thinks in English unlike most of us.
Keep in touch, Zoe.

India Trip 2006-By Zoƫ Selhi

I have been interested in mental health for many years and in fact my interest in psychiatry was the main reason for applying to medical school. As a senior medical student studying in New York, I had an opportunity to do an elective in any field of medicine and in any part of the world. I decided that I wanted some kind of international experience in the mental health field, where I would be able to see the treatment of those with mentally illness in another country and get a better understanding of how psychiatric disorders are viewed and defined somewhere other than North America. I chose to come to India, my second trip here. Although my father resides in Canada, he is from a Sikh family originally from Faridkot and many of his siblings reside in India. I came to the Postgraduate Institute in Chandigarh for several different reasons, the first one being that PGIMER is known for academic excellence in the teaching and training of residents from every field of medicine including psychiatry. I also knew that the teaching would be in English. Other reasons for coming to PGI were that I was able to stay comfortably with several relatives in a city that I had become familial with during my last trip. This decision turned out to be a good one.

Initially I had thought that the treatment of the mentally ill in India would be a little more archaic or perhaps “less developed” than what I had come to know in North America. I tried to prepare myself for what I thought might be considered slightly “inhumane” in the West. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. I find there is a great deal of humanity here in India towards psychiatric patients. The social support network of the family is probably the most visible difference compared to more developed countries. The family unit has an enormous role in caring for their mentally ill family member and they are much more amenable to taking on this role than their Western counterparts. This is most apparent on the ward where family members stay with the patient, and are involved in everything from feeding and dressing their sick family member to attending ward rounds and learning how to implement behavioral therapies. In the West, family members have a set time that they can visit, and self care is directed primarily by the nursing staff. In place of the family in North America are social support groups, counselors and social workers to offer individual support to patients. There are also case workers that help find suitable housing for people living with mental illness, because the ultimate goal of someone with a psychiatric illness is to live in the community on their own and perhaps become employed. Although I knew that these factors were different between the East and West before arriving in India, being able to see this first hand was probably the largest teaching point I had here and it has helped me to understand the idea of how integral the role of families is in other parts of the world. This will be important for my understanding of mental health in the future as I begin to care for immigrants from other countries in the West.

There are other differences in India. One is the role of the doctor-patient relationship. For example, physicians in India have a great deal of power over the patient and patients are often much more likely to take advice from their doctors as compared to the West. In fact, compliance issues may be better here. It also seems rare for people to come in on their own for any treatment of mental disturbances, it is usually the decision of the family to bring the patient in. Relationships between the physician and the family are established; there is not a focus on the individual patient like there is in the West. In fact, it is not uncommon for the doctor to speak primarily to a family member about the patient, while the patient listens. In India it seems like the focus is on the family and how the individual members function within the family unit as compared to the West where the focus is on the individual.

In addition, I started to wonder about whether Westernized instruments for psychiatric assessment could really be applied to a culture that is so vastly different from the developed countries. I think that validating tools based on an Indian population would prove beneficial in mental health here.

The role of the psychiatrist is also different in India. The psychiatrist is heavily involved in many aspects of patient care, taking on the role of the social workers, nursing staff and psychology at times. In North America, there are more defined roles for psychiatrists and they play a largely supervisory role in the care of the patient. There are many more health professionals in the West and each play a distinct role. Psychiatrists in India also seem to be very knowledgeable in a wide variety of disciplines including internal medicine, neurology, and development. Training is comprehensive and broad. In North America, physicians generally tend to be slightly more narrowly defined yet have expertise in their fields of interest. Although it is possible that this may translate into gaps in diagnosis and perhaps proper treatment in North America, the reasons for this include insurance issues and malpractice suits, especially in the US.

These were just a few of the differences I found between the East and the West. I think there are plenty more as I was limited with the language, but I learned a lot even without the use of a common language in psychiatry. I had a wonderful time at PGI and learned much more that any textbook could have given me. I’m glad I came and will be taking back some fond memories and lessons from my trip, as well as some great photos!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Been some time

Well, pat on the back time...>1000 page views. Thanks to all who had a look.
Havent had the time to write anything new, will be back soon.

Monday, November 06, 2006


The Norbulingka was the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas in Lhasa. There is one in the small town of Sidhpur, a few minutes drive from Dharamshala. Today it houses a chapel and the Norbulingka institute that is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. There is a doll museum (entry rs 20/-, free last time I was there) and a shop that sells beautiful but expensive Tibetan handicrafts.

A view of the chapel, has a massive statue of the Buddha. The expression is one of indescribable peace. When I climbed up the stairs to reach the chapel, was surprised to see a man sitting on the stairs in a pensive pose and wondered what is wrong with him. When I reached inside I saw a man with a camera mounted on a tripod taking pictures of him and shouting instructions in Bengali. I could not help smiling. Sat down on one of the cushions and asked the Buddha some questions that I had asked the last time too. No answers still, all my answers lead me away from god and closer to me. I liked the expression though and wanted to clear my mind of all it has seen and experienced, to clear it of how it thinks and get some innocence, intelligent innocence. Not the innocence of someone who doesnt know better.

A monk walks past.

Once the bengali photographer left with his friends, sat there for some more time. And then I started to feel hungry. And my back was not paining as much as before. Walked out, saw a monk engrossed in a conversation with another man, remembered him from 6 months ago. I took a picture of his companion, the expression in the viewfinder was perfect. The metering approximation probably wasnt. When I got the negative developed, the picture was grossly underexposed. Lost another great portrait.

Went to the Norling cafe and ordered a Tibetan pasta, it was delicious, the pretty waitress from last time wasnt there. The restaurant was all empty except for me. Washed it down with a strong coffee and set out on my way back to the real world. Took one last picture with my camera phone of myself, just to remember how i looked that particular day. not very different.

What a goat thought of my efforts, a grab shot on my way out of Dharamshala.

As I end my pseudo-travelogue, it is with a sense of loss. In a way, writing this was one of the fun things that I have done in a long time and getting back is always traumatic.

I am reminded of those tumultous days in the first 6 months of 2005, I read my text books for the first time and while reading about the theory of some thinker came across the lines that gave me a lot of courage and have stayed with me since, "In the most important times of life, you are always alone".

Day 2-Gyuto Tantric Monastery and Norbulingka-Farewell

Gyuto Tantric Monastery: the seat of the 17th Karmapa

A Monk Engaged in an Animated Converstaion: Gyuto

About 2pm or so on the 22nd of October, I hitched a ride to Sidhpur. Initially I planned to go only to the Norbulingka but later decided to go to the Gyuto Tantric university as well. It was overcast and the light really wasnt too great, but it was time well spent.
Gyuto was closed, there were a lot of monks around. The change that I saw everywhere this time was the fact that there were many more policemen everyhwere. I am sure it had something to do with the targetting of tourists and the infiltration of Himachal Pradesh by Kashmiri terrorists.

The reflection is mine. One of the few photos I took of myself.

There were some games going on, and everyone was particularly happy during the tug of war. Lots of grunting and pulling, all in good fun and cheer. NEED A WIDE ANGLE>>>>AAAAH.

Looking on and having fun.

This elderly monk saw me taking pictures and walked over with a flask full of tea and offered me a cup. He was very kind and kept smiling all the while, dint know one word of hindi, for some reason he reminded me of the way Sherlock Holmes might have looked in the Mandala Of Sherlock Holmes. This is a great book I read long ago, and is one of my favorites still.

I took another picture of him later, thanked him. he said Photo and i promised him that the next time i am there, would get him a print.

I like this picture for some reason.

And couldnt resist taking this one....

A view of the hostels for the monks.
From ther I hitched another ride back to Sidhpur from where I went to the Norbulingka.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

McLeodganj-day 2

By the time I got back, it became cloudy and started to rain intermittently. J had another walk back to the temple in search of some interesting faces.

And I found all sorts...

Old lady at the temple complex

A monk prostates before the shrines in the courtyard of the main temple

A monk takes back the idols after the ceremony is over..

Paragliders over Dharamshala...led to a lot of excitement everywhere

Lichen on the walls

As I was getting out of the temple, it started to rain heavily. I took shelter under the staircase waiting for the rain to end. Soon a blind beggar joined me and put up his wares. As there was place only for one, I got up. I had notices earlier that he said hello to foreigners and namaste to Indians when asking for alms. Asked him how he did that since he was so obviously blind. He told me that he did it randomly. Yet I never saw him make a mistake. Gave him some money for having let me photograph him.

The rains stopped soon enough...went out into the streets for my last bit of photography in Mcleodganj.

Charming faces all around..

A happy couple taking shelter from the rain ....the woman is busy knitting some stuff to sell as trinkets.

Drying up after having been caught in the rain

A monk shouts at some novices to join him ASAP.

Another face in the streets

At the coffee shop

The Buddha Bar

Lords of the rings

A Khampa warrior selling keychains.. was happy to get photographed.

Most people in Mcleodganj are trying to eke out a living in a foreign land the best they can,peace and nirvana come about while they are at it.

Next stop Gyuto and Norbulingka....later.
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