The State of the Reunion

DSC_0342This weekend turned out to be a milestone. About 30 of us from the class of 1989 at the Choithram School in Indore met for our 25th year reunion at Punjapani near Indore. Many of us had traveled from far and wide to attend this magical weekend and relive a shared past.

The venue was unique, literally in the middle of no-where. The phone signals mercifully did not work, there were no TV sets and the world seemed to be all at peace.

Meeting friends whom all of us had known even longer than our respective spouses was an incredible experience. Much to my amazement, we bonded with each other so much better. We now had the maturity, which comes from age and the shared values imbibed in our childhood seems to have largely stood the test of time.

Here are a few things that I learned from this extra-ordinary meeting.

1. It is important that we spend more time in the company of old friends. It is a great stress-buster and also allows one to see things in the right perspective. In the day to day rush of life, one often forgets that the real rewards are not in chasing big dreams but in enjoying every-day.

2. Good company and shared laughs are important. We need people with whom we can laugh at ourselves. I discovered this to be therapeutic. The reunion transported me back 25 years and I relived the things I did as a gawky somewhat awkward teenager!!!

3. It is never too late to say things that we never said and had regretted ever since. Appreciation for some past kindnesses, questions that have remained unanswered, doubts that were never clarified and issues that need to be finally aired and hopefully buried for good. A reunion is almost perfect for such discussions. It makes one feel lighter, a kind of rejuvenation of the soul.

4. A reunion is also a perfect place to renew old and lost associations. The passage of time often dims the lights and makes strangers out of friends. I must confess that leading up to this meeting, I was a bit ambivalent about the purpose of the whole exercise. Song and dance and a big booze party is not really my scene and this reunion threatened to become one, as the more boisterous amongst us planned the event. It seemed I was clearly in the minority. However, while we did manage to have a big blast, the shared past and the ubiquitous connect that all of us experienced was truly a much more uplifting experience. (The booze and the song and the dance not-withstanding)

5. Finally, I must say this. This reunion was in many ways a humbling experience. It was great to know that in these intervening years, life has by and large treated us very kindly. Many of us had college going children, thriving businesses, loving spouses and marriages that have mostly worked, successful careers and above all  good health. A reunion allows one to step back and count ones blessings. We know that in-spite of the balding pates and the bulging paunches, we really have much to be grateful about.

Here is to the next 25 years!!!

Doctor Doctor!

doctorSushil Jain and I grew up together in Indore, a provincial city in Central India. We were classmates for about a decade and I have known him from the time when both of us were about 8 years old. Sushil is now a cardiothoracic surgeon. I remember him today because unlike anybody else in our school class, he was from very early on sure about the career that he wanted to pursue. From as long as I can remember he wanted to be a doctor, just like his father. 

Sushil chased his dream with a single minded focus, prepared hard, appeared for the Pre Medical Tests, failed once, tried again and eventually succeeded in joining the medical college in Indore. He worked hard and graduated, tried a couple of times for admission in a post graduate course, failed and tried again. Finally, he trained to become a surgeon and is now well into surgical practice in a hospital in Indore.   Continue reading

The Family Physician Revisited

This is the era of specialisation, nay super specialisation and more. In healthcare services, the immediate casualty of this madness has been the family physician. And what a loss it has been.

During my childhood and teenage, which happened in the eighties, we always had Dr. Bajpai as our family physician. Dr. Bajpai had a clinic in the MG Road area in Indore, where we lived. He also ran a clinic from his residence and we were regular visitors at both these places. His residence was closer to ours and we would visit him there more often. I still recall his magnificent dog ‘Sultan’, who would invariably greet us with his loud barks. Dr. Bajpai was a kindly soul, who would usually prescribe simple oral medicines and we would be back in school in a day or two. I do not recall being asked to submit to the needle too often or visit a radiologist for X-Rays. The only time we were sure of needles, was when we would be taken to him for cuts and bleeds. He would get his ancient compounder to give us a tetanus shot. After this trauma, our mother would buy us a Limca from a neighbouring store (Ratan Sweets if I recall correctly)   Continue reading

Catch them Young: Healthcare Marketing to School Kids

Schools have become new battle grounds for all kinds of marketers pushing soaps, candies, cosmetics, toothpastes, music and a new exhilarating lifestyle to the youngsters. The schools view most of this as frivolous and wholly unnecessary and often resist it. Sometimes the marketing effort is cloaked in interesting events, which are entertaining and educative.  Schools allow these and healthcare marketers are able to reach out to school kids through School Health Quizes,  talks on diet, exercise, hygiene and healthy lifestyle habits.

Some may be wary of allowing healthcare marketers to reach out to school kids. Children are generally healthy, it is a carefree time and weighty matters like healthcare should really be no concern to them. I am not sure I agree with this line of thinking. I would have a kid grow up in an environment, which helps him make ‘healthier’ choices. As a kid I was taught the benefits of ‘early to bed and early to rise’. I still swear by it.

Healthcare Marketers can reach out to schools, with specially designed programs, which educate and inform about how healthy choices made early, allow for a healthier lifestyle later on. This should really be looked upon as an investment by the hospital in a long relationship. To expect instant monetary rewards from a school program is expecting the moon. Persistence is the key here.

Some of the engagement programs that hospitals can run with schools are highlighted here.   Continue reading