Resurrection Monday, May 17 2010 

A three-year-old girl fell into an icy fishpond in a small Austrian town in the Alps. She was lost beneath the surface for thirty minutes before her parents found her on the pond bottom and pulled her up. Following instructions from an emergency physician on the phone, they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A rescue team arrived eight minutes later. The girl had a body temperature of sixty-six degrees, and no pulse. Her pupils were dilated and did not react to light, indicating that her brain was no longer working.

But the emergency technicians continued CPR anyway. A helicopter took her to a nearby hospital, where she was wheeled directly to an operating room. A surgical team put her on a heart-lung bypass machine. Between the transport time and the time it took to plug the inflow and outflow lines into the femoral vessels of her right leg, she had been lifeless for an hour and a half. By the two-hour mark, however, her body temperature had risen almost ten degrees, and her heart began to beat. It was her first organ to come back.

After six hours, her core temperature reached 98.6 degrees. The team tried to put her on a breathing machine, but the pond water had damaged her lungs too severely for oxygen to reach her blood. So they switched her to an artificial-lung system known as ECMO—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The surgeons opened her chest down the middle with a power saw and sewed lines to and from the ECMO unit into her aorta and her beating heart. The team moved the girl into intensive care, with her chest still open and covered with plastic foil. A day later, her lungs had recovered sufficiently for the team to switch her from ECMO to a mechanical ventilator and close her chest. Over the next two days, all her organs recovered except her brain. A CT scan showed global brain swelling, which is a sign of diffuse damage, but no actual dead zones. So the team drilled a hole into the girl’s skull, threaded in a probe to monitor her cerebral pressure, and kept that pressure tightly controlled by constantly adjusting her fluids and medications. For more than a week, she lay comatose. Then, slowly, she came back to life.

First, her pupils started to react to light. Next, she began to breathe on her own. And, one day, she simply awoke. Two weeks after her accident, she went home. Her right leg and left arm were partially paralyzed. Her speech was thick and slurry. But by age five, after extensive outpatient therapy, she had recovered her faculties completely. She was like any little girl again.

(Taken from Dr. Atul Gawande ‘s article The Checklist in The New Yorker)


Killer Hoardings Sunday, Jun 10 2007 

hoarding accident_jublee hills_11 April 2007 Huge hoardings in Hyderabad city have become a nightmare for all of us.

Recent reports of deaths caused by falling hoardings from high buildings and huge poles have forced people look upon them as death traps.

The other day a billboard from a six storey shopping mall fell killing a youth on the spot and injuring others.

Earlier, on11 April this year, a huge billboard raised on an enormous uni-pole gave way and collapsed on a restaurant and ice-cream parlor. A worker was killed instantly and many others were seriously injured. It completely damaged a couple of cars that were parked on the road and uprooted electric poles and strewed the road with metal pieces, rubbles and cables.

I happened to come that way within minutes after the accident. The site looked like a battle zone that was just bombed.

The huge billboards that are ubiquitous in Hyderabad city bear witness to the transformation of this city into a big metro that is one of the biggest business centers in India. Most of these huge hoardings have come up in the past two years or so.

Municipal corporation authorities often fail to enforce the rules and norms and reign in builders and advertising companies that flout them.

Do things like this happen anywhere else?

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To Saddam With Love Thursday, Jan 4 2007 

When the news of Saddam Hussein’s capture in a dark hole exploded towards the end of 2003, and humiliating images of his bearded deranged face, and of his jaws opening for medical inspection, were beamed on television, another old man far away felt something turn inside his stomach.

Seventy-one-year-old P Sivasankaran Nair, for long in the peace of Palakkad in Kerala, rubbed his chest to console himself

Nair was the chief cook at the Basra International Airport between 1982 and 1987, once a heady place where Saddam Hussein used to come for elaborate dinners.

During that tenure, Nair’s path had crossed the dictator’s when he made a Tamil snack called bonda, a type of batata vada. Nair remembers that Saddam was so enamoured with the bonda that he asked animated questions about it.

Long before that meeting, Nair had considered Saddam a profitable god. “I educated my children, married off my daughter and constructed a house with his money. To be honest, I’m indebted to him for all the comforts that I enjoy today,” Nair says. He lives in a traditional house, that has a cosy purposeful austerity about it, in Kalpati, a Tamil Brahmin village.

His gratitude is so immense that when he opened a provisions store in 1989, upon his return from Iraq, he named it Saddam Stores. He sent some pictures of the shop to Saddam Hussein along with a letter in English.

Dear Supreme Leader,

I’d worked in your country for five years.

I came back to Kerala some two years back. To keep myself busy, today, I opened a small shop at my village. It’s my honour to name the shop after your Supreme Name. Whatever I’m today, it’s because of the salary you paid me. By your blessings, my family is leading a comfortable life. Welfare be with you always.

With profound love and regards,

P S Nair.

The letter not only reached Saddam, it also impressed him so much that he released the pictures of Nair’s shop and the flattering epistle to the local media with a statement in Arabic

“So many people come and work in Iraq. But it took one Nair from a distant land to express his gratitude. It’s not religion that matters. But the bond of human love. I’m touched by Nair’s gesture. This is what I call loyalty. This is what I expect from every Iraqi. Insha Allah.”

Nair’s friends in Iraq sent him the clippings. The story didn’t end there. Saddam Hussein sent a personal emissary, Muther Ali, to India who met Nair. And the message was conveyed to Nair that Saddam wanted him to return to Iraq.

But, when Nair cited age-related problems which forced him to remain at home, Saddam welcomed his children to join him at his palace. Unfortunately, none of them were of employable age then. Eldest son Suresh was studying in the tenth standard, second son Murali was in the eighth and Pusha, the youngest child, was in the fifth.

“Saddam conveyed that I was the most loyal citizen of Iraq and the country’s doors would always remain open to me. Ali presented a gold watch and Rs 16,000 in cash,” Nair says, producing the watch from his cupboard’s locker. The timepiece carries Saddam’s picture on the dial.

Nair has removed the watch’s battery to save it from the tedium of being in a working condition. “I’m praying for his welfare. Daily, I do archana in his name at the Shiva temple here. I’m certain he will come out unscathed,” Nair says, throwing his hands towards the heavens.

When he is confronted with the question why he worships a man who is believed to have killed thousands, Nair flashes an angry look. “Who says…?” he thunders. “It’s the US which is harping on this. I don’t believe a bit of it.

Kuwait deserved to be invaded because it didn’t pay what was due to Iraq. Then the killing of Kurds…you should understand Iraq was a military regime. It had its own laws. People who violated the laws also knew the punishment they faced.”

Nair ends his political observations with the conclusion, “It’s Bush who should be hanged.”

(From, dtd 26 Nov 2006)

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A Smoldering Fire Tuesday, Nov 14 2006 

The man selling fish in the picture is no ordinary fishmonger.

He is a 32 year old award winning poet selling fish in the market for making a living! He is from Kerala, my home state, and writes in Malayalam.

Although he has published eight volumes of poetry so far and won the highest literary award of the state government for his works, he remains very poor and lives in a shanty with his wife and two children. He took to selling fish for a living after trying out many odd jobs across Kerala. It earns him over Rs. 150 ($ 3.3) a day.

He even attempted suicide along with his family to escape the squalor of poverty but failed. Finally, it seems, he has accepted life with all its callousness and decided to live on by writing poetry and selling fish.

His poems are highly appreciated by critics. They note that his “poetic sensibilities come from his livid experiences…His mind is full of fire – but they do not yell out, just smolder”.

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Terrorism and Pakistan Friday, Aug 11 2006 

Since the British Authorities succeeded in unravelling the ‘airline bomb plot’ and arresting the suspected Islamist terrorists in London, Pakistan is painstakingly portraying itself as playing a key role in the operation that averted a huge tragedy.

Pakistan wants to be seen by the international community as a front-line country fighting terror along with other nations and thereby gloss over the fact that its soil is still being used by terror groups.

Two of the arrests made in Pakistan in connection with the ‘airline bomb plot’ are Britons of Pakistani origin. Two of the British Muslims involved in London tube bombings last year had visited Pakistan prior to the bombings. Al Qaeda kingpins are believed to be hiding in Pakistan or on the Pak-Afghan border. Forces fighting Taliban in Afghanistan are aware of the bitter truth that Pakistan is slack in containing the Taliban menace.

And more than anybody else India knows that Pakistan is the breeding ground for Islamist terrorism. Because India is a victim of Pakistan instigated terrorism and has been left alone to fight it without any international support.

The latest major terrorist strike in India was on July 11th (7/11) this year. A series of seven well coordinated and precisely executed explosions in railway stations and on passenger trains that evening killed about two hundred people and injured thousands.

I don’t know whether Mumbai blasts made headlines in the rest of the world as the ‘airline bomb plot’ did.

But Pakistan held a series of press meets to deny its role and lecture India. Pakistan accused India of making baseless allegations and gave Indians some advice!

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Conversion and Punishment Wednesday, Mar 22 2006 

Abdul Rahman, an Afghan, converted to Christianity 14 years ago, but he was arrested last month when his family and relatives reported the matter to the authorities. Rahman is in a prison in Afghanistan awaiting the death penalty for the unforgivable ‘crime’ of denouncing Islam and embracing Christianity.

A convert is considered a traitor, despised and denounced by all and condemned to death by Islamic law (Sharia).

“We will ask him if he has changed his mind about being a Christian,” Presiding judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah says. “If he has, we will forgive him, because Islam is a religion of tolerance.”(!!!) (Link).

“They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it,” Rahman told reporters last week, “but I am not a deserter and not an infidel.” (Link).

(Photo source).

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Terrorist Attacks in Varanasi Friday, Mar 10 2006 

Varanasi, the holiest city of the Hindus with an unbroken history of thousands of years, became the latest target of Islamic terrorists on Tuesday, 7th March 2006.

The terrorists struck at two places- the first at a temple and the second at a railway station- and triggered three explosions that killed more than 20 innocent people and injured many.

The 400 year old temple was teeming with devotees who had come for evening worship when the first bomb went off. This was the third terrorist attack at a Hindu temple in recent years. Muslim terrorists struck at Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad on 25 September 2002, killing 39 people; a six member suicide squad tried to storm the Ramajanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on 5 July 2005 and got killed (a woman devotee who had sustained injuries died later).

The Varanasi blasts once again show how vulnerable India is. Islamic terrorists can strike at a place of their choice at will.

The timing of these latest attacks was calculated to deflate the general mood of self-satisfaction in the Indian establishment prompted by the high profile visit of the U.S. President and the much publicized nuclear deal the two countries have signed.

By targeting devotees inside a revered temple in Hinduism’s most sacred pilgrimage center the terrorists have inflicted another deep wound in the Hindu psyche, which will keep aflame animosity towards Muslims in the collective conscience of the Hindus.

The Islamic terrorists (controlled by their masters in Pakistan) have proven a point and exposed India’s vulnerability once again.

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A Funeral Procession Saturday, Dec 3 2005 

When I was going to city this afternoon, I saw a funeral procession. It was a small procession carrying the dead body of an old person with the accompaniment of percussions. Evidently they were very poor people from a backward settlement in the outskirt of the city. Otherwise the road would have been blocked by the huge procession and numerous vehicles. The funeral procession would have been conducted in great style befitting the status of the dead and the living alike.

None of the mourners was waling or weeping. Children were absent and women numbered only two or three.

The drummers beat out a disgusting rhythm.

I glanced at the corpse on the bier that was resting on the shoulders of the bearers. Wrapped in white shroud till the chin, the head jutting out, the lifeless, stony face with the eyes closed forever, it was like a log of wood to be consigned to flames shortly.
Rich or poor, king or commoner, all take the same road in the end.