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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lunch at Hyde Park Residencies

Informal get-together hosted by Pram at her Hyde Park Residencies to greet holidaying members of our batch who are presently based abroad - Rohini Abhayaratne, Srianee (Bunter), Speedy and Bora. Try and spot those present.

Monday, January 6, 2014

From Razaque's Diary - Part 2

From Razaque's Diary - Part 2
By Razaque Ahamat
Following up on my early experiences in my school life, herewith is what I was upto since qualifying as a Doctor.
After my internship in Chilaw, which was fantastic as regards hands-on experince and I am glad I chose to go to Chilaw
as opposed to Badulla. In my next appointment, I was posted to Siyambalanduwa as DMO. Although it was 'way beyond'
the 'middle of no-where', I accepted this post having rejected a very lucrative (2-3 times Govt. salary) GP offer in Negombo, Partly as private  medicine was abhorant to my beliefs, I needed somewhere to be a "recluse" at a turbulent phase in my personal life, to reflect on, and regain my sanity.
Just a few days into my new posting, on my return to my "bungalawa", I found a group of people at the gate, On enquiry
it transpired that that they had come for 'private' treatment!!! This was a conundrum to me in view of my thoughts on PP!!
I was NOT going to renege on my my principle of "NEVER WALK BACK, NEVER LOOK BACK & NEVER THINK BACK", now!! Politely expained my position and dispersed the crowd as there were no emergency cases which would have been diverted to the hospital.There were none of these folk the next day at the hospital, So,was there a need to see them at that point in time??

A few weeks later I was called in to the hospital to see a pregnant lady who was having a difficult delivery. I was with her  almoat the whole night and ultimately had to use forceps to deliver a large live baby boy!! My Internship hands-on skills that was learnt, thanks to my Boss, came into play!!! The interesting part of this story was to follow. A few weeks later, the husband of this lady appeared at my 'residence' with a parcel.The parcel was a "haunch" of meat, which, at first I thought was it was a haunch of Venison. In fact it was Wild Boar-- "WAL-URU MAS"!!. Politely told him I do not consume this meat in view of my 'religion'--to his utter embarassment !! Nevertheless,subsequently this man gifted me on several occasions with Jungle Fowl, real Venison etc I never refused such gifts, LIKE  Koli-kuttu,Anamalu, Oranges and Kavum and Kokis at Festive times.You must appreciate that my 'religion' and my DEUS/"SPRITUALITY" are two entirely different entities. I belive in SPIRITS & thus had a differing meaning. I was a follower of  the Roman God-DIONYSUS  & the Greek equivalent--BACCUS. To the un-initiated they are the respective "GODS OF WINE!!! My local equivalent DEUS/God was "POL" --"COCONUT WATER"!/POL-WATURA--could not afford anything else. URU-MAS/PORK/PORCINE, "subject''was to  visit me again and again, right to the very "end of the World"as you will note later on!!!

My next appointment in the Health Dept,"MERRY-GO-ROUND" was DMO-ITTAPANA. It was a 'god-forsaken' place on the Northern bank of the BENTHARA GANGA, right opposite URA-GASMANG-HANDIYA!!!---- the" URU subject following me once more"!!! This was at a time of turmoil in the then Ceylon in 1971--THE INSURGENCY-Che Guevera. One night there were discrete knocks on my door by a group of youngsters, some persons with injuries -- mostly gun shot!!. I treated them as best as I could as I would treat any patient---politics never came into the equation.The next day I got "VISITED" by the Army and Police looking for any "patients" with gun-shot injuries in the wards!! In fact I did have such a "patient" and.... didn't I "S**T----I mean shiver!! In fact this "patient"was a young lady with gun shot injuries, and I had taken the usual 'precautions'with her ("NOW...NOW.. BEHAVE) I kept her in the Maternity Unit
fore-seeing & pre-empting such an eventuality!! I need not have been worried as the Commanding Officer was only checking if I was safe!-very kind indeed!! Of course, I had to 'drop names' of my family who were very high-ups in the Forces and distract these guys. Also, the Police IP was my classmate at school. After only "All Talk-Talk and No Walk-Walk" they left to everybody's relief--certainly mine-.. we were "cock-a hoop" on "STEALING A MARCH" on the Armed Force----Got it??.

Then I began to wonder what my future was going to be in this never-ending Health Dept. "Merry-Go-Round" At this point I joined the Blood Bank Service as a "stop-gap" appointment & to take stock of my future. Inadvertantly I got in to something that was going to have a telling effect on my future career., Firstly, I was posted to Kandy, In-Charge  of the Blood Bank there. This suited me to a tee, as my Dearest Fiancee, Farina,--(my brother's sister-in-law --- an all "in-house/insider" job!!) was from Kandy and married soon after!!! Life could not have been better. After over an year of"marital bliss", tragedy struck us---we lost our first child, she was still-born(@34wks!!! Agony, grief & personal sadness was intense--needless to say!! It was a very traumatic period in our lives.We do not wish this even to our worst enemy---We have NONE ---- as YET........We fought through this period & came out with our marriage---- only stronger.

Not long after, I "saw the light" & resigned from "The Dept." and left for UK, seeking new pasteurs. my brother was well set there as an Accountant----not the TURF variety!!!! but a Chartered--so life to start with in UK was not too bad. On arrival in UK, I had to meet the GMC official, Sir David Elizer,a Surgeon & a Jew in view of my Exemption from Clinical Assessment.This Jewish connection was to have a great bearing on my later progress, he was very helpful and after a long "chat" offered to be a Referee for me!!!This, I believe had not happend before. Why me, may I ask?, a Muslim to be helped by a Jew?? To ths day-- I know not!!.After an initilal 3-week locum in Geriatrics, got an appointment as SHO- Clinical Pathology at Dartford. Just 8 months into this job, with the help of my new boss, another Jew, I landed a life-changing 3-year Training job as Trainee Registrar, in Haematology, at St. George's Hospital Medical School, London.The Professor and most of other Consultants were... guessed right---Jews!! Very clever ---aren't you? I believe that my experience in Blood Transfusion,which at first I thought was next to"USELESS," went a very long way in getting this job & of course with the help of my boss @ Dartford -- a Jew!! Blood Transfusion had left an indelible mark in my future career. Two years into this job, working very hard landed a 5-year Training job as a Senior Registrar, in Haematology with special intersest in Transfusion Medicine whch by now was "growing into me"--like a "malignancy"!! It was during this period that Farina & I "expanded"--in everyway. Of course we had our children--4 in all, one of EACH??? (girl, boy & a set of twin girls)

 After successfully completing my Training, went as Assistant Director, Scottish National Blood Service (SNBS), Aberdeen which was a job for life!! "You Know WHO, WHO" was again responsible I think!! That was in 1984. Scotland was the ideal place to practice my "sprituality"! The Deus/God here was called "USHKAYDEY"(in Gaelic)-- more commnoly known here as Whiskey!--"Barley Water"to me!! My favourite God was the one with higher divinity & SPIRITUALITY-- most is revered called "Single Malt"!  Their place of "Worship" is called "THE DISTILLERY"!!!There are lots of  them scattered all over Scotland & I have paid pooja at most of them. Probably this "Sprituality" is what helped me to get 3 SCORES & 10" and counting??? My prescription to all is "A DRAM A DAY WILL KEEP THE MEDICS AWAY" ---- my 'sprituality' is living proof of that!!!

From Aberdeen I moved sideways to Dundee to "SORT OUT" an "ailing" Centre. This again was a "God send" to my family. Here the schooling was more than excellent and my children prospered-----rest is history. However, I was not too happy with two of my colleagues as they were plagerising my thoughts and trying to put me down behind my back.I was fed up to say the least. The technical staff was in full support of me. One thing I learnt from this experience was "WHEN LIFE LOOK UP ON YOU, NEVER LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS" Once three of my children were in Uni---following me, in my foot steps (Not waiting  for my wallet to fall!!!), I decided it was time to "call it a day" and took early retirement as this opportunity for the better arose, despite having about 6 years more of service to go.With my retirement funds we decided to invest some of it for our future--like good parents. One of patients with Hodgkin's Disease, whom i had treated was a very well known artist, having exibited in several Scottish cities (one of his parents was a member of my staff at Dundee). We went to see his work and you will notice that one his paintings on my wall in the photo of me which Lucky Abey published on the BLOG. It's a painting of the world's only Wooden Lighthouse on the River Tay(the longest river in UK) in Dundee It is the one below the painting of Tall Ship "Discovery" in which Capt. Scott went to the Antarctic. Along with this picture and a few others---costing a fortune, bought a picture of '"Two PIGS with their snouts in a Trough"!!! Here again the URA theme following me!!! Farina was taken aback and said that her Muslim Ladies --(students of her's) visit us regularly and they would be horrified,and wondered where I was going to hang it?? I told her that it would be right above the toilet in our main bathroom and--- there was method to my madness!! The two Pigs were named SAM & GEORGE, my two senior unintelligent colleagues at Dundee!! So everyday whenever we go the toilet the family and others will be "SHOWING THEIR RESPECTS"  whatever they 'want to do'--- cruel, but anything to get my own back. I too have a mean streak, you know!!!.

While I was idling at home, and getting on Farina's nerves, I heard from the grapevine that New Zealand was short of Specialists to run their fledgling National Blood Service. and better still, they were setting it up on the Scottish model. Applied for a job & after an Interview over the phone landed the job as Director & Transfusion Medicine Specialist, New Zealand Blood Service, based at Auckland--the largest in NZ. I was In-Charge of a very large area --( barring only Hamilton), I had to cover the whole of the North Island including Auckland and Wellington - plus Nelson,Picton and Blenheim of the South Island and for a short time Christchurch.It was a tall order as I was hardly in Auckland (2-3 days per week), but flying all over NZ!!!.It was at Masterton Inspection that I met Dr. K S de Silva---Physician with whom I did my pre-Clinical appointment in Colombo. Also my family and I spent a few days with him (also known as Kira) and his dear wife Anna. Also at one of these Inspection visits I bumped in to our "Kolla"Collure,@ Gisborne Airport. He is an Anaesthesist there. I also met up socially with a few of our 6-months Course batch mates. To mention some--Waidyratne & Chula, Raja Gunaratne & Srimathie and loads of others from Senior & Junior mates --too many to name!! Of course one of my batch-mates never bothered to return my calls!! There are always a few, aren't there?? I did not know that "Smiler" Sivakumar was in NZ!!.Shame & sad I missed him.

Now, that's enough of "Self-Crowing", lets dwell on some very interesting names of places that sound very Sinhala and incidents involving yours truly! My usual trips for Inspection by road took me, firstly to TE PUKE (pronounced "thay pukay!!) where we stop for a break in the journey. Here while window shopping I saw a bigger than life size Cockeral carved out a solid block of multi-coloured Jade (green,yellow, brown, black,cream etc..) After some bargaining bought it as an investment. Now it sits on my coffee table in our Lounge, and when I have visitors I never fail to talk about and DISPLAY MY BIG COCK!!!!. From TePuke we move on to WHAKATANE (pornouced FUCK-A-TAR-NAY in Maori)!! Here many SL doctors work-- one is from our 6-months batch Dr Ramadas & many from our juniors. My son did his elective here with one Dr. Rudran Edwards & we usually stay with Surgeon Desmond Collins & his wife Puvi (A&E) from one of our junior batches.

After Official work we return through Taupo, past Lake Tuapo and a few miles down the road is a 'smallish' water-fall called HUKA FALLS!!! Then to Hamilton, where the Director there was my senior collegue Dr Ghosh-- the "good" one and not a 'Pig!!! See him up and move-on passing the Anchor Butter Factory and further up through NA-RUWA-WAHAYA (in Sinhala sounds like PRETTY RED you know what??/--where the Maori Queen lives. Then we pass PUKE-KOHU where the Waidyaratnes have their Practice. The surrounding hills-- "PUKE-HILLS" are cattle farmed by Gujaraties and they supply milk to the Anchor Butter Factory. Now we know that Anchor Butter originates from the "PUKE HILLS"!!!.Also the NZ Rugby player, Jonah Lomu also lives there and his house is on an elevated position -- "PUKE HILLOCK"!!!! This was only one such route--one of many, all over North Island And finally reach home in Auckland.

In NZ too, I had the golden opportunity to continue my "Spirituality"as there are palces of my "Worship"---Vineyards & Wineries just like Distilleries in Scotland!!! This is "Grape Juice" as I call it. Took every half-a-chance to tag on at Inspections to visit one.

Also, my friend, the Jew, was here too.He was the CEO, NZBS He helped us enormously to 'find our feet' in NZ.!!
Once when my Son and eldest Daughter visited us we made a holiday tour of the extreme North---Cape Reinga, 80-Mile Beach, Pahia Kauri Forest (Tane Mahuta- the girth of the tree is more than 22 men holding hands hugging the tree!!!) and Watanghi (the place where the famous Treaty of Witanghi was signed between the Brits and Maoris--- only to be reneged by the fickle white man, as done all over the globe!!) At Pahia we went on a boat trip called the "Island Hopping Milk Run" -- used to be the collection of milk from these outlying Islands  called the "Bay of  Islands"---but now its a Tourists Excursion- a whole days tour. There were about 40 @Tourists and one is made the "CHIEF". That honour fell on my shoulders!!! At mid-day we stopped to lunch at one of the Islands where food was provided-- included in the package. As we disembarked from the boat the "Chief"" had to face a challenge from the local Maori 'Warriors'!! I was scared to see them bearing spears and doing a "Hakka". Once the challenge was accepted "peace prevailed" and had to greet each other by RUBBING OF NOSES!!-- of the locals and visitors---the Maori tradition!!! I was automatically made  the Chief-of-the- Island for the day The most ironic part of this was that the Island was called "URU-PUKA-PUKA" island!!!!! Imagine a Muslim like me (albeit nominally) to be the Chief of Uru- - Puka.- Puka Island????  Ura keep following me to the "end of the earth"!!!

Can go "on & on but will call it a day" After more than 6-years in NZ, now our NOMADIC LIFE AND NOMADIC JOURNEY has come to an end---having treated, firstly the Children of  MOTHER LANKA, followed by the Children of MOTHER EARTH, I " threw in the towel", RETIRED FROM RETIREMENT and returned to base in Scotland as my Children, now qualified, but happy to stay-put in BONNIE SCOTLAND. They did not want to settle down in NZ!!. Don't blame them as Scotland has been good to all of us in many.many ways, as for us, we have a fair Pension, Mortgage paid up and -all free Health Care---"SUMMA"(ALL Medicines, Hospital care, Operations Etc...), I suppose "WHAT GOES ROUND COMES ROUND" and we feel that we now deserve it all.

As for the future,------- as the Sun is setting down on our twlight years, my wish is to meet all you guys at least once more. The Sun is sure to RISE again when we could all meet. AGAIN --SOME WHERE, IN ANOTHER PLACE, IN ANOTHER TIME,IN ANOTHER LIFE.
Till then, wish you all the very best for the REST OF YOUR FUTURES.
On that note I shall end my long HARRANGUE.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Boys only picture

We had an informal get-together of a few batch friends at our Battaramulla home on Jan 2nd. This is just one of the photographs.

From left to right in this outdoor picture are: JC, Nihal Goonetilleke, Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsal, Lucky Abey, Senerat Jayatilaka and Sanath de Tissera. Nihal and Speedy (from UK) and Sanath from Perth, AU are presently on holiday in Sri Lanka. Sura and Pram who were also present, are not in the picture. They were inside, busy gossiping with our spouses. Segregation, you might say. That's the form in Sri Lanka even now.

Here they are:

L to R: Sura, Mangala (my wife) and Kanthi (Sanath's wife).
Kanthi, Hemantha (Senerat's wife) and Pram.