She Would Have Turned 21 Today

It’s a funny thing – one could say that you are five siblings. If one of them is absent, you won’t feel much of a difference. But the thing is that you do. Even in a family as big as ours, each person assumes a unique role. It cannot be easily replaced by anyone else.


She was the anchor of the family, talking to everyone and keeping everyone bound together. Our elder sister had gotten married and moved to the USA, but she was the one talked to most to her, communicating everything from here to there and there to here. We miss that so much now.

Our mom, being the typical strict Desi mom, wasn’t very mushy mushy affectionate types, but Safiya knew how to get it out of her. She stood out among all the siblings in always being physically stuck to Mom. She also never passed through the teenage phase. She was too wise for her age. Her ‘budde baataan’ were always too mature for a teenager. While her peers probably spent most of their time texting and typing lyk dis, she used to write surprisingly deep stuff in perfect English and grammar.

I remember one little incident very clearly in my mind. I was very young, maybe 10 or 11. She was maybe 5 or 6. We had just had our lunch together, the whole family. She stood up and asked for water which we normally drink after food. Me having the role of the water dispenser, I gave her a full glass as I give everyone else. She drank how much she wanted – and poured the rest over me. Yeah, on my body. Needless to say, the unexpected drenching made me very angry. I asked her why she did it. She replied very calmly, in a matter-of-fact manner – “I drank how much I wanted and there was extra left”. It probably led to a tussle that I don’t remember much about, but this incident has always been very fresh in my memory. It was a classic example of her personality – very calm, yet unpredictable.


Could there be something called too much patience? Too much of calmness? Her intermediate final year (12th standard) exams were going on. She used to keep to herself and her room. We thought she is studying seriously and not to disturb her much. She looked a bit sick at times, had fever, so we just gave her some Paracetamol and she took it without saying much. She had never been much of a complainer. I wish she had complained more. I wish she had brought us to pay more attention towards her health. Wish we had acted sooner. Could it have made any difference? It is too scary a thought to be entertained. I have learnt and chosen to accept the Divine predestination. It was qadr. This is what was written and this is what happened. It wouldn’t have happened any other way.


It strangely felt like I lost my own child. When I go to a shop and the guy gives me a candy instead of spare change, to whom do I give the candy now? Whom do I live for and do things for now? Why did I feel that I was responsible for you and that I let you down? Why did we have to make such tough decisions when we were there last ones who were capable of making them? Had she taken too much stress from the exams? Was she very lonely? The guilt was killing. Being a half-doctor myself probably made things worse. Why didn’t I diagnose her myself earlier? How could I miss those signs? Were the hospital & doctors good enough? Even during treatment, I could think of so many things that could theoretically be done, that I should’ve tried harder, fought with the doctors more, done something more than just giving up.

It felt like there was so much left unsaid. If I could get just one day more with her. If only I had talked more with her. If only we knew that our time with her was so limited. If only we hadn’t taken each other for granted. I would do anything to listen to her again. Reading her text messages, reading her Tumblr, her blog posts, anything to get a glimpse of her again. It was a surreal state. Only now I realize how carried away I had gotten. But it was not in my control. This is what grief does I guess.

Knowing her, she would have taken it much lighter herself. In her typical style, she would say – why are you taking so much tension? In a way, I’m glad that she managed to escape right when life was about to get hard. She managed to escape the rat-race, and we got stuck. I am glad she never had to go through what we go through.

They gave a holiday at her college on the day of her last rites. Our home couldn’t handle the number of people that had come to visit. People from far and away, far off relatives and friends, those who had long lost contact, either visited or called. It even rained that day, after months of heat and dry weather. It felt like a weird kind of relief, when after leading the funeral prayer myself, I and her other brother lowered her to the ground, to her final destination. She would have preferred it exactly this way.

I will always have 3 sisters and one brother. We will always be a family of 5 siblings and 7 members. It is not going to change. To exclude her from the count would be to deny her existence. To deny the impact she had on our family, on each of us, the things we learnt from each other, the things we taught each other, how we grew together and shaped our personalities, how she will always remain a part of us, whether she exists in this world or not.

I’m not writing this to gain sympathy or for people to feel sorry for us. On the contrary, this is probably one of the reasons I didn’t write anything about it yet. I wanted it to be only about her and nothing about us. However, I do feel that this story needs to be heard. The world needs to know about her. And also about how grief occurs when something like this happens. Death is as much a part of life as living is. It may be expected or unexpected, it might come early or late – over must be ready to accept it. I could complain that she was taken away from us so early, but I could also be thankful for the time we did get to spend with her. I could focus on her leaving or I could focus on the time she was with us. But it was not as easy as it seems, to make the choice.

At the time, I was craving for hearing a similar story. I wanted to know and be sure that it was not our fault, that it has happened to others and it happens in this world. I didn’t find many stories that fit. Probably found only one – where a mom had written about the loss of her 19-year old to dengue in Delhi. Many well-wishers narrated other stories of losing their loved ones young. Reading & hearing stories like those helped the pain a little. Sharing your story with people who’ve gone through the same helps, I don’t know why or how. It’s probably just knowing that you are not alone in the world, and that there’s at least someone who understands, even if it is a stranger. I don’t know why we have such a craving to be understood by someone, even this that is something very, very difficult to happen most of the times.


She would have turned 21 today.

Safiya Abdul Majeed
(March 13, 1997 – April 17, 2016)

(This post is about my youngest sister who got affected with tuberculous meningitis when she was around 19 and couldn’t beat it. She breathed her last on the dawn of April 17, 2016 at our home in Hyderabad, after two days on the ventilator and 7 days of hospitalisation. I request you all to pray for her soul.)


A tribute to Osmania Hospital

With the end of casualty rotation, my short but extremely memorable stint at OGH is now over. It has been a long way from wondering whether the hospital even functions to actually finding it’s working commendable. Keeping all its shortcomings aside like shortage of staff, medicines, equipment, not so hygienic conditions, a few of the corrupt/unfriendly personnel, the truth remains that it is also a place of great solace for a very large number of people – people who have nowhere else to go, those who were rejected by every other hospital, people who have been everywhere else but haven’t found relief, people who have been beaten up, robbed and neither have a single penny nor a single person to look after them. These patients come here and they are accepted, treated, and a majority of them leave feeling much better. There have been times when a patient stumbles from one room to another, embarrasses himself in front of the other staff, only to find you and say thank you. Be it a refugee from Burma, who can’t speak any language we know, or a union leader with political contacts, people of all faiths, speaking any language, belonging to any region are given the same level of treatment. It gives a weird sense of pride when you see it written “Refer to Higher Centre”, and realising that you are the higher centre being referred to, and that there is no centre higher than this. Not just patients, so many students come here, from varied backgrounds, most of them hardly knowing anything about practical patient care and leave as different people, fully trained and confident, ready to face the world. The doctors here may have a lot of stress due to the workload, a lot of frustration with the system, but behind all that there definitely is a sense of service & compassion. This place may just be an old government hospital but the things that happen here are not ordinary. It is a temple of learning and a temple of care-giving that we are blessed to have worked in. The institution is highly flawed, far from perfect it can only be described as what is an apt caption for this picture –

Broken, but beautiful.

Broken,-but-beautiful-03 (1)

(Inside view of the central dome of Osmania General Hospital, Afzalgunj, Hyderabad)


Osmania Medical College & General Hospital HDR Panoramas in High Resolution

Do I love my college? It’s kinda similar to asking- do you love your country or your city? I don’t know about others but I won’t be 100% truthful if I say- Yes, I love my college/city/country. The problem being that I know too many faults and shortcomings of the college to be able to say it’s the best college ever (or something like that). Complaining about their college is probably one of the favorite pastimes of any student. Same thing would apply to city or country.

In spite of all this, the reality is that something doesn’t need to be perfect for it to be loved. The beauty of love lies is in it’s defying all reason. It is hard not to develop an affection towards something that has given you so much. It develops unknowingly and manifests in subtle ways. Now when I think of it, it seems I do love my college as well as my country. I am ready to forgive it for all the disappointments it has given me and look at only the good things that came to me because of it, which are very many.

As a modest tribute to my college, I have tried to combine art and technology and come up with this product. It is an HDR Panorama of the college and hospital building. HDR is basically a technique where different parts of a photo have different contrasts, so that there are no dull areas or extremely bright areas. A certain method of application of this technique gives the photo a very artistic look, which I am a big fan of. “Panorama” as you may know, is a combination of multiple photos stitched together by software, basically used for things that can’t be easily captured in a single photo. You can find the photos below:

(These are only small sized previews. Please click the image to get the full resolution image. Then Right-click and “Save Image As” to download it.)

Osmania Medical College HDR Panorama

Osmania Medical College, Koti, Hyderabad.

Osmania General Hospital HDR Panorana

Osmania General Hospital, Afzalgunj, Hyderabad.

Each of these photos has been made by stitching together more than 30 images. Each of the component images was given the HDR effect. The technical details are as follows: Camera- Nikon D5100, Lens: 18-55 mm Kit Lens, Image Format: RAW (NEF), HDR Software: Photomatix Pro, Panorama Software: Kolor Autopano Giga, Final touch-up in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

The basic reason for this post is to make all these photos available online so that anyone can use it if they need to. I also have a store of some other photos. Here is a photo I had captured and edited from Google Earth. It is the satellite view of our college:

Satellite View of Osmania Medical College

Satellite View of Osmania Medical College


These are the other Hospitals associated with Osmania Medical College:

I have been involved with the designing of a lot of posters, Facebook posters and cover pics, souvenirs, ID cards etc. in the college. If anyone reading this post wants any particular image or resource apart from these, please feel to contact me using the contact form on this page.

List of Candidates – Andhra Pradesh/Telangana – Lok Sabha and Assembly – Elections 2014

List of candidates is available on the CEO Andhra website (Chief Election Officer). The pdfs I found on the site were not searchable, so I OCRed them and re-uploading here.

Here are the original sources: Main Site | General Election Page (On the left side-menu of Home) | Lok Sabha Candidates | Legislative Assembly Candidates

Here are the pdfs with search facility that I made (Just press Ctrl+F, and type your constituency or candidate): Lok Sabha Candidates | Legislative Assembly Candidates

(I used Adobe Acrobat for the OCR)

What to do in Postings?

I never thought I’d be writing something on this subject. Believe me, I’m the last person that should be writing something like this. I’m taking about clinical postings in hospitals which happen every morning for 3-4 hours since coming to second year. Two and a half years have passed since these things started and I wonder what have I done all that time. Now that I’m in final year, when we really need to utilise this time as there will be a practical exam in this, I realise that I’ve been wasting almost every morning of college by not doing anything all this time. What could have been the problem you ask?

Well firstly, the impulse every morning was not to go to the hospital as “nothing much happens” and “there is no use going”. Attendance was also not that important. Now I realise that these were just excuses and I wouldn’t have made them if I didn’t want to do something else. The same time could be spent watching some cool show or movie or do some or the other more interesting thing. Anyhow, I didn’t let this affect me much. I convinced myself every time that there is a proper time for everything and that even is you learn one thing today in the hospital then you’ve done a good job. So overall, my attendance was low but not very low, better than the average. I just used to go a little late every time, without missing anything important.

The second thing- after reaching the hospital, not being proactive in the wards. Now, we were lucky to study in a college where there is no shortage of patients. Each student could see any number of cases he wanted. Even with all this, I couldn’t make much use of it. I’ve never found History-taking a very interesting nor a very useful thing. I always thought of it as unnecessary troubling of the patient. Any good student or teacher would be agitated if he reads this. Yeah it’s true that it’s important, but only when it’s done in the right way. And the only right way to do it was to know why you’re doing it and what is the relevance of every question that you trouble the patient with. Coming to Clinical Examination, that needs even more knowledge of the subject. There were two problems in this- either we didn’t know properly what are we supposed to do and why or there were so many students examining a single patient that it was hard to do it properly or just plain not worth the trouble. Now I wonder why did we all crowd around a single  patient? Probably because we were afraid to take a case alone as we don’t know much. Probably our combined knowledge will help us get through. Furthermore, even though patients are plenty, those with classical presentation or those with conditions which are academically relevant to us are not so common.

Was there no one to teach you? – you ask. Well that’s the third problem. I do feel that we students are the one being wronged here. It’s that no one in the departments care about you. Hardly anyone is interested in teaching you. There was no proper schedule of teaching nor fixed teachers to teach a subject. I don’t know whether this is the condition of only our college or in others too. For a college that is supposed to be (or at least was, in the recent past), the best college in the state, the condition shouldn’t have been like this. Anyhow, we managed somehow most of the times. You can try and find someone who’ll teach you.

So now that I’ve told about all the problems I had, it’s time to decide what to do, if you want to avoid the earlier mistakes and make the most of what remaining time you have. Here are a few things I learnt from my experience:

  • Get up, dress up and show up every day, regardless of what is happening or what will happen. It’s important to be right in principle. They say its better to regret something you did rather than regret something you didn’t do.
  • As clichéd or impractical it sounds, read and be prepared for whatever case you’re going to take BEFORE you take it. The ideal situation would be to become perfect in a particular case and then see the patient. Of course, we are not perfect. All we can do is try to strike the right balance between the patient and the book. A little bit of both here and there. It’ll enable you to properly take the case and also reinforce what you have read by seeing it live in a patient.
  • You need to “practice” everything. That is – do it repeatedly. As much as you get the chance to do. For example, eliciting a reflex looks so simple when you see people doing it, but you’ll realise what it is when you try. (Btw I only recently came to know that you’re supposed to look at the muscle twitch in a tendon reflex, not the movement of the limb).
  • Find someone to answer your questions, probably show you some procedures, and present the case to the person. Bear the torture of a hundred mistakes getting pointed out in your presentation. Just bear it. Due to some reason, they think that while pointing out mistakes, they are teaching you. But the difference lies in the way it’s done. Most of the times it appears like they’re discouraging the student without them knowing it. Anyhow, forgive the teachers if they’re being rude. They probably don’t understand a student’s psychology and are probably just doing their teaching job unwillingly as a compulsion.If you were an ideal student and had read before taking the case then it will help you a lot at this stage.
  • Take notes of whatever is being told. Try to write everything that you can, as neatly and systematically as possible in a notebook that you’ll not throw away somewhere but will see again. This stuff is not usually given as such in the textbooks but it is very useful in viva, theory as well as answering other professors’ questions. Think of it as a secret book that all the professors have, from which book alone they accept answers, but students have no way of accessing it except in a few instances where the professors use it for teaching.
  • Don’t tell yourself that I’ll go home and read all about it. It is irrelevant whether you’ll read it later or not. Your job is to utilise this time as much as possible. It’s best to assume that you won’t be able to, so finish whatever you can here and now.
  • Discuss stuff with your fellow students. You’re lucky if you have someone with you who knows more than you. This is a much simpler and much more effective way of learning things than doing that from a book. It’s like the difference between eating and digesting something (reading) or just taking IV glucose (learning from others). They have processed everything for you.

This post became quite long. I didn’t plan to write this, it was just an impulse. As someone said- “I write to know what I think.” (Joan Didion). Hope this makes things clear for me as well as help you the reader. Writing makes an exact man they say (Francis Bacon). I sure hope to be so.

A Year in Review

This is one of my least favourite things to do, writing about myself. Yet I do it anyhow as I have nothing else to do plus I kinda need to put something on this blog.

Why am I writing this? Well, if only we knew exactly why we do everything we do. One reason might be that I may be interested in reading this myself a few months or years from now. Another may be that some reader destined to stumble upon this blog may like it or benefit from it somehow.

The year 2013. Well, I have to say it was one hell of a year. (for me, that is). It started with the gloomy exam season. Why gloomy, you ask? Well it actually shouldn’t have been gloomy but it was. Those were the Second MBBS exams, the final exams after around 17 months of studying Pharmacology, Pathology, Microbiology and Forensic Medicine. You can remove 12 months from that easily, and possibly a few more as those were not spent studying anything at all. The huge amount of work to be done coupled with the abysmal previous performances in Internals and Pre-finals, all these have a tendency to produce a kind of depression, you know. Anyhow, finals were held and the results arrived. They were not that bad (by the grace of God), but it really had more to do with the God’s grace part than my work. Yet, technically, that was the worst result I’ve ever gotten in my career. And I was not happy with it (and am still not happy). In first year, I had put in some extra effort and managed to get a much more respectable score but this time the effort was missing and the scores clearly reflected it.

As a result, Third year (or more accurately Final MBBS Part-I) was started with great enthusiasm. We have to start studying. Then the not so exciting reality hit us. Hardly any classes being taken in college and postings, haphazard and disorganised as usual. The excitement and enthusiasm diminished as fast as they had risen. The subjects either looked small (ENT, Ophthalmology) or not interesting (SPM). 

A natural question anyone would ask on hearing this is- what were you doing if not studying? Well, the problem with me is that I have so, so many methods of time-pass available that studies fall behind badly in gaining my attention. Especially cursed are people like me, the ones with a healthy PC & a swift Internet connection and a knowledge of how to properly use them.

Now I don’t know about others but at least for me, these things- movies, TV shows, random internet surfing, chatting, Facebooking- can entertain you only for so long. And only when you are in a certain mood. That is why I have always been involved in some or the other “project” that can keep your mind engaged, and probably involve the use of some of the skills you have. An example of such a project is this blog. However, there are quite a few other online projects that I was involved with, a few with a potential of earning actual money. Another offline, though tech-related, project was the editing of a short movie made by a group of my classmates. I now realise it did eat up a lot of time. I must have worked for it for around 3-4 months.

Life was going fine. The short movie was quite a success. More important than that, we were happy with our work. The other two projects were going real smooth. Then it happened. A call on my mobile. Such an outdated traditional means of communication. One of the online projects, it had to go. But not before causing a sh*tload of distress and worry and emotional trauma and paranoia and what not. Such unprofessional, backward these Indian companies are, in both mentality and their understanding of technology. Thankfully, the problem went away. The only disappointment I had was that the people benefitting from it would be disappointed. A few days of calm and then another blow. An email. The other project was gone too. Well almost. This problem  was a little bit milder but it was unfair, based on a mistake I had committed so long back that I hardly even remembered it. Anyhow it’s temporary but temporary for a long time and it’s kinda hard to see so much of your work stagnated in uncertainty.

What I got to learn is that the Internet is not much different from real life. There are setbacks and failures and all kinds of stuff. I am happy now with how I handled it. Yet here I am, left with both my big projects gone and exams on my head. I kinda tried convincing myself that it was probably for the best, that now you should concentrate on studies, and if needed, use just this blog as a distraction. And also, may be, concentrate on real life a little more, realising that the only few things you are interested in always have to be behind a computer screen.

Now aside from the cryptic stuff I wrote above, that few people will understand, there were quite a few other things that happened this year. I regularly attended a few classes at a hospital / academy being taught by successful practising doctors, got to learn quite a lot from them. May not be much of the subject, but definitely a lot about their attitude, approach, priorities, basically what kind of personality they have, that may have played a role in their becoming a successful doctor. Great TV shows were discovered – Breaking Bad, Homeland, Dexter,Suits and more, Forrest Gump, an excellent movie, quite a few other good ones – The Call, The Internship, The Bling Ring, jOBS, Moulin Rouge, To Kill a Mockingbird, a few good Hindi ones – The Dirty Picture, Ishquiya, Chennai Express. Offline activities – a lot of time was spent hanging out with friends. Probably the highest, cumulatively, in any year of my life – consequence of a care-free college life along with an old friend circle. That was kinda nice actually.

So goodbye 2013. You were a good year. No hard feelings. Hope 2014 is good. And also 2015, 2016 and all coming years, in this calendar or any other calendar that exists.

Hello world!

I’m back with this blog. I had almost given up on blogging after an earlier fiasco but I ran into a backup I had of my previous blog. I managed to get most of the  articles I had written (though the dates are messed up). And I had started to miss blogging too. So now I’m back and hopefully start a fresh new blogging journey 🙂

Check out my about page for more info!

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