Dear doctors, be kind to each other.

Dharmaraj Karthikesan's Blog

I met a young doctor who used to work under me recently. I had just completed my night rounds in the hospital and I was leaving for home.

And then I saw him. He was unkempt, exhausted and appeared famished. Worst of all, he looked like a man who has totally given up on being a doctor. He appeared hesitant when I asked him what was wrong, but I could not just leave him there.

After much persuasion and insistence on my part he agreed to join me for a late supper. While he ravaged through his first proper meal of the day, he finally opened up. He has started working for the past week in a new speciality. Though the hours are longer, it was not an issue. He was well aware of the sacrifices he was expected to make.

However, the degradation, humiliation and constant harassment have finally taken…

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Playing with future

“My daughter will become a doctor. Won’t you sweetheart?”

“Yes, Daddy!” replied the six year old Sarah, ever ready to please her dad.

10 years later

“I talked to someone who’s in med school and he said that you have to pass a test to get in. And it’s extremely difficult.”

“You’ll do it. I’m going to be so proud when you become a doctor.”

11 years later

“I’m freaking out dad! This test is unlike any other. It isn’t just the studying that’s difficult, it’s the pressure too. Some girls lost it when they couldn’t get admission.”

“Hey, hey. Don’t worry. You won’t be one of those girls. You’ve always done great. Just continue with the hard work. And you know what! None of my friends’ children are doctors.”

12 years later

“I can’t do it dad. I can’t pass the test! I’m at breaking point and, if I continue, I will break!”

“You can and you will do it! We’ve been talking about this since you weren’t even born.”

Few days later

“I’m sorry sweetheart. I’m so sorry! I don’t want a doctor, I want you.”

There was no reply.

A fight back

“Hand it over!”. Zia looked over his shoulder to see two guys pointing guns at him. “Hand over the phone or I’ll shoot!”

He knew he should give up the phone. He had heard plenty of stories of people getting killed by snatchers. In fact, just last week one of his friends had been robbed in a similar fashion.

“Are you going to hand it over or not?”

He glanced at his phone. His father had given it as a gift for performing well in class. Even though he couldn’t afford to buy an expensive phone, he had given it to him as a way of showing his pride and appreciation.

“What do you want more: your life or that phone?”

He knew his father would just be glad to see his son; he wouldn’t care about that phone. But how could he give it up, knowing that his father had worked extra hours to pay for it! That phone belonged to him and no one had the right to take it from him.

“Last chance! Give it up”

His resolve hardened.



He wanted to be stealthy. It wouldn’t do if she woke up and screamed. Thankfully, he had the place carpeted last year so his footsteps were muffled. The stairs made a creaking sound as he stepped on the first step and he cursed himself silently. He had to be more careful if he wanted to see the light of day.

He continued to climb, more slowly and carefully this time. He was at the bedroom door now. It was slightly ajar and a dim light was coming through the room. He considered putting some oil on the hinges to prevent the door from making any noise. But decided against it. He had seen enough detective shows to know it wasn’t safe to leave any clue behind.

He pushed the door. It didn’t make any sound and he sighed in relief. He stepped into the room and saw her slight frame asleep. The lamp on her bedside table was on and there was a book on her chest. She must have fallen asleep reading, he thought. He came closer and could make out the title of the book. The subtle art of controlling men . Well, well, well. She still hadn’t given up her twisted ways .

He smiled and took his revenge.

USMLE: yes or no?

A simple question of yes and no, and yet it has bothered me since I first found about USMLE which was a long time ago, probably in my first year of med school. One would’ve thought that 5 years of med school would guarantee me a good job, but no. Life truly sucks for those in the white coats. I’m in my third year now and I don’t even know how I managed to come this far! Taking USMLE would increase my chances of becoming a better doctor because American residency programs are one of the best in the world.

But-why is there always a but?-on the other hand I would have to study beyond belief. It wouldn’t have been difficult only if I had eidetic memory. Every waking and sleeping moment of my life would be dedicated to getting one thing done. And even after I have cleared all exams there might be a chance of my not getting into a good residency program in a state where I have acquaintances. Is it worth the effort?

7 Books/Series That Are One Of The Best In Their Genre

Being a bookworm I’ve read a lot of books that were not quite upto my expectations while there were others which blew my mind with their awesomeness. Below are the books I would rate 7 stars, if that were an option, in the order I read them regardless of whether I like them now or not. The list is not complete, of course, because I’ll continue adding more as I read more.

1. Harry Potter-I’m a Potterhead for 10 years now. It was the first novel I ever read and has occupied an irreplaceable place in my heart bookshelf.


2. Zlata’s Diary-The first war-based true story I ever read and it changed my perspective. I realized that things I take for granted like food and water might not be readily available one day. I salute Zlata’s bravery and maturity at such a tender age.


3. A Walk To Remember-I love books which make me cry and this book was one of the first that made me cry like a baby. I don’t usually read romance because its predictable but this one was my first Nicholas Sparks novel and I loved every bit of it.


4. A Thousand Splendid Suns-This is the most tragic story with a happy ending I’ve ever read . Khalid Hosseini has shown the injustice war brings with itself and  how cruel the world is and if given the chance there are millions of sadistics out there who would reveal themselves. The pile up of tragedies might be too much for you so beware when you start reading this one.


5. Gone With The Wind-I don’t love any novel more than Scarlett’s story and nor do I hate any more than it. It made me want to scream when I was finished. Margaret Mitchell knows how to stir up a heart, throw it in the air and make the emotions scatter all everywhere.


6. Book Thief-This isn’t just another historical novel. Well, it is but it is also the story of survival. The book thief endures unimaginable losses but lives.

7. Game Of Thrones-It should be given a “I’ll-make-you-love-me-and-then-rip-out-your-heart-when-you-least-expect-it-but-you-still-won’t-let-go-of-me” award. It’s one of the greatest stories ever written without a doubt. This is what I wanted to do each time he killed off someone I loved, which was all the time by the way:


What is the value of literacy in ‘The Book Thief’?

The book thief is an intellectually starved girl who learns to read and write and learns to control words by the help of family, friends and enemies.

‘Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.’
― Kofi Annan
Set in WWII, the book thief is about the struggle of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, who earns her life by stealing books and reading them, changing dramatically from a humiliated, illiterate girl to mature, well-informed and insightful. There is considerable emphasis on the power of words, and Liesel learns to control it through her dedication, determination and help from the people she knows and loves. A great emphasis is laid on what words can do when used with the right amount of power and at the right audience. Different characters in Liesel’s life have contributed to her obsession with all things literary. In a society where literacy isn’t valued or respected, Liesel goes above and beyond to achieve her goal.

Stealing is a crime, but is stealing for the sake of protecting something you hold could have a physical connection with her brother, who died because of hypothermia. However, the second time she strikes it’s for protecting a book from Hitler’s insanity. The burning of books on Hitler’s birthday horrified her and she stole the only book she could. The rescue of the burning, damp ‘The Shoulder Shrug’ is the point where she understands the tyrannical rule of Hitler and fights back in any small way she can. Hans, a warm, kind accordionist and Leisel’s foster father, was a drop-out from school yet his love for literacy is apparent from the way he teaches Liesel to read and new words.
‘Unofficially it was called the midnight class, even though it commenced at around two in the morning’ [The woman with the iron fist; 41]
He is one of the most literature-loving people in the novel despite his lack of education. The Hubbermann’s have barely enough money to fill their stomachs but they books for Liesel, helping her to pave her way to illumination. Another act of Hans which keeps her daughter pursuing her passion is that he never reprimanded Liesel for stealing books. Ilsa Hermann, a grieving mother who loves the world inside books but the loss of her son has made her to lose her purpose, but when Liesel comes along she welcomes her to her enormous library to enjoy what she couldn’t anymore. Without Ilsa’s kindness Liesel’s options for finding books would have been scarce. Leisel also first uses her words to hurt Ilsa for firing her mother, and later she steals books from her but Ilsa didn’t complain and allowed Leisel to steal because it was making her more knowledgeable. Max, a Jew in hiding under the Hubbermann’s protection is unable to take for himself let alone someone else, but Leisel’s reading prompts him to write two books for her, ‘The Standover Man’ and ‘The Word Shaker’. Even though he is persecuted and prosecuted by the German’s but he still struggles against the system by writing against Hitler.

The power of reading is shown when Leisel reads to ‘The Whistler’ to everyone in hiding in the Feidler’s basement, so that panic dissipates, the anxious calm down and the children stop crying. It’s a beautiful moment when people stop talking to listen to someone telling a story rather than when someone’s shouting at them. Frau Holtzapfel appreciates Liesel’s reading ability and asks her to read to her in exchange for coffee. Rudy stuck by her when she went book stealing bringing them closer than ever together. Even death admires Liesel’s command over words. He summed up her life in a few words:
‘She was the book thief without words.
Trust me though, the words were on their way and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like clouds, and she would wring the out, like rain.’ [The heavyweight champion of the school yard; 85]

Germany during the Holocaust was a gloomy, dismal place with scarcity of resources and numerous deaths. Hitler didn’t use firearms and even then hundreds of Jews were killed every day on his order. Hitler was a maniac who was using literacy to rule over the world and to kill anyone who defied his explanation of an ideal human. He uses his words to subjugate those with weaker minds to his will who in turn, use brutal force to conquer the stronger ones. Liesel, whose parents were communists and taken away because of that, realized soon enough the reason of Hitler’s success and she gives an accurate description of it;
‘Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing’. [Ilsa Hermann’s little black book; 551]
The Nazi Germany didn’t care about literature except for one book, ‘Mein Kampf’, the words of Hitler. On Hitler’s birthday a fire was lit in his honor using clothes, wood, scraps and most unfortunately books. This event more than anything proved the extent of brain washing of the Germans. Hans Junior, son of Hans Hubermann and Liesal’s foster brother, was one of those fanatical Germans who worshipped Hitler. Upon seeing Liesel’s collection of books, from which Mein Kampf was conspicuously absent, he said;
‘What trash is this girl reading? She should be reading Mein Kampf.’ [Hitler’s birthday, 1940; 113]

At the end it is Liesel’s love for books that saves her life, as she is happily sitting in the basement writing the story of her life an explosion goes off destroying everyone and everything she loved, her life in shambles there is only one thing left to her, her words. The book thief is one of those books that make one reflect and put things into perspective. Liesel did whatever she could to improve her reading. People scorned her and laughed at her but she persisted. Looking around I see the same thing happening in our society. We scoff at anyone who reads too much, labeling them nerds and geeks, and calling them freaks, never understanding what reading means to them. If the book thief has taught me something, it is to do what I want to no matter the public opinion.


Harry Potter-a part of my literary life

It’s been nine years since I read the first one but looking at the worn, dogeared and dusty Harry Potter books still makes me feel all warm and glowy inside. I’ve read them a hundred times, no scratch that, make it thousand. And even now when I go to bookstore with all the different editions I just want to grab them all and run away with them. I know I should buy them but even in my fantasy simply taking them is a lot less expensive.

JK Rowling has spun a web of such a magical story and cast such a terrific spell on it that it’s challenging for me to stay away from it for long. For many her books hold meaning by serving as a beacon of hope in their wretched life, it has helped them, and acted like a lifebuoy while they were drowning in a sea of hopelessness. I don’t want bad things happening in my life but I wish it had some special meaning for me too so I could associate better with fellow potterheads. For me it is special because, other than the obvious reason, it was the first novel I ever read.

I’ve always wanted friends like Ron and Hermione! Who wouldn’t? Harry’s story has made me realize that the world can be cruel to you one moment and the next they would be worshiping you which does happen in real life. And Harry survived that injustice because his friends were with him, because they believed in him when no one else did. The thing I like most is the lack of romantic aspect because that makes it appropriate for a lot of age groups. And thank God JK did not put in a love triangle between Ron, Hermione and Harry. If there is one thing I don’t like it is pointless love triangles like in Twilight.

I think every kid should read it even if they have seen the movies because the books are more than just about the graphics and the pretty faces.