Friday, April 18, 2008

He wants to bring sunshine to people's lives

A. Narayanan wants to bring sunshine in the lives of people who suffer hardship. By starting an organisation for voluntary work, to get school and college students to spend quality time and take care of the elderly and disabled, to read for them or help them write letters. Narayanan’s wife Nirmala, three years after giving birth to their son Rajkumar in 1969, became totally paralysed, able to only see and speak. Thanks to her husband who looked after her lovingly, even taking her to the movies, she bravely soldiered on for nearly 30 years this way. A maid looked after Nirmala throughout, and Narayanan even took care of the maid’s family. Narayanan’s experience with Nirmala is now his inspiration.

Narayanan has had several decades of work in factories, but his love for the English language prompted him to approach, after Nirmala’s death, the City School of Social & Managerial Sciences, a division of Campus Abroad in Anna Nagar. He requested Dr Paul Chellakumar, president of the Association of Accredited Advisors on Overseas Education, and chairman, Campus Abroad, to give him some space from where he could observe what was happening, and then take things slowly forward. Today, he is director-student affairs. For a person who has spent his entire career in factories, this innings – of being in charge of the IELTS (International English Language Testing) programme and teaching students spoken English – is indeed a major swing.

Narayanan, the eldest of ten children, was born in Thiruvananthapuram; his grandfather was the headmaster of the Model School there. Father K N Ananthakrishnan worked in the audit department of the Railways. After initial education in a small municipal school in Thiruthanthoni, near Tiruchy, Narayanan studied at the Perambur Corporation School for two years and shifted to the Rao Bahadur Kalavalla Kannan Chettiar High School to complete his SSLC. Intermediate study was at the Government Arts College. He would bag the general proficiency and English prizes always. In 1954, he obtained a B. Sc Chemistry degree from Vivekananda College, and joined Sindri Fertiliser & Chemicals as chemical engineering apprentice.

By finding use for coke that didn’t burn in ash, Narayanan instantly made an impression with the plant manager. In 1961, he moved to Bengal Potteries in Calcutta, where he served six years. End-1966, he arrived in Madras to work for WS Industries, a company run with American collaboration, dealing in high-tension porcelain insulators. He achieved his childhood ambition of becoming a GM in 1984, eventually retiring in 1992. Popular in industry circles, Insulator Electricals, Bhopal, offered him the position of Vice President. He quit just before Nirmala’s last days.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A doctor who practises Reiki

Many rely on alternate methods of healing, such as Reiki for example. Many don’t. Those who do are convinced that these methods help overcome stress, fatigue, even illnesses that modern medicine cannot cure. I met a person from the medical fraternity last week who is a practitioner of Reiki. He has studied Reiki up to the 3rd degree and finds it often useful, as a guide in determining diseases that cannot be otherwise easily explained. What also interested me was that in his spare time, he reads religious books or listens to Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music. As a child, he had learnt the Vedas and how to conduct poojas from his grandfather.

Meet Dr. U.H.V. Prasad who is consultant general surgeon at the Vijaya Health Centre. A general physician, he conducts surgery on patients having hernia, hydrocele, appendicitis and other cases needing minor surgical intervention. Dr. Prasad specialises in urology, handles infertility cases, and conducts post-marital counselling. Significantly, he practises Reiki on all his patients.

Dr. Prasad was born in Ongole in Andhra Pradesh. His father U. Sitaramacharyulu was a licensed Indian medical practitioner (LIM) who ran a general practice in Ongole for 55 years, conducting deliveries and minor surgeries. The elder of two brothers, Prasad studied at the Ongole Municipal High School. After completing his Secondary School Certificate, he joined C.S.R. Sharma College, Ongole, for Intermediate study in botany, physics and chemistry. In 1978, he graduated in Botany. It was Sitaramacharyulu who persuaded Prasad to take up medicine.

Prasad completed his M.B.B.S at the Guntur Medical College. After internship as house surgeon, he arrived in Madras in 1986 to work at the Vijaya Hospital as resident medical officer under Dr. M.R. Reddy, now a senior general surgeon. Two years later, he joined the urology department and worked under Dr Chinnaswamy (1988-92). Taking a break, Dr. Prasad joined the Gulbarga Medical College to study for M.S. (general surgery). To meet his financial needs, he worked there as well. In August 1995, he was back at Vijaya, as DNB (Diploma in National Borad) urology trainee.

Dr. Prasad practises at Room No. 7, Vijaya Health Centre, 180 N.S.K. Salai, Vadapalani, on all days except Sundays between 9 am and 2 pm (Ph: 98401 87111).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Living life's purpose

Often women in India who lose their husbands fairly early (and by that I mean immediately after retirement) are seen leading dreary, unhappy lives, confined to themselves most of the time. This is especially true of women in India’s middle-class society.

It is therefore refreshing when you meet somebody who has accepted her grief and carries along with determination and purpose. Revathy Srinivasan, who has been a physics professor the past 42 years, lost her husband about four years ago; he was in his early 60s and perhaps could have lived for a decade and more. Revathy now teaches physical optics at Sankara Nethralaya’s Elite School of Optometry (attached to BITS, Pilani), an innings that began in 2003-04 after her retirement from SIET College where she spent 34 years. That is only one part of her life – on the other, she is a rare social worker.

Born in Bangalore on Independence Day, Revathy grew up in Madras, in Mylapore. Her father K.V. Venkataraman worked for the Imperial Bank of India (SBI). The last of seven sisters (she has two brothers as well), Revathy studied at the Lady Sivaswami Girls High School, Mylapore. After pre-university at Queen Mary’s, she joined Presidency College to pursue a degree in physics – she was inspired by Sir C.V. Raman. She obtained an M. Sc Physics degree in 1966 from Annamalai University, specialising in electronics. In June, she started her career as head of the physics department at Visalakshi College, Udumalpet. Here she served three years.

In November 1968, Revathy married Srinivasan, who was physics professor at D.G. Vaishnav College – they had met at a conference. Marriage brought her to Madras and, in July 1969, she joined SIET College as lecturer in physics. She went on to become Head of Department and Reader. In 1980, Revathy completed her M. Phil (chemical physics) from Presidency College; in 1992, she acquired her PhD (medical physics) from the University of Madras.

Revathy is a life member of the Indian Red Cross Society and has donated blood 60 times. She is the Ruling President of the Lioness Club of Madras Nandambakkam, and Ruling Secretary of Lion’s Club Silver Pearls. She is set to take over as Council Chairperson of Lionesses Clubs in Chennai (15 clubs) District 324 A5. Revathy regularly visits Corporation and special schools to conduct eye-screening and dental camps, and hospitals and the Cancer Institute. In 2007-08, she organised 12 blood donation camps (during 1985-95, she would conduct such camps every Independence day at her residence) – 1,773 units of blood were collected. In February, she organised a first-aid training programme for the hearing impaired at St. John’s. She regularly visits Narbhavi, an old-age home in Sholinganallur that houses 42 women.

Every year, the past 20 years, Revathy has been donating two sewing machines to needy women. “My mother Pattammal used to sew clothes most of the time. She said that every home should have a sewing machine,” she says.