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Monday, 16 May 2011 10:05

Is it wrong for kids to enjoy?

Written by Kamal Shah
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On Saturday, we had dinner at my uncle's house. It was a big family dinner. The occasion was his son's wedding anniversary and their daughter-in-law was in town though they stay in the US.

I, as usual, reached early. Well, their house is in between my office and home. So, instead of going home and coming back half way, I thought might as well go there straightaway. To kill time till the rest of the family strutted in, I took my iPad with me. I was checking my email on it when my cousin sisters' kids came there. Two cousin sisters. Four kids. All from out of town. In the age group of probably 6 to 10.

They asked me in the cutest possible tone, "Aa shoo chhe?" (What is this?) I told them it is called "iPad". I then did a quick demo of the Photos app. They were all floored. They all sat in a line next to me and one by one took the iPad in their hand and played with the Photos app. Zoom in, zoom out, pan, rotate. I also showed them some pics of some of them from a few years back. Squeals of laughter and delight!

By then their mothers had sensed that they were playing with a fancy device. They quickly warned them and me to be careful.

Next were a few simple games I have on my iPad. One by one they would take shots at the games and play for a few minutes each. "Next its my turn". "Then mine". "Then mine". They were clearly having a ball!

I then showed them the Piano and played a couple of popular tunes and then opened Penultimate. This was a huge hit. This is an app that allows you to write or draw with your finger. There are some fancy features like an eraser, adjusting the color and size of the pen etc. They were on a roll. One by one, they took the iPad and let their drawing skills loose. Mountains, the sun, birds, the ocean, fish.

After a while, the adults went berserk. They asked the kids to stop it at once. They asked me to put the iPad in. I didn't quite understand what the fuss was about. It was not as if they were fighting over it. They were drawing one by one in an extremely orderly manner, clearly fascinated by this new little gadget.

But the adults didn't care. It had to stop. They would 'spoil' something. This was an expensive device. Not to be fooled around with by a bunch of unruly kids!

The kids gave up. I put the iPad in.

After all, I couldn't stand up against the collective might of the maternal oligarchy of the Parekh kutumb!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/is-it-wrong-for-kids-to-enjoy.html

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Sunday, 15 May 2011 10:14

What a dearth of choices

Written by Kamal Shah
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There has been so much that has been said about the 2G scam and the corruption in India that I don't think I can add anything of value on the subject.

However, I was just thinking about the recently concluded Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. People are very gung-ho about the way the DMK government has been booted out and the very low number of seats they have won this time. Yes. Totally agree. Good that they were booted out. They deserve this. Probably more.

But think for a moment. Who has come in the DMK's place? Jayalalitha, the mother of corruption. And she has the gall to actually say that the mandate was not only against the DMK but decisively for the AIADMK. Apparently she is going to foist more corruption cases on the Karunanidhi family.

The people of Tamil Nadu always give a decisive mandate in favor of one party. So, turn by turn these two people come to power, loot the state and its people and then lose power, smug in the belief that they will get their chance after five years.

Talk about being having to chose between the devil and the deep sea!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/what-dearth-of-choices.html

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Saturday, 14 May 2011 10:56

London Bridges walk 2011

Written by Steve Bone
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Sunday 10th July, location: Tower Bridge, London.

Yup, it’s the London Bridges walk again, in aid of Kidney Research. I’m looking forward to it again this year, it’s shorter, so 13 miles last year, just 7 this year. Easier on the feet, legs, body………

I’m being joined by Jordan again, my 11 year old son, and this year James is coming too, he’s 9 but is keen to take part.

More on this after the event. Not too late to join in!

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... http://mydialysis.co.uk/blog/2011/05/14/london-bridges-walk-2011/

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Saturday, 14 May 2011 10:47

Daily dialysis

Written by Steve Bone
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Well, finally here. Next week I’m doing a whole week of daily dialysis on the unit, testing blood every day to see the effects on blood results, so that when I start the training on the NxStage next month, setting the dialysis prescription will be based on some intelligence over and above the process the Kimal trainer will go through to get this right. Additionally, getting the prescription for Alfacalcidol, Renagel and Tinzaparin (single dose heparin) will be better informed.

I’m doing 6 sessions of three hours each on the Fresenius 4008, and I’m really pleased the unit have been able to accommodate me for this.

I’ll add an update once I know the effects.

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... http://mydialysis.co.uk/blog/2011/05/14/daily-dialysis/

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I caught up with a few cousins this Sunday for breakfast at an aunt's house. (Yes, I missed my weekend rendezvous with Poorna Tiffins. I made up for it by going mid-week in the evening though!) We discussed a host of stuff. One of them was how the same language, Gujarati, is spoken so differently by us, who have been out of Gujarat forever and people who have been in Gujarat all their lives.

The Gujaratis who stay in Gujarat use very pure Gujarati, unpolluted by English or Hindi words. An example my sister gave - "Jo ben tamari seeti boli" evoked laughter among all of us. We were more used to "Jo seeti vaagi"! Another example she gave was - "Aatlu motu vahan nathi dekhaatu?" "Vahan"? We forgot that word long back!

I remember Dinesh growling, many years back, at the chaste Tamil being used by a group of students from Chennai who were going back to Chennai from Hyderabad on the same train as us. One of the students asked him in Tamil if the TT had come and gone. Dinesh spoilt his face after the guy went! Dinesh wasn't used to such pure Tamil!

Another thing that I noticed was people who are away from the state generally have a purer dialect than people in the state. The people in the state acquire the dialect of the region. People away from the state generally speak the 'official dialect', if there is such a thing! Again this is true mostly for people who haven't stayed for long in their native states.

The language of the people of a state who stay in other parts of the country slowly gets mixed with other languages. More importantly, they also get more attached to the culture and traditions of the place than their native states. For example, Sankranthi appeals to me more for the Pongal than the kites!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/differences-in-spoken-language-between.html

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 09:17

Well, you can't give up dialysis just yet!

Written by Kamal Shah
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There's a lot of exciting stuff happening on human organs and newer, more compact dialysis delivery mechanisms. In the first issue of the HKF newsletter, we had given some details about the Wearable Artificial Kidney. We also mentioned that this was at least a few years away. However, the excitement of getting dialysis where you want and when you want got some people carried away and we started getting calls from hopeful dialysis patients asking for one!

Well, sorry to spoil your party but it will be at least another ten years till people like you and me can have access to this machine.

There is a lot of research and promising stuff on the horizon. Take a look at this linksent by Karthik that talks about growing kidneys among other organs in the lab. They talk about using organs from brain dead people and then washing off or dissolving all the tissues to get the 'scaffold' and then putting cells from our own body on the scaffold to form an organ that will not be rejected by the human body. The program itself says this is decades away.

You know what - sometimes I honestly feel that I should have been born about 25 years later. That way I would have had access to the NxStage System One in India and may be even got a shot at some of these fancy new devices.

All these new devices may just be a little too late for me.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/well-you-cant-give-up-dialysis-just-yet.html

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 21:17

Feedback from patients - a double edged sword

Written by Kamal Shah
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At NephroPlus, one of my responsibilities is to get feedback from all patients once in two months. It is an interesting exercise. You get to talk to patients in a non-dialysis unit setting. At times, when I am introducing myself to them, I feel like I am a call center executive calling to sell a credit card or an insurance plan. The same lines over and over again to an irritated listener. Mostly though, they are all very good and complimenting!

They have never had this experience though. Someone from a dialysis unit calling and enquiring about whether the service has been good and if there are any complaints is very unusual. Some of them are so not used to it that as soon as I call they say I am coming tomorrow at 8 for my session without waiting for me to even ask my questions!

The patients in a dialysis unit are a small replica of the world. You have the Ph. D.s  and you have the uneducated. You have the extremely rich and the not so rich. You have cheerful folks and you have grumpy people. Each of them reacts to the questions in a different way.

There is one patient that I particularly dread calling. The patient is mostly grumpy. She talks only to one nurse in the dialysis unit. She doesn't even come on the phone. Its mostly her family. And they are equally grumpy. I usually save her call for the last. I try to avoid it too. But in the end, the empty cell next to her name in my Feedback Excel forces me to dial the number!

Most calls are usually very easy to do. "Excellent service", "No problems at all", "Staff is very good", "Nice of you to call"!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/feedback-from-patients-double-edged.html

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 10:13

Why do we kill our daughters?

Written by Kamal Shah
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The recent census states that India's child sex ratio (number of girls per 1000 boys in the age group of 0 to 6) has fallen to 914 from 927 in the 2001 census! This shows that all efforts by the government and various other organizations is simply not bearing fruit. Why are Indians still killing their daughters?

The answer lies in our basic thinking. Even in very educated families, women still don't have the same rights as men. Boys are given many liberties denied to girls. In my own family, I can see a number of examples where this discrimination is very evident. Adjust for the level of education and financial status and you will figure out why the girl child is often not even allowed to be born and if she succeeds, condemned to a life of being discriminated against or worse, tortured.

In this article on the Wall Street Journal, the writer asks, "Is it poverty, deep-rooted cultural conditioning or our ignorance about what it means to be a woman?" I strongly feel it is the 'deep-rooted cultural conditioning'. We are all brought up that way. Me, too!

Only now do I see the gross injustice meted out to women in India. Women are discriminated against at every level in Indian society. It is only the magnitude that differs. At higher levels, you will find 'not-so-serious' things like men always eating first at a family gathering. At lower levels you will find things like female foeticide.

There is a new initiative being started by an NGO called SIAAP. They are starting a program called "Reducing the Gender Divide by promoting acceptance and enhancing agency of the girl child in 13 districts of Tamil Nadu". The specific problems have been identified and objectives with measurable expected outputs have been set. It is not a generic 'benefits-all' kind of a program. It is being done in a very structured and systematic manner.

Please contact SIAAP at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for more details.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/05/why-do-we-kill-our-daughters.html

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Monday, 09 May 2011 03:30

Dialysis on the road again

Written by Greg Collette
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It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. I’ve been on the move, what with Easter and then Anzac Day and birthday celebrations in distant cities, I have had BigD in more remote units than I have had at my own.  That’s one of the pleasures of being a BigD club member: there are dialysis units and instant friends just about everywhere.

Julie and I were in Sydney for her work for the whole Easter/Anzac break, so I dialyzed for five days at Lindfield Diaverum unit. It’s an interesting unit, with beds in all but one station.  They originally planned to offer nocturnal dialysis, but failed some health department hospital test at the last-minute.  By then they had bought the beds, so there they are.  They are a little off-putting initially, especially if you want to sit up and do things.  However, most of the members of this BigD club are getting on in years, and I think they rather like the beds.  Also, I had a couple of early morning sessions, so I treated that time as an opportunity to stretch out and catch up on my ZZZs (very pleasant!).

As usual, I took my PC and did some bits and pieces: email, watched my latest video series: The Tudors.  Very good.  Gets you in right from the start.  Though there are no likable people, there are many to dislike and there is some pleasure watching a few heads roll.

Since we were there for Anzac day, we went to the Dawn Service in Martin Place in the city.  Nice early start that day: arrive at 0415, service begins at 0430.  There were a few thousand of us there, standing in the rain.  Very fitting.  The service was good, especially the Last Post, but Martin Place is quite small and cramped, and to me, lacked the camaraderie of the Melbourne dawn service.  The Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance is wonderful, and the grounds easily hold many thousands.

We also went to a double 60th birthday in Cairns, about 3,000km north, for Julie’s brother and sister-in-law.  I arranged to go to the Cairns Private Dialysis Unit, which is basically a four seat, one-person show.  Sandy is the Unit Manager.  She is very friendly and capable and it is a great place for holiday BigD.  They have Fresenius machines, blunt needles for buttonholing and supply you with two cups of tea and two rounds of sandwiches through the run. What more can you ask for?

There is also a public unit at Cairns Base Hospital, but I have never been able to get in there because it is too busy.

The birthday celebrations were a challenge.  So much good food and drink, so bad for me!  I arrived on a Friday, which in a non-dialysis day, dialyzed on the Saturday and flew home on the Sunday (my other non-BigD day).

With BigD and holidays it’s always a balance.  If you dialyse daily, you lose about 4 hours from the day, but you can eat what you like; on non-BigD days, all your time is your own, but you have to watch the fluids and the potassium/phosphate mix.

My sister-in-law has a big and well-earned reputation as a great cook, and the food just kept on coming.  My approach was to sample small bits of most things, including the wines.  That worked very well.  What with the dancing and the tropical heat, I went to bed with a fairly full and happy stomach, but not bloated and not worried about how I much fluid I would be carrying the next day.

We stayed right on the waterfront and had a great view of the giant catamarans leaving for the Great Barrier Reef islands in the morning full of energetic, happy tourists and returning in the evening still happy, but looking pretty tired.

I also met a fellow BigD friend who now lives in Cairns.  It is always good to catch with him over coffee, so we can exchange health hints and war stories. I have had aching joints lately that have stopped me jogging.  He has recommended fish oil or cod liver oil to get the joints moving again.  I will be trying out both over the next few weeks, and I will let you know how it goes.

One of my frustrations with specialists came up during this conversation.  Each specialist, including mine, has knowledge that is centimetres wide and kilometres deep.  Things are fine if your problem falls within this zone, but if not, don’t expect the same insight. The best approach is to either ask a friend who has the same problem, or find another specialist in that exact area.  The friend is usually cheaper.

I am writing this post on the plane on the way home and I’m looking forward to getting there.  That’s the thing about going away.  When you leave there is that delightful anticipation of the trip and the arrival, the new places and different life.  Then, when you are heading home it’s looking forward to getting home: settling back into your routine and sleeping in your own bed.  Bliss.

... http://bigdandme.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/dialysis-on-the-road-again/

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