Tuesday, 29 September 2015

GEORGIAN RAGA - a book review

We, the alumni of King George’s Medical College in Lucknow, India are called ‘Georgians”. This is a book about us but written so well that it is a treat for everyone. It is in Hindi and so fails to have a wider reach, but someday someone will surely translate it. I do not know how many of you have read this book but if you have not, you must……and have your own personal copy. I am presenting to you a review of this book.

How can one document the history of an Institution that is 100 years old, and that may have different interpretations and connotations for different people! Obviously one looks for all that is common in them, all that identifies them, all that is a tradition. Raag Georgian is that history which has been transcripted directly from the hearts of the Georgians into the most interesting 318 pages that I have read in recent times. The glorious history of King George’s Medical College is like a fathomless ocean and this book has succeeded in bringing out just a few pearls and riches from its bed for all of us to see, marvel and wonder.

The agenda was simple, the author Mr. Rajive Saran would be introduced by Prof. Sandeep Kumar to a Georgian and then Rajive would ask him/her about his/her days in King George’s Medical College, the thrill of ragging, the tension of professional examinations, the competition for marks, recognition and success, the Gurus, the ward rounds, the clinical teachings, the mischief, the mantras, all in all the memories of the days gone by. Once armed with all these information the author would pen a chapter, and promptly seek appointment with another Georgian! While we all know how difficult it is to take time out of the busy schedule of a doctor, doing it with 32 doctors, and with interviews spilling into 2 or 3 sittings is simply mind boggling! Some Georgians like Prof. Abdul Halim, Prof. S.N. Pandiya, Prof. T.C. Goel and Prof. Anup Wahal turned out to be better story tellers than others but the effort put in by the author to curette out all the riches from the sulci and gyri of their cerebrum is truly astounding!

What comes out most brightly in these pages in the sheer pride the Georgians take in their Institution, their culture and their blue-blood line. An emphasis on inculcation of human values, absolute dedication and surrender to the wishes of the teachers, and the pride the teachers take in boasting the achievements of their students can be uniformly seen in all these pages. Every Georgian comes out as immaculately dressed individual, extremely efficient in work, a go-getter in attitude, a strict disciplinarian in the campus and an ardent and devout Indian at home. It comes as no surprise when we find Prof. Mansoor Hassan insisting that instead of being identified by certain caste, creed or religion, we should be identified as good human beings and to emphasize his point he quotes most eloquently both Jagatguru Shankaracharya and Jigar Moradabadi with effortless ease! It is heart rendering to listen to Prof Mehendi Hassan when he says that he himself is a living example of national integration of the highest kind as for his cardiac surgery, which was performed by his own student Dr. Naresh Trehan, B – negative blood was donated by all his students who were Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and from all corners of our great country! It also is not at all surprising when we hear from the erstwhile Mayor of Lucknow and an outstanding surgeon of our times Dr. S.C. Rai that every time he finds himself in a surgical minefield he quietly recites the Gayatri mantra and he believes that God guides him out trouble! Prof. Mehendi Hassan speaks for all Georgians when he says that when students tell him how indebted they are to him for guiding their destiny, he can only close his eyes in humility and think would he ever have received this reverence, love and respect had it not been for his Gurus. He is only passing on the family jewels to the next generation! Had all these stories not been documented, they would have, for a few generations, been told and re-told but would have eventually surely been lost into oblivion.

This book is a story of human relations, between the human being inside the white coat and the human being lying under the red kambal. It is a story from the heart of 32 Georgians and is aimed at the heart of all the other Georgians. It is a story of Guru-Shishya Parampara, and a legend of Doctor – Patient relationship. It is also an account of how from the high and mighty Principals and Heads of the Departments to the most modest O.T. technicians and Safai Karamcharis all contribute in their unique way in the making of a Georgian! Not only Prof. S.C. Misra and Prof. P.C. Dubey but also technician Chotey Lal and sweeper Amiray had something to teach, only if we were alert enough to listen!

The aura and reputation of the Institute has certainly taken a few shocks in the last few years, as the value systems in the society have changed to more materialistic ones, but one has to only to ask the 1, 50,000 students who appear ever year in the combined entrance examinations for admission, or more than 5, 00,000 patients who seek treatment every year, which is their first choice Institution, to know where we stand today. And needless to say, we stand tall today because we are standing on the shoulders of giants!

Very rightly Prof. S.N. Pandiya has cautioned that a Guru should have gurutwakarshan otherwise he has no business to expect reverence. By his acts and deeds he should be able to demand the devotion of his disciple. Again by reminding Prof. Dalela that there were three pairs of eyes always watching him, those of his patients, his juniors and his teachers, Prof. R.P. Sahi in his own inimitable way was trying to mould an exemplary Georgian specimen.

An interview with Mr. Raj Kumar Sngh, the grandson of Rai Bahadur Bihari Lal, the Contractor and Municipal Commissioner of Lucknow, who was responsible for constructing the fabulous Administrative Block, was indeed an eye-opener. The foundation stone was laid in 1905 and the classes started in 1911. It is the 4th oldest medical institute in India. A building can be made of brick and cement but an Institution surely cannot. It is the people who work in it who form the heart and soul of an Institute. While every Georgian feels that his/her time was the golden period of this Institute, but history would suggest that from 1950 to 1985 this Institute surely was at its pinnacle with its graduates and post-graduates heading all the medical institutions of India, the Army, the Railways and the Provincial Medical Services of most States in North India. The book also contains a pictorial record of the history of our great Institution and photographs of all the Principals, Georgians who are Padma Awardees, Eminent research awardees, B.C. Roy Awardees and Hewett medalists.

The Georgian culture cannot be insulated from the culture of Lucknow, and so the skill of playing with words, the eloquence and delicate maneuvering of the Hindi and Urdu language, the Nazakat, the Nafasat, the Tehzeeb and the Tameez are all in abundance in this book. The flavor of Lucknow, the smell of shaam-e-awadh, the kisse, the kahaniyan, all make this book immensely readable! By reproducing the thoughts of the Georgians word by word, in their own language and style, the authors have succeeded in recreating a true Georgian atmosphere and this undoubtedly is the hallmark of this book. So when you read ‘lallo garhi choot gai’ you are at once reminded of that winter morning when you literally ran from Pharmacology lecture theatre to NSB only to find that it was 1 minute past 9.00 AM and Prof. T.C. Goel had finished with the attendance!

The book is hard bound, is published by Bharat Book Centre, 17 Ashok Marg, Lucknow 226001 and is priced Rs. 400.00. The lokarpan of the book was done in a glittering ceremony on March 17, 2007, which was attended by the Vice Chancellors of both KGMU and KGDU, office bearers of Alumni Association and many alumni. Prof. Sandeep Kumar who conceptualized the idea and Mr. Rajive Saran, who gave the idea its present form and shape, have performed a unique jugalbandi of Raag Georgian, which will remain in our memories for a long long time.

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