The Qatar Vaccination Diaries!

Hola Folks!

Another bright and sunny day.

The summer seems to be on it’s way out.


I actually had ALMOST COLD water running in the tap today! Those in the middle-east will know what I am talking about.

Yesterday was Zoe’s Vaccination Day. And getting vaccinations in Qatar is always exciting. So much drama and action.

All good I say!

If you have not read about our previous Vaccination Adventure, then do so here– it’s fun I tell you….

We actually managed to get it done at our Health Center this time. Our time slot was between 4 PM and & 7 PM (You do receive an “appointment reminder” message on you phone). And when we reached the Vaccination Center at around 3:30 PM, the entrance at the Health Center looked a bit like this…



Okay. I admit that it didn’t look EXACTLY like this! Substitute the Apple logo to the PHCC one, and add about two dozen babies/ toddlers/ little- people, a dozen or so strollers/ prams and subtract a few adults. Yeah. That would be more like how it looked.

Most parents were just standing, chilling, hanging around arranged in a haphazard manner- waiting for the doors to be unlocked (See! it’s just like waiting outside an Apple store to get your hands on a new iPhone) but some had strategically blockaded the door with their bodies and strollers.

The doors opened at 4.

And before we realized what was happening, people were running. This time, I’m not exaggerating- there was actual RUNNING! With strollers doing crazy drifts, little arms and legs dangling from parents’ arms, tiny heads bobbing, diaper bags dangerously swinging…. we too picked up our pace. The excitement and fervor was contagious. I was excited just by the general ambiance and mood of the people there! Zoe looked puzzled though.

First place went to untucked shirt, messy hair SUPERDAD who carried two kids on his arms.

He ran like his life was at stake. Like his pants were on fire. Like a tiger was chasing him.

Bravo Dad!

There was some chaos and confusion, some surreptitious pushing and shoving, some inconspicuous cheating and clandestine marking and planning. Some parents with older babies seemed to be pros at getting ahead in line and working the system.

We observed the minutiae of their actions and behavior. We tried to memorize some of the “key” phrases and one-liners. It was an education.

The waiting period was very entertaining. Put a bunch of weary . hassled adults and hoards of crazy/ sleepy/ excitable/ irritated/ hungry/ wailing people between the ages of 8 weeks to 5 years in an enclosed space with corridors, chairs and slippery floors; and see what cacophony ensues. The time flies!

It took about three and a half hours- for the vaccinations to be administered. The little- one was pissed and hungry by the end of it. But we accomplished it- a month’s delay notwithstanding. We managed to get into the system.

Next time though, we shall we prepared. We shall compete in the Pro- Division, not waddle about in the loser, amateur category!

Till next time….

Dr J.


Traveling/ Vacationing with a newborn!

A mommy post on a Runday, you ask?

Just to break the pattern, I say!

Good morning, folks.

After being in hospital for almost 5 weeks, both Lil’ Z and I were in dire need of a break. We wanted to get away. Leave Qatar for a while. Rest and recuperate elsewhere.

So, once we got the go ahead from the doctor, we decided to go home for a bit. It so happened that from then on, till she turned four months old- we had 6 plane rides, several road trips, a couple of train journeys, two weddings and even a boat- stay!

Though initially hesitant and anxious, we soon learned that traveling/ holidaying with a newborn in tow can be great fun. I will not lie, it can be hard and inconvenient at times, but there is no need to sit cooped up at home just because “you have a baby”.

In the beginning, I looked up to the internet for advice and tips. I did find a lot of information- some relevant and helpful, others not so.

Most blogs/ videos showed the mamas packing an insane amount of stuff. Well, great if you do that. But Mr H likes to travel “light” and so I have learned to minimize the baby baggage and adjust and adapt to different situations and environments.

The one absolute “essential” while travelling with a newborn/ infant.


And I know, first hand that it is easier said than done. A wailing baby, in a crowded, public place/ plane/ train/ bus is never pleasant. But knowing, that such a situation will invariably arise (at least once!) and being prepared for it mentally- helps.

And, I kid you not, I feel like the little one can sense your fear and panic. And whats more, your panic seems to disturb them further. So, losing your cool never helps.

It’s a team sport…

Having your husband/ partner with you makes things much easier. Mr H and I always “tag- teamed” while travelling.

At five weeks postpartum, with no rest; I was not at my best physically. I was still very,  sore and my back was in bad shape. Long plane and care rides were uncomfortable- to say the least. But, Mr H cut me a lot of slack. All I had to do, was nurse.

So, yes- having your partner with you is a HUGE RELIEF. That said, I have also traveled alone-  we shall come to that a little later on.

A newborn isn’t so bad – in some ways…

I use the term newborn/ infant, but in this post I talk about a baby from age 4 weeks (or thereabouts) to about 5-6 months. After about 6 months, the needs and challenges of travelling with a baby are different, in my opinion. I have my next flight scheduled in ten days’ time, and I am sure that the little one will behave vastly different from how she did at 4 months! She now, is barely able to sit still for a minute. Spends every waking minute exploring, is curious as hell and cries at random strangers (not a all strangers though…wonder what pisses her off!). Let’s see how it goes…

As a newborn, all they need are their basic needs to be met- food, warmth, cleanliness and comforting. And being exclusively breast fed, I fortunately did not have to worry about cleaning/ washing bottles and carrying water/ formula. I am therefore not in a position to give an advice/ suggestions on that.

Navigating the airport

I love airports. Always have. I can sleep there, read, eat, spends endless hours wandering at the duty-free stores, observe weary- fellow travelers go about their business- it was all great fun.

Not so much fun now though!

I now don’t bother carrying books, music etc to kill time.

I don’t obsess about charging my iPod or iPad before leaving for the airport.

My little one keeps me engaged enough.

I try to go early and get through check-in and security with minimum fuss and locate the boarding gate early. I then find a changing/ feeding/ prayer room close to it and try and get a feed in- it will either calm her or put her to sleep. Either way I’m happy.

If Mr. H is with me, we then walk around or hit the duty-free. If I am alone, I find a good spot to sit, and settle in.

I usually take a bottle of pumped milk- for emergencies. What if she cries while I’m in queue?

But as she has gotten older, she started to get fussy about when/ where she will take a bottle. Sometimes she will completely reject the bottle. So, now I don’t bother.

I also keep pacifiers handy, though she isn’t a pacifier sort of baby. She may occasionally take one, but will usually spit it out in a couple of minutes.

When travelling alone, my diaper bag is my only carry- on luggage. I like to have the stroller with me, more to lug around the bag and to have a clean place to put her down for a second, if I need to. When travelling Mr H, we don’t bother- carrying her in our arms or a baby- carrier is easier.

In the GCC, they are usually very lenient about allowing water/ milk/ sanitizer or whatever other liquids/ medications that you would need for the baby.

Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai- I have never been asked to “taste” the milk at these airports (I have heard this happens at some airports) or give any explanation for the small amount of water that I carried in my diaper bag. They asked me take the bottles out at Bangalore airport though, but the minute that saw them – they told me to put it back inside!

As far as security checks go, we find it convenient if the baby is with me along with all the baby “things” (milk/water). I have not been asked to remove my baby carrier anywhere, but this may not be the case everywhere.

When aboard..

Airlines differ on their policies about infant boarding. Some will ask you to board first and some last. I prefer to board first and settle in before all the the other passengers arrive. Saves me from all the knee- brushing and squeezing.

These are the things that I always end up using when aboard-

1. Blankets- on some flights, it is almost freezing! I sometime wear a loose, open cardigan- and keep the little one close to my body! The younger they are the less they are able to adjust to extremes in external temperatures.

2. Diapers and disposable changing mats. I place the disposable mat under my “actual” changing mat that comes with my diaper bag. I’m a bit obsessive. Changing in the aricraft toilets are a real pain- so I change her diaper just before boarding. And if I have to change mid- air- well… I have to…que sera sera…

3. Pacifiers. Just to have them- never know when they might come handy.

5. Nursing cover. Absolute must have- for me.

7. Spare baby clothes/ socks/ mittens/ caps- I mostly dressed the little one in warm, sleep-suits during travel.

6. Chocolates, protein bars, snacks- for me. When alone, I find it difficult to eat the airline food, with the tray and cramped seats and all. So , if need be, I forego the food altogether and munch on these.

7. Toys. Carry the little one’s favorite toy- especially if they are older than three months.

8. Nasal Saline Drops- have had to use it once. Baby with a stuffy nose is one cranky being!

Nurse, woman nurse! Otherwise……

I have read a lot about nursing during take-off/ landing.

It is a absolute must or the little one’s ear will pop, a kind lady once told me. She sat next to me on one of the flights, and just as take-off was announced, she vigorously woke up her calm, sleeping baby and tried to forcibly nurse. The little one ended up crying for the next half- hour. If “ears- popping” was the worry, the mum need not have. By making her baby cry, she made sure the ears wouldn’t pop!

As a Maxillofacial Surgeon, I do know a little bit about palates and middle ears and Eustachian tubes 🙂 The weird feeling that we have in our ears when we ascend or descend, is our ears trying to equalize the pressure differences.

Opening and closing our mouths, or yawning/ swallowing  (hence the candy distribution just prior to take-off) open the Eustachian tube and allows air to travel more quickly to the middle ear and equalize the pressure faster. This is  a harmless adjustment that our body does.

If your baby is fast asleep, there is not need to wake her up and nurse her during take-off/ landing. Unless the baby has a previous condition that predisposes to discomfort due to middle- ear pressure changes or has an existing middle- ear infection- it is usually not that uncomfortable to the baby. In fact, if anything, it is at the point of highest descent (before landing) that it can get a wee bit uncomfortable.

There in no documented medical research/ literature that advocates nursing during take-off or landing. Moreover, if the baby is in pain or distress, she will most likely cry; and that very act will help with the pressure changes.

All said, nursing does comfort and soothe babies and the mother is more comforatable with a happy, calm baby- SO NURSE AWAY I SAY!

Going to the loo…

This turned out to be the biggest challenge when travelling alone. Best option – wear your baby. Or wait till you board, put the baby to sleep, ask a helpful co- passenger or flight attendant to watch over your baby and then do your business in record time.

Or, you could wear adult diapers 😉

Please pack light!

Keep your carry- on/ cabin luggage to a minimum. Keep your travel documents and passport and some cash in a belt- pack or small sling- purse for easy access. With clasps/ zips which can be tackled with one- hand. Somehow, once you have a baby, your single- handed dexterity improves dramatically.

Road trips.

Long car rides and road trips can sometimes be harder than plane rides. Your baby gets bored or cranky and you cannot walk around and calm her!

I survived most roads trips by nursing as often as I possibly could. It was easier when she was very young (less than 8 weeks), as she would sleep most of the time. Older babies, need more stimulation- so stock up on the toys and rattles!

If possible, take breaks, get her our of the seat and get some fresh air.

Train journey

My only grouse with train journeys are the hygiene issues. Otherwise, they are by far the most comfortable way to travel. I carried sheets of my own and loads of hand sanitizer.

Staying at hotels…

This was surprisingly easy for us. But I guess, staying in a hospital for as long as we did prepared us.

The main challenge here, is giving your baby a bath. Especially a floppy, un- coordinated newborn.

A robe- clad, Mr H and his extra large arms made for a very safe, comfortable baby- bath :-).

Traveling alone.

Is hard. No doubt. I don’t like to, but there times when I have to.

I have now learned to enjoy traveling with Lil Z, but only with Mr H around. I still detest traveling alone. It is just not fun!

But I have learned a few tricks to make my trips alone easier:

1. Pack light but smart. Don’t skip any “essentials” but keep your hand- luggage as light as possible.

2. Board/ travel at night- babies end up sleeping most of the time.

3. Use a baby- carrier. Life- saver.

4. Carry a separate, small, sling bag for IDs, passports, documents, cash and other essentials. They should be easy to grab.

5. Most important- Do not HESITATE to ask for HELP! I am particularly bad at this and the Mister berates me for it! I am very reluctant to ask for any sort of assistance. So, I’m yet to master this art.

6. I use the bassinet seats while traveling alone, but if MR H is traveling along, we prefer to sit together.

7. Board early and settle- in if possible.

Weddings and family shindigs!

Lil Z was barely two months old when she attended her first wedding. And if you have not been to an Indian wedding before, you have no ideas how NOISY and boisterous it can get.

And the downside of being a cute-little baby is- EVERYBODY WANTS TO CARRY YOU!

Poor Zoe was passed from hand to hand.

Also, we would have loads of relatives over. People coming to see the new entrant, congratulate the parents.

All bearing gifts.

All well- meaning.

All wanting to carry and coddle the baby!

But tiny babies are very sensitive to the external environments. Poor Zoe, from having only two people around her, she was now surrounded by dozens and sometimes hundreds!

All this did take a toll.

On her. And us.

Also, when on  holiday- your baby’s schedule goes haywire. You might also be in a new time- zone. Maybe a different climate. Your little one will most likely have a super time during the day.

Come darkness and she will unleash the full wrath of her crankiness upon her tired parents!

So be prepared some some fussiness and crying.


I’m sure, just like us adults; some babies are better travelers than others. But babies are far more accommodating and resilient than we give them credit for.

So, go on.

Take that holiday that you have been craving for.

You deserve it more than you think!

And take the little one along for the ride, I assure you it will be fun!

Just make sure you take care of yourself (as a parent) first.

Breastfeeding Mamas, remember you a re your baby’s source of nutrition and comfort. Eat well and stay hydrated.

And all the cool Papas out there, you are Super Man- the packer, luggage/ baby carrier, the fall-back guy, the guide, the cleaner, the money handler, the ticket guy, the driver, the bathtub (!), the diaper changing station, the vent- toy, the shoulder to cry on, the human baby-swing/ rocker, the masseuse, the nurse, purse- holder, the bouncer, the dress- zipper/ saree- wrap-er, the punching- bag, the whine- recorder, the white- noise maker – all rolled into one.  So, do not forget to pack some pain- killers and ear- buds!

Have wonderful trips, folks! And bring me the stories….

Papa and Lil One admiring the view from their “house-boat” window- at the back-waters, Allepy- Kerala.

Till next time…

Dr J.

Dr J. Who?

They ask. I tell.



Born In Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

Twenty something.

Pushing thirty? Naaah!

Pseudo Malayalee (Malayalam is spoken primarily in the Southern State of India)

True Bangalorean.

True Heritage- Kannur, Kerala. Possibly Arab- Portuguese- Dravidian with a dash of Aryan blood. Blah!

Languages- English (DUH?), Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Smattering of Telugu, Arabic.

Perennially in a rush.

Snob at first sight, accommodating on further inspection.

Powerful built- in sensor for “bull-shitters”.

Also installed- never-fail “Mallu- radar”!

Drawn to impulsive, creative, crazy folks.

Pretentious, wanna- be’s stay away please! Thank you very much!

Book hoarder.

Shoe crazy.

Food lover.

Prone to mood swings and unpredictable bouts of extreme sanity and out of control madness.

In love with a practical, sane, rooted, calm, calculating, nerdy science guy/ man, who can fix anything.

Never have to pay a handy- man or call a computer/ phone/ car/ ac mechanic!

Married to a pseudo- Tamilian who is more Malayalee!

Loves Sci- fi and fantasy tales.

JRRT. GRRM. JKR. If you know what they mean- you can be best friends!

Dreams of living in an airport.

Thinks Crocs are hideous.

Hates it when someone calls Harry Potter a children’s book.

Will never admit to reading Mills and Boon in 7th grade!

Thinks Kafka and Kahlil Gibran should have been man and wife and should have procreated to make another great writer.

Likes the smell of blood.

Placing continuous sutures is calming.

Has a hard to place accent. But a Bangalorean will catch it instantly.

When In UK, was asked “Are you Latina” often ? “Espanol” ?

Can laugh at oneself, but hates the weird nonsense that people in the West are fed in the name of “Indian accent”. Indians are not bobbleheads and we do not speak that way!

Tokyo, Pairs, New York, London, Casablanca, Rome, Istanbul, Barcelona and Beijing are cities to mark- off before death.

A day isn’t complete without some hot-chocolate and cookies!


Till next time….

Dr J.



The Ladies Lounge- Currently Crushing!

1. Have been on a “get-back-to-basics”, “simple- mysteries” trip lately. And am therefore re-acquainting myself with some “old” but “gold” sort of authors. No high- tech mumbo- jumbo, no terrorism sub- plots and no violent heroes. It all all about the leisurely investigations, colorful characters and intellectual and engaging protagonists.

No one does it better than Agatha Christie- Have been on a back-to back-to back Christie marathon…

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2. Have always loved these little beauties from BBW. More so for their redolence than their sanitizing properties. Currently in love with the  Midnight Pomegranate and Raspberry Lemonade…..

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3. Not one to wear bright, bold lip colours; this one was an impulsive, almost whimsical buy. It is yet to serve it’s purpose- but the other day I wore it at home while doing the dishes. Must day , I felt like a Diva even with unwashed hair and faded pajamas as my only accessories!

Ladies, do try this one- Relentlessly Red from MAC.

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4. Love these satiny, classy, not-so- expensive wedges. I usually despise wedges, but these I like! I get the extra- inches I want (they don’t look that high in the picture, they are much HIGHER in reality) without having to totter about in stilettos with baby in hand.

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5.  My Sweet- Tooth is a very fickle devil. He changes his mind ever so often. These are his current favs..

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6. Did not adore it when I first got this in January. It has grown on me since- a sweet, summery fragrance.

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7. This highly raved about hand cream is not life- changing or earth- shattering. It is nice. Moisturing. Fragrant. That is all.

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So, these are the things I’m currently crushing on. What about you guys/ ladies?


Till next Saturday….

Dr J.

Of price tags and “dis-counts”!

Tralalalala Tra La Lalala…

It’s a Hap Hap Happy Friday…

A Friday…


The H family are on the prowl again.

The mall is their jungle.

And discounts their prey.

J spots a fancy store.

“SALE” “SALE” “SALE” the displays proclaimed.

J nosedives into the store.

Lands at the make-up counters.

The throngs of heavily fragrant ladies drag her there.

Not her fault.

The crowded counters promise discounts and steals.



She swatches a few lipsticks.

Some Estee Lauder, some Chanel, some YSL.

“Madaam, dis veel look sooo goooood on you”

Aah yes no!

“Eeet iz on sale Madaaam”


“ONly 217 QAR Madaaaam.”


J is suddenly distracted.

She has to fiddle with her phone.

She takes Lil Z out of the stroller and adjusts her clothes.

HER mind is racing.

Her brain making conversions and reconversions.

At a rate that would put new- age processors to shame.

1 QAR is equal to almost 17 INR.

217 QAR therefore ALMOST 3700 INR.

1 USD IS 3.6 QAR.

So 217 QAR is equal to 60 USD.


The sales lady has moved on.

Trying to convince another lady.

Sale. Sale. Sale, She says.

J’s mind is whirring, moving at breakneck speed.

But the YSL lipstick is only 35 USD.

The last she checked, sale or no sale …

They were sold for 2100 INR at Bangalore.


The lady next to J falls for the “sale” pitch.

Buys three.

Poor J, being a typical expat.

Is stuck, at conversions and comparisons.

Even at full price, should have been shy of 130 QAR!

217 at sale price!!!


Is J missing something.

Some international trade/ sale/ economic secret/rule/ guidelines.

IS there some super secretive, exorbitant sales tax to be paid.

Aah! Must be the crazy rents and pricey manpower.


That is it.


J’s head stops spinning.

Comes to a rest.

This sale, is no sale.

Paying almost twice for an almost ready to expire product…ON SALE!!!

She nonchalantly walks off.

Thanks the uber-busy lady at the counter.

As she ponders about what could have been….

She wonders…So how much would they charge for the same in Manhattan…

With the crazy rents and the pricey manpower and all! 😉


Till our next trip to the mall…

Dr J.


P.S. A Chanel lipstick (35 USD in the States and 2100 INR – last I checked; in India.) cost 235 QAR. It slipped my mind to ask what a YSL lipstick costs at full price. Next time…


Missed me?

It is past midnight, and I am typing in the dark. My antiquated laptop has no keyboard back-light you see.

Of course , it is no excuse to replace Mr Pappy.

Also, some keys on him don’t work. This started a few days ago. So now I copy- paste certain letters! Aah! the fun of it!

I shall not give up on thee, Mr Pappy. You have been my friend, guide, confidante and entertainer for far too long.

Abandonment by friends, fights with parents, arguments with Mr H- you have stuck by me through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in rain and shine.

Sorry, I digress folks. Getting lost amidst a thought- thread and making roundabout conversation is an occasional vice. Apologies. This post is not meant to eulogise my faithful and trusty laptop. Not in the least…

I received four messages on Facebook from people I do not know personally and five “friends” pinged me on Whatsapp- all asking me the same question- WHY NO POST TODAY EH?

I am amazed to know, that there are at least nine people in this world, who actually “wait” for a post to be put up on this inconsequential blog.



Thank you!

I am honored and humbled. And this post is dedicated to all those lovely folks who dropped in to my virtual abode; my online- home- to check if there is something new.

Today was just one of those days. Where time and I seemed to be in a race. And time kicked my arse. With all the upcoming changes and moves, and some minor sniffles that seem to have befallen your’s truly- the blog lay forsaken.

Momentarily forsaken but not forgotten.

I shall not abandon my nine lovely readers who checked-in on me and the 111 who visited the site today. 🙂

I’d like to meander away again, before I leave- a song seems be enmeshed in my head at the moment. Especially the disco- instrumental bit of it. This is the one. Put it on and jump on the bed folks. It is strangely invigorating.

Till next time….

Dr J.

To the kind lady I met last evening…

I met a kind lady last evening.

I was at a supermarket shopping for the week’s groceries.

I was wearing Lil Z in the Ergo.

Zoe was calm and dozing off.

I was comfortable and happy to have my hand’s free.

This lady kept glancing in my direction.

She had a little baby of her own in a stroller. Probably around Zoe’s age.

Finally, after a dozen or so stolen glances she came up to me-

You should not carry your baby, you know.

I smiled and babbled something.

She smiled and walked away.

The rest of the evening I was irritated and grumpy.

Not at the lady.

I’m sure she meant well.

But at my myself, for not being able to give an immediate and suitable reply.

I am not sure what she meant exactly.

Wish I had asked her to elaborate.

I looked around for her.

Could not find her.

I wish I’d meet her again.

I have so much to say to her.

About baby-wearing safely.

About securing an infant in a stroller.

About not putting a pacifier on a black thread around the neck.

Next time I shall be prepared…


As a trainee surgeon, I was taught to always ask questions and ALWAYS cite references.

All through my post-graduation/ residency/ specialization days, we spent countless hours on PubMed and ScienceDirect looking for articles and studies for our various seminars, case- discussions, pedagogy exercises, viva voces, PBL sessions….

And working on our thesis/ dissertation, further drills in the habit of literature search and review.

So, when I was looking into baby-wearing and baby- carriers, I first went to PubMed- to check if there was any worthwhile research on the topic.

Then read countless blogs, visited “attachment- parenting” forums, spoke to baby- wearing mamas, spoke to my pediatrician colleagues and brother-in-law- even read dreadful news clippings on infant deaths in slings.

I was too scared to put my floppy newborn in any carrier (I first tried it when she was five months old).

Hell, I was scared even just to hold her. Not anymore.

And next time (i.e. next baby :-)), I may do things differently. I will save my neck, back, arms and my sanity!

I had heard of infant deaths in slings (almost all due to inadvertent suffocation) and claims of hip dysplasia (when “crotch- dangler” carriers are used). I had also heard some ludicrous claims that baby wearing “spoils” your infant.

The information- hog that I am, I compulsively researched baby wearing and carriers.

Long time ago.

Started when I was pregnant.

Now I am revisiting some of those sites/ sources. I hope to write about it in detail.

I am going to follow the methodology I used to prepare for my presentations/ seminars- read and analyse every article/ study that I can get hold of.

I for one, am convinced about the safety of what I am doing. As much as I can be.

Parenting is like that anyway. You do your best and hope that the little one turns out okay.

Parenting styles can never be judged or marked. We all do what works best for us.

I hope to put up this post up in a week or so.

For myself.

For my ‘peace of mind”.

To re- convince myself.

Also, for all the “kind ladies in supermarkets” and for all those parents who are considering baby- wearing but are doubtful and undecided.

Then again, this is a centuries’ old practice. Especially in the east.

The west seems to have caught on recently and have tried to make it all very hip and cool!

Like always!




20130617_KRA-DP-MN_Tribal protest3








Till next time….

Dr J.

Of alter egos and food battles…

Morning Y’all!

Our tale for today, commences a little over 48 hours ago.

Dr J announces that she will make masala dosa (rice and lentil pancake/ crepe) with sambhar, chammandi and potatoes for breakfast and that dinner would be special fare.-Thalassery Ghee Rice (Thalassery is a place in Kerala while ‘Ghee Rice” is rice cooked with clarified butter and spices/ condiments), charcoal smoked Mughlai Dal and chicken something (she was yet to make up her mind).

Now, we have get a few facts straight. Dr J is a well- meaning health/ fitness enthusiast who would like to eat healthy and in moderation. But the problem lies within her alter- egos. The Dairy Demon, the Bakery Monster and the Shawarma Fiend. All of them reside within her and are constantly leading her astray from the path of health and fitness.

Let us get back to our tale….



The alarm rings at 6 am. J bashes the darned thing against the night stand and swears silently. She had woken up atleast half a dozen times during the night. The last time was at 5 am, when Lil Z wanted a snack. The little one was fast asleep now. J decides that another 15 minutes or so will do no harm. Potatoes will be cooked in no time. Chutney may take ten minutes. And the sambhar was ready anyway. She dozes off again, even before she can finish the thought thread.

J is on a ship deck, a cool but damp sea breeze against her cheek. The water an azure, flowy carpet; all around her. Mr H, who is The Captain of the cruise ship strides toward her in his all- white attire and sailor’s hat. She gazes at him, lovingly. He draws closer, with his trademark lop-sided grin and crinkly eyes that are masked by his multi- coloured, reflective aviators. He looks a bit like Tom Cruise from Top Gun actually.

Suddenly, she is jarred. The ship seems to have collided into something. J is shaking. Mr H is calling out to her. Everything is hazy. She is not sure what happened….

J is being violently shaken. She opens her eyes. The dirty green- hazel eyes that she is so familiar with, stare at her with concern. The grin of mischief  has been replaced with a grimace of worry.

It’s 7:45 woman! I have a meeting at 8!! You must have switched the alarm off……

Breakfast for Mr H was almost- burnt, buttered toast and over- sweetened coffee.

J had a muffin, three slices of toast and milk. The Dairy Demon made absolutely sure that the toast has extra- butter and the milk was full fat.

The Health Nut within cringed and looked away.



Baby breakfast- check.

Baby oil massage- check.

Baby bath- check.

Rock, lull, sing, shush, jump baby to sleep- check.

Make the bed- check.

Do the dishes- check.

Mommy bath- check.

Talk to parents over Skype- check.

Check and apply for job positions- check.

Upload blog post- check.

Load laundry- check.

Fold previous day’s laundry- check.

Pick up toys from the floor and clean- check.

Baby lunch- check.

The morning chugs on…

Before J can blink, it is 2 pm and she is hungry. When J is hungry- she is impatient, irritable, short-tempered and if you ask Mr H- SHE IS STARK RAVING MAD!

J can’t wait for the rice to cook or be bothered with chopping vegetables or pottering around with pots and pans.

She opens her fridge and eye- balls it’s inhabitants. A Tupperware box full of leftover pasta from two night ago stares back at her. Arms pop out from the box and beckon her.

Aah! Her gut jumps in delight.

Health Nut is now truly pissed.

She heats up the pasta with Lil Z on the hip. The cheese in it has dried up and become stringy. Hmm….Not cool…

She goes back to the fridge and whips out a bag full of shredded mozzarella. She rips the bag open with her teeth (she only has one hand to spare you see) and tries to get some out on the pan.

It’s all stuck together. She shakes it vigourously.

Half the packet tumbles out.


The Dairy Demon stirs awake from his slumber. He looks into the pan, holds his breath…

It immediately melts and becomes a gooey mess. It looks divine. Oh well…

The Dairy Demon exhales a sigh of pleasure and anticipation. Aah! Such a beautiful day!



Mr H has a good day at work. He wants to surprise his crazy lady- love. He picks up some freshly- baked cheese croissants. He knows it will get J into a good mood.

J is ridden with guilt. After the extra- chessy lunch, the Dairy Demon convinces her to have a bar of white chocolate.

She is livid with herself. She decides to be a good girl for the rest of the day.

She tries to patch things up with an utterly dejected Health Nut.

The door bell rings. The little one floats toward the door in her walker. J follows her. As soon as she opens the door, J can smell it. There is no mistaking it-

It is the sweet smell of the BAKERY.

The Dairy Demon nudges the Bakery Monster. They snigger.

The Health Nut contemplates suicide.

J wavers. The butter, the cheese, the chocolate, the bread, the pasta, the milk, the bananas, the biscuits for tea, the glass of Pepsi to down the pasta….. and now this?

The brown bag is still warm. The croissant is soft, flaky. “it’s cheese…” Mr H call out from the bedroom. J fights.

She buckles.

She will run an extra half hour she counters.


And not eat dinner.


Maybe just an apple.


And no hot chocolate at bed- time.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Now just eat the darned thing you crazy woman!

They have tea and cheese croissants and watch a documentary on World War I. Simple pleasures!



J makes dinner. Mr H has to eat after- all.

She nibbles on her apple as she splutters some mustard seeds for the Dal.

Not the decadent, ghee plus butter Muglai Dal but the humble, poor man’s version. She decided it’s better if Mr H has some “healthy” food.

The Thalassery Ghee rice too is out of the window. Plain ol’ water cooked rice will do.

To make everything palatable, she cooks some spicy side- veggies and fries some Pappadam. Mr H loves his Pappadam.

Dinner is served. As Mr H spoons in some lovely yellow, fragrant dal over his pristine, white steaming rice, he says ” Why don’t you eat a little, it will do no harm.”.

J shakes her head and fiddles with the remote.

Mr H crunches some Pappadam over his rice. J walks out of the room.

She gets a plate from the kitchen. She serves herself some rice and silently eats. She avoids eye- contact with Mr H.

Just as she she takes her second helping of rice, Mr H asks,  Is this MUGHLAI DAL? And did you forget about the Thalassery Ghee rice….

It is healthy woman. There is no ghee, no butter…

J concentrates on her mango pickle. Mr H smiles.



Lil Z finally falls asleep. Mr H is well on his way to dreamland. J is wide awake.

She decides to read for a bit.

She tiptoes out of the room. And snuggles into the living room arm chair with a book.

Two pages in, she feels a void.

Something missing.

She thoughtlessly gets out of the chair and wanders into the kitchen.

She seems to be be on auto- pilot as she gets the milk carton out the fridge and heats up some milk.

She drops three tablespoons full of hot chocolate powder into the milk and mindlessly stirs hers drink. Breaks some pieces of chocolate into it for good measure. She likes the gooey bite.

She takes the steaming drink back to the living room.

Adjusts the back pillow, picks up the book.

And then takes a sip of the creamy, frothy goodness.

Aah yes.

The void is gone.

All seems complete.

The Diary Demon is content. It was a fantastic day.

The Bakery Monster is happy too. The croissant made his day.

The Health Nut’s tears have dried. He knows it was a bad day. But he has been through these days before. HE has seem them all. He has survived worse days.

Days when the Diary Demon pummeled him into submission.

Days when the Bakery Monster almost killed him with sugar- poisoning.

Days when Shawarma Fiend clogged up his arteries and plugged his gut.

He survived those days.

HE shall survive this too.

The key is to keep fighting.

To let THEM win somedays. J would go completely insane otherwise.

The fact that J is considered skinny and healthy is testimony to the battles he has won.

She would be morbidly obese otherwise!


Till next time…

All the food alter- egos of Dr J.

Activity tracker 101.

Let me first apologize for the misleading post- title. The “Activity Tracker 101” post is still in progress.  The fitness cum gadget nerd that I am, I am very curious about these nifty little contraptions. I am on the lookout for one that would suit my lifestyle and not hurt my my pocket.  The web search and review perusals are on. The next step is field hunting and assessment- for which I will hit the malls..

I will get back to you folks after my research is complete.

Let us see if they are worth the hype, shall we?

Till next tine…

Dr J.


What the hell does an OMFS do?

I am an OMFS. An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. In most places it means you have undertaken the worst and most tedious from of training that ever existed. You end up doing both medical school and dental school and then a five year residency! (Some then go on to do a fellowship- a few more years!!!) And after all that pain and torture, one goes into a murderous rage if someone thinks that all an OMFS does is remove teeth!

So what in hell’s name does an OMFS really do?

The answer to that is pretty complex, yet straightforward. The boundaries of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is ever expanding and is vastly different in different countries. Also, it is limited or broadened by the individual surgeon’s training, interests and level of experience and expertise. It ranges from simple intra- oral (within the mouth) procedures to complex day long head and neck surgeries. From a simple teeth extraction to tumor resection and micro- vascular flap reconstruction to cutting edge cosmetic/ aesthetic surgeries.

So, here is a peek into what an OMFS might (or might not) do. This is no where close to being an exhaustive list. It is just a sort of trailer…


1. We do what everyone thinks we do- pull out teeth that general dentists can’t manage to!



2.We remove blebs, cysts, moles, foreign objects, tumors- just about anything that you don’t want on your face or in your mouth.

Kidman, Nicole


3. We treat facial fractures- we are the true bone docs of the face and jaws!

Considering we drive like LSD laden maniacs…and end up in such situations…


You better keep one of us on speed dial, especially if you are the sort who gets punched in the face often…



4. You love to chew tobacco and smoke? Yeah buddy, you are one cool cat!



The hipness lasts until you look like this…

And then we get to patch you up like so-




5. Grandma! Do your dentures not fit properly? Do they pop out …?



You need an OMFS to scrape and tweak your mouth hun!

6. Your orthodontist will send you to us before he puts your braces on. Dont ask why…trust me you don’t want to know!



7. Some of us are so fortunate, that we are blessed with extra teeth. You can either keep them or come to us. Your choice.




8. Your kid one day decides he is superman and jumps off the table.

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Or your older kid decides to take on some “bigger” bullies…..


Hmm… I told you to keep one of us on speed dial.

9. Some of us are blessed with special angels…



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They are truly God’s miracles, but we can help them eat and speak well-

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10. You may be super hot, but you jaws may not be. Call us…


11. Oh yes, I almost forgot- THE WISDOM TOOTH REMOVAL. Our bread and butter. Where we dig, saw, hack, break into your jaw and extricate the darned thing out.


Aah… One could go on and on. But blowing one’s own trumpet (or the trumpet of a whole group) is frowned upon. Sadly! So, I shall stop. For now.


Till next time….

Dr J.