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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Zahra's Paradise

The book was billed as "Zahra's Paradise - A Graphic Novel for Teens" on Amazon. I just thought that I love graphic novels but had never read one for teens, so I got the book.

It blew my mind!

The book should not have the 'teen' word attached. It will be then bought by a lot more people. It's a must read. Brilliantly written by Amir and illustrated by Khalil — but, remember, both names are nom-de-plume because of the fear of being caught by the Irani Government or its Snipers.

Zahra's Paradise is fiction as far as the tale itself is concerned. But all of it is based on true stories. Stories that we sometimes hear — but many do not reach us. Except the tale of Neda that went viral. More about that later on in this introduction.

While it was fiction-based-on-truth, it was compared to Art Spiegelman's Maus and Mariane Satrapi's Persepolis which were the start of personal stories in Graphic Novels. 

Two brilliant Graphic Novels that you must read!

The black and white artwork in Zahra's Paradise is remarkable. The story is something that we must not just know but be careful to see that our State doesn't head this way (… though there are some early signs). Protests here, so far, have been 'peaceful' if one is to compare them with this story. But there have been some deaths. That's how all this starts …

One of the scenes from Zahra's Paradise

Zahra's Paradise, the name, is a translation of Beheshté Zahra - a graveyard outside Tehran that is named after the Prophet's daughter, Bibi Fatemat-uz-Zahra. There is a popular belief that anyone buried in this cemetery will rise in Paradise on Doomsday.


Neda Agha-Soltan is touched briefly in the book. The video of her death went viral on 20 June 2009. She was unarmed and killed by a bullet on her chest. Paulo Coelho saw the video and put it on his website that had many more people viewing it. Why did he do that? Because his friend, Dr Arash Hejazi, seen in the video, was the publisher of Coelho's books in Iran. Dr Hejazi tried to help Neda and keep her alive, but failed.

Her death — as is usual — was blamed on foreign powers.  He was then accused of trying to help the 'killers' in a conspiracy theory that the Government launched. He escaped to Britain and has written his story in a book called The Gaze of the Gazelle.

"OK, I was bleeding. I was wounded. The bullet that pierced Neda's chest took her life away, but ripped my life apart. She stared into my eyes and died. She couldn't say anything. But it was as if she was telling me: 'Do something!' and I couldn't do anything. Those eyes are following me wherever I go. Those eyes keep my heart bleeding. I lied when I said that memories fade away. Some don't. A few years ago I saw the film Memento by Christopher Nolan. There, Guy Pearce has lost his short-term memory after a blow to his head, during an attack on himself and his wife, during which his wife is killed. The last thing he remembers is the look on her wife's face, while life is slipping away from her body. From then on, his brain cannot keep short-term memories, so time does not pass from the horrible moment. The memory doesn't fade away, so he can't heal.
I couldn't heal. The memory of those eyes did not leave me. They haunted me, asking me to 'do something'. I spoke up about her, thinking that she will leave me. I talked to BBC, The Times and other media, when I realised that the Iranian government was trying to conceal her death and then blame it on foreign service. But she still didn't leave me. I had to do something else, or else I would have bled to death myself. So I wrote, and when I wrote, I felt better, and the eyes became kinder, and the bleeding stopped whenever I resumed writing. She wanted me to tell her story, the story of the generation, she wanted me to tell how it came to that moment… I wrote, because I was in pain, and telling the story eased the pain."

Roya Boroumand, to add another important name, is a remarkable human rights activist and runs a website that you must visit if you are interested in seeing the breadth of her work. (Read Sa'id's full story about Kahrizak - A prison that eventually closed, we are now told). She is responsible for a lot of stuff that fills this book which ends with 13 pages of finely written names of people who were assassinated or killed in Iran. The men and women are in a 'silent city' called Omid (Ümmeed in Urdu). You can visit this site to see the Omid Memorial Project which gave the list of 16,901 names at the time the book was going into print.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ahaadees (or, if you are obsessed, Ahaadeeth) …

The Qur'an, or the part of it I read as a child, was in Arabic. Occasionally I was given an Urdu Translation under the Qur'anic verses. I even got one that had a Direct Translation in Urdu under it and a Meaningful Translation in Urdu under that.

I understood little, if any, of its meaning or what it desired of Muslims. The force was to read the Arabic and I paid very little time to the Urdu version. This is the way that most of us read it as children. It was much later, as a grown up, that I read it - fully - in my 'religious reading period', whilst I was at sea and had the time to think about all religions and their counterparts. I read several English and Urdu versions of the meanings of the Qur'an. These included Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia, Ahmadi. In English I read Pickthall (who converted from Catholicism to Islam in 1917) and Abdullah Yusuf Ali (a Dawoodi Bohra). The latter version is the one that is given by Saudi Arabia now to guests. I'd also many others by people who were not Muslims (e.g. Arberry).

You might want to know why did I have a 'religious reading period' at all. Part of it was my interest in Religion itself, as a subject, but a lot if it was my love of reading of Western or Eastern prose and poetry. Many of these contained references to historical figures based on numerous religions, a lot of them from the past and some from the more recent present. I had to understand these references to fully enjoy reading all the works that I did. Apart from religious works I also read Plutarch's Lives and other old books that spoke of the great men who followed these gods.

Having decided that the best way to read it would be, preferably, in a chronological order … so that I understood how the human mind evolved and how their ways of belief helped them do so … I started carrying several books to the ships with me.
(The sea was the best period of my life, I am sure, giving me time to read, listen to music, watch plays, meet people from all parts of the world, talk to people who would just have been part of my dreams were I not sailing to their ports. O' how I miss it!)
Except a few, almost all people I met remained into the Islamic Deen or other religions into which they were born, with families and environments playing the major role. However, I also found that many of these beliefs (and disbeliefs) turned people into Polytheists, non-Theists (like the Buddhists), Deists, Monotheists, and even Agnostics, Atheists, and anti-Theists.

Reading most religious books, as far as it was possible, in the order that they were sent to us by a God, or were written by humans (inspired by God), I finally reached Islamic Studies that included the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Hadees (often spelt as Hadith or Hadeeth).
Ziauddin Kirmani's wonderful book, The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message, has this to say: "… we should not confuse the word Sunnah – the way the Prophet would act in a particular situation or, in other words, his line of action – with what we call Hadeeth (Tradition), that is, a reported incident from the life of the Prophet."
Sunnah is what the Prophet of Islam did, like saying his prayers. For example, he prayed slightly differently at times and we have groups of Muslims who pray with their hands folded at the stomach, above the stomach, and some in between these extremes. There are some who in prayers, like him, recite a verse loudly, while others think, also from seeing him, that it should be said very softly. None of these makes them non-Muslims at all … but they are set apart as the followers of certain Taqleeds.

Hadees, written by people several years after the Prophet's passing away (we are told that the Prophet did not want them written down so that people don't consider it to be the equal of Qur'an) actually were stories about what he said (or supposedly did say), as narrated by one person to someone else to someone else to someone else …

The Hadees, to be considered True - in this game of Chinese (/Arabian) Whispers - had to come through people known to 'speak the Truth'. Rather difficult, actually, when you look at generations that had passed, but (strangely!) acceptable to the ones who spent their lives writing these hadeeses down.

We now have several books, like Bukhari, Muslim (Bukhari's student), and four others, from the Sunnis. This whole collection is called Kütüb Al-Sittah. Most Sunni Muslims who strictly follow the Ahaadees (although there are some Muslims who do not) believe that Sahih al-Bukhari is the most important book after the Qur'an.

Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq al-Kulayni al-Razi al-Baghdadi was from a noble family of Kulayn, near a city called Ray. He was buried in Baghdad near Bab al-Kufa in 981 C.E. His compilation of Ahaadees is known as Al-Kafi that all Shias read. It is a collection that is considered priceless by its own followers. A preface of the translation (Muhammad Sarwar, 1999) states that "Al-Kafi is not a book independent of the Holy Quran. This volume simply provides beautiful details of the above matters as they are mentioned in various passages and verses of the Holy Quran."

(I am rather surprised that, of late, many Shias, including a couple of close friends of mine, don't think that all of Al Kafi is necessarily true.)


Having been brought up to believe in the Qur'an and Sunnah, I also read a lot of Bukhari and Al-Kafi (and, very occasionally, Muslim) for purely historical interest … not counting them to be part of my belief system as something I 'must' follow. Now, with Internet, most of us who have access can read all these books online or download them (and hundreds of thousands do so). They read this and use it …  but without even still bothering to read the Qur'an and its meaning in their own languages.

Always sounds peculiar to me, this attitude! I can have discussions with people over something today and, very rarely, do I find the person quoting a verse for or against my thinking ... but, much more frequently, I am told that their view is supported by a Hadees. This even happens sometimes when that particular Hadees is almost against the Qur'anic teachings.


Sahih Bukhari, a collection of 2602 Hadeeses collected in 16 years by Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju‘fī al-Bukhārī (194 - 256 AH / 810 - 870 AD), is among the most popular websites that I visit often. I was astonished that the Preface said Hadees and Sunnah were the same thing. Many Muslims have a concept, now, that these two are the same. Pity!

Among the collection of Bukhari's 'Sahih Ahadees' are nine books and the first book has Menses as its Chapter Six. Surely there must be more important things that we must follow, but these important things have been dealt with in later books/chapters.
I used to always wonder how, after being told to behave morally, the Prophet's widows — women whom the Muslims consider their Mothers (Ümm-ül-Momineen) — spoke to several random people about the Prophet's attitude towards Menses. I guess things were more tolerant then. Specially in Arabia. In my growing up in the subcontinent - and until very recently - none of the men and women talked about this, ever. Most of them still don't.

Some ahaadees really seem fantastic. Take this, as an example:
"Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid: 'Umar Ibn al Khataab said "Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book, Quran, to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Ayah of the Rajam (the stoning of married person - male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this ayah and understood and memorized it." (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 82, Number 815)
The Sahih Bukhari Ahaadees states that certain verses of the Quran were taken away. Then it quotes their gist and also tell us when or why this happened. Isn't it odd that people would remember these verses after three generations? Specially after God had made us forget them!


A few of them are also about Hazrat Ali, or some other holy person, in which the Prophet is mentioned. Is this a Hadees? Here's one of them. What do you think?
"Abu al-Nu‘man Muhammad ibn al-Fadl related to us: Hammad ibn Zayd related to us from Ayyub from ‘‘Ikrimah who said: “Some Zanadiqah were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. This reached Ibn ‘Abbas and he said: I would not have burnt them because of the prohibition by the Messenger of God: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of God.’ I would have killed them in accordance with the word of the Messenger of God: ‘Whoever changed his religion kill him’.” (Bukhari Vol. 9 Book 84 No. 57)"
Incidentally this is one of the Ahaadees that's quoted when Muslims want to kill an Atheist … or even someone who has changed from Islam to become a member of those that are considered Ahlé Kitaab.


Allaama Kulaini's Al-Kafi ook 20 years to be compiled. Among it's numerous volumes it has stories of the pre-Creation, the Prophet, his Ahlé Baét, the Imaams, and other religious matters. Apart from the fact that many Sunni Muslims don't agree with Al-Kafi, the book also has the following tale (and many similar ones, actually) …

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Sa‘d ibn ‘Abdallah from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al- Thaqafi from Ali ibn Mu‘alla from his brother, Muhammad from Durust ibn abu Mansur from Ali ibn abu Hamza from abu Basir from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following. "When the Holy Prophet (s.a) was born he remained for days without milk. Abu Talib himself breast fed him and Allah sent milk through his nipples. It continued for several days until abu Talib found Halima al-Sa‘diya and the child was given to her"  — H , Ch. 111, h 27

One has to believe in the supersupernatural to understand that God works in Mysterious Ways and He did not think it would be wise to give the Prophet's mother some milk but Decided to alter a male into being a kind of heterosexual.


I must state, though, that it is not just Ahaadees that are filled with Zaeef and Unacceptable versions. This madness is also part of the history which is altered profusely when people teach their children about their past. Here's one example:
Allama ibn Jawzi writes: That when Adam (May Allah bless him and grant Him peace) was being created, the noor of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] was placed in Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace]’s forehead and Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] saw Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace], Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] asked “who is he?” Allah Ta’ala replied “He is the last Prophet and will be the chief of your children.”
(Al Wafa chapter on Birth of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] by Ibn Jawzi).

You can read more on this subject alone here.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Stone Age is over …

9th October 2014

So off I went to South City H

Put on my slippers

… and lay in bed …

thinking of the surgery.

Was I stressed?  No …

The operation was going to be performed by Dr Mumtaz Maher …

… who is a great surgeon and a lovely artist!

The Pacemaker chap turned up, checked me, and I was fine.

No, this is not Oyster Soup. It's my removed gallbladder!
(Thanks for the picture, Nuzhat.)

In Laproscopy they just cut holes in the tummy and remove it.

Here are my 9 stones.

Here's a close-up of the biggest one I had.

The hospital, which looks like a 5-Star Hotel, was clean. No strange smells. A food courtyard! Surgeon Dr Maher, Anaesthesiologist Dr Jakhrani, various RMOs, and the smart Registered Nurses were all polite.

As far as the Nurse Assistants were concerned - polite that they too were - I was taken aback, when I was feeling less groggy, that the three of them were standing around me and one was touching my left-bottom of the tummy. I had though the surgery was going to be on the right side, so I asked what thy were looking at. The oldest person said, "We are just looking for your Pacemaker. It must be small." I told him that the Pacemaker was large and was under my left shoulder. They uncovered me and saw it and I heard an "Uff" sound. Wish they had been trained to know where Pacemakers are fitted.

Just in case you don't know, this is what my Pacemaker looks like.


So I am now back and resting at home.

Not too much, actually.
Went out for a meal at Gellato Affair that evening.

The shoulder pain is a bit bad but will go away soon.
(That's because they tie your arms in an odd position.)

Billie was missing me but is now happy!

I hope this is the last surgery I will have had.


My previous surgeries have included all this:

A collarbone fractured and put into place in Karachi.
Had to be broken again by the doctor since it was bent.
It is now in an H-position.

A broken nose at Government College, Lahore,
because the opponent of Kamal Azfar
thought I should not support him
and hit me with a brick.

A Varicose Vein surgery in the UK.
Tons of them in my stomach area had to be removed.

A Prostate Gland Surgery at OMI in Karachi.

A Hernia Surgery at NMC in Karachi.

A Quadruple By-Pass at NMC in Karachi.

A Pacemaker fitted this August at NMC in Karachi.

If you need to know why I didn't do this surgery at NMC,
take a look here and here.

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

5th October 2011

The phone rang early one morning and I heard Ragni say,
"Have you heard about Steve?"

Steve Jobs was dead.

I have spent years with Steve Jobs & Apple. One of my first computers was the Apple II which I bought within days of it hitting the market. I had migrated to the Mac as soon as that marvel appeared … added every new model for years until I finally settled on the new iMac, possibly because of my age. The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the ATV are all over my den. Yes. I will be with Apple as long as it — or I — live. 

A major part of Steve's Presentations (popularly know as SteveNotes) was that almost each one was a gem, as was his "… And there's one more thing" ending. 

Can't remember all of them, but here are some of the many things Steve Gods-er-Sorry-Jobs offered after that sentence:

Apple's return to profitability at MacWorld Expo San Francisco 1998

iMac in colors at MacWorld San Francisco 1999

22-inch Apple Cinema Display at Seybold 1999

AirPort base station and card after iBook introduction at MacWorld Expo New York 1999

iMac DV, iMovie, and iMac DV special edition, October 1999

At MacWorld SF 2000, Aqua was introduced. Jobs announced that he would continue at Apple permanently, dropping the "i" (for "interim") from "iCEO"

Power Mac G4 Cube at MacWorld NY 2000

PowerBook G4 at MacWorld San Francisco 2001

17-inch iMac G4 at MacWorld New York 2002

Power Mac G5 at WWDC 2003

12-inch Aluminum PowerBook G4 at MacWorld 2003

iPod Mini at MacWorld 2004

iPod Shuffle at MacWorld 2005

Fifth-generation iPod with video, announced at a press conference entitled "One more thing..."

MacBook Pro at Macworld Expo 2006

Movie sales at the iTunes Store in September 2006; a second "One more thing..." in the same presentation unveiled iTV (renamed Apple TV at Macworld 2007)

Safari for Windows beta at WWDC 2007

Aluminum Unibody MacBook, October 2008

Video camera and speaker in fifth-generation iPod Nano at the Apple Music Event in September 2009

FaceTime video calling for the iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010

Second-generation Apple TV running on iOS at the September 2010 Apple Music Event
Revised MacBook Air at a press event, "Back to the Mac", in October 2010

Wasn't that ding awesome …

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How Little We Know …

OK family and friends. Here's another day.

My Gall Stones

My brother-in-law, Tariq Husain, is generally worried about everyone's health (except, perhaps, his own!) and at every person's slightest problems he will always jump in and try to help. I am grateful for his over-enthusiasm because it sometimes sticks. 

Of course, I get that help from him, too, often despite my protests. Now that I had refused my surgery at NMC after a near disaster, Tariq called from his Haj Trip and said I should look for a second opinion, possibly from Dr Saad Khalid Niaz. Although I believe that a 'friendly doctor' didn't think much of him, Nuzhat got an appointment for yesterday and off we went with all my papers.

Dr Niaz spoke to me and enquired why there had been no Ultrasound even on my first trip at NMC. He said it was a good hospital and he was surprised. Then I showed him the Ultrasound taken at Shamim's insistence and he said fine, you have gall stones and a surgery is necessary. No other treatment, he thought, would work. This is what Shamim had also said, earlier.

I showed him my other papers and explained the process that left me refusing surgery at NMC and all he did was laugh. He said the Anaesthetist was strange. Also there was no need for an Open Surgery and I should have a Laparoscopy, instead. He suggested an Anaesthetist, Dr Jakharani (whom he thought was one of the best here), phoned him up after I agreed, and got me an appointment in half an hour. So off we rushed to see him at another hospital.

Dr Jakharani - an oldish man - saw me, spent some time with me, advised me, and said that Laparoscopy was the right answer. No need to do an open surgery. He said Dr Zia Yaqoob, at NMC, was right in saying I could have it. But he thought I should speak to Dr Maher Mumtaz, the surgeon who'd perform the operation.
Dr Mumtaz was Dr Shamim's first preference, but because I had had 3 surgeries (Hernia, Quadruple Bypass, Pacemaker) at NMC — which is also only 5 minutes away from my house — he also suggested two Professors he knew there, and I chose them.
I now know that the senior of the Professors had been 'trained' by Dr Maher Mumtaz who pioneered Laparoscopy in Pakistan.

Just a few minutes wait and Dr Mumtaz came in. An even older man than Dr Jakharani, he was very good during his conversation. He checked me out. Saw the Ultrasound and said Laparoscopy is the only answer.

When I said I had a right to refuse the NMC surgery, he said:

  • You have had a Bypass – so your heart is working
  • You have a Pacemaker — which means it's keeping the rate right
  • Both things make you better than the average patient
  • The Anaesthetist would have had to give you the anaesthesia either way, so what was he worried about
  • Let's not talk about what happened at NMC. Let's just move on
  • Keep this stupid old report of Hepatitis B out. It might cause a mistake. Just keep the right ones in your folder
  • There is no need for an open surgery at all!!!
  • I should sleep over the right side of my body and not the left … as that could cause the stones to go near the entrance and block it or hurt me a lot.
Dr Jakharani & Dr Mumtaz, both, said they have treated octogenarians and yesterday they did a Laparoscopy on a Doctor who is retired and is 92 years old.

The answer, then, is that if I have to have Surgery, I'll have to go to Dr Mumtaz's assistant after Baqr Eed. Give him my ECG, X-Ray, Ultrasound and anything else he wants. Keep off Loprin for 5 days. And then we can do the operation. Shamim came back last night. I've discussed this with him. He says that's the right way to go since my Gall Bladder is no use now.
All of this seems good, except my faith in Doctors here has shaken. My father was a Doctor of the good old stock. If necessary, he asked for a second opinion or brought another doctor in on the case. He always had extremely good bedside manners. He loved his work! Today, Shamim is also like that. Of course, neither of them made money here!

Anyway, I have to live to 80 … as I promised Ragni this.

"The idea is to die young as late as possible."

Ashley Montague

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Monday, September 29, 2014


Some people are arguing about Medicaid in the USA.
Democrats and Republicans differ.
But that is too far away from us.

Here, however, is an example of what Medic[p]aid looks like.

On the 20th September, at around 3pm I started a rising pain in my stomach. It got worse and worse until 5pm when I was in tears and called Dr Shamim who gave me an injection. The pain remained for a while and stretched now to my back. Nuzhat arrived, too.

The pain abated … but very slightly. Shamim told me to go see a doctor. I was taken to NMC (DHA - Karachi) by Nuzhat and him. Injections and medicine and more injections followed and the pain disappeared in about half an hour. I went home.

We all thought I should get an Ultrasound Test done and on the 21st I went again. The results arrived the next morning.
The report concluded with this: Gall bladder is slightly thick walled and distended. Multiple calculi are seen. One of them measures 1.0 cm. Sludge is also seen. These findings could be secondary to acute cholecystitis. Clinical correlation would help.
I checked on the Internet for what Gallstones really were

… and the effect the surgery would have on my diet.

The sites I visited said after surgery I could not have Ice Cream, Cream, Butter, French Fries, Burgers, Steaks, Sweets, Cheese, … and, much much much worse, no Coffee or Espresso

Of course the site holders live in the Glorious West and didn't mention Bundu Khan's Kabaab, Paratha, Tikka … or the Burns Road Sheermaal & Kabaab. And heavenly Mangoes!!! Obviously, those were not allowed, too.

I decided that this was it. No surgery! You can't ask a man to go through the last year(s) of his life like that! Jehan Ara visited and said Rukhsana has had the surgery and eats everything. A friend's daughter said she eats her usual meal. I was still not convinced.

Rather surprised, I phoned Shamim. He said you can eat whatever you like. He knew a couple of Doctors (Professors Aziz and Asad) who specialise in this and sit together at NMC. He phoned them up and made an appointment for me.

Shamim, as is usual for me to ask him to come along, went with Nuzhat and me. Dr Asad was not there but Dr Aziz saw me and the report and said you should get an operation. He gave me a prescription for being admitted to the hospital whenever I wanted to. His paper said Cholelithiasis. That's from the Greek: chol- (bile) + lith- (stone) + iasis- (process).

I have had a Quadruple Bypass 4 years ago and a Pacemaker put in a few days ago … so I asked if it was ok to have the surgery. Dr Aziz said I should check with my Cardiologist. Shamim spoke to him and he said it's fine. I can do a Laparoscopy and there is no need to for Cholecystectomy.

My next - and a much more important - question: What could I EAT after surgery? (Ohhh, of course, you CAN'T talk about DRINKING here.) Dr Aziz said, "Everything." I listed all my favourites and he said that's ok. I can have all of those things and get my wife to make a nice Biryaani, too. (I am not a Biryaani fan, but it helped to know this.)

Apparently those diets on the Internet are for the West! Don't you think some Pakistani or Indian Doctors should write about our diets, too?

I took the prescription home and thought I'd go into the hospital on Friday so that I could be out by Sunday. Shamim phoned me and said it'll have to be an open surgery as Dr Aziz's Cardiologist said that it would be risky. "Fine", I said. I will be in hospital on Friday.

3:00 pm was the time that NMC gave us after we phoned. Nothing to eat/drink from 1.30 pm. Surgery scheduled for 8 pm.

Now the show starts.

3:01 pm I am in the hospital.
4:04 pm I am in a room.

Or is my dead father in the room?

A young RMO (Dr Zohra Ghanghro) arrives. She is an extremely pleasant girl and is almost the main feature in this story. People take my Temperature. Blood Pressure. Blood is taken for checking if I have Hepatitis.

It's 5 pm. The Assistant Anaesthetist arrives. He is followed by the Cardiologist. Both say they will inform the surgeon before he starts the operation at 6 pm. 

Nuzhat calls Dr Ghanghro. Says I have eaten at 1:30 pm. Why has the surgery been brought forward. Doc goes out and phones people and says it could be 7:30 pm. At least that's what she thinks. I said that the Anaesthetist has not seen me yet. Nor has my Surgeon. She says she was told that the Surgeon had seen me. "Not at all", I say. And she rushes out to phone them both.

It is now almost 6 pm and the Assistant Anaesthetist arrives again. He asks me to sign a form that allows the Surgeon to go ahead. He says its a 'High Risk' operation. We ask him what 'High Risk' means. He says, "You might not come out of Anesthesia. Your age. Your previous operations. Your Pacemaker. Your Bypass. All that make the risks very strong. If you don't come out, they'll have to put you into an ICU. Maybe 1 day. Maybe 3-4 days. If that doesn't work, then they'll put you on a Ventilator."

WTF! All the doctors here have seen my reports. Why didn't they tell me this before I decided to have the operation? I was not going to take this risk for a Gall Bladder surgery. I'd rather have the pain and come back for medication. So I got up. Called Dr Ghanghro. Told her I am not having Surgery. Phoned Shamim and he said, "One shouldn't take such risks on a Gall Bladder or Appendix operation. Don't have the surgery."
(Later Shamim told me that it is the Anaesthetist's job to make sure that he gives the right amount of the right Anaesthesia and make sure I come out of it. There was no reason to think of the last part at all … unless the Anaesthetist had no confidence.)
Shamim phoned Dr Asad who said the surgery is due at 8(!) and he will get there by that time. Shamim decided to come there at 7:30 pm. We told Dr Ghanghro at 8:05 pm that I wasn't having the surgery. We'll inform the doctor when he comes in.

We waited.
And waited.
And waited more.

Dr Ghanghro said she'd get the blood reports ready. It was way past 8:20 pm. Had there been a surgery, the reports should have come in earlier. Anyway, she came back and said that the Hepatitis B report was here. The Hepatitis C would take a while. Right! After the operation, I guess.

My Hepatitis B report showed that the Max Count is 1.00 (One) but my count was 146 (One Hundred and Forty Six). Damn. I had a Hepatitis B problem. [Later at home I checked (Thank you, Google!) and in the USA the treatment was almost over a year and could go unto $25000 per year.]

Ohh … and I am now the w/o rather than s/o!

At 9:40 pm I decided to have a biscuit and water. Starving for 8 hours was making me (and my Diabetes) feel really bad. Shamim said he cannot believe this report to be right. I should check it at AKUH Lab the next day. Meanwhile Dr Ghanghro came back with the report on which she had added by pen that I don't have Hepatitis C. She found this out by phone since the report wasn't still ready.

Isn't that wonderful! I hope the Hepatitis C Report is OK.

We were now told that Dr Asad was in hospital and was operating another patient … after which he'd call me in if I agreed to have the surgery. I had, of course, said no to two people by now. So I was ready to go home. But I couldn't. Dr Asad had to sign the form before I could be released.

Shamim phoned him up and spoke with him. Do Surgeons use the phone and speak to the caller during an Operation? I guess in Pakistan they do. He asked Dr Asad to please tell Dr Ghanghro to speak with the Desk and release me. That was done … and I was finally home.

The next day I got checked for Hepatitis B at AKUH Lab.

0.361! No Hepatitis B.


I wonder where our 99% illiterates go with false reports.
They take the wrong medicine.
They die, I guess.


Thank you Nuzhat and a zillion apologies for all the trouble I have always caused you. Thank you, Sabeen, for being constantly in touch from UK. Thank you Jehan, for all your wishes and constant calls and visits. Thanks Ruhi & Misha for a short but delightful visit from UK.

Thank you, Shamim, for always being there.
Let's have more coffee tonight … and every night.

And thank you, Dr Zohra Ghanghro for being so helpful, full of energy, and being a good RMO. This is no place if your Professors are so faulty and unreliableI am sure your mother will allow you to go abroad and study. C'mon. Press mom hard. Her UCLA background will make sure to let you go and become a great Doctor.


The above was written yesterday. But I have an addition to make. Nuzhat went to NMC to collect my report for Hepatitis C and was given it … as well as another copy of my Hepatitis B that they had given yesterday. Except that it now read 0.25 instead of 146! Wow!!!


Will write more about today … in the next day or so.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

"… And there's one more thing"

Sorry, this post is not about Steve Jobs. Or Apple.
It's about my Pacemaker, fitted on
August 25th, 2014.

In case you (or someone you know) is going to get one,
this is what happens in Karachi.

As you can see, my Pacemaker came from Meditronics,
a world-famous firm that makes great stuff.
Yes, it works. Don't worry.

But "… there's one more thing". Or maybe even more.

The Cardiologist I went to was Dr. Zia Yaqoob (ZY) who was also my Cardiologist during my Quadruple Bypass in 2009. He works at National Medical Centre, which is just a couple of minutes from my house. Very convenient.

(You can read this and this, if you've missed out the past!)

I was admitted and was to have my surgery performed in the afternoon. ZY said he had asked the Vendor to supply the Pacemaker and it would be here in a while. A little later I was taken to the surgery and was being prepared.

Outside, my wife had someone who approached her with a package that she had to accept and pay for. It was the Pacemaker and parts. Pay? I thought the doctor had told us what it would cost and since we were paying the hospital they should pay the Vendor and bill us. But no. In this case you bought it separately.

Fine, said my wife. But could you please take it to the surgery and make sure its the right thing. No, said the Vendor. "You pay. You take it in." My wife gave the person the money (he left right away) and she handed the Pacemaker to ZY&c. It was, thankfully, the right one … but its awful that the Vendor doesn't hand it over himself. The receiver may not know if its the right item or not.

I came out of the surgery an hour and a half later and stayed in the hospital overnight. The next day I was asked to leave and was told that the Vendor would give me an Implanted Device Identification Card in two days. I should carry it with me all the time. I gave Sabeen my Visiting Card to make sure she'd call the guy up and give him the correct spelling of my name. She did. And he said in two days you'll have the card. I thought I'd wait another three days … nothing works on time here.

On the 29th I called him up again. No answer. We continued doing this for several days. No response. Finally, on the 5th September, I went to see ZY for a check-up and also mentioned to him that the Card hadn't yet arrived. He called his assistant and told him to phone up and get the card delivered to the hospital.

On the 8th September we phoned up the guy and he responded. He said he had sent the card via TCS Delivery Service. "Where to?", asked my wife. "I don't know. Could be your house … or the Hospital!", said the Vendor. Wow. Isn't that just great.

Three days later we went back to ZY without a card. He said he'd "chase the chap right away". Nothing happened. On the 15th September I visited him again and the chap at the Reception handed me an open Card and said someone had just left it there a little while earlier. No TCS. No envelope.

I thanked ZY and said I'd had to cancel my trip to Lahore because I could not have flown without this card. He said to me, "The Vendor is a nasty piece of work. There was another Vendor who was better but this chap had him removed. We have no choice. I have told the other doctors about your bad experience."

Got home and decided to scan the card and keep a copy.
Here is what had arrived.

Apart from an overtyping of my name and the Serial Number
there was Hospita.

Khaér. I scanned it.
Then I'd thought I'd check the boxes give to us.
Most people just throw them away.
And, in any case, with an English Literacy rate of 1%
they can hardly read anything.

Fortunately, I did open the boxes up!

The Serial Number should have been
(Just a digit missing, right?)

Worse, the Lead Number should have been
(Absolutely wrong on my card.)

Tried phoning the Vendor. No Answer.

I called up my neighbour and friend Dr Shamim Ahmad, who phoned up ZY, and got the address of the firm. We spent a lot of time looking for an office "above Scholl's". The Scholl chap said the building had a top floor. There was nothing there. The door was locked.

After more searching we went back to a small tailor shop at the other end of the building. He said, "Oh, the ACP store? Come through my shop. It's above us." Actually one could have seen the door from outside, too, but there were no Signs or Names to look at. This is what it looked like.

 On the right you can see a man opening the door and going up

A trip to the stair case took me to this entrance.

That's the Tailor Shop on the left.

After ringing a small bell that had the company's name badly written, I walked up through the door that was just opened by the man I had seen earlier.

What a bell!!! The company name is on it. So easy to spot, no?

There were hordes of boxes on the stairs all the way up to the office, with a couple of people pulling them up and stacking them. The boxes were from Turkey.

Of the two gentleman the senior one asked me what it was. I told him. He said Mr Waheed does the typing and he is "at the Cardiovascular Hospital. Can you wait?" 

The other person said I should come up and sit down. He'll call Waheed on the phone. In I went. Saw even more boxes piled up everywhere.

I am sure the Turks think this is a great company.

I also asked the person that the office must keep a record of what had been given and to which patient. There must be a record in the office. Accounts? Delivery challaan? Huh? Huh? No response.

Waheed came on the line. Was told what had happened.
Not even a 'Sorry' from him.

The gentleman said to me that Waheed had written on the last card they had in the office and sent it on to me. There were no cards left in office. I said it shouldnt't take more than a couple of days to print them here … but was told that they have to be from Medtronics in the USA.

Given the card that I had, it was on a rather poorly printed version with Medtronics in Blue. Easily printed here, I am sure. Specially by their Distributor. I asked him why Medtronics didn't send as many cards (plus a couple more) than the machines they sent here. I mean that seems obvious, right? "It's Amrika", he said "and they can do what they like."

Sad that in a country, with little or no literacy rate, a Pacemaker can be fitted and the card (with the wrong numbers) sent out after 3 weeks … with so much more worrying, and visits to the Doctor, by the patient. What if the patient happens to be a chap from the interior of Sind (and one who cannot even read what's on the card). He may be travelling to the UAE for a job, for example, and have an invalid card. If something happens to him, the Medtronics team will not be able to trace these boxes back, if called.

Although ACP wanted a TCS Delivery Address I have left my phone number, instead, with them and asked them to phone me when the cards arrive. Will go and pick it up myself. And make sure its correctly filled in.

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