Tuesday, September 21, 2010


My H1N1 Log Part-1

It’s been close to 2 months now and I am trying to weigh the pros and cons of sharing  my experiences on a blog ,I finally thought I should and do so with little bit caution and greater responsibility. More importantly I could thank all those you stood by me, so here I go
(H1N1 influenza virus)

June 29-30

With the weather in Bangalore turning dull wet and cold as ever, seasonal variations meant the weather was ideal for air born infections and I was no expectation to catch a common cold. With a fixation of self medication that’s to typical I remember popping vicks and crocin. With sore throat I decided to stay back at home and take a much needed break from work. While I felt ok 2 days were enough for me to head back to office, with the thought that week end was couple of days away I went back feeling normal.

July 14-15

My common cold returned back and I rued myself to the fact of not going to doc and unnecessarily getting it back, I felt tiredness that’s commonly associated with cold. I dragged myself till 15th once I had a mild fever meant I took one more crocin to bring back things to normal which it did to a good extent

July 16-17 first signs

I woke on 16th morning with the worst cough I had in my life, neither was the flem coming out nor was syrup making any difference. By Saturday evening my mild fever returned, with a temple visit due on 18th morning got me worried to an extent that I finally ventured out to find a local poly clinic nearby. Before I could say anything to that doc he injected me with an antibiotic on my hips, along with few tabs to pop again. I must say I hate tab since childhood until one day my wife taught me how to swallow a tab lol J (that’s possibly the last smile on my write-up), not that I like now but saves me from looking like a kid when it comes to taking medicine. With all the medication I went back to sleep hoping that I would be normal for the next day.

July 18th not good

I woke up with no change to my health; heavy cough and a running temperature   I take a call to go ahead with temple visit. With sun beating over head coming as a surprise I could not take the heat with running fever and cough I broke from the line when I felt like fainting. A rather sorry episode for me personally that I could not take a dharshan. We headed back home, unable to bare the uneasiness I head back to a bigger hospital this time (Columbia Asia).We came back with a new course of medicines.

July 18th Night to remember

It all began in the evening when my body temperature finally started to behave like Sensex. What started like a common 101 degree started to climb by the hour, even a wet cloth on my fore head didn’t help and my temp went from 101 to 105.4 by midnight, my wife had to be awake all night. With temperature showing no signs I finally became more worried that anytime I had been; for once I stopped closing my eyes with a dreadful thought that I would not wake up again. With my wife in constant touch with the doc’s and medication it was finally decided and with my close friend Naveen coming to my place(this dear friend and Asrto guru of mine didn't even think twice to give me a shoulder and put me in his car) I was taken to Columbia Asia hospital around 3 or 4 am.

July 19th Mixed day

Having lost my sleep  the previous night I finally had a very good sleep in an emergency ward, not sure what  the doc’s did to me but when I woke up by afternoon I felt good at least  my temperature was down. I was discharged with a doc’s asking me to look out on temperature and a new set of medicines.

July 20-21 preparing for worse

The temperature and cough simply refused to go down on 20th and I was back to hospital on 21st morning and went straight to my favourite emergency ward, by now for few docs and nurses I was a familiar face now. One of them finally decided to refer me to an infection specialist, on close inspection of a chest x-ray I was found to have an earlier stage of pneumonia with infection in lower lungs that was one of the culprit in my severe throat infection and a cough.

Smart move by the doc

One of the most defining moment in my treatment and possibly a wise one to prevent a worse, on close consultation the doctors arrived at a view that I have a strong symptoms of H1N1 and the advice was to treat me as a disease carrier and start off the treatment immediately. With no immediate availability of bed in hospital I had to be sent home for few hours till I get one.

Friends will always be friends

With the news spreading to my colleges at works place, some of them came rushing to meet me at home, and I tried my best to ask them to stay as far as possible from me. My scare was that I could invariably end up spreading the disease and also a possibility of my office shutdown

Hari and Vijay simply refused to let me stay alone and took the biggest risk of their lives. Especially Vijay who was expecting his first child ran the most risk of taking H1N1 to his entire family. Both are thick skinned of sorts

I am not sure what I should call Hari as a friend, brother or a father figure he played all those roles very well, no wonder TeamLease loves him more than anyone else in the entire organization.
Both of them along with my wife finally took me to hospital around afternoon to have me admitted. After 35 long years of my life this was the first time ever that I was getting admitted in a hospital.

My H1N1 Log Part-2

July 21-24 putting up the fight

Unexpected challenges in life can sometime throw people off guard, that’s Gods way to make human beings humble as possible. I remember last year around same time when H1N1 was at its peak I felt media overhyped and felt it could never happen; here I was with a strong suspect on H1N1.
With morning jab tests samples sent to NIMHANS it was going to be a long wait of 3 to 4 days for results’ had to undergo this uncertain days ahead.

Till 21st evening my stay at hospital was annoying one, with none of the doc’s visiting me I was getting more impatient over the delays in start of my treatment. My late evening I had it enough and asked one of the specialists why there was a delay especially when I am suspected to carry H1N1.
Finally at about 9 PM a nurse came with a huge tray full of intervenes injections and few tabs. Though in a pretty bad shape I was relieved to see Tami flue (The only drug used to treat).

As I lay in the bed it was a long night for me ,the long age old debate of who has the mental strength between men and women was amply proved beyond doubt ,not that I didn’t  believe .Ever  since I fell ill the only person who  stood like a rock beside me was my wife it was close to 48 hrs that she had gone without sleep ,in spite of she herself having a severe cough she continued to run around the hospital and do all the possible things that even men would be put to shame.

With a decision taken not to inform my family and relatives to avoid panic meant very few people knew what was happening. My mother in law also joined us in hospital to take care of me. My wife uncle and aunt also help us in getting my favorite food cooked at their home. With no restriction on diet I was free to have a decent food, besides hospital food was getting bored so I opted for home food instead.

22nd July proved to be my toughest day for me ,with so many injections I reached a point where I had to literally beg people around me to stop my treatment ,the pain of intervenes medication was simply too unbearable. Worse my water intake was almost close to nil from a recommended 3 to 4 liters. Nothing tasted well even water looked and tasted like medicine.

23rd  to 24th July  were a clear signal for me that I was on road to recovery and my worry shifted primarily on my wife and mother in law. While I was in safe hands and undergoing treatment the rest were in all possibility infected with virus and worse they were not even on medication. For once I felt criminal of me to put my loved ones in danger; on the other hand they simply refused to leave me alone.

With temperature under control and ever improvement in vital parameters the decision was taken to discharge me in the evening. Just before leaving a nurse walked into our room and gave a pleasant surprise that my tests on H1N1 was negative. Happy news in a long time and as a precautionary measure I had to get my family vaccinated. We returned home relieved and happy. In more than 10 days I was completely cutoff from external worlds and was eager to call everyone and catch up with all.

A phone call that changed everything

It was about 8:30 when I had finished called every soul telling aloud that was tests were negative and all of them need not worry, my wife receives a call from hospital and a cross verification call asking my patient number, what began as a routine call turned into a crises of sorts when my wife was told that I had indeed tested positive and was required for me to go into a immediate home quarantine. Worse my wife was also infected and all of them required to be isolated with face mask on.

Even the house maid would be barred from coming into house. Two years back we were severely critized for building a 4 bedroom house when my mom stayed back in home town it was felt it was too big for just both of us. Well at least in this hour of crisis that was the best as doc’s instructed all of them stayed in separate rooms locked with face mask on.

I felt Iike I was jailed in my own home ,I had to stay ,eat, sleep in the same room till my tami flue treatment was over and with my wife and her mom starting the treatment it was going to be a long drawn out affair.

My panic didn’t stop here just ,I started calling all my friends who came in contact with me ,over the next few days at least 5 of my friends when through the mandatory tests and they too had to start the treatment with tami flue. Considering the gravity of the situation the measures was a wise move when one of my close friends also tested positive; luckily in time medication meant he was fully recovered possibly ahead of me.

With my home virtually quarantined once it was left for Hari to bring in the essentials form market and leave it at door step, must say he was too brave.

25th July to 3rd Aug slow and steady wait to recover

Right medication level headed and a calm approach to handle the situation was the need of the hour all of us at home understood this with equal maturity. Over the course of one week I used this break to research android OS it kept me going without having to think of my jail sentence.

Over the week end the doc’s finally gave us consent to break the home quarantine, was extremely thrilled felt like mad wanted to run around and even venture outside. The doc’s advice meant I was not supposed to go out.  

H1N1 Log Part-3

4th Aug   back to where I belong

It was time for me to go back to work ,strangely I was not sure for what reason but felt a whole lot nervous going to office it was as if a first day in a new school not sure what to expect. My drive to office in a car was like breeze floating in air of sorts not sure of the controls.

With sizable weight lost during the entire period of ill health, I felt very good about myself I had achieved such a good weight loss that even my exercise of 1 year could not achieve.

Walking up 2 stairs for my work place

I tried to test my lungs strength by choosing to walk 2 floors up ,by the time I reached my place I had run out of breath ,this was not a case of weakness but the side effects  of my lungs infection where my lungs are contracted a bit and once in a while they are starved of oxygen. Even my long calls during conference calls used to throw me off gear. Yoga is the only way out I am told and a recovery cycles are at least 3 to 4 months.

I was pleasantly surprised or rather embarrassed when my entire team came up to me and just stood without saying a word. It was so nice of them they said it all without having to say anything .i smiled back and ran to a meeting that was scheduled.

Ever since then it’s been a slow recovery, have become a cleanliness freak of sorts after this. My over all experience has been a humbling one. Tough in the end it didn’t prove life threatening      

The understanding in medical world on H1N1 is very conflicting and a divided one, while lot agree this to be a pandemic having a typical period of 2 years for viral to subside worldwide. The effectiveness of vaccines is also not guaranteed by the doctors. Most of the infected patients wouldn’t even know and it manifests as a common flue and comes out with full recovery.

I am told only in complicated cases will the virus strike be fatal, more importantly timely detection and treatment is key to bring virus infection under control.

In the end to sum it all, more than me not being well it was the love and care I got from my family and friends, staring with my wife Viji, mom in law,Akash-dad,Akash-mom,Akash, Naveen, Hari & Vijay thank you for being there through the thick and thin. You all made my recovery fast and not once you made me realize that i was in trouble

Signing off
H1N1 carrier

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Romance with Sun

With a great new year fun and celebration behind us the focus pretty much shifted to the great eclipse of 2010.Everything about this was unknown considering these facts:

• Last viewed in 1965, among India’s sizable population most of the generations may not even had seen or heard about a concept of annular eclipse.
• Predicted to be millennium’s longest eclipse, in short; once in 1000 years, how lucky our mankind is!
• You will see a ring of fire and not diamond ring, which you are typically taught in school.

Quite a few common interest groups, started putting up plans for what was billed as a biggest spectacle of our generation (at least for crazy amateur astronomers like us).We got head start form travel perspective when i had my close friend/Astro guru Naveen, offering to hitch a drive to Rameshwaram or Kanyakumari.

Naveen’s brand new innova

The only reason Naveen used his new Toyota Innova more prior to our journey, was to make sure his new car clocks at least first 1000Kms, so that he can get his car a first service and then hit the long highway to the tip of India. He pretty much succeeded in doing so and was told by service center that hitting top speed was no issue for his kind of Car . With a service done and a brand new car we were set for our date with sun.

Rameshwaram or Kanyakumari

Few members from BAS who had gone to rameshwaram to carry out some ground work sounded an alert that because of an impending visit of Governor and Maha Amavasya the whole town would be flooded with devotees and hence no accommodation was possible, besides our expensive equipments would probably be run over. The scare put off the Rameshwaram trip and altered our plan to target Kanyakumari.We took a last minute decision on 13th night that we will go to Kanyakumari.

Driving down to Madurai enroot Kanyakumari (450+KMS)

With Naveen assuring the other six(Me and my wife Viji,Sunil and his wife Punita, Astro Sunil and Kiran) of us that he would drive safely during night, even if everyone was asleep, we started our journey. We picked up the remaining friends at silk board and hit the highway at 11.00PM towards Madurai, with some of us sleeping on and off we continued our night journey at a decent phase. Naveen let me drive only the last 120 kms when he felt sleepy, its only after he gave me his car to drive, I told him i was driving Innova for the first time and also another important fact that, this was my first night drive on a highway. It pretty much scared all of the members in the car, but slowly as they gain confidence each one of them slept off again one by one. When Naveen fell off to sleep I broke the promise of 80kms speed limit and hit the pedal to 110 to 120kms per hour speed. It was personally fun for me and a very responsible drive considering 6 more lives were in my hand, also the beautiful night sky, I felt all alone that night, but enjoyed every moment. With quick drive we reached outskirts of Madurai at about 5.00 AM. I found a nearest petrol station we parked and put up some sleep before we could wake up an uncle in Madurai who was to host us.

We woke up the uncle and reached his house at 8:30AM, everyone freshened up and we discussed our plans to Kanyakumari, settled with a nice breakfast quickly followed by a lunch we were again set for a further 250 Kms drive to Kanyakumari.

Evening, Sunset, Night & UFO @ Kanyakumari

We reached Kanyakumari just in time to make sure that we don’t miss out the famous sunset .Having reached the famous sun set point we settled down on few rocks to unwind ourselves setting up our equipments ranging from telescope to camera.

Eclipse Hunters Group (Me, Astro Sunil, Kiran, Naveen (BAS VP), Sunil G R, Punita, Viji)

My first thought when I looked at the sea was an emotional one ,having travelled 750+kms here I was looking at a place where 3 seas meet ,a horizon that gives a sense of earth’s shape ,a tall Swami Vivekanda, and Mary. One place where you see nature, history and religion meet, it shows a unique cultural diversity of this wonderful nation called INDIA.

While Sunset put an everlasting impression on me, there were new things in store for us.

Sunset @ Kanyakumari

Just after sunset my next curiosity shifted to waiting for a night sky so that I can look out on stars and checkout on few constellations .Just in a middle of Blue and Red sky after sunset as I looked into sky, saw a bright white object having lost a geographical and analytical sense. I asked my friends if that was Venus or Jupiter. Blunt came the answer when Naveen said its neither Star nor Planet, in simple terms he said I don’t know at that time of the day neither was a planet or a star was supposed to be there at that place in the sky. We quickly pointed our telescope and cameras to check out what I was on close observation we ruled out Planet, Star, Satellite, experimental balloon and Space station.

An unidentified object had a black band and a conical shape and the bottom eventually after some time it changed its colour to red and finally disappeared into sky, the object remained mystery for all of us. We called it UFO simply because we could not account for it.
UFO @ Kanyakumari

Having gone through a strange unexplained phenomena I got my senses right and pointed my camera to the real Jupiter which was rising, I captured the moment with Sea and Mary in the background.

3 Seas, Mary & Jupiter

With time running out we had to head back to Nagercoil, one more Uncle and Aunty were to host us for a night stay , I stole few moments to shoot a clear night sky milky way which was clearly visible ,we saw Orion Nebula through our binoculars.

Night Sky @ Kanyakumari

At the risk of not sounding racist and with all due respect to my fellow Tamilians finding our night stay destination turned out to be one of the funniest experience. I had deep pain in my jaws simply because I laughed so much, I thought a little more, I would end up learning Tamil.

It so happened when we started asking for directions of a particular place, every soul we met, ended up saying “Nera po” I mean every soul said the same words, nera po, nera po. We went so much nera, that we took about an hour and half to reach the destination. Nera po became the most used word; even we started to advice the same to others. We realized later we were in a place where except Tamil no language was known. Tired we, reached our host place and hit the bed. Our next race was to get Kanyakumari back early morning before 5:30AM to catch the sun rise.

Early morning @ Kanyakumari

With everyone eager to see sunrise we got up early at 4.00 AM had a quick bath and headed to kanyakumari.The sight of devotees dipping in seas and heading to temple was one of the finest view I could sum up early morning before sun rise.

Just before Sunrise @ Kanyakumari

With the sun taking more than expected time we realized that nature denied us the exact time of sunrise still when cloud broke away we got the view of the sun that left us spell bound and speech less

Finally catching a glimpse of sunrise

With a sunrise behind us, we decided to unwind ourselves on the rocks, for a moment I forgot I was grown up and went back to childhood days pulling each other’s legs it was some great fun to remember

4 idiots a warmup before serious astrophotopraphy

Equipment calibration

Let the show begin-time for serious observation

It was time for us to have a quick breakfast and settle our equipments in time for observations, accordingly our group split into 2 groups one who wanted to reach Vivekananda rock and carry out observations, the other hold on to a solid and undisturbed place to setup telescope and cameras on a tripod.

9.45AM to 10:15AM

Naveen signals to run back to car, parked at sunset point to setup our equipment for some strange reason, we thought first touch on sun will happen at 10.15 AM, so we started our walk back from Kanyakumari Temple to avoid huge crowd we took the longest route possible, last few 100 meters Naveen literally starts running, me and my wife walked, still both of us reached the spot on time at around 10:15 AM

10:15AM to 11:14AM Equipment setup and Mylar filter

After realizing that we had about an hour to setup gears we sat down on the task to setup, 3 cameras and a telescope. We had to protect our lenses, Naveen who was carrying a Mylar filter sheet made a first move to cut them onto 4 pieces. Our effort to put filters on to our equipments showed us just how un prepared we were in a run up to the eclipse ,here we were having reached the tip of India and were above to witness an event of lifetime and in spite of all the technology enhancements we were exposed with total un preparedness. What we did over next one hour was innovation at its best, and a big thanks to my wife who showed a wonderful presence of mind to come up with innovative ideas to fix filter sheet to our cameras and telescope. What she essentially did was find a used ice cream cups, cut them and used one end to paste the filter and the other just plug to camera lens ,she used her lip gloss as a sticker initially and a car driver nearby finally gave a feviquick which finally sealed the filter. One by one all the cameras and telescopes finally had a protected eyes to them in form of filter.

The first test of my Mylar cap which my wife was holding on to my camera worked well

Mylar Filter Test
11:14 AM first contact

Our tired legs meant that we chose to relax a bit after getting our filters going; we gave a first contact a miss and aimed a little later to come with a shot which boosted my confidence to get going on the rest of the eclipse.

From this point onwards I let my camera and images do the talking,

Naveen warns and says to get ready and focus, we are almost close and failure is not an option at this stage. I freeze briefly at the moment and the gravity of the whole situation, my camera simply refuses to focus the sun rightly, my heart beat shoots up.

I let go a deep breath, a passing cloud a big one threatens to ruin a show ever further ,I close my eyes and pray to god and nature, to spare the sun for next few minutes ,as I closed my eyes I had my eyes fully moist ,I just hope I never miss this event.

As I opened my eyes the monster cloud passed by, I had few more seconds left to get my focus on my camera, once more, god seemed to have answered both of my wishes by clearing cloud and getting my camera focused. I was now on my own to shoot (my wife still holding Mylar filter on my camera lens in a hot sunlight).

Faint touch to ring of fire

Again from here on let my camera and its images do the talking

Next 10 minutes of nirvana

After this shot I was pretty much resigned to a fact that nice things in life do come to an end after all.I stopped taking further shots and started looking around on the ground.

I stopped by to take a snap to capture our own setup

Naveen came very close of burning his retina when accidently a heavy blow of wind blew the filter on the telescope to expose his eyes to magnified direct sunlight.

A curious family came visiting us and trying to learn what we were upto.

My tired legs gave away finally

                                                                             Naveen & Viji
My final thoughts

About 3 PM where things finally came to an end my mind pretty much recalled what I went through, I consider myself very lucky to have been born at this moment of my time ,I recall my facts

Kanyakumari’ s date with next annular eclipse will be 3048 I am not even sure if humanity would exist around that time, the totality lasted for a full 10min allowing an amateur like me to experiment and keep shooting with various settings on my camera ,those 10min gave me enough time to learn the art of annular photography, I was blessed, god gave me full 10min to learn from my mistakes and get it right, next time anyone wants 10min they need to wait at least 1000 years . Am I not lucky to be in right year within a span on 1000years?

I keep repeating all over again, I am privileged to look at eclipse from the southernmost tip of India and that too at a point where 3 seas meet.

I prepared to windup my equipments very well knowing I may not be around next time to witness an event of such a magnitude, would personally thank Naveen my friend and astro guru for pushing me to undertake this journey, My wife who not only accompanied me but stood there for a good 4 hours during the eclipse to hold my camera filter. Looks like she has developed an interest in astronomy.

What I also gained immensely was apart from my good friend Naveen, i found few more like minded friends in form of Sunil, Punita, Astro Sunil, and Kiran.

On our return we almost had a withdrawal syndrome of sorts when the entire group was missing each other, we now call ourselves “Eclipse Hunters Group”, and I personally hope to carry our close group to newer heights in amateur astronomy, we catch each other on chat.

Special thanks to Bharath my HR who taught me basics of photography.

BAS (Bangalore Astronomical Society) has in a sense giving a whole new meaning to my hobbies that I used to keep it for myself being explored out in the open with fellow mates.

Lastly thanks Byju who finally said me one day that I was better off to join BAS. I know you would always be there to keep my interests in science and astronomy in particular alive.

God I am sounding like I am giving a thanks giving acceptance speech at the award ceremony ……

Bye for now ……….