July 28, 2011

One of my Oldest patients

This post is part of a series of posts in a dual duel between me and Shruti of Better Butter. She suggested that I should write about this.

The Oldest patient I had was about 93 years of age, a frail old lady with great composure. She had a tooth hanging along which would not come out so easily and so I was requested to do the needful. Neither the case nor the patient was of any trouble. So I should talk about another 'oldie'.

This was during the student days and the Third year requires us to have some knowledge of General Medicine and General Surgery. Since they assume that dentists need not know those subjects as docs do, the training is rather mild. 

However, during exam time, we are supposed to examine patients at random and take a detailed case history and suggest treatment for the case. What the hospital staff does is have a few easier cases put up for us so that we could do well in the practicals.

One such patient was named John. He was a chronic asthmatic and was called to get admitted to the hospital during every practical exam. He was a heftily built fellow who appeared to be around 60 years of age, but claimed to be 85 years old. Hence on this post. 

This chap was admitted and treated for free and was given free meals (proper ones, sometimes even Biryani and the like) so that he could be cooperative during the exam. We had heard cases from our seniors that he even demanded a bottle to be cooperative.

Fortunately for me, I was assigned his bed to take up the case history. And he had the answers ready as if on rote for every question I posed to him. Only when I re-questioned him on his supposed age did he get flinchy. He even dared me to visit his home so that he could show me proof of his age. But when I completed him on his physique he mellowed down and became more cooperative.

And when I had finished, guess what he did.. yeah, like a true Indian, asked for Chai-paani !! Had I had an inkling those ten years back that I would be writing this, I would have given him some Chai Biskut!!

So Shru, Why do u conceal your four letter words behinds inanities like Fish, Flop, etc... and not use the real word when you actually mean it?

July 09, 2011

Rail Gyaan again!

Its been a long time since a railway related post on this page. So here it comes.

Last weekend saw myself, Vivek and Manish having a few hours at our disposal. And off we trudged together towards Tandur, on the Hyderabad-Wadi section on the Mumbai line. We took the 57517 Hyderabad-Tandur passenger and returned by the pairing train. We barely made it to the Begumpet station in time racing against the traffic but we need not have worried as the train was late and was made to hang on till an hour late running Konark had to go first. Anways we started just an hour and a half late, which made matters worse later as were were first halted at Vikarabad for the Nanded-Bangalore express to reverse and head away and then again at Godamgura for a double whammy overtake by the Hussain Sagar and SC-Rajkot expresses. The enchantingly beautiful weather added to the fun and we were playing hide n seek with the showers. The run was slow and had it not been for the good weather and great company, it would have been sad. We reached Tandur a good couple of hours delayed. However, the return was almost spectacular by comparison and we got back to BMT in the correctly designated time.

Vivek had a cam along and the following are snaps taken by him. I wanted to let out some rail-gyaan and so selected these snaps.

The Double Yellow: Attention

Indian Railway's predominant signalling these days follows the Multi-aspect Colour Lighting (MACL) and one of the frequent signal aspects you will see is the 'Double yellow'. This is a permissive aspect and signifies that the next signal would either be another Double Yellow or Yellow (Caution) or Red (Danger, also called On). The Loco Pilots are advised to be attentive towards the next signal and reduce speeds.

The Mickey

No. Walt Disney has not made his way into Indian Railways. These signals are nickenamed Mickeys by railfans as from a distant perspective, they appear like a Mickey Mouse silhoutte. These signals are either Red or Yellow with one or more arms lit green, signifying a change in the track, especially if the train would be moving to a platform line which is on a loop and not the mainline. The number of arms are equal to the number of loops in the station.

For larger stations where there are more than 4-5 platforms/loops, the arms are replaced by a digital LED display box which displays the track number (technically called Road Number).

The Milestone

The Milestone is a very important piece of information dispenser. Milestones are marked as per Zonal/Divisional jurisdictions and refer to the distance of the spot from the  designated interchange. For example, the above very interesting milestone marker is at Vikarabad Jn. This indicated a distance of 111kms from the Zonal interchange at Wadi Jn. The count reduces as we go towards Wadi on this section. Noting the milestone markers is a great way of finding how far you are from your destination and also helps in speed calculations.

The second part of the number is just a count within the kilometer. Generally, there are 16 stones in a kilometer. In electrified territories, similar markings are seen on the OHE catenary poles. However, in large station premises, electric traction poles have markings of pole number rather than the mile.

The Caboose

Everyone of us have witnessed the fight sequence in the goods train in Sholay. Or more recently, the climax in the movie Bunti aur Babli. These were shot in the guard's van attached at the tail of a goods train, technically called a Caboose. Commonly a 4 wheeled wagon with two small balconies, it is a very boring place to be in, especially if your alone, just like the guard of the train. These days the 4 wheeled jerker is being replaced by the 8 wheeled and more longer version, made out of old wagon chassis, and is more comfortable than ever before. It houses a simple seat/bed, brake levers and a small rack to keep stuff. A fan, if you are lucky. 

The above image is of an Oil carrying tanker rake. In tanker rakes, the tankers are never attached directly to the engine for safety purposes. An empty wagon or a flatbed wagon is attached. A few zones have now started attaching an 8-wheel caboose at either ends of the tanker rake which saves on shunting time.

Grand Finale

The last coach/wagon of each train consist has a red circular board with LV written in bold white. This indicates that it is the 'Last Vehicle' in the rake and acts as a safety feature. All trains, and even light locos on longer runs too bear this. 

The Timing Sheets

The Indian Railways publishes its Time table every year valid from July to June next year. And so it has this year too. In the days when there were 9 zones, there used to be one consolidated timetable of all mail/express trains of the country and zonal ones for each zone, which had all trains of the zone plus major ones of the nation. Now with 17 zones, we continue with the national one, the Trains at a Glance for the entire country, and there are 5 zonal TTs for the North, South, East West and Central regions. Costing about 25-35 bucks each, a zonal and a national TT is a must keep.

And yes, since its July, timings of a lot of trains gets altered slightly and this year is no different. So check out the TT for the exact departure time at your station, lest you are left seeing the LV plate of the train running away past the signal post !