Lemon and Life

When life gives you lemons

You are supposed to make lemonade. Now that’s a supposition.

Unfortunately everyone gets these lemons, asked or unasked for. It’s like they are in great demand in the Nature, I mean the metaphorical one.

Well, I too got, and keep getting. In my case it seems like there is a constant steady supply of lemons. I guess before I was created, Nature probably had an X-amount of lemons allocated, rather reserved, specifically for me. Well, that I guess can’t be undone. Too late. So all I got is to be creative in handling, or say, managing these lemon shots.

Ok then, what do I do when one is thrown/shot at me? They are generally not gracefully handed over. They just hit you. Bang and there you go.

Well, no point throwing back. It can hit someone else and that someone else’s response is not in my control. The person may choose to remain silent, or may opt to throw back the same lemon or orange or watermelon, no clue. The impact is directly proportional to the distance and the angle and the size of whatever the person selects to throw. I think that is not a pleasant scenario.

Next, I can choose to ignore, and then what? The lemon decays, from sour to bitter to forget-it situation. Again, not a pretty scenario. Sour is still better than bitter or the decayed version.

What more, make lemonade? Yeah, an interesting option—from plain sour to sour-n-sweet or sour-salt-n-sweet. The control of taste is up to you. And the control comes with learning. You may not get the right taste at the first time. You get to right my making a few mistakes (or may be many) and then never repeating those again. Combined with a lot patience and practice. Later, once you have mastered the skill, you can make the drink more interesting by adding other ingredients to suit your taste, mood or that of the people served (can be target audience if it is work related.)

Pie or Tart are some other options. But as of now, I am not into cooking (that much). Hence, lemonade and its variants suit me just fine.

As a kid I loved playing lemon and spoon. Interesting race it was. I use to win a lot then. Balance, vision and approach play a significant role if you want to win that race. Lemon can fall, spoon can slip, you may fall and get hurt, teeth may hurt (even break), tongue may feel odd, mouth may go numb and so on and so forth. Then I did not realize its significance in my future. I think Nature was training me in some sort. It was like, “Listen kid, you and lemon go a long way, so…get set go!” And I still play lemon and spoon mentally before deciding on finally making the lemonade. It helps in creative thinking or design thinking on why and how and what and where and who and when. I can now manage lemon and spoon and lemonade, all simultaneously.

Over the years, I have made Lemon my best friend. Good source of Vitamin C, enhances immunity and adds taste to my life!

So yeah, that’s the story of Me and Lemon.
Now, Me and Melon…I got to explore that section…someday in future I may write on Melon and Life!
No. Not played Melon and Spoon and I don’t plan to either.

Till then, take care. Enjoy lemonade. And Stay Safe.

BTW: In the image, it’s Lemon Tang. I told you. Design thinking!

LemonAndLife_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Jack Reacher: Reached!

20 June 2020: I will miss you Reacher!

Yeah, I completed reading all of the 24 Books on Jack Reacher, a very interesting, unfortunately a fictional character, created by the very talented Lee Child.

I started reading the series sometime in 2016, I think. It took me almost four years to collect and read all the Jack Reacher Books. Yes collect. Jack Reacher will have a very special place in my library. This collection will be my prized possession, forever.

From what I know, the next book in line, The Sentinel, is scheduled to release in October 2020. However, it will be the work of Lee Child along with his brother, Andrew Child. I am happy that Reacher is still alive, but I am not sure if I will continue reading the series post the 25th book release.

“There’s only one Jack Reacher. Accept no substitutes.” – Mick Herron
(The quote as mentioned on the cover page of the Lee Child book, Jack Reacher Series, Blue Moon)

And I totally agree. I seriously can’t accept a substitute.

The author section in Blue Moon reads: Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. I am glad that I was that ninth second, 24 times.

One has to read the book to feel the character. You don’t just feel, you actually see the character perform in front of your eyes, sometimes you feel standing next to him—that’s how each book is written.

Two movies, starring Tom Cruise, based on novels – One Shot and Never Go Back – were produced, and I loved both the films. Honest answer is watching a movie based on a novel is nothing like reading the book itself, but in this case, it was nothing less as well.

So yes, I will miss Reacher terribly. But I have the collection; maybe someday, I may reread the entire series, preferably in the order of the events in Reacher’s life, not  just random as I did the first time.

Those interested in reading can buy the books on Amazon or Flipkart. And the movies are on Amazon Prime and Netfilx.

Until next, Take Care, Stay Safe!

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

 

 

Lockdown Countdown: Medical Training

As a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP), for some specialties, it was mandatory to take training, test and get certified to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am an AYUSH Practitioner, Homoeopathic Medicine being my speciality. And as per Maharashtra Council of Homoeopathy (MCH), the test and to express the willingness to serve when the need arise (in Mumbai as per the notice) were a must.

A few more website links that were circulated in the medical groups and those that are official with correct information are as mentioned below. The training material is good. Healthcare professionals or those who would want to be a voluntary participant – COVID Warriors, it is essential to be trained before you serve the patients. This is important because Self-Care is a priority if you want to care for others. No point falling ill yourself. That way you are not helping yourself or people around you.

Training Topics include:

  • Basics in/for COVID Care
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donning and doffing methods (Personal Safety)
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Social Distancing
  • Sample Collection, Packaging and Transport (Diagnostics)
  • Guidelines for Isolation and Quarantine Facility
  • Infection Control
  • Nursing Care
  • Care during Pregnancy
  • Participation Details
  • Guidelines Issued

Links:

Other websites I use for information update include:

COVID_Numbers_WHO

PLEASE NOTE: In healthcare, a life depends on information. Hence, it is of paramount importance to refer only to an authentic source of information. So please ensure the information source is solely fact based authored by healthcare experts/specialists approved by a concerned official authority.

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

 

The Origin

Alpha and Omega.
Beginning and End.

Where do we come from?
Where are we going?

I remember buying the Dan Brown Novel, Origin from a bookshop at Mumbai International Airport in the year 2017. And since then it was a part of my collection, on a waiting list, as to when it will be read by me. The delay in reading was because of a mistake I made. After buying the book, I read Wikipedia plot and I kind of lost interest. Hence, the delay. Not a good idea. I suggest one shouldn’t do this, at least not for novels. Reading the plot summary before reading the actual book, ruins the excitement. For movies, at times, it helps. But I think one should resist this practice.

By now, I have read the entire Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown—Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, and now, Origin. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading each one of them, including Origin. I have also read Deception Point and Digital Fortress, but that was a long time back. Here, I may have to Wikipedia the plot for refreshing my memory.

I haven’t travelled much in my life so far, I mean beyond India and a few countries. Therefore, I make it a point to Google every destination mentioned in the Dan Brown books so that I understand the art, architecture and artist better. Origin took me through various cities of Spain. And now, after Google-Touring Italy, France, Turkey and Washington DC, I would also like to visit Spain (someday) to actually see, feel, breathe and admire the art and history embedded in the structure of these destinations—or rather those that form the very skeleton of these cities and countries.

Besides geographical locations mentioned in the book, I also Google-check the pronunciation of many names of the people and places referred to in the novels so as not to mispronounce. All I can say is I am learning.

I am sure many reviews may have been written on the book, Origin. I haven’t checked. But I know I am not that great a writer yet to attempt to review one of the best books ever written by one of my favourite authors, and one of the best author, the world has. Hence, I will just quote some of my favourites sections from the novel.

The book begins with a beautiful quote:

We must be willing to get rid of
the life we’ve planned, so as to
have the life that is waiting for us.

– Joseph Campbell

Any man can stay sober in a desert but only the loyal can sit in an oasis and refuse to part his lips.
(Navy Admiral Luis Avila)

These two mysteries lie at the heart of the human experience. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Human creation and human destiny. They are universal mysteries.
(Edmond Kirsch, the tech genius, computer scientist and futurist)

…when my passions flare, diplomacy is not my métier.
(Edmond Kirsch – I think the above statement is all creative peoples’ issue. I have experienced it myself and felt it among the creative/visionary people I have worked with. It is hindering and hampering and debilitating when what you see and experience and try to explain to others, no one wants to understand, and most times, not even listen to. It feels depressing when someone who can vision the future is ignored or dismissed by a crowd just concerned about the present or way too lost in the past.)

…religion had survived advances in science for millennia, and that it served an important purpose in society, and while religion might evolve, it would never die.
(Robert Langdon)

Scientist and spiritualists often use different vocabularies to describe the exact same mysteries of the universe. The conflicts are frequently over semantics, not substance.
(Robert Langdon)

Men plan, and God laughs.
(News Anchor)

Nothing is invented, for it’s written in nature first.
Originality consists of returning to the origin.
                                                              – Antoni Gaudi

Memento mori. Remember death. Even for those who wield great power, life is brief. There is only one way to triumph over death, and that is by making our lives masterpieces. We must seize every opportunity to show kindness and to love fully…Your conscience will be your guide. When life is dark, let your heart show you the way.
(The Monarch to the Prince)

Success is the ability to go
from one failure to another
with no loss of enthusiasm.
             – Winston Churchill

The price of greatness is responsibility.
(Winston Churchill)

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
(Winston Churchill)

Love is not a finite emotion.
We don’t have only so much to share.
Our hearts create love as we need it.
Love truly is not finite emotion. It can be generated spontaneously out of nothing.
(Ambra Vidal)

Love is a private thing. The world does not need to know every detail.
(Julian thinking of Ambra Vidal)

Love is from other realm. We cannot manufacture it on demand. Nor can we subdue it when it appears. Love is not our choice to make.
(Julian reminiscing his father’s words)

I don’t believe the same God who endowed us with sense, reason and intellect intended us to forgo their use?
(Father Bena: My favourite character in the novel.)

Edmond Kirsch’s Prayer for the Future:
May our philosophies keep pace with our technologies.
May our compassion keep pace with our powers.
And may love, not fear, be the engine of change.

Six Kingdoms of Life and the Seventh. Now to know the Seventh, one will have to read this fascinating book.

Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) rule/control humans? Like every scientific invention and discovery, there are numerous pros and cons attached to each invention, each discovery. However, it is our intention that makes each of this invention or discovery, a blessing or a curse. And I think as long as goodness exists, we, the mortal human beings, will thrive, survive, leaving some beautiful footprints, actual and digital, for the generations to come.

I think it was the right time to read Origin. Lockdown, introspection, hermit mode and to ponder on the Origin. Well, let’s end this post on a positive note with another quote from this thought provoking novel:

Abundance: The future is better than you think.

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Why is it…

Why is it that…

…we like what we see on the other side.

…we constantly compare ourselves to others.

…we want to be others.

…we want what is not ours.

…we love someone who doesn’t exist for us.

…we see greenery on the other side.

…we fail to notice the snakes hidden in that greenery.

…we see only roses and lilies in other people’s lives.

…we forget to be grateful for what we have.

…we blur our vision to all the beauty of the present, by contemplating the future or regretting the past.

Why is it that we are interested in and attracted to the visual that the other person’s window offers, real or virtual…why?

These were some intriguing questions entangling my mind instigated by a short film. I have no clue how the feed appeared on my YouTube Page, but I am glad it did.

And it was The Neighbors’ Window, a 2019 American short film, written and directed by Marshall Curry. His graduation address at Queen’s University (filmmaking and failure) is another video I liked, which is hyperlinked to his name.

The movie is just 20 minutes watch, and it was a totally worth it, twenty minutes for me.

The Neighbours' Window_AshuBlog_Panoramaa

For those interested in the movie, here’s the YouTube Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1vCrsZ80M4

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Lockdown Countdown: Entertainment

So here is how I kept myself engaged, rather than entertained, in the past few weeks.

Mind Your Language

It is an old series but the best comedy sitcom (British) I know of. Every character is unique, extremely natural and way too humorous. The series is based on beautifully scripted hilarious interactions between the English Teacher, Mr. Brown, his foreign students and the staff. I first remember watching this series as a kid on Qatar TV English Channel in the 1980’s I think (childhood memories). Then there used to be only two channels (English and National, i.e., Arabic). Cable TV wasn’t introduced. Mind Your Language used to be everyone’s favourite as it connected with all those who wanted to speak English but were not fluent in the language. English is a language that bonds people around the world, however, then in the 1980’s everyone did not master the English language as most of the Baby Boomer Gen and Gen X population were educated in their respective national/regional language, and hence weren’t fluent in English. This series connected with everyone then—those who desired to communicate in English and those who were faced with the challenge of understanding fractured English phrases.

Those interested can watch Mind Your Language on YouTube (Image Source as well): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC76TkmFXxGftVpM4CZ_6AuQ

Or on Facebook (Image Source as well): https://www.facebook.com/mindyourlanguageofficial/

Movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime  

Movies, now, that’s a huge list. I generally don’t watch series but one that ignited my interest was Absentia on Amazon Prime.

YouTube Channels

The Ellen Show: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheEllenShow

Jimmy Kimmel Live: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimmyKimmelLive

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: https://www.youtube.com/user/latenight

One World: Together at Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9BUA5PpfLU

iForIndia: https://www.facebook.com/donate/878714602647054/

And many other channels on Medicine, Interior Decoration, DIY Arts and Crafts, Fashion and Easy Cooking Recipes. Medicine related topics I will cover in another post.

Until next, Take Care!

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Lockdown Countdown: Webinars

Honest answer, I have stopped counting. It doesn’t make sense as everything is extremely uncertain. However, even at the time of uncertainty, I can certainly utilize the time effectively to make myself more productive. And there I am again on my learning spree through webinars arranged by the leading academic institutions, other talk series like the TEDxGateway Talks, some YouTube Videos (which include medicine, art and fashion – my areas of interest) and some enlightening Interviews.

Here’s a note on the Webinars that I found very interesting and informative through the different versions of the lockdown extensions.

TEDxGateway Webinar Series
(Image Source: TEDxGateway Promotional Emailers)

A. Morgan Housel (Partner, The Collaborative Fund) in conversation with Govindraj Ethiraj (Journalist & Entrepreneur)

Topic: The World Has Changed: Surviving a failing Economy

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeXEYGX3RZ0

Those interested in the effect of Covid on global economy and finance, well, you must watch this session. Bsides the points shared by Morgan Housel, I think the questions asked by the host and by the audience were also very interesting.

B. Dr. Zarir F Udwadia (Pulmonologist) in conversation with Faye D’Souza (Journalist) 

Topic: Lessons from a Doctor in the frontline

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtKnnapPPq0

On point session on what is happening during the corona virus pandemic (scientific and medical point of view) and how to go about managing health and healthcare amidst Covid.

C. Mr. Nir Eyal (Behavioral Design Expert & Author of Hooked and Indistractable) with Ralph Simon

Topic: Indistractable – How to control your attention

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXOhx6J3BQk

There was a lot to absorb in this highly interactive session. The parents concerned about how to tackle the distraction in their kids due to constant use of cell phones/hand held devices as well as all those addicted to Mobile Phones and Apps and Social Media—doesn’t matter what age group—should listen to what Eyal has to say. I plan to buy both the books written by him.

D. Vikas Khanna (Michelin Star Chef, Filmmaker and Humanitarian) in conversation with Vishal Gondal (CEO,GOQii)

Topic: Feeding a billion

It all started with a spam mail…and the rest of the story one must hear it from Vikas himself. God, you look good Vikas, and that attitude of gratitude rocks.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzkdNNE2hbo

By liking the TedxGateway Facebook Page, you can get the updates on the upcoming events. That’s how I follow.

Health and the Economy (Virtual Town Hall) By CII (Confederation of Indian Industry)
(Image Source: CII Registration Confirmation Emailer)

Health and the Economy_CII

This was one of the best sessions I have attended in the last two months. It had an expert speaker panel. The image above itself speaks volumes.

To watch, please visit: CII Virtual Town Hall on Health and the Economy held on Sunday, 10 May 2020 | YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jhlGjr7kAk

Takeaway points are well summarized in the Press Release. To read the Press Release, please visit: We Cannot Have Health Without the Economy and Economy Without the Health | https://www.cii.in/PressreleasesDetail.aspx?enc=OhjT5IlJLz2U9wKX0nOHBZ2vmFWfNWDL69Ewt0kthFI=

I came to know about the session through CII LinkedIn Page were it was promoted.

SPJIMR Webinars
(Image Source: TEDxGateway Promotional Emailers)

The Two Informative Webinars from SPJIMR were:

A. Topic: What Power Does To Our Brain?
SPJIMR, Apr 25, 202, 6 PM
Speaker: A Message from R. Gopalakrishnan – Executive in Residence at SPJIMR And Former Executive Director Tata Sons

B. Topic: Accounting and Finance World post Covid-19
SPJIMR Web Panel Discussion, Saturday, May 2nd, 5 PM
Speakers:

  • Hemant Manuj, Associate Professor & Head Finance Area,
  • Srivatsan Lakshminarayan, Professor, Accounting & Finance and
  • Mohan Natrajan, MD & India Head of Avista Advisory

Since I am an Alumna, I had received an email to attend the same.

Well, so far so much. There is more—interesting ebooks, books, and some more videos. I will try to mention that in the following posts.

Until then, Stay Safe!

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Order, Chaos, Order In Chaos

Yes, I mean Mumbai, my city, my circulatory system, and like human circulatory system, Mumbai is a city that never sleeps. I like the crowd and the chaos, and finding order in crowd and chaos. It is like an everyday task. But now that task is on a standstill mode. During the 21-Day Covid-Lockdown, I guess, not just the Mumbaikars, but the city itself, got the much-needed rest that was required. Not the crisis way though. But it is what it is.

In Mumbai, can you imagine…

Just trains at an empty Churchgate Station?
Deserted Dadar Station?
Queueless bus stops at Andheri Station?
Only Gateway, and no one around?
A Silent Juhu Beach?
Zero traffic roads?
No noise, silence all around, voice echoing?

Can you? No, you can’t. But due to Covid-19 Crisis, it is what it is.

These can’t-imagine calm-no-chaos scenarios are very well captured by the Scroll Team in a video on Mumbai during Lockdown. When you watch the video, it feels different, it doesn’t feel like Mumbai, but it is no doubt the very busy city in a temporary resting phase as of now.

Mumbai_Lockdown_Scroll.in_2020

Link: https://scroll.in/video/958198/lockdown-aerial-survey-of-mumbai-without-people-or-traffic-on-the-streets-shows-surreal-sights

As for me and lockdown…well, it is Me-Books-Facebook-Instagram-Google-CoronaVirusDiseaseNews-Netflix-AmazonPrime-Researching-Resting-Cleaning-OccasionalVideoCalls-MeAgain…I like the present Google-Doodle…here’s a glimpse…

I like the phrase, which is almost the theme for the last season of Sherlock – TV Series (on Netflix now): “Is it what it is.” When you can’t change it, better accept it. Such is the case now. 21 days or further extension? It is what it is, and it is for the best of the rest.

Sherlock_AshuBlogs_OrderInChaos

Well then, until next, #StaySafe.

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

‘Me’dical Writing, and the journey begins…

More than once, I have been asked to guide on a career as a Medical Writer and why I chose this field. It is difficult to address each and everyone’s query as some are on Messenger, some on Email, some on LinkedIn, etc etc etc. Therefore, I have decided to write a piece on the topic so that it is easy for me to reply all queries just via a link, and those concerned, get the answer.

Let me begin with my journey, which is incomplete without giving a background on how I decided to opt for Medical Writing. This one is going to be a long write up. Have patience.

Part-I: Me vs The Universe

It starts post HSC (High School – Science: Year 1999), I completed my graduation in Alternative Medicine—Bachelors in Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) from SCMPH Medical College, Vile Parle, Mumbai. It is one of the best Homoeopathic Medical Colleges in India and I think even in Asia. The plan was to do MBBS and try to be a surgeon; but the Universe had other plans for me, I guess.

In the year 1999, MH-CET, a common entrance test, was introduced. Prior to this, admissions to medical colleges were based on High School 12th Grades gross percentage for the subjects Physics-Chemistry-Biology (PCB), may be Math (M), English and Hindi/Marathi were considered for overall aggregate percentage. It was PCM was for engineering admissions.

Well, back to the year 1999, at home, I got the permission to study but in Mumbai City, my residence city. And hence based on my MH-CET rank and also that I took admission in the second round1, I landed up taking admission in a medical college at a distance of 30 minutes via road from my house. It was then one of the two (alternative) medical colleges in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai. Rest all medical colleges (Modern Medicine and/or Alternative Medicine) then were situated in South Mumbai, also famously known as the town side.

Post completing BHMS, I wanted to pursue a post graduation in Medical Science but not an MD in Homoeopathic Medicine. I wasn’t prepared to go into full-time clinical practice. In 2005, I enrolled for MSc in Clinical Research (ICRI-Mumbai affiliated to Cranfield University, UK). Why? Because it was a revision of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery & Medicine for me, and the course covered Pharmacology, something which is missing in BHMS syllabus, ideally should have been covered or else a student’s knowledge on Modern Medicine gets limited as it is left for self-study. Plus, MSc in Clinical Research gave me insight into the Clinical Research domain. Now, in the last term of this two-year program, I decided to be a Medical Writer as that suited me best rather than be a Clinical Research Coordinator or Clinical Research Associate or Data Expert or other career options which the course offered.

Despite being one of the best students, I could not get job though campus placement. My bad luck is pretty high in life.  I never get anything without struggle. You will find me and the Universe in a perpetual state of argument without coming to an understanding. What it offers, I don’t understand. What I want, I am never offered.

Nevertheless, I started looking for a job in the Newspaper and on Job Portals, and somehow the Universe was a little kind, and I landed up with a job of a Medical Writer in Mumbai. But there is a twist here. The job was not in a Pharmaceutical Company or Clinical Research Organization (CRO) as I had hoped, but in an Advertising Agency. My planning is another thing which the Universe never approves. No clue why.

Since I was a fresher with no published article with my name or byline, or any formal training in Mass Communication, there was no negotiation for the salary. What was offered I took and what was offered was significantly low (very very low that took care of my travelling via public transport and simple food expense. I stayed with and still stay at my parents’ home. Not out of choice, more so because of so-called societal norms, of which, I am not a big fan but my mom thinks otherwise, always did and will continue to do so, I guess) in comparison to my peers who got job through campus placement. Well, they were the lucky lot.

And that’s how I got my first job as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency, in the year 2007, after 8.5 years of post high school education with a salary that just did not justify the years spent in academics.

Part-II: Destiny? Choice? Both?

Now, what I did as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency? Answer is both Medical Writing and Copy Writing. So it was medicine combined with creativity to send the message to the target audience. Healthcare ad agency has Pharma Companies, Medical Device Companies, Hospitals, Diagnostic Centres, Nutritional Products, etc as clients. So I was ideating, writing and editing very scientific copy as well as creative lines/copy for product/service promotion. In short, I was Design Thinking right from my first job–a term that I came across only three years back during MBA sessions.

The work was either B2B – Business to Business or B2C – Business to Consumer communication creation. I had to write catering to both of Business Systems here. If the client brief was clear, then the copy gets approved very quickly. Unfortunately that was and is almost never the case. Therefore, be prepared to work on one brief for at least 3 to 5 times if you are a fresher. Your copy gets rejected till the client approves, which you are to ensure as each client is important business that brings money to your agency and hence your pay. Well, honest answer, each rejection tames your ego because your best idea is trashed and so is a bit of your ego. It was a good ego taming exercise. You have to work very closely with the Copy Writers, Copy Editors, Proofreaders, Creative/Graphics Team, Digital Team, Printers, Vendors, Client Servicing Team, Product Managers (if the agency has that department), and occasionally, ‘The Client’. Also, the working hours depends on the project deadline. If you want a sharp 9 am to 5 pm job and weekends free, then I doubt this is the right choice. There are times when the team works overnight and throughout the weekends to ensure the deliverable is on time, especially during Product Launches and other Events.

My creative side got a boost here. I was a good Medical Writer and not-so-bad Copy Writer! I got a decent appraisal post six months, which allowed me to eat once in a while in a good restaurant but again on splitting-bill basis. Paying the entire group bill was still a long way to go.

Next job was in a website company – a Healthcare Website as a Medical Content Developer. It was in 2008, and I got 100 percent raise. Not bad at the time of economic recession. But my previous pay itself was low, so this wasn’t great amount, but I was grateful. I could pay the entire food bill if I was in a group. The office was closer to my residence saving the travel time. Universe was a little kind this time.

What I did here? Well, I was leading the team, other writers were freelancers. Writing was solely B2C. The copy had to be website user friendly, means it was supposed to be scientific but written in easy understandable language without a reader getting tangled in medical jargons. It was good learning experience. I was introduced to Blog here as there was a Company Blog and posted on it. And hence, I decided to have my own blog. So yes, I am blogging for 11 years now! It was job low on stress, 10 am to 6 pm, alternate Saturdays off, nothing to complain.

I completed a short-course in Creative Writing from XIC, Mumbai and enrolled in MA English from SNDT Women’s University (Distance Education) to help me polish my writing skills.

Next 2010, I got job in Infomedia18, a part of Network18, as a Senior Features Writer for two B2B Magazines – Modern Medicare and Modern Pharmaceuticals. This was a breakthrough for me. Network18 is a big brand and that on my CV, I was happy. Pay was ok. Not great. Still traveling public transport, with may be once in a month cab drive from home to work place (Western Suburbs to South Mumbai). Otherwise it was either railway or BEST bus or both. Oh yes, now I could afford to buy branded garments and accessories. A few, not many. Earlier, I never entered these stores or mall. Window shopping is not me. I either shop or not.

I worked here for one year. I am glad I got to work as a correspondent, a journalist and a writer, all at once. But I think I wanted more than this. I enjoyed one year. I got to travel to three cities – Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. I loved interacting with team members from other cities and other organizations. Attending press conferences, events, field visits, interviewing experts, reviewing books/products—all was a new experience as I have to be attentive in each of the above mentioned events because I was expected to file post event article. It was a good break. However, I had to move on.

Next, year 2011, I joined the Corporate Communication Team of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH)—one of the leading hospitals of Mumbai. The same year, I decided to appear for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. It was my last chance to give the exam as there is an age limit. And I appeared with one month of preparation. I was sure I wouldn’t get selected. But I wanted to eliminate the ifs-buts in life. To live with an-if or a-but is difficult. So it is best to know a- yes or a-no so as to live at peace. Well, it was a No. But I had a job in one of the best hospital in the city. I was Thankful to the Universe.

Pay, not great2. I still did not have a formal degree in Mass Communication. Neither did I have a Business Administration qualification. And I was still in my second year MA English as I took one year break to appear for the UPSC exam. But, I couldn’t complain. The hospital is at a walking distance from my house. So it saved money on travelling, which I spent on buying more of branded clothes and accessories. Not a wise decision, I do realize that now. A penny saved is a penny earned. I am gaining that wisdom the hard way. But I was happy! 🙂

Working hours, same as any corporate organization—9 am sign in, but there is no fixed time for signing out. All hospitals work 6 days in a week and on Sundays it is mostly working again as all conferences are weekend events. I am grateful that I got to report to the decision makers and every reporting was a different experience in itself. I worked here for three years—three years of rigorous working and three -years of learning-learning-learning so much that the knowledge gained is something I will carry forward throughout my career.

What I did as a Corporate Communication professional? Well, here it was Corporate Communication + Branding. Basically, we were a team of four and we functioned as an In-House Advertising Agency + PR Agency + Media Buying Agency + Digital Team + Internal Communication Team. Yes, each in itself is a job description, we did it all and we made a very versatile team. For me, it was a job balancing between writing and coordinating, both internal and external communication. In sort, now, I was a Design Thinker and a Project Manager.

I completed my MA English and a Post Grad Diploma (PGD) in Project Management from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) while working at KDAH. The Senior Management and HR team were very cooperative when it came to pursuing further education. Universe blessed me here. The organization was becoming my comfort zone, and for some reason, comfort zone isn’t a great feeling.  I know it is strange but so is the case with me. And therefore, it was time to move.

Next job was a mere coincidence that happened in 2014. I was to join a healthcare advertising agency again, but I landed working with Wockhardt Hospitals Group for the launch of their flagship hospital in South Mumbai. Now, this was something I have never done before and wanted to see where I stood. It was my first job on paper that had dual reporting. I was reporting to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). I was a part of the Marketing Team responsible for the PR (Media Releases, Press Conference, etc.) and also responsible for an IT Project and Digital Content. A very unique experience. A chance to apply my project management skills to the fullest extent. A successful launch. It involved coordination with many agencies and vendors. A hospital launch project is something one should experience if you are a part of hospital sector.

Pay was ok2. My shopping continued. I traveled more often in cab (often, not always). Thinking back, overall, it was good. I was doing my Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC), Mumbai now and I got permission from my seniors and the HR team, which meant a lot considering that I was in the system for only six months.

Year 2015: Another coincidence. I was to join a foundation, but I took the other offer – Brand and Communication Lead at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai. Pay was ok 2. I added ecommerce to my buying list. Yes I know, my shopping list just keeps getting lengthier. Not a wise call.

Once again, the hospital is located close to my house that equals to less time spent travelling = less stress. Travelling in Mumbai can be very stressful if you reside at a distance from the work place. A job close to your residence is considered as a blessing.

Then, the hospital was in aggressive marketing mode as it was the after phase when the Operations & Management (O&M) was overtaken by the new management team. I was a part of the new team, not the trust employee. Here, I saw how to balance between the union and non-union employees. A very big learning lesson. Here, communication strategy may be the same as in other hospitals, but the tactic has to be different. Many emotions, many sentiments. All need to be balanced. But I had a wonderful experience working with all the professionals here, union or otherwise. Well, I had applied to various MBA programs and I got selected for PGPMX (equivalent to MBA) at the Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI). Once again, the Seniors and the HR were considerate and I was given permission to attend the college on weekends. But now balancing between academics and almost seven days working was challenging.3 If not at work, I was to be available on call, and college has some decorum to follow, plus assignment deadlines to meet. So I had to take a break from an extremely busy corporate life to a life of a Consultant, much relaxed. Another spin from the Universe as this wasn’t the actual plan.

Part-III: Medical & Marketing Consultation

From 2016 onwards: Presently, I am a Consultant to various Marketing, Communication, Branding, Advertising & Strategy Projects. Mostly healthcare, but I have also been part of projects from other sectors like NGOs, Education, Real Estate, Start-Ups, Fashion, Finance and there is ample to add to this list. I am working on it.

So yes, I started as a Medical Writer, then Digital Content Lead, worked as a Journalist, spent five years leading the Hospitals’ Branding & Communication Teams, and now, a Marketing Consultant. This journey equals to 12 years of working and educating, simultaneously. Not an easy journey, but not a very difficult one too.

In every new job, I got to utilize the training gained through an additional academic qualification that added more quality and value to my existing work experience and technical skills. I won’t call my professional life a total success yet, but I don’t think it is a failure either. An attitude of gratitude helps me sail through difficult phases. Universe, hope you are listening/reading, whatever!

Medical Writing in a Nutshell

I would like to describe Medical Writing as:

  1. B2B: Business to Business. Very scientific. Full of medical jargons as the audience is expected to be well-versed in the medical field. Research and Evidence Based statements. Relevant Citations to be given wherever required. Citations should follow standard norms. Care should be taken that proper referencing guidelines is followed or else the article is subject to plagiarism. Some examples would be a Chapter in a Medical Text Book, Research Papers and Published Magazine Articles with industry expert quotes.
  2. B2C: Business to Consumer. Easy language yet no deviation from the fact. Audience does not understand medical dictionary. This needs to be kept in mind while writing. You can make it creative, add statistical data, images, videos, etc. Facts have to be from relevant source (and mention the source). Copy pasting can lead to copyright issues. Hence, one should be very careful while creating content. Examples would be any healthcare website that gives basic information on disease and its management or any lifestyle or fashion magazine that has an article on healthcare and wellness.
  3. C2C: This is a type that has more to do with the advent of social media. Say for example, someone is asking a disease related question on a forum and the other person is answering to that query. Now, what is important is that the answer has to be evidence-based. One wrong reply and you never know who is reading, what age the person is, and if the answer is not medically and scientifically sound, then it can create massive problem to some life. Hence, it is best the questions are replied by experts – not necessary a doctor, the person should be a qualified expert in that field – say a PhD or other relevant medical qualification. It is always best to visit your treating doctor to get a prescription. Online medical content is just to create awareness, and its application is not accurate when it comes to making a diagnosis or in actual disease management. Clinical Examination by a doctor plays a crucial role while coming to a diagnosis. This is something one cannot do online. So please, all readers, visit your treating physician for the right diagnosis, treatment and follow-ups.

Now, the approach to writing will differ based on the communication medium– Print or Digital, Paid, Owned or Earned Media, etc. I will describe that in detail may be in another post. Also, while creating content, try to focus on the 6 W’s – Why, Where, When, Who, What and How. It simplifies the content and makes it more reader friendly.

And when I say ‘Content’, I do not mean only writing pieces. It can be Research Paper, Ad copy, Ad campaign, Audio Visual, AV Script, Ad Script, Movie Script, Movie, Film, Video, Image, Animated Images, Website, Social Media, Blog, Vlog…anything and everything that sends a message to the readers/audience.

Those who are interested in my work, the following are links to some of the magazine issues that has articles published under my byline. All articles, by all authors, in every issue are worth reading irrespective of the year it was published. Highly insightful and applicable even in the current setting.

Magazine Links:

AshuBlogs_Panorama_MedicalWriting


https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_january_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_february_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_march_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_may_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_april_2011

Thank you for your patience. Hope this helped.

Note:

1 In 1999 when MH-CET was introduced, there were three rounds for admission then and all the candidates, who has cleared the entrance, had to travel to Nashik as the MUHS University was then shifted from Mumbai to Nashik—a city at a 3  to 4 hours road way distance from Mumbai. If I would have waited for third round then I would have wasted 6 months, which means next batch, but probably would have got admission in Mumbai or Navi Mumbai in MBBS or BDS as many of my batchmates with lower ranks got. However, it was the first time for admissions through an entrance test and people were confused, with no one guide. The Internet then was slow and there were no smart phones. Also, the decision was influenced by the fact that my family had just shifted to Mumbai in 1996 after my father’s sudden death and we were still grieving. Until June 1996, I was a student, a proud student, of MES Indian School, CBSE, Doha-Qatar. Post this, all my education, which is very extensive, is from academic institutions situated in Mumbai, India.

2 Pay in the Indian Hospital Sector is low in comparison to other sectors. It is pretty much similar to the NGO or Foundation pay. Slightly higher may be. But not a wow salary. However, be it economic high or low phase, hospitals are always functioning. So yes job security is high. Plus an employee may get some Health Check Discounts.

3 All academic programs which I completed while I was working were either Distance Education or Part-Time Weekend Programs. A Hospital Functions 24/7-365 days. So balancing work and academics is not easy.

– Ashu Bolar
Email: ashubolar@gmail.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/drasmayousuf

TedxGateway 2020

Another Sunday well spent!

Yes, TedxGateway 2020, held at NSCI Dome Worli, Mumbai on 23rd February 2020, had some wonderful speakers who gave insight into topics that are the need of the hour like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its Application in Healthcare/Medicine, AI-The Unprecedented Change, Plants and Implants, Climate Crisis and Some Suggestions & Some Solutions, Emergency Medical Services – Life Saving Flash Mob via Voluntary Para Medic, Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis & Prognosis, Voice as a biomarker in some diseases like Pulmonary Disorders, Botanical Artist-Plant Blindness-The Hidden Kingdom, Cultivated Meat in the Food Industry, The Invisible Journalism & the Untold Stories.

What is important after attending an event is what remains with you, and some things that remained with me…

“Making Passion into Profession. Being one’s own boss – can be a gift or a curse (depends on how we manage it.)” – Tom Thum

“Rural Journalism – the untold stories…let’s not lose them amidst the noise created by the sponsored news.” – Gangadhar Patil

“In nature, organisms are self-assembled (not screwed or glued. On Orthopedic Implants that can be made from human collagen injected into tobacco plants instead of animal cadaver collagen or other sources.) If you want a new idea, open an old book.” – Oded Shoseyov

“In words of Albert Einsten…I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very very curious. (on Pancreatic Cancr detection using AI).” – Rishab Jain

“From managing illness to managing wellness…Scientist, Doctors and Engineers when work together can result in a bigger happier and healthier life (on AI in healthcare/medicine)” – Dr. Lily Peng @GoogleHealth

“If you can change yourself, then you can change your family, if you can change your family then you can change the neighborhood, if you can change the neighborhood then you can change the community, if you can change the community then you can change the country and if you can change the country then you can change the whole world.” – Licypriya Kangujam – the youngest 8-year old speaker who received a standing ovation

“Tumhe maloom nahi tum kaun ho, tumhe maloom nahi tum kaun ho…tum kaiyed nahi jo ijazat lo. Jindabad.”Mohammad Muneem, a poet singer-songwriter and co-founder of the live act, Alif: Urdu & Kashmiri poetry

“Just ambulance doesn’t save lives, People & Community save lives. Four elements that are essential in Life Saving are 1. Training 2. Medical Supplies 3. Transportation: AmbuCycle 4. Information.” – Eli Beer, Founder and President of United Hatzalah

“There is always another top (after you reach the highest mountain point. It’s never over. There is always more to achieve.)” – Hajer Sharief

The session which I liked the most was the discussion between Ralph Simon and the Former Prime Minister of Bhutan and Environmentalist, Tshering Tobgay, on Climate Crisis, Shrinking Himalayan Glaciers, and the possible ways to manage the situation. And how Bhutan is a Carbon Neutral Country (the country has maintained its rain forest – that is 70 percent of the geography, less population, spirituality and a great leadership.)

I enjoyed Lili Haydn (a Grammy award-winning film composer) & the Opium Moon Performance.

Shyamal Vallabhjee was a good host. It isn’t easy to engage a crowd as huge as NSCI Dome accommodates.

For those who are interested in watching the talks or reading the quotes, then you can visit TedxGateway Facebook page.

TedxG_AshuBlogs_20

Photo Credit: Lalita C and My Archive

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com