About Me

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The name is Selvamani.R. I was born in Rangoon, Burma now known as Yangoon and Myanmar respectively. I had my schooling in I.E.S. .Khalsa School there in Rangoon and came to Tamilnadu, India, did my Pre-University in Sir Thegaraya College,Chennai and M.B.B.S., in Madurai Medical College. Later did my Diploma and Masters Degree in the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Egmore, Madras Medical College, Chennai.

Monday, August 30, 2010



This is about a purchase made from a pavement shop keeper, a boy, also from Burma Bazaar.
I wanted to buy a bag from him and was told that the price was R.40/-. I asked it for Rs.30/- and he refused.
His father came to the scene and after enquiring about the matter in Burmese language told him that the cost price was Rs.32/- and he can sell it for Rs.35/-.
After he left, I again asked for the last price he can give and he again said Rs.40/-.
I then replied why he is continuing to say the same price as he was told that the cost price was Rs.32/- and he can sell it for Rs.35/-.
Hearing this, the boy’s joy knew no bounds and he asked whether I was from Burma, where I lived there, when I came to India etc.
After chatting for some time he gave me the bag. When I gave him Rs.35/- he refused and took only Rs.32/- in spite of my protests.
Sons of soil….…

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Business Tactics


I used to go to the “Burma Bazaar” on Beach line Road in Chennai now and then, to buy some petty items. Some of the shop keepers were known to me.
One day I went to buy ‘Tiger Balm’.
Though I saw lot of them stacked on show case, when I asked for it the shop keeper asked me to wait for some time as he had to get it from a nearby place.
When I pointed out the shelf he said it is not for me implying that they are spurious.
At that time one man came and asked for a tin of Ovaltine.
He surveyed the shelf and wantonly chose one with a noticeable dent.
After he has moved off with the purchase I asked the shopkeeper why the man chose a dented tin.
The shopkeeper said it is the belief of many people that the dented ones are ‘genuine’ as the spurious dealers will not choose them for refilling.
So what will you do when you are exhausted with the dent ones I said surveying the neat cans.
He grinned, took one Ovaltine can, and with a small hammer kept below, made a nice dent, placed it on the shelf, winked and said “We keep on replacing them” .

Thursday, August 12, 2010



Once a Sub-Treasury Officer – a lady- got operated by me for Cataract.[that was before the advent of IOLs] and. I charged her Rs.1,000/- as surgeon fee [that was the fee, then !].

A year later she came to me for operation for the other eye.
I told her that the charge is now Rs.1200/-. She protested against the hike in fees vehemently.
I didn’t say anything as I never liked to barter about it.

After the surgery she handed me an envelope with money.
I opened it the next day and found that there was Rs.1300/-
When she came for follow up I told her about the excess Rs.100/- and returned it.
But she blatantly refused it saying “Sir, I am a Sub-treasury officer. I am sure that I paid you only Rs1200/- You are trying to return me Rs.100/- as I first protested about your fee hike !”.
In vain I tried to convince her but she was adamant about her psychology!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010



The time – when I was making good progress in Private practice-
One day a newly married lady came to me with her husband for refraction as she had headache [No she didn’t mean her husband!].
I thought I have seen her before and asked her what happened to her old glasses.
“What glasses?” she retorted. “This is the first time I am seeing you and I have never worn glasses before. You are confusing me with somebody else.”
I apologized and after refraction prescribed her the necessary glasses.
After two days she came for checking the glasses she had bought and this time she came alone..
“I am very sorry doctor” she apologized.” You were right. I came to you for eye testing about a year back and you did prescribe me glasses. I wore it for some time and because of my marriage I discarded it as we didn’t want the bridegroom or our in-laws to know that.”

A somewhat alike situation much later [You never learn !].
This time a prominent doctor’s wife brought her daughter for some eye ailment and I advised her the necessary treatment.
A few days later I saw her at a social function and enquired about her daughter.
I was surprised to see her squirming and replying like “ Hmmm..she is studying in 3rd standard ..” as if she hasn’t heard me right.
I moved on chatting with other people.
A little later she sought me out and said “ I am very sorry sir. You see Dr.X [another Ophthalmologist] was standing by the side when you asked. He is very helpful to us from the time we came to this town. We came to you for treatment as we heard that you are good.” [That’s right ! Blow the trumpet whenever you can !! ] “I didn’t want him to know that we came to you.”.
Howizzit !!!

Friday, August 6, 2010



One day in my clinic a man aged 43 years accompanied by two ladies 40 and 19 years old respectively came for refraction- eye check up for glasses.
At that time on the first day we used to instill eye drops to dilate the pupils for seeing the interior of the eye and ask them to come next day for Post Mydriatic test – giving time for the pupils to come back to the normal state, examine again and prescribe glasses [now it takes only a few minutes - after the advent of Auto-Refractometer].
After seeing all three of them I said to the man “Please come with your wife and daughter tomorrow for testing again and prescription of glasses.”
As I said it I noticed that all of them appeared shocked.
I was wondering what has happened when the man came out of the trance, paid my fees and walked off without a word.
I was still in stupor when the next patient walked in, a person whom I knew well and said “Well, doctor what did the new bridegroom came for?”
“What bridegroom?’ I asked.
‘The person who just walked out with his two wives.’
“Two wives? ‘ I was still somewhat dazed.
“He didn’t have any child with his first wife and so married a girl recently. They must be on good terms as he had brought both of them.”
Then only it dawned on to my feeble mind the blunder I have caused by calling his second wife as his daughter.
Needless to say they didn’t come the next day.
When I narrated the incident in our coffee room chat session there was good laughter and there was also a lesson to be learnt.
One colleague correctly remarked that I could very well have asked all of them to come the next day without venturing onto their relationship.
I meekly said I thought a personal touch would do well.
Well it didn’t, at least in this case as I poked my nose and got it cut off !!



The period- is just when I had switched to Eye Practice from General Practice.
The practice was just picking up – a polite term for “ee-otting “.
One day a lady patient- wife of a bank employee- one of my regular and loyal patients -came to me for treatment of severe ‘Conjunctivitis’ in both eyes and I prescribed the necessary treatment.
She said she was waiting for her husband, implying that she didn’t have money to pay me.
I told her it is alright.
When the time came for closing the clinic I found her still waiting.
I told her she can pay me later.
As she was on the point of leaving I wondered how she can buy the medicine and asked her whether she had an account with the medical shop. When she denied, I got back my prescription, paid money to my clinic boy and asked him to buy the medicine from the shop in spite of her protests.
I verified the medicines bought, detailed her how to instill the eye drops and went home.
At about 11 p.m. her husband came to our house, thanked me profusely and paid Rs.100/- note to me.
When I asked him why he came at the odd hour to pay me instead of waiting for the next day he said his wife had bombarded him like anything and asked him to pay the entire money tome immediately. She didn’t even allow me to freshen up, he said, grinning.
I told him he had paid a lot of money [in those days Rs.100/- went a long way] and I have to pay him back the change.
He will hear none of it. “We will talk about it later, sir” he said.” Thanks for everything”.
Thereafter I became their patron doctor for everything.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010



I have a soft heart for the Lending Libraries.
One way of showing it is I never claim the deposit amount collected on joining.

When I was doing Diploma in Ophthalmology in Chennai in Egmore Eye Hospital [it is Regional Institute now] I joined a local library nearby.
It was run by a lady and was well stocked with English fiction books.
The deposit amount was Rs.40/- and two books were allowed for borrowing.
Being a voracious reader I was returning the books quickly.
I asked the lady whether I can borrow two more and she readily agreed.
Hence I was borrowing 4 books at a time.

After I finished the Diploma course and settled in Kancheepuram I still used to go the library now and then.
One day I returned the 4 books through a messenger and stopped going to the library.
After 3 years I joined M.S. course in the same institution.
I went to the same library, met the owner lady, said I was an old member and wanted to borrow the books.
She pursued the books and found out that I last visited about 3 years back.
“The deposit is now Rs.100/-“she said.
“That is O.K. I will pay the difference of Rs.60/-“I said.
“No! I can’t allow you that. You have to pay the full amount.”
“Honesty never pays, nowadays!” I said.
“Explain yourself” she said.
“Your records will show that I was borrowing 4 books at a time’
She nodded..
“If I had sold the books in any second hand book shop I would have easily got more than Rs.100/-.
Still I returned the books honestly. But now I am asked to forego my initial deposit amount of Rs.40/-.
Do you think it is fair?” I asked.
She pondered over my statement for sometime, wrote something in the register and said “O.K.! You can borrow 4 books.”
When I proceeded to pay the difference of Rs.60/- she refused it with a smile.
“I just wrote on the register to allow you to take books with your old deposit amount itself so that when you surrender your membership you will be given Rs.40/- only.”
I thanked her and continued to use the library.
Needless to say when I finished the 2 years course and returned to Kancheepuram I didn’t claim the deposit money!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



When I was doing General Practice one of my patients, a Bank employee [ the reason why I am mentioning his employment will be apparent later] used to ask prescription for his wife or mother, saying that they are unable to come to the clinic.
I will usually oblige saying that if they did not improve they should come to the clinic without fail.
He always paid the full consultation fees for each prescription..
Whenever I asked about the follow up he usually said “Oh! She became alright sir, thanks!”.

Well, one day, a week after a similar prescription he came and said that his wife had not recovered. . When I asked him whether she took the medicine as advised he hesitated and said “No”.
He saw my perplexed face and said that he never bought any medicine which I have prescribed all the time ‘in absentia’.
“I will place your prescription behind “God’s portrait”, pray and do nothing and within 2-3 days my wife would be all right.
This is the first time she didn’t!”
I couldn’t hide my astonishment. “You could very well have done the same without my prescription and could have avoided paying my fees!’ I exclaimed.
“No, sir! That won’t work. Nor will an old prescription” adding the astonishment..
He then brought his wife and I treated her and she became all right.

The practice of issuing prescriptions continued.
The funny thing was when he got transferred to a faraway place he used to come to my clinic once in 6 months or so and get a bunch of prescriptions for his wife and mother for different ailments paying me the consultation fees for every prescription.

James Bond Suitcase


At that time James Bond Movies were making waves and the James Bond type slim suit case was a craze. Though it held onlyminimum contents almost everyone carried one as a prestige.
One doctor- we will call him ‘D’- had one such prize possession.
One day when he traveled in a long distance bus he laid it at his feet and had a foot on it to prevent it sliding off.
Well it created a large dent and he took it to the shop in Chennai for exchange.
The man there enquired how it happened and when D explained it, said as he could not replace the suitcase as it couldn’t withstand the pressure..
D said “Why, I have seen in your advertisement where the suitcase withstands bullets, knife, being thrown from tall buildings and what not and here you are telling me it could not withstand the pressure of my foot.” This he said in Madurai tamil slang in his typical style.
Hearing, the man laughed and agreed to exchange it.
D opened the suitcase to remove the contents before handing it over and on top was his stethoscope.
Seeing it the salesman asked “Are you a doctor?”.
“Yes” D replied..
“But…. you spoke like a native !”
“Because that is the only way you people will understand” he said and walked out with a new suitcase calmly.