Intro

Introduction

You are about to read the story of my amma who passed away on June 18, 2020. I’m publishing... Read More
Intro

A sentimental fool

When you read about a 50 year old man crying for days about his deceased 80 year old mother... Read More
Intro

List of contents

Introduction A sentimental fool SECTION 1: AMMA 1. Ordinary, yet remarkable 2. Then and now 3. The amma I... Read More
Amma

Ordinary, yet remarkable

Amma would certainly not have stood out in a crowd. She was not the gentlest person I had known.... Read More
Amma

Then and now

Twenty five years ago, when I graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, a top ranked business school... Read More
Amma

The Amma I Hardly Knew

Even until 2011, I was like most well-educated, middle-aged Indian men – ambitious, work-focussed, and thinking seriously about parents... Read More
Amma

Aortic Dissection

In April 2011, amma had an acute aortic dissection and came very close to death. She was 72 then.... Read More
Amma

The amma I started knowing

Her serious brush with death made me start noticing her a bit more, post her discharge and full recovery.... Read More
Amma

A beautiful amma

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and also in the eye of time.  By the time,... Read More
Amma

Dominant

If I were allowed to use only one word to describe amma in her last few years, it would... Read More
Amma

Silly for us, significant for her

She might have been beautiful in her youth, but that was a long time back, and anyway that feeling... Read More
Amma

A tale of two pumps

The heart is essentially a pump that accepts blood from, and supplies blood to, other parts of the body.... Read More
Amma

Flooded but not floored

One literally nightmarish interaction between amma and me happened in near darkness, in the form of a rendezvous in... Read More
Amma

Nursing hopes

Amma was fond of her daughter and anyone who looked like her – which to her was every lady... Read More
Amma

Baa-laa-jee

My official name is Narasimhan, but I’m called Balaji at home. This fact will doubtless be known to people... Read More
Amma

Generous in and out

If the picture I have painted so far about amma is that of an old, traditional Indian woman with... Read More
Amma

Dedicated

Amma’s paranoia about all things trivial was replicated on the other side in her amazing dedication to people who... Read More
Amma

Simple

Amma was really simple. It was not just the tangible aspects – speech, body language, working style – in... Read More
Amma

Enthusiastic

Amma was born in Mylapore, a town that is the cultural heart of Chennai. 30 Even though she hailed... Read More
Amma

Honest

If I tried to do a frequency distribution mapping of human honesty, I’d likely end up with the familiar... Read More
Amma

Each in its place

A week prior to her final hospitalization, because her legs hurt if she stood for more than a few... Read More
Amma

Smartness that matter

The final three months of her life, when I lived as well as worked with her the whole day... Read More
Amma

Bee and queen bee

Getting things done – this is amma, all the way. And what an incredible counterbalance she was to me... Read More
Amma

Alive = active

Some years back, Dr James Levine, a Professor at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Arizona, USA, declared “Sitting is... Read More
Amma

Every amma is a story

After I reviewed many of the sections I had written about amma, I started wondering whether a lady who... Read More
Amma

Appa

If you are still not able to visualize amma, all you need to do is to visualize appa and... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Weak hearts

In addition to aortic dissection, the other life-threatening ailment amma had was a weak heart.  I have heard, on... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

All’s well. Really?

Six months after amma’s recovery from her April 2011 aortic dissection, the surgeon who had operated on her told... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Another aortic dissection!

One day in Apr 2015, after she suddenly had enormous pain and breathing difficulties, she was again rushed to... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

She wouldn’t survive 10 hours!

While the doctor said that management through medications could work for years, he also said there was no guarantee.... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Ticking time bomb

Many doctors refer to people with aortic dissections, and especially those with large swellings in the aorta (called aneurysms),... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Lighting a bomb everyday

Once she was back home post her treatment and medications for recurring aortic dissection, I took a hard, strong... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Flirting with danger

Within a few months after her discharge from the hospital in 2015 for recurrent aortic dissection, amma was admitted... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

A second ticking time bomb

Post her discharge in Sep 2015 after being treated for pulmonary embolism, her situation stabilized significantly and 2016 was... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Dilation dilemma

We did not know whether this dilation at the arch was present starting from 2015 when she had her... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Landing with a thud in my heart

If her aortic dissection in 2015 had made me worried about her medium term survival (a few years), the... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

The toy that kept falling

Imagine you are a five year old with a limited knowledge of things around you. You have a nice... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Hypertension

If there’s one ailment that most people in their 40s and 50s should think about but do not, it... Read More
Amma and Me

Absent-minded consultant

About a year back, I was at a client’s office in New Delhi to pitch for a consulting assignment.... Read More
Amma and Me

Life on a thin branch

2016 was the year when I started getting close to amma. After her recurrent aortic dissection and a few... Read More
Amma and Me

Tempering tempers

My official name is Narasimhan, though I’m called Balaji at home. I was named Narasimhan because I was born... Read More
Amma and Me

Down to Earth

We live in a small house. I’m a bachelor. Amma and appa lived downstairs, while I used to spend... Read More
Amma and Me

Sense and Sensibility

Starting 2015, post her recurrent aortic dissection, if there was one domain over which I took absolute control, it... Read More
Amma and Me

The Salesman Who Hated to Talk

Between 2002 and 2004, I worked in London, heading the European business development function for a mid-sized Indian IT... Read More
Amma and Me

A Wave with a Hope

2016, the year after amma’s recurrent aortic dissection, saw a metamorphosis in me that went beyond just phone calls.... Read More
Amma and Me

An Agnostic almost Gets Religion

Some of the changes that I made to myself in the context of religion were perhaps even more noteworthy... Read More
Amma and Me

Nut Cases

The other practice I started was to get her gifts whenever I went outside the city – something completely... Read More
Amma and Me

Designing Good Times

We had some really good times in the past five years, with at least a few of them by... Read More
Amma and Me

Tickling My Soles

Try to visualize this scenario. At about 10 O’clock most nights, a boy puts up both his feet on... Read More
Amma and Me

Of Academic Interest

Amma’s academic record was quite brief – she had studied only until tenth grade. While she claimed that she... Read More
Amma and Me

Pride

While my academic credentials probably did not mean anything to amma, she appreciated more tangible forms of success. The... Read More
Amma and Me

I’m her friend

In the final five years of her life, her mobility had become fairly restricted and so it was mainly... Read More
Amma and Me

I’m Her Guide

Her TV watching rarely went beyond local news and TV soaps. Mine rarely included these. Cricket was perhaps the... Read More
Amma and Me

Big and Small

When I did a critical review of the changed dynamics between me and amma in the last 5-7 years,... Read More
Leg Pain

Varicose Veins

Veins carry oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart.  Normal, good veins do not present any obstructions to the blood... Read More
Leg Pain

Pulling Up My Socks

For many years, amma did not even know she had varicose veins. Appa’s knowledge of health was based on... Read More
Leg Pain

Restless Legs Syndrome

Diabetes is well known, and for good reason too, as one in ten adults have it worldwide. 116 Almost... Read More
Leg Pain

Painful Companion

Amma had had RLS for as long as I remember. My sister says she must have had it for... Read More
Leg Pain

Lucky for a While

After our visit to the vascular surgeon in 2005 that resulted in amma wearing varicose veins stockings, I took... Read More
Leg Pain

Hard Lessons from Strong Medicines

Restless legs syndrome is a real curse. People with severe RLS can spend considerable portions of the night twisting,... Read More
Leg Pain

Sleepless Nights

I knew she was crying out at night only because there was real pain. I knew I was supposed... Read More
Leg Pain

Helplessly Hurtful

During some of these nights, my actions likely hurt her a lot more than they helped. Some were really... Read More
Leg Pain

Fleas.com

Starting sometime in 2013, I became a bit more serious with my explorations of treatments for RLS. If the... Read More
Leg Pain

A Sucker a Minute

During my online research for non-drug based, natural solutions to RLS, I came across some really funny, even downright... Read More
Leg Pain

Physics and Chemistry

I spent a bit more time on less ridiculous ideas for amma’s RLS treatment. Use of magnesium was said... Read More
Leg Pain

A Million Massages

The one natural treatment I used everyday for amma’s RLS pain relief was massaging. 136 I do not remember... Read More
Leg Pain

Achilles Leg

A couple of years back, I realized something interesting – a lot of what happened to amma revolved around... Read More
Leg Pain

A Walking Pharmacy

Amma had blood pressure (hypertension). She had a weak heart (heart failure, in medical terms) She had serious problems... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Getting Domesticated

A strict COVID lockdown in India started on March 24, 2020. The last day I was at my office... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Down Memory Lane

You could call her old-fashioned, and she certainly wouldn’t mind, because to her old was 24 carat gold. Thanks... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Kolams

Kolams are pretty drawings done on the ground in front of the house, typically by Hindus in south India.... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

I Was Her Child Again

Nowhere did amma use her dominating personality more than on her son. Even after I had reached 30 years... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

And Then She Became My Child

Until the week before she died, she was almost her normal self – absolute self-reliance, her domination over me... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

I Was Her Doctor

Given that she had some pain somewhere everyday, taking her to the hospital for non-serious symptoms would mean that... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

When Strengths Become Weaknesses

Most of us would have had anemia in our lives; we just don’t know because in most cases it... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

The Big Sleep

In the last few years of her life, all she wanted to do was to sleep well. Her restless... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Last Days at Home

During the final few weeks, she did experience more chest pains than normal, but these were not uncommon. Importantly,... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Fighting till the End

When she was admitted into the hospital, she was fully conscious, even able to stand comfortably and walk with... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Way to Go

Amma had told me innumerable times her wish on how she wanted to die – quickly and painlessly, without... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

The Luckiest Son Alive

I consider myself the luckiest son alive. How many sons in their forties would have had the fortune to... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

And Yet, a Bit Unlucky

In 2015, when I looked at the picture of her recurrent aortic dissection, I could not believe she would... Read More
Health & Medicine

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a dangerous, silent, killer, with no cure. You cannot eliminate it, but you can tame it... Read More
Health & Medicine

Smart Health Management

Prophylactic. As an adjective, it means “intended to prevent disease,” and as a noun it means “medicine or action... Read More
Health & Medicine

Aortic Disorders

The aorta is a rather complex organ. Its wall has a 3-layered configuration. The innermost layer, a stable layer... Read More
Health & Medicine

Trends in Aortic Diseases Treatment

There has been a significant decrease in mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the past 40 years. For instance, mortality... Read More
Health & Medicine

Natural RLS Treatments

Restless legs syndrome is still an unsolved mystery for medical research. But in the last few years, a few... Read More
Health & Medicine

Medical Education

While at school, if I knew one thing for sure about my career, it was that I would not... Read More
Health & Medicine

Why Did She Die?

For almost three months after she died, it had been a puzzle to me what exactly caused her death.... Read More
Health & Medicine

Side Effects of Medications

For patients like amma with complicated ailments, the extent of problems created by some of their medicines could at... Read More
Health & Medicine

Conservative Medical Management

Amma’s life for five years with a recurrent aortic dissection made me think and read a bit about conservative... Read More
Health & Medicine

Hospital Experiences

In the past ten years, I must have stayed over 15 times at different hospitals in Chennai, totalling perhaps... Read More
Thoughts

Who Will Cry When You Die?

Robin Sharma deserves a Nobel Prize for Peace for just coming up with a book title. I have not... Read More
Thoughts

Holding a Mirror to Myself

There cannot be a loss bigger than the loss of someone who is everything to you. I had known... Read More
Thoughts

Sons and Daughters

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus – this applies perfectly in my family too, as I’m positive... Read More
Thoughts

Priceless

I’m trying to retrieve more memories of amma from my early childhood days, but am not able to bring... Read More
Thoughts

Living to a 100

How life-changing can a two-minute-per-day activity be? Post her demise, I was reviewing the results of amma’s blood tests,... Read More
Thoughts

Healthcare is a Blackbox

Every country’s healthcare system needs significant overhaul. More so for large countries, and even more so for large, developing... Read More
Thoughts

A Template for Doctor Patient Communications

For patients with critical illnesses, interactions between doctors and patients need to be more value-adding to both the doctor... Read More
Thoughts

Of Men and Machines

Science might have made us think of human bodies as machines. In this construct, when one starts becoming old,... Read More
Thoughts

Old Lives Matter

Ten years with amma, and especially the final three months, has taught me something about elders – they are... Read More
Thoughts

Bridging the Generation Gap

Cultural, social and communication gaps between generations are a reality that can hinder enriching relationships with our parents. The... Read More
Thoughts

Is Feeling the Meaning?

What is the meaning of life? In normal times, this question is asked more out of a philosophical curiosity.... Read More
Thoughts

Thank You

We all miss you, amma. Appa misses you dearly, and so do I and akka. Many others miss you... Read More
Thoughts

Rejoicing in a Beginning

In spite of all her health challenges – pain from RLS for over 30 years and critical life-threatening heart... Read More
Thoughts

This Work

I started writing the morning after amma had passed away. Something in my head prompted me to start writing.... Read More
Amma

Amma

AMMA 1. Ordinary, yet remarkable 2. Then and now 3. The amma I hardly knew 4. Aortic dissection 5.... Read More
Ticking Time Bombs

Ticking Time Bombs

TICKING TIME BOMBS 24. Weak hearts 25. All’s well. Really? 26. Another aortic dissection! 27. She wouldn’t survive 10... Read More
Amma and Me

Amma and Me

AMMA AND ME 36. Absent-minded consultant 37. Life on a thin branch 38. Tempering tempers 39. Down to earth... Read More
Leg Pain

Leg Pain

LEG PAIN 52. Varicose veins 53. Pulling up my socks 54. Restless legs syndrome 55. Painful companion 56. Lucky... Read More
Covid and Amma's Last Days

Covid and Amma’s Last Days

COVID AND AMMA’S LAST DAYS 66. Getting domesticated 67. Down memory lane 68. Kolams 69. I was her child... Read More