Dune Bashing

Dune Bashing ..


Vivek Hande


Dubai is indeed a unique place. A lively bustling center of commerce with malls, Super malls and Hyper malls selling everything from a pin to a tank. It is a consumer’s paradise. It is a city of high commercial stakes and yet it nurtures a truly traditional core. That is one thing which has not changed about Dubai over the years. The skyline reinvents itself; more glitzy automobiles cruise the road than perhaps any other city of the world and yet it has an old world conservative charm. A city of contradictions – an amazing amalgam   of futuristic   architecture, steel and concrete giants jostling  with centuries old beautiful mosques. A fast –paced city with modern gad gets , gizmos and infrastructure and yet a street corner when you can put your feet up and enjoy the “Hookah” , some sizzling kebabs and sweet tea!

Some years ago, on a trip, we were advised, a trip to Dubai was incomplete without experiencing the thrilling “Dune Bashing”. We decided to bash dunes and enlisted ourselves with the leading tour operators. Haroon, our driver turned up in a sleek Toyota Land Cruiser and we were set.  He turned out to be an amiable, friendly, chatty and ultra-confident gent from Pakistan. We picked up another American couple and a young Dutch en route and we were off on the highway. Haroon pointed out the sights and sounds of Dubai as he steadfastly chewed his chewing –gum. It was a lovely afternoon, the company was good, the driver , a seasoned professional –it was going to be a pleasant drive into the deserts , I remarked to my wife; nothing to go overboard about . We made excellent time driving out about sixty kilometers on the Hatta road. We made a detour and moved onto the fringes of the desert sands. We formed up a convoy of ten such Cruisers with six in each vehicle. Haroon proceeded to deflate the tires to get a better grip on the sands and to negotiate the dunes better, he informed us.

Then, suddenly, we were off into the majestic desert. The sand looked amazingly pink because of the mineral content. Miles of sand all around us and one could see in the distance, some majestic dunes, almost as high as a multi-storey building. The Toyotas drove in sequence, maintaining constant distance. At times, the climb up the dunes was too steep and the vehicle fell back compelling the following vehicle to stop abruptly. It then took off on what seemed like a very thin edge of sand to the summit before plummeting to the bottom.  Very often, the visibility was nil with sand blown onto the windshields by the strong winds. At times, the tires seemed to cling onto a thin rim of sand a very precarious angle, defying all rational laws of gravity- it was a surprise we were upright. Dune after dune was conquered and we saw the vehicle immediately in front of us turn turtle and then become upright again and continue as if nothing had happened. It was like a giant roller-coaster –only one thing –neither we nor Haroon knew what exactly was coming next –the sands change contours every day! We had our hearts in our mouths and my wife was too petrified to be motion –sick as were mid air for nearly forty seconds before landing on ground. A truly   magnificent effort from man and machine coming together as one.

We reached the top of the highest dune and paused for a while to catch our breath and get the adrenaline levels to some semblance of normalcy. We stared in awe, watching the amazing spectacle of the sun setting in the majestic desert. I remarked to Haroon , “ Terrific driving .You must be so used to all this . Driving across   the dunes day in and day out”.  I spluttered on my Coke when he nonchalantly replied with a bit of a sheepish grin, “Actually, this is my first independent drive.”

We had bashed dunes successfully and been Haroon – Bashed as well!!

Physician Heal Thyself..

Physician, Heal Thyself…


Vivek  Hande


A Doctor-Patient relationship is quite unique and unlike any other relationship. A Doctor can be a friend, philosopher or a guide. A Doctor could be a figure of authority or a Doctor could be a shoulder to lean. A Doctor could, at times be a set of eyes and ears for a patient and often, on matters non – medical! He could function as a sounding board or a neutral opinion giver..

It is a relationship based on trust and complete faith and to violate this, in my mind ought to be regarded as a heinous crime. The patient entrusts oneself, so utterly and completely into the hands of the physician and willingly lays his greatest asset-his health, into the hands of the healer.

When a patient or an individual seeks medical attention from a physician, it is on the basis of an implied consent. It is a delicate relationship and it is a wonderfully two way path and one learns from ones’ patients as much as they gain from you. One learns how to conduct oneself and at times how not to. One learns patience and fortitude and seeing your patients and their families cope, one is strengthened.

I have had the pleasure and the privilege of many of my patients becoming my friends and well – wishers and advisers on various issues. Especially patients who are under your care  and follow up for a long time. I have elderly patients advising me to dye my hair; lose weight and get on to Yoga. I have patients telling me to change my taste in music and ask me to  change the music playing in my OPD constantly – they ask me to switch on to something livelier than the Bach or Beethoven or Ghazals playing in the background! I have patients telling me to improve my handwriting and to stop using fountain pens and some who insist that I ought to use only fountain pens in the era of Ball point pens. I have had patients who have an opinion on the movies and plays I ought to watch. I have even had the privilege of being asked by a couple about my opinion on a prospective bride for their son – my neutral and wise counsel was sought! I was inducted into Golf thanks to the insistence of a Golf crazy patient of mine.

There are patients who can be very irritating and demanding and unreasonable at times. One requires all the patience and tact to remain calm and composed. There are patients who will ask the same question again and again and again in the midst of a very heavy OPD. They will paraphrase the question in a million different ways and it does become a little difficult to remain patient; perhaps that is why the patient is called a patient- he teaches you to become “patient”. One understands that they are worried and concerned but still ..

The Internet has armed the patient in many ways and it can be a dangerous tool with so much of unfiltered information floating.  The internet can make the Doctor-Patient relationship interesting, irritating/infuriating or truly interactive !

Over the years, I realize that no two patients are alike in their attitude- with respect to information, disease, medication, advice or treatment. Interacting with patients and their attendants can be gratifying, rewarding, frustrating and challenging. It can make one go through the entire gamut of emotions. However, as long as one remembers, “Primum Non Nocere”- first, do no harm: you will  probably do just fine !!