FOM meet – Jaipur

{mosimage}FRIENDS OF MAX PATIENT GROUP MEETING, Jaipur Medical Association Hall, SMS Hospital, Jaipur. 28th September 2008


26th Sept’08 –  The Jet airways flight takes off from Mumbai to Jaipur. The flight carries within itself a desire, a doubt, a challenge, and an expectation… and is piloted by an FOM volunteer Donald . What could be a better omen ?

A Desire :  to Reach the destination on Time & ensure that the Plans are implemented as per preparations chalked out in Mumbai.

A Doubt :  will the participation be good since we did not have a Team base  here in Jaipur and this is the first ever Meet here

A Challenge : to ensure that it’s a Success

An  Expectation : to set up an FOM core team in the Jaipur.

Partner –in –arms  : The Delhi Core Group Dilwaales

Welcome to Amma & Sharon to the Pink City. A city known for its rich history of the Maharajas, its culture, its Palaces, its Tradition, it’s Food…

Visit on 27th Sept’08 by Amma & Sharon to the SMS Hospital and S K Soni Hospital to meet Drs Hemant Malhotra and Anish Maru ; to go to the venue and deposit all the patient kit material couriered to the Jaipur stockist from Mumbai. Both the doctors are optimistic of a good turnout and confirm that they expect more than a 150 plus attendance .The Stockist has also received encouraging feedback from the people in the region.

So when I meet them in the late afternoon ( I am also known as Ganpat the Bhai who has been extradited from Mumbai) at Samumdar Mahal they are somewhat relaxed and have enjoyed some great dhaba lunch . What a sight was it, a Palace half submerged in water at the backdrop and we three FOM meeting after a long a long time. The excitement is palpable and Ganpat urf Pramod is given his responsibilities for the next day and a shopping list for completing the children’s kits.

It is quite an experience shopping in the streets of old Jaipur .On our list are colouring books and crayons , some party hats and whistles . After many hopeful queries at shops with kind but negative responses we finally find one stationery shop with an elderly gentleman minding the store. Our typical Bombay haste where everything was wanted yesterday collides with this old world charm and we are asked to sit down – “Virajiye” says Uncle to us and then begins the agonizing wait while he calls one contact after another and before the hour is through and before our taxi driver has his 45th fit of anger and desperation at having been made to wait in that traffic for so long , our material is brought by a young lad speeding into the galli on his cycle. For the party hats and other props we are guided to the eleventh shop on the fourth galli to our left after the police chowky. We find the shop and the party props !!

Time to plan dinner and a surprise is in store for us . Seema and Yogesh , the second of the Dilli Paltan have arrived and are waiting at the hotel for us. It is time for dinner at Dhaba #2 and then some last minute packing of the boxes in the hotel room.

28/9    Jaipur Medical Association Hall, SMS Hospital, Jaipur. Time: 8:30 am

The hall is being cleaned. The storeroom is not yet opened. The Shamiana is not yet set up. The caterers have not yet come but Amma can recognise a few people sitting on the lawns outside the hall and her face lights up. Seeing Amma , Urmila and Kuldip and Rohtash came rushing to meet her. Soon Ravinder also joins us and tell us that they had all come yesterday itself from Rohtak , Haryana to Jaipur stayed at the station in the night, freshened up early in the morning and they are present. Wow!! what commitment by the participants to see that the program is a success.

FOM Volunteer in Jaipur  Ram Kumar is the next to show up ( Sharon tells me Ram Kumar has single-handedly made all the phone calls to those from the SMS Hospital informing them about the meeting. And then comes Kalu Singh whose mother is being treated in GCRI Gujarat. 

I realise that the first ever Rajasthan Core Group is forming in front of my eyes and can see Amma giving her instructions and the team all getting ready for the big day .We are all meeting for the first time but have become a TEAM already , the task ahead of us uniting us immediately . Delegate kits are being packed in one place. The trademark Jute bags with the FOM logo courtesy Neel of Kolkota are each packed with the FAQ and Book of Stories in Hindi , FOM Key Chains and for the children , the goodies purchased yesterday. Registration formalities are being finalized at another place with name cards being neatly written in Hindi  and the laptop for the presentation & stage / entrance being set up. Of course nothing works without team works. That’s why we all at FOM have our punch line as “Together we Share & Learn”. In no time the stage is set .The saying that Ab Dilli  Dur Nahi is proved right with Rakesh Nagpal and family , Anil Nagpal and family, Rakesh Sharma and Naresh Jain and wife also joining us from Delhi. When the Bigg Boss (Amma) orders no one dare refuse the same. Dekho Ganpat bhi aa pahuncha na !!

By now the delegates  have started coming in and the hall started to fill up. The joy in everyone’s face as they see their doctors waiting to receive them is worth looking at. The chief guest Dr Ashok Panagariya , Principal of the SMS Medical College and one of the senior most neurologists of the country arrives and the proceedings begin.

After the National Anthem the Chief Guest and Dr Malhotra and Dr Maru are invited to the dais.

The FOM choir led by  Amma (Tenor), Sharon & Seema Bhasin(Sopranos), Yugesh & Rakesh Nagpal (Alto), Pramod & Anil Nagpal (Bass) ) give a wonderful ( I hope it was ) performance of  Hum Honge Kamyab (We Shall Overcome).

The programme begins with Dr Malhotra welcoming every one and thanking all for making the effort to come all the way. Amma’s presentation follows with a brief introduction, explaining the origin of Max Foundation & FOM across the globe and in India. She also acknowledges the Novartis team present there and the whole hall breaks into applause thanking Novartis for the gift of Glivec. The audience is then treated to a step by step explanation of the procedure of obtaining the medicine and the importance of being regular with follow up and dosage. The Chief Guest then addresses the gathering with a brief but motivating message, which boosts the moral and enthusiasm of the delegates present. It is a beautiful sight  to see people with traditional turbans and  veils walking into the hall with the colourful Jute FOM bags and Name Tags proudly pinned on to their chest.

Attention shifts now  to the small table that was placed there in front of the dais, with a  beautiful delicious cake on it  to celebrate MAX’s birthday. All the children who were present in the audience are  asked to come up to the front and under the able guidance of Seemaji Max’s  Birthday celebrations begin. The Party Hats and whistles came out and it was a boisterous cake cutting ceremony indeed.In fact this is the beginning of a series of celebrations across the nation later on in October – November to remember Max and his story of courage and determination.

Dr Anish Maru took charge after this to introduce the concept of Sharing and Learning from each other and set the Testimonial session on roll. Yugesh Bhasin began his testimony in his inimitable style bringing tickles in tummy and smiles on all the faces of all the delegates present in the hall. This was followed by yours truly Pramod and Rakesh Nagpal and then began the unexpected. It was as though some flood gates were thrown open. It was just an open floor after that for more and more people to share their stories and emotions and the response from the first time participants received was mind-blowing. This kind of a spontaneous response surely can teach so many of us who would think twice before coming up on stage to share such private and poignant experiences of courage, hope and challenges. This session had all sorts of emotions pouring out of the speakers. A father spoke of his daughter’s diagnosis and called her on stage so everyone could see her; a wife spoke of the care and concern her husband always gave her, taking the best care possible to see she had all she needed; a daughter in law thanked the Gods for such a loving mother and father in law who cared for her with the same love they had for before the diagnosis and a shy , sweet young girl requested her fiancé to come up so she could acknowledge him in front of everyone and thank him for never leaving her hand even in the face of her cancer. In fact after more than an hour we were forced to stop testimonials for it was time for the next part of the programme. . I don’t think I have seen such a response in any other FOM meetings
House Full : The JMA Hall that had a normal sitting capacity of a 100 to 125  had  already been fileld with a 175 plus chairs and by now there were more than 250  people all packed into the place. People were standing all along the three sides of the auditorium, family members standing up to make seating space for patients .Looking at the hall entrance, one would have concluded that not even a fly could enter the hall but as a popular saying states, there is always a place for the dessert  irrespective of the amount of food you have eaten and your stomach is full. Or as Amma said , there was always place in our hearts for each other so more and more people came and all of them were accommodated.

Now it was time for the most eagerly awaited part of the programme – it was time for the  Q & A session with the doctors.. Again full marks to the delegates. All sorts of questions were addressed to the two doctors, Drs Malhotra and Maru and no question was left UN answered. The moderator had a tough time running or I could say squeezing his way within the hall. I should know, for it was me doing the rounds with the cordless mike!! Questions were asked from every nook and corner. In English, Hindi, the local Rajasthani dialect and the revertal by the doctors  were received in the respective language itself. Questions that were elementary as well as very technical were asked and every question was explained in-depth and with a lot of patience by the honorable doctors who took the time to come to the program and attend the meet on a Sunday. Even the ladies in Purdah and with face covered were not ashamed or embarrassed to ask questions in spite of being from remote interior villages. For those who were, yes , there were a couple of people who were too shy, Amma was a willing mediator taking their doubts to the dais.

Around 1:30 after a completely satisfying session Sharon came up to announce Lunch and before that to present the Vote of Thanks.

I feel that instead of Sharon thanking the delegates who attended, the delegates should be thanking their Max Station – In charge, who did a commendable / wonderful job in ensuring that all the arrangements were in order. How lucky is Amma that she can rest comforted and confident with the Max India team taking care of their respective responsibilities stretching across the length and breadth of the nation.

The 280 odd delegates then dispersed for lunch. What a lunch was that, personally supervised by Mrs Maru herself ensuring that each and every one was enjoying the same. Calories were not to be discussed at all as all the Rotis were dressed with butter and sugar syrup was just dripping from the Rasgullas. Not to mention the six kilo birthday cake that was cut during the meeting and was distributed during lunch. Lip smacking fare!!

Slowly the delegates started moving out and the so did we. Truly it was a meeting that was beyond our (at least my) expectation. I feel that it was just due to the good human touch of the two doctors and the relation ship that they shared with their patients that they turned up in such large numbers. Dr Maru and Dr Malhotra too, did not keep themselves away after the meeting was over in the hall. During lunchtime they could be seen rubbing shoulders with the patients and family members, still ready to answer questions, clear specific doubts and sign their railway concession forms and most importantly posing for innumerable photographs with every one.

Thus ended a wonderful experience in the Pink city.

Reported by Pramod George