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Lavasa:My Appeal to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, New Delhi

January 3rd, 2011


Shri Bharat Bhushan


Government of India

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Paryavaran Bhavan

CGO Complex, Lodhi Road

New Delhi – 110 003

Dear Shri Bharat Bhushan,

The object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers or of races, but the happiness of the common man.

– Lord William Beveridge (1879 – 1963)

25th November 2010 was one of the saddest days of my life when the MOEF using its powers brought work at Lavasa to a standstill. Lavasa was to be a benchmark for future Indian cities – the world would not consider Indian infrastructure companies & Indian architecture as third-world any longer. This was to be the showcase of Indian environment planning & city-planning for the world. I am a fertility physician & have done my bit in bringing India on the world-map (see http://www.iwannagetpregnant.in). I am one of the National experts appointed by the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi to formulate National Assisted Reproductive Technology Guidelines, which are now with the Law Ministry about to be presented in Parliament. I felt proud that we could now showcase India to the world and am planning my retirement at Lavasa. I have also volunteered my services for treating the local tribals & the poor villagers in the area. I am keen to drive the Reproductive Medical Tourism Program at the Apollo Lavasa Hospital and make it an Asian hub for ART treatments.

I started visiting Lavasa about four years ago and have seen the city take shape. I have seen the care with which the city-planners have developed the present-form of the city taking care of the natural habitat. Only when I was mentally convinced that this is truly an environment-friendly, nature friendly & socially responsible city did I buy a home in Lavasa, which I intended to move in by March 2011. I have invested my life’s savings to buy this home in Lavasa. It took me years to save for a home and it was quite a blow to have my dreams crushed with a dictatorial order.

As a fellow Indian, you should be proud of this city. I have traveled widely across India lecturing in almost all corners of our country. I have never seen such inclusive development in any other city. I want you to visit Lavasa & see what exemplary work has been done here. The government of Maharashtra should be lauded for their vision. This project brings roads, electricity, revenues, jobs & a sense of National pride to this previously “backward” area. As a Gynecologist interacting with locals, I have heard horror stories of women dying in childbirth & babies stuck in the birth-canal & being taken on make-shift stretchers over 8-24 hours down to Pune. The infrastructure & roads developed here because of this project have made these 6-year-old horror stories obsolete. Today, the poor have an OPD at a tertiary hospital at Lavasa. Today, you have locals with Tata-Sky dishes on every house in the surrounding villages. Today, you have no unemployment in this region. This is Lavasa. This is the truth.

I am witness to the massive tree-replantation measures, hydro-seeding to prevent slope erosions & conservation of local flora and fauna through such diverse measures as pisciculture & aviculture. As a responsible medical practitioner, I have seen the trouble the Lavasa environment team has taken to grow Ayurvedic plants in and around the region to keep our medical heritage alive.

The CMD’s dream is to set up a museum here that will depict the history, art, culture, medicine & heritage of the state of Maharashtra. Please do not get taken in by ‘professional” infrastructure-opposers & ”professional” anti-India” NGOs and movements. These individuals and NGOs only work to stop development & infrastructure in India. If this was not a democracy and it was China, they would be locked away for a lifetime and the keys thrown away. Be proud to be an Indian & help us re-start the city. I truly hope and pray that you can convince the Hon. Minister, MOEF to visit Lavasa once personally & interact with citizens of “Free India”. He will go down in the history books as hero for having seen the truth once he clears Lavasa from its present shackles of court-stays. This is the future India that the next generation will enjoy.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit” – Nelson Henderson (1902-1976)

Jai Hind! Jai Maharashtra!

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Gautam Nandkishore Allahbadia MD, DNB

Copy to:

1. Shri Jairam Ramesh

Minister of State (Independent Charge)

Ministry of Environment and Forests

Government of India

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Paryavaran Bhavan

CGO Complex, Lodhi Road

New Delhi – 110 003

Telephone:+91-11- 24360605, 24360570, 24360519

2. Shri Prithviraj Dajisaheb Chavan,

Chief Minister of Maharashtra;

Government of Maharashtra

Office of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Mantralaya, Mumbai-


Tel. No. 22025151, 22025222, Fax 22029214,

PRO Cell : Fax : 22817068

3. Smt. Supriya Sule

Member of Parliament (Loksabha)

Address: 6, Janpath Road,New Delhi – 110 001,

Tels. (011) 23018870, 23018619 9820060033 (M)

Fax (011)23018609


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Winter Philosophy in Lavasa

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.
-Pico Iyer

The age of the hill station mirrored the period when seaside resorts, spas and the great mountain lodges were built in Europe and the United States. In some case, the style and atmosphere of these European or American mountain retreats were consciously copied in the colonies. The Adirondacks influenced a planner of Baguio, in the Philippines for example. But in colonial Asia, the relatively high altitude hill station, usually at 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, always had to be more than just a resort. The hill station was also a genteel fantasyland, a retreat from reality where the homesick colonial could be cosseted by the atmosphere of a European hometown, down to its familiar institutions: the club, the library, the village church. The hill station at its homiest was and is a phenomenon most often associated with the British in India, but the French, the Americans, and to some extent the Dutch also endowed them with similar properties. As Indians, we must now take pride in announcing to the world a completely made by Indians – Hill-station!
If you’re looking for an exotic winter vacation with clouds in your hair and memorable nature trails, Lavasa as a hill-station is hard to beat. Citrus Citrus has pulled together some ideas for adventurous types more interested in exploring the rain forests of Lavasa or the rappelling off Ekaant than hanging out in the shopping malls of cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Even so, the Lavasa resort selections offer all the amenities one finds in major urban centers. Here’s a sampling of what Lavasa has to offer this winter vacation season.
The best time of the year for water-sports activities is now! Lavasa is turning out to be the water-sports capital of the country – with personal water jets, speed-boats, pontoon boats, inflatable dinghies and a water-obstacle floating dock! Again the winter months will be the best time to see the almost-extinct fresh-water crabs & the fruit-bats of Lavasa. For the trekking enthusiasts, the nature trails are full of flowers & butterflies the next 4 months! For the adventurous types, go rappelling with the official adventure co of Lavasa – Z-bac! I can bet my last penny that someone who steps foot into Lavasa for the first time will skip a heart-beat! It is a mini-Switzerland in Maharashtra! Its not only tourism that is being promoted – the Lavasa Corporation is also supporting traditional crafts of the villagers around and the first cooperative for bamboo weaving is called Bamboosa!
By now all of us have heard (too often) the old Proust line about how the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new places but in seeing with new eyes. Yet one of the subtler beauties of travel is that it enables you to bring new eyes to the people you encounter. Thus even as holidays help you appreciate your own home more—not least by seeing it through a distant admirer’s eyes—they help you bring newly appreciative—distant—eyes to the places you visit. You can teach them what they have to celebrate as much as you celebrate what they have to teach. This, I think, is how tourism, which so obviously destroys cultures, can also resuscitate or revive them, how it has created new “traditional” handicraft outlets, and caused craftsmen in villages around Lavasa to pay new attention to their works. If the first thing we can bring the Indians is a real and balanced sense of what contemporary Lavasa is like, the second—and perhaps more important—thing we can bring them is a fresh and renewed sense of how special are the warmth and beauty of this town or hill-station, for those who can compare it with other places around the globe.
Thus travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty. For in traveling to a new place, we inevitably travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, “The Philosophy of Travel.” We “need sometimes,” the Harvard philosopher wrote, “to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.”
Welcome to Lavasa!

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Ginger Giraffe

Today is my birthday. I’m in Rajasthan with my camera. I decided to spend my 46th birthday surrounded by Indian heritage and Indian art. I also decided to gift myself my own retirement plan this year – something that was incubating in my head – refused to get out for possibly over 20 years now! I decided to gift myself an Art Gallery at Lavasa! This is what I always wanted to do besides Assisted Reproduction. This story is about the making of one of the finest art galleries-to-be on the Indian sub-continent. I used to have a romantic notion of what it would be like to own an art gallery. To be surrounded with great art everyday, to work with artists I love, and to sell art to people that love art as much as me….But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I haven’t owned an art gallery or worked at one, but I have had a close friend whos an artist to take me through the nitty-gritties of running one. Which took all of the romanticism out of the idea. There’s marketing, hanging, organizing the opening, air-smooching, air kissing, and when it’s all up and running, it’s just like looking after a shop. We shall cross the bridge when we come to it. The tentative date of launch being January 2010.

“The best art dealers are not salesmen in the classic sense of the word. Their passion and their connoisseurship and their knowledge have to combine to convince someone to acquire something that has no ostensible function in life, and that’s not always an easy thing to do. It is distinct from the normal business world because of that.”

In the three years of being associated with Lavasa and the team-Lavasa, I found only one more person who had as much passion for making Lavasa an art hub. He has far bigger plans than I have because he is the man who gave shape to his vision – Mr Ajit Gulabchand. He has plans to make an art-village in Lavasa that will celebrate Maharashtrian culture, art as well as everything Indian!

I have smaller dreams – getting Lavasa on the world art map with a well run art-gallery with India’s best “Artist-in-Residence’ program. It has taken almost two years on planning on the drawing boards. Pure passion and foolhardy financial courage (according to my wife!) has shaped the destiny of the art-gallery-to-be! There is a gallery I’ve seen in a small town in Mexico which is a family run operation, a small gallery that does everything from emerging to recognized international artists and they seem to do it as a labor of love.. that is where I’m aimed.. I think it is good to think outside the box. after all that is what we do when we create an art concept or painting, sculpture .. so why not think of creating a gallery in the same way..

We are now short-listing the staff at Lavasa – I am looking for an ex-art-teacher or a passionate art-lover who would not mind re-locating to Lavasa. For like-minded individuals, here are my requirements for the Vice-President, Art:

* If your motivation is purely financial, forget it. There are far too
many uncertainties in art.
* Those without any prior art back-ground need not apply.
* You have to be passionate about it. The “merely interested’ won’t cut it.
* You have to have a precise focus.
* In Lavasa, you have to be equally certain of loving the place more than the job.
* You have to have the ability to make both artists and collectors comfortable
with you.
* Then, if there is a secret ingredient, here it is: You have to have “a good eye.”
* In conclusion, you need a wide range of skills, you need to work hard, and
you can’t imagine for a moment that this going to be easy.
* You have to get along with your boss – however crazy he might look on
first appearance!

A couple of years ago, the Indian newspapers, magazines, TV channels & tabloids were full of art-news – Art was being projected as the next-get-rich-quick-sure-shot recipe.This is no get-rich-quick business.As Heller put it, There are so many better ways to make money. You either have to have a lot of savings, be personally wealthy or have backers because its very expensive.Indeed, the start-up costs are significant, which, for many gallerists, means outside funding is essential to get going. I think you have to have a reasonable amount of money before starting a gallery, rather than starting a gallery to make a lot of money. That way you can afford to show art that might be more daring and less commercial. After 19 years of private practice as a fertility physician, I dared to invest a large part of my savings into art. It is almost like my second innings in life going through my post-graduation exams all over again! The reading is more than what I remember reading in my Medical college years! I hope we get a stream of high-rollers & art lovers with good taste coming up to Lavasa. Yes, it’s tough to sell art to people that have no taste or no money. It takes a lot of money to do the real thing, and connections with wealthy buyers who also have taste. For the poor and the tasteless we have poster stores. But, if it’s any consolation, many of our museums show atrocities that will only be remembered in their own archives. These big organizations seem to be bent on abusing the attention of the public in the name of educating them. They are just following the crowd of other groupies to show overrated but well packaged crap. For instance, Dale Chihuly, a likeable guy with a big rep. But come on – he’s over-rated. He fills up space in public areas that need “something different”. What does a guy with 10 assistants have to show for his endless and repetitive production of mildly ornamental forms in glass? Chihuly has some good things but they are buried beneath the storm of mediocrity that he gets paid to ship and install. There is a dilution of art due to too much crap out there for the masses to digest. I remember Helen May Glickenstein – an art dealer from Virginia, USA telling me that until you have too many artists and too many collectors as a private dealer, do not open a space. I have not taken that advice very seriously. The most important thing is the real passion for what it is you are planning to embark on, because it is an emotional roller-coaster ride. If there is a single, basic requirement, this is it! You have to love art in some way or another to do it. I went into it because I like talking to artists and being with artists, and I like helping artists further their careers.

There are hundreds of galleries in India, dealing in dozens of different genres.You need to be certain of your area of specialization and stick to it.One of the most important [requirements] is to define the vision for the business as distinctly and succinctly as possible.From there, the rest generally falls in to place.I know that I will not dabble in Indian art – my focus is getting global art to India!I spent years finding the artists across five continents who I was interested in and figuring out what my eye was about and what my point of view was and how that all came together.I did not want to start in a cubby hole in Mumbai.I wanted to establish a gallery with huge open spaces. Mumbai was impossible with the real-estate as pricey as Manhattan. God got Nathan Andrews to sit next to me at an RCI dinner – next I met the Late Himanshu Saxena who was so very passionate about Lavasa. Then I followed my heart – Lavasa is, unquestionably, the most beautiful hill-station in this part of the world, and in such a crowded field in India, it can be difficult for a newcomer to get noticed. I know & believe that Lavasa will give me an opportunity to teach, live and discover Art.

You have to have the ability to make both artists and collectors comfortable with you.Everybody talks a lot about how important interpersonal skills are: Both artists and collectors tend to be pretty demanding characters, and you have to be able to bridge the gap between them. More than that, you have to want to. I have been mingling, eating, socializing and going on vacations with my artist friends across the world. They are all looking forward to spending quality time painting their symphonies at Lavasa. Artists don’t want to show with someone they don’t feel a connection to. You have to understand the work. You also have to understand collectors.Art is the ultimate luxury item, lets face it, so we want everybody to feel safe and secure when they are spending a lot of money on a work of art.

I want to make contemporary art accessible. The fact of the matter is most people dont know that much about art, and most people do not have a vast art history background. I decided that I was going to build an art gallery where artists were going to be there talking about their work, and I wanted it to be enriching. The gallery will was really a hybrid between education and a gallery. Certainly you have to be able to recognize quality in a work of art in its own terms – pictorial, sculptural, etc.but you also have to be able to comprehend it as a means of communication. You have to be able to appreciate how it sits within a cultural context, and how it relates to other art and other cultural objects and events. And then, as a dealer, you have to be able to comprehend art as a commodity: Will it sell? Its quite a balancing act. You really need a wide range of skills, you need to work hard, and you cant imagine for a moment that this going to be easy.

The most important thing when establishing an art gallery is to be patient. It is a business that takes time to flourish. You need time to establish connections with various art collectors, to market the gallery and find really good art that actually sells. A lot of it apart from running the actual ‘shop’ and having to deal with the day to day organization / management side of it, is PR. You have to devote quite a chunk of your time to PR the gallery. We take PR very seriously and have a lot of social media initiatives in place to let the world know that the “Ginger Giraffe” has come into this world! We had 9 months of solid research to choose the appropriate name for my baby – Ginger Giraffe is getting ready for a baby shower!

We had a Mexican firm jointly design the Ginger Giraffe with Toezer Contractor. Leonardo Diaz Borioli & Gerardo Sanchez Sendra from Guadalajara’s well known architectural design firm – Estudio Pi did the basic design. They were flown into India and spent time with the Lavasa Infrastructure team onsite in Portofino C. We hosted them in Mumbai and the Lavasa Corporation hosted them at their offices and congratulated them on their singular achievement of getting in Mexican art-forms and architecture for the first time into India since after Independence. The pictures here show Mr Rajgopal Nogja and Mr Nathan Andrews accepting the first blue-prints of the Ginger Giraffe design.

Leonardo Diaz-Borioli is from Mexico and a founding director of the global architecture firm ESTUDIO 3.14 with offices in Mexico and France. His studies took him to Florence, in Italy, Cambridge and Princeton in the United States, and Guadalajara in Mexico. Leonardo holds a Science Master of Architectural Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a second post-professional degree from Princeton University and is currently a PhD. candidate in the history theory and criticism of art, architecture, and urban form at Princeton University.Both his academic and design practices have been published in Europe, the United States, and México and he is the recipient of numerous awards that include architectural biennials and prestigious fellowships and grants. Leonardo is a specialist on Mexican architect Luis Barragán that is the topic of an upcoming book to
be published in Mexico by the ministry of culture.

Gerardo Sánchez-Sendra, his partner and CEO of the global architectural firm ESTUDIO 3.14 holds a Master in Business Administration from the Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa (IPADE), a professional degree in Architecture from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) and is an attendant to MIT professional Development courses on Real State. A teacher on the school of architecture in the “Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey” (ITESM) since 2007, his previous research includes “Suprematismo Re-Visiones”, a study on the Russian Suprematist movement.

Why Mexican architects & why Mexican architecture? The Ginger Giraffe has some other unique distinctions – singular to India! We are launching India’s first Sergio Bustamante boutique within the Ginger Giraffe. Sergio Bustamante is to Mexico what Mahendra Singh Dhoni is to India! American Express carries TV commercials with Mr Sergio Bustamante across Latin America. Though born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, Sergio Bustamante has lived in the Guadalajara area since early childhood. In his youth, he studied architecture at the University of Guadalajara, but abandoned this pursuit when his talents and interests drew him to the fine arts and crafts. He began with paintings and paper mache figures, inaugurating the first exhibit of his works at the Galeria Misracha in Mexico City in 1966. In the early 1970’s, he traveled to Amsterdam, where he further developed his talents. After his return to Guadalajara, he established in 1975, along with other artists, the “Family Workshop Studio” in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico.

While Bustamante’s works initially focused on painting and paper mache, his talents inevitably led, in the mid-1970’s, to the creation of sculptures in wood and bronze, many reflecting animal themes. 1979 marked the inauguration of innovative furniture designs in wood and glass with bronze accents, currently available in distinctive patterns and motifs. The creation of ceramic sculptures in the mid-1980’s provided avenues for the use of color and form in ways not previously explored. In 1992, the initiation of an extensive line of exquisite jewelry in bronze, gold and silver, many set with precious and semi-precious stones and, again, often reflecting animal themes, marked a new and expansive direction for his creations. In this same year, a new series of paper mache sculptures was introduced. In the new millennium, Bustamante continues to explore uncharted paths for the further expression of his uniquely imaginative and gifted talents.Each piece belongs to a limited edition and is created by hand, therefore unique. A certificate of authenticity duly signed by the artists itself is attributed to each sculpture. All works are of very good quality, and pieces of small and big size up to four (4) meters high are available in the collection. It is amazing how Sergio Bustamante can project all that magic and fascination to each one of his works.

The art collection of many private residences, public buildings, and museums in every part of the planet has been enriched by Sergio Bustamante’s works. The Mexican government even elected them for official gifts to state governors and to high personalities. His works are more and more wanted around the globe (Mexico, United States, Japan, Europe, and recently Russia); therefore they will probably increase in value over the next years. The Ginger Giraffe will be the first step for Sergio Bustamante into the country that he loves & admires & had always longed to display his art in! We welcome Sergio Bustamante to India! Lavasa loves you, Sergio!

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Beautiful Dawn in Lavasa

What can I say, everyday I greet you with a cool smile but you seldom notice. I am taken for granted by billions and only appreciated by a few. Every morning I look forward to greeting you looking my best but you never notice. Past generations greeted me with a smile and took the time to appreciate my beauty. In some cultures the first born was named in my honor. Those were much simpler times. Today you are in such a hurry that I feel I am a nuisance and not a blessing as you rinse the dew I left on your car. As I arrive every morning millions of animals greet me with song and playfulness but you, don’t even take the time to appreciate them. I guess it is true what you say time is money, but money can never buy what you miss every morning. A song has recently written about me and I hope it will help you understand what I have been trying to say.

The song goes like this: James Blunt – High Beautiful dawn – lights up the shore for me. There is nothing else in the world, I’d rather wake up and see (with you). Beautiful dawn – I’m just chasing time again. Thought I would die a lonely man, in endless night. But now I’m high; running wild among all the stars above. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you remember me. Beautiful dawn – melt with the stars again. Do you remember the day when my journey began? Will you remember the end (of time)? Beautiful dawn – You’re just blowing my mind again. Thought I was born to endless night, until you shine. High; running wild among all the stars above. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you remember me. Will you be my shoulder when I’m grey and older? Promise me tomorrow starts with you, Getting high; running wild among all the stars above. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you remember me..

Here I am trapped between these two concrete walls and plated glass. Forced to serve my time away from everything I love. I had promised my kids the vacation to Disney & Universal in California & am boarding the flight in a few minutes.  I will miss Lavasa for three weeks now! Anyways the last week in Mexico is dedicated to the “Sergio Bustamante” store at Lavasa due to open coming Diwali.

How often did I really think about nature?  Not often!  I had never really stopped or slowed down my life to think about the great and beautiful things nature has to offer.  That is until I started visiting Lavasa regularly.  It is now that I have come to realize the wonderful things nature in Lavasa has offered me and I have never, like they say….stopped to smell the roses!  I had always been too busy with my job and life itself that I had forgotten to take a moment to embrace nature; today I miss my Lavabahn cruising as I exit my country.

The water body beautifies the hill station and everything around it.  The trees make it so inviting and I remember thinking….I’m coming back here and just relax and enjoy the view.  Of course, I will now not have the chance to go back for 3 weeks!!!  Why don’t we appreciate nature and take advantage of what it provides us.  Natural beauty is found all around.  The trees seem to call out to us and invite us to take a break from our daily lives and just relax and read a book under them.  They provide the shade and protection that we so much need in hot sunny days, as well as in shady, cloudy ones.  Sitting on the green, crispy grass under my favorite tree near Ekaant makes me feel I can open my arms to the clear, blue sky.  I can actually breathe and slow down to really observe my surroundings.  The water makes the area so tranquil and soothing.  The sound of the water is music to my ears.  The sunlight on the Warasgaon Lake creates illusions of wonderful shapes in many different colors yet to be named.

I can see fish swimming slowly in the water and disappear in its depth.  I can hear the chirping of the birds and the sound of branches as they play happily on the trees.  It’s almost as watching children running joyfully.  I can smell the pureness of the air and fill my lungs with the ecstatic energy that only nature can provide.  Time seems to stand still as I sit here and enjoy the natural beauty of the environment.  I wish I did not have to leave this enchanted place.  I envy the ants that are free to come and go everywhere they want; the birds that fly all over the sky and yet always come back and the fish that live in the waterbody and know all its treasures and its most precious secrets.  Daily life struggles seem to fade away and I feel empowered to conquer anything…anything at all!  How wonderful is this feeling of peace, courage and happiness and to think that nature is found everywhere.  Only three hours from Mumbai!

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The Presidential Address at the 56th AGM of the Mumbai Obstetric & Gynaecological Society

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

The best because our chosen profession has and is progressing by leaps and bounds and leading the medical world into new fields of research, therapy and hope.Assisted reproduction today is a highly advanced field and practitioners are doing what no one believed was possible.We provided the embryos and the cord blood from where stem cell research took off and is poised to make breakthroughs in irreparable nerve cell or cardiac cell damage, manage cancer, diabetes and liver cell failure.We are at the forefront of the medical world in endoscopy. Surgeons from other specialties to suit themselves, modified procedures and instruments devised by brilliant gynecologists. We are still eons ahead of them. Today there is no pathology that master endoscopists cannot treat laparoscopically. It was a gynecologist Ian Donald who first thought to use sound waves to make images of the unborn child. Today we can diagnose and treat an ailing fetus in its mother’s womb by blood transfusion or draining an over distended bladder. As the world ages, we are still there at the next frontier with our meshes and tapes that repair aging muscle, keeping a woman continent and giving her a new life. We have a variety of options in medications for the older woman to keep her bones strong and her skin tough. That we care deeply for our patients is obvious from the fact that we are among the few surgeons who make the effort of doing a surgery through a pfannensteil or bikini cut incision and painstakingly close it so that the scar does not show. Here too we are busy trying out tummy tucks with hysterectomies or even cesarean sections. It is a matter of pride that all these latest technologies are available in our country and its medical capital, this city of Mumbai. Impossible is nothing! The story of my Presidential year 2009-10 began almost 5 years ago and started with me searching for the promised land that will bring our post-graduates closer to academics, research & newer technologies. These are difficult times with the world at war, terrorism threatening our planet, our country, our beloved city and our way of life. We cannot even hold our cricket matches in our own country. A severe economic recession grips the world and threatens our medical tourism and outsourcing industries. However there is hope as a young new president takes charge of world’s most powerful nation and speaks of change. And the youngest thus far president takes charge of the Mumbai Obstetric and Gynecological society in its 75th year and also promises that this year will be different. This will be an Indo-Israeli year. My reasons for choosing the Israelis to partner us this year, is that we have many cultural and social similarities. We both built our nations from scratch; we value education and hard work. We are quick to adapt to a new methodologies and we thirst for success and recognition. Israel is a first world country doing cutting edge research in infertility and fetal medicine and genetics and has well established protocols and procedures in endoscopy and oncology. She has graciously agreed to help her developing sister country by sending her leading doctors who will share their knowledge and expertise. Since both countries became independent, this is the first scientific collaboration for an entire year between Professional Societies. Not one, but 7 Israeli Medical Organizations have thrown their weight behind the Mumbai Obstetric & Gynecological Society (MOGS) this year! Israel is sending us 14 world leaders in their respective disciplines. Our theme for MOGS this year is: “Technology Saves Lives. Let us learn from the best”. This is what the Indo-Israeli collaboration translates to. Let us also extend this generosity to our fellow gynecologists from other towns and cities who can attend all our academic programs this year. Information about our scientific sessions will be sent all over the country- so we expect a lot of new faces in town this year. To all of you fellow gynecologists I say be the change. Lets not have any negativity this year but contribute enthusiastically as if each one of you were the president of the MOGS and organize innovative, interesting and useful sessions for us as part of our outreach programmes. We are taking the good work started by my predecessors forward. Why partner with Israel? India, the world’s biggest democracy, and Israel, one of the tiniest democracies, surprisingly have much in common. Both are the cradle to the world’s most dominant religions. Thus, for over 5000 years they have sprouted the foundations of human culture as we know it today. Both these countries have many sites which are considered the holiest to the largest number of followers all over the globe.Given India’s strong scientific and technological base, Israel is keen on strengthening professional medical ties with India. The Indo-Israeli Year presents an exciting new means to help physicians from India and Israel to establish a vibrant partnership. This is going to be one of the first official academic collaborations between the two countries ever since they both achieved independence over 60 years ago. We are all looking forward towards an unprecedented opportunity of first-hand exchange of knowledge and experience that can forward our mutual goal of extending the best health care to all women. At this time, I would like to publicly acknowledge the support system at home. Despite me being me, all I got at home was solid support & love. Thank You Swati, Akanksha, Ranveer, Daddy, Titoo, Siddharth.They say a man’s upbringing starts a hundred years before his birth. We Hindus believe our good luck now is the result of past life karma. Someone up there must like me to have blessed me with superb teachers who shaped me as a gynecologist and fertility physician and as a man.My heartfelt respect and gratitude to Dr Snehalata Deshmukh, Dr Pratibha Vaidya, Dr Geetha Niyogi, Dr Vivek Patkar, Dr Sushila Saraf, Dr PB PaiDhungat, Dr Satish Tibrewala, Dr Shashank Parulekar, Prof. O Djahanbakhch & Dr Sadhana Desai. I could not have taken on this responsibility were it it not for my capable team from Rotunda & Deccan, Kaushal, Goral, Sulbha and Anjali who have been my backbone. No man is an island though people often accuse me of being a loner. I would not be where I am today without the help, support and guidance of my dear friends – This year would not have been in its present form without the support of Dr Daniel Seidman & all my other friends. It is just once in your life that you meet someone who can change the way you look at the world. Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. I have never in my life met a person who has so influenced me with his vision, intelligence & philanthropy. Mr Ajit Gulabchand is Chairman and Managing Director of HCC – one of India’s leading construction companies and has been a catalytic factor in the infrastructure growth of India including our own Bandra-Worli sealink & Lavasa – Free India’s largest hill station spread across 12,500 acres, set amidst 7 hills and 60 kms of lakefront. Corporate Social Responsibility remains intrinsic to Mr Gulabchand’s vision for the group encompassing HIV, Education, Water, and Disaster Management initiatives. He has recently endowed a new ‘Ajit Gulabchand Chair’ on Indian Business Studies being set up at Oxford University and is a member of the Oxford International Advisory Board for Executive Education. Upon my request, he has agreed to bequeath a grand sum of Rs ten lakhs to MOGS to set up an overseas training fellowship for a young MOGS member gynecologist in memory of his mother Late Dr Shantabai Gulabchand, who was an eminent gynecologist practicing in our own city. Being an ace ranker in her college, Dr Shantabai Gulabchand secured an easy admission for MBBS in Grant Medical College of the J J Hospital. She passed the MBBS with flying colors, securing various medals to her credit, such as Viceroy’s silver trophy, Lord Sandhurst’s Gold Medal and even the National Scholarship for Indian lady doctors. After completing internship at Cama Hospital, Mumbai, Shantabai was appointed as Lecturer at Bai Motlibai and Petit Hospital. Mumbai. She believed in studies, and perused whole heartedly by completing her F.R.C.S. (Gynecology) at an early age of 26 in London. After obtaining the F.R.C.S. degree, she returned to Mumbai and started her own clinic in Girgaum, Mumbai. She possessed an entrepreneurial streak right from the beginning of her career and started a company called “Altra Laboratories” that manufactured medicines. In June 1947 she married reputed industrialist Seth Gulabchand Hirachand. She served as Director on the Board of Hindustan Construction Ltd for nearly 31 years.Even in the post independence era, Shantabai was actively involved in politics and was associated with the Swatantra Party. She also deeply believed in women empowerment and education. Thank you Sir for partnering MOGS to help out our own post-graduates & to advance science in our own city. I would like to dedicate my own Presidential year to the memory of my late mother Dr(Mrs) Sanyogita Allahbadia who strived that her children be given the best education. I am grateful to my parents for having given me a sound education and made me capable enough to be speaking before this very august audience. We will try our best to offer an amalgam of the highest academic standards with the recent advances in the field. I was particularly impressed by one of President Ronald Reagan’s memorable quotes: Aim for the top, pray to God and Hope for the best. That has been my philosophy & it will be our endeavor to strive for excellence in all aspects of this year. We promise you will we will do our best not to let you down.I believe that a true student is never satisfied or content with the knowledge gleaned . And we will all continue to remain students all our life since education is a continuous process. I’m sure we will enrich ourselves with pearls of wisdom that we will pick up from the deliberations of meetings in 2009-10. The great pleasure in life is in doing what people say you cannot do . Let us all make this a memorable year!

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Lavasa Rules!

I was on my last egg-pickup procedure & it was already 2:00pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for 5:00pm. I left the clinic immediately after the patient was settled and got into a big traffic pile-up at Chembur! The express-way was empty at that time of the afternoon & I clocked just over 80 minutes to reach the end of the expressway. Once you turn right from the expressway, it is exactly 20 kms to the Chandni Chowk underpass which leads to the Pirangut-Paud tollgate. Taking the short-cut from just before Pirangut passing the Indai Lawns, I cruised onto the Lavabahn at 4 pm.It would have taken me just 30 minutes more to reach Lavasa, but I was hypnotized by the shades of green, rust & reds.dsc00520dsc00528 March was a different spectacle altogether from February! The Jowar crop had just been harvested & the dried fields were being converted to bundles of hay. I would have thought that the heat would have turned everything around into shades of brown, but I was surprised to see nascent green all around. The 30 minute jouney now took two hours & I fell in love with the wild flowers all over again. dsc00530These were a completely new set of species, which were not seen in the past six months. The majestic trees on both sides of the Lavabahn were swathed with a sheet of exotic red flowers. The helipad appeared around a curve in the road & seeing the helicopter, I realized how late I was. I reached the lobby bang in the middle of the Inaugural ceremony. Hugged my buddies & rushed up to freshen up. Another pleasant surprise – a WOW room!!! ITC has again excelled itself & have created a lovely hotel with ultramodern comforts. Rushed down, but the ceremony was over. Decided to visit Jimmy Shaw’s Waterfront Serviced Apartments. Fida & Jimmy took us for a sneak preview – “WOW-WOW”- this was a whopper surprise. Beautiful & spacious serviced apartments with every imaginable five star amenity in these 43 apartments! The future of Lavasa had arrived. We had time to kill & decided to “experience’ the LEC (LAVASA EXPERIENCE CENTER) next to the Fortune building. Another architectural masterpiece – Elegant straight lines, a airy majestic atrium & a superlative auditorium. This indeed is the showcase of modern India! dsc00540

Around me I hear my friends Deepak & Jimmy remarking on the several species of birds that have congregated on the broken limbs of what at one time must have been beautiful proud trees.  And that’s when it hits me.  This wasn’t always a dried up grove.  At some point this was probably a full and lush grove of trees.  They once claimed this space for themselves.  They lived here, providing a safe haven for countless generations of creatures.  Somehow over the course of time these trees became a casualty of the elements to which they were exposed. Slowly, they succumbed, one by one to the inevitable effects of being deprived of water.  The little collection of trees, that had managed to survive for years unattended, died.  Now only a few brave soldiers still stand tall and proud.  You can see them trying so hard to maintain their dignity as all around them life goes on. At first glance it’s easy to overlook them.  We tend to get so caught up on the hustle and bustle of the life we see all around them.  This bird or that one going about their daily life with the same nearsightedness from which we all suffer.  Each keeping to themselves, going about their day and following their own urgent agenda. It’s not so difficult to understand.  We are ourselves a reflection of the nature we came out here to be with.  At one point or another all of us have been exposed to loss and grief.  Though we might think we’ll never survive such losses; we inevitably do.  As is in the human spirit, we survive and overcome and manage to live day to day in spite of it all. dsc00576dsc00583dsc00596dsc00597These once magnificent trees are a testament to the frailty and beauty of life.  They have struggled through many changes and managed to remain standing through many seasons.  And though they stand here before me; I know they are dying.  Life is no longer theirs to have.  They are destined to keep struggling everyday for that last shred of sunlight to touch their trunks before finally giving in to the red caked earth below. They have so much they would like to tell us.  But it’s hard to hear them over the squawking migratory white birds nearby.  It’s only when we stop and find some stillness that we can hear their tale.
All of us had congregated at Lavasa to witness the grand opening of the ITC Fortune select Dasve Hotel.dsc00609 Our honorable MP Sou Supriya Suleji had inaugurated the hotel & the celebratory party was a few hours down the evening. A group of us friends decided to take a walk around the lake & that is where we discovered this dead patch of trees. The most visionary project taken up by Team Lavasa is the re-forestation of barren slopes & the re-greening of the hillsides which have been cut to make way for the Lavabahn that is the connecting artery to the outside world. This is such a serene world by the lakeside. A beautiful blend of nature & its eco-friendly environment. We walked ahead from this barren area towards the dam and on towards the Portofino street. Jimmy had also inaugurated his out-of-the-world American Diner (A replica of the successful restaurant from India Habitat Center, New Delhi)  that afternoon. We were in for a pleasant surprise… our first onion rings & peanut butter smoothies in Lavasa. We were joined by Dr & Mrs Suri who had also come in from Mumbai for the Fortune launch.dsc00532
The Fortune Select Dasve looked resplendant & bedecked in shimmering lights like a newly wed bride. The glitter of the sparkling lights reflected off the serene waters of the lake. We walked across the “venetian” bridge & joined the party on the lawns of this magnificient building.


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Lavasa Is Red

Red Translations

red in Afrikaans is rood
red in Dutch is rood, blozend
red in Finnish is punainen
red in French is rouge
red in German is rot
red in Italian is vermiglio, rosso
red in Latin is rutilus, puniceus, rufus
red in Portuguese is vermelho
red in Spanish is tinto, rojo

dsc00587dsc00591dsc00626dsc00633Color is an intense experience on its own.
-Jim Hodges

Lavasa is gorgeous. The sunshine in Lavasa is gorgeous red in March. Red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye. In human color psychology, red is associated with heat, energy and blood, and emotions that “stir the blood”, including anger, passion, and love! Lavasa in March is the season of Love. The word red comes from the Old English rēad. Further back, the word can be traced to the Proto-Germanic rauthaz and the Proto-Indo European root reudh. This is the only color word which has been traced to an Indo-European root. In Sanskrit, the word rudra means red. In the English language, the word red is associated with the color of blood, certain flowers (e.g. roses), and ripe fruits (e.g. apples, cherries). Fire is also strongly connected, as is the sun and the sky at sunset. Red is frequently used as a symbol of guilt, sin and anger, often as connected with blood or sex. A biblical example is found in Isaiah: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” The association with love and beauty is possibly related to the use of red roses as a love symbol. Both the Greeks and the Hebrews considered red a symbol of love, as well as sacrifice.

Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.
-Bill Blass

I was having my “missing-Lavasa” pangs & drove down Friday afternoon to my destination of dreams. Had my usual addictive “batata-wada-pao” on the express-way & zoomed onto the Lavabahn, which was as inviting and pristine as ever. The “short-cut” from just before Pirangut towards Lavarde has been tarred & widened for 3/4ths of its length. The Beamer slipped over the top of the Lavabahn like “makkhan”! On the ascent, I noticed the forest covered in red!! The color red is associated with lust, passion, love, and beauty as well. These 4 words describe Lavasa as well. The trees were swathed with red flowers (genus unknown!).The usual drive from the beginning of the Lavabahn takes just 30 minutes, but this time I took all of 75 minutes to reach the Lavasa Dwaar; making many short halts on the way admiring & photographing nature in its full glory. The red flowers on the trees were mesmerizing. The flowers were glowing in the radiant sunlight like fireflies around a bright flame! This was in stark contrast to the jowar fields which were enveloped in rust-brown shades with a little green of dried grass peeking through. This was hay-making time & the villagers along the route were making bundles of hay. The jowar pods reminded me of how life begins from earth & ends there too. The wild shrubs by the sides of the Lavabahn were also sprouting flowers in shades of purple. Nature seemed to be smiling in March.
I got out of my car and decided to take a walk on the wild side.  As I walked and thought about what to spot that resembled nature, I would notice trees with palm-like fronds, flowers, grass, and birds of assorted kinds.  Some of these trees were as high as a third floor building. Nature is amazing no matter how it is created.These huge trees with the red flowers were the predominant feature of my tryst with Lavasa this time.

And then I passed through the Lavasa Dwaar. The landscape here was well organized.  I mean if nature had done it by itself, I know it would not look the same.  Since man organized it, it was different.  It was different in a pretty way though.  The different plants organized in such a manner.  One kind of flowers was in a row and another kind was in a row in back.  The way they placed vines to spread in a certain manner around the plants made it more colorful.  All this was close to the helipad and not a forest, yet it was nature. The sun shone however, it seemed that its rays never quite made it to the deep nature trail created by the Ekaant team which leads to the Dwaar.  Nonetheless, my surroundings seemed to have no complaints at all.  The wild bush, medicinal plants and trees, and flowering shrubs danced merrily to the tune of the wind.  It was then that I realized that even though it was Indian summer time, the area was filled with a colorful scenery.  Adding to the hues of nature were some birds who hung out nonchalantly waiting for a bite to eat.  As I stood there feeling the  wind against my cheeks, I couldn’t help but admire nature’s unique way of taking care of its creatures. I think what impressed me the most was the number of different species that shared the same abode without threatening each other’s territory.

I now spend my days at Lavasa fleeting from flower to flower, photographing these miracles of nature and I’ve discovered that I am not alone. There are hundreds of butterflies out there, in all the hues of nature. For now, it is enough that I have become what I was meant to be and the flowers seem equally happy.

The true color of life is the color of the body, the color of the covered red, the implicit and not explicit red of the living heart and the pulses. It is the modest color of the unpublished blood.
-Alice Meynell

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