Subodh Prabhu & Neurosciences

Neurosciences ,Functional Neurosurgery ,Deep Brain Stimulation ,Indian Philosophy


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The Transformation

Posted by svpneuro on August 16, 2009 at 5:22 PM Comments comments (1)

The Transfromation

 The Transformation

 I noticed this tree when I arrived in France. It was right on my path to the mall and the little woods across the highway which I frequented and explored.


 What attracted my attention to it was this. it was a singular specimen of its kind in the nearby area .I tried to find similar one in the park I reside in and the nearby foliage but did  not find it.


 When I first noticed , it was in full bloom .Virtually no leaf could be noted. All over the tree there ware pink inflorescences. The tree had a small stem and branches sprouted out symmetrically in three dimensions and each one was studded with these pink flowers. The petals were multilayered and the color was not absolute pink ;Few of them were pastel pink like a baby's cheeks and few of darker shade of pink like the lipstick! The Sunlight used to trickle down from the dense inflorescence and it added more hues of pink to the petals .



 The flowers had also fragrance ;Not the usual 'sweet scent', one associates with the flowers. certainly not! It had a robust ,musty ,woody quality to it .The closest comparison could be a combination of delicate fragrance of Neem flowers in hot summer in India with addition of tropical jungle smell just after the monsoon showers when the moss grown on the tree trunks and neophytes on the ground lend exotic touch to the typical jungle smell.


 The petals used to fall on the road and the ground creating a mosaic. It was a carpet of incredible patterns of mottled pink on grey asphalt surface of the road. And each pattern was unique .Every day it used to change depending upon wind direction ,and its strength.


 I fell in love with this tree. It became a routine to walk upto it ,breath through both nostrils filling the lungs with the fragrant air ;then exhale slowly savoring the heady feeling. Then the visual treat of its inflorescence and fallen petals. I touched the tree branches sometimes ever so delicately feeling as if it communicated to me !I observed it at various times .On early mornings when the daylight was yet to break and a blob of pink could hardly be identified. At full noon when the pastel pink flowers appeared with a peripheral radiance; And at late night when the headlights of passing cars on the adjacent highway illuminated the tree transiently .Against the backdrop of darkness the tree appeared like a flame then .It became my friend.


 The spectacle lasted about a month .Slowly the thickness of the carpet of the petals at my foot went on increasing .The slightest wind created a massive shading. In the past a branch was difficult to identify separately in this thick inflorescence ;Now the grey brown wooden sticks appeared like furrows on the face of an old person.


 Then it happened .I was returning late from the walk. The air was sultry & thick with humidity .It started raining and a storm soon followed. There were other shelters where I could have been more comfortable but I decided to reach the pink tree.


 Of course I got drenched completely .There was not a big trunk to lean upon but the branches above covered me in a pink umbrella .The rain and wind gathered more strength. The petals started falling rapidly .First it was just a trickle of petals and water. Then it became a stream all over my head. The fragrant ,petals were as if anointing me ;I thought nature was performing a special favor by bathing my body in this exotic fluid. I stretched my both arms parallel to the branches .For a split second I felt I was sucked into the tree, I myself had became a tree!


 The storm abetted .I reached home .It was a sad experience the next day when I visited the tree. There were not a single flower left on it .All branches were bare and the usual carpet at the bottom was piled ankle deep in petals. But this was not a brilliant carpet ,I was used to. The petals were soiled, mutilated lifeless .A truck with mechanical brush brooms was already cleaning the road and fast approaching the tree. I hesitantly picked up a handful of fallen soggy petals and the driver in the truck smiled .He stopped the noisy brushes and waited possibly for my next move. Well there was not more thing to do. I hurriedly retraced my path clutching the petals in the hand. Just near the corner, before entering home I smelled the petals .There was no fragrance .I was sad .I dropped the petals in the dustbin and returned back empty handed.


 For three days I was upset .I did not have the heart to traverse the usual path to the tree and to the woods. It was painful to see this once splendid friend in a miserable impoverished frame .. I thought a part of my existence was entwined with the tree and I was also suffering .


 But then the mind always searches for solace. It conjures up many answers on its own and justifies events .Mostly It seeks retreat in philosophy in such situations !!

 I suddenly recalled the text from Gita




वासांसि जिर्णाय यथा विहाय ,

नवानि गृह्यति नरोsपराणि ,

तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा ,

नन्याति संयाति नवानि देही (गिता २:२२)




 Like a person discards the old cloths and wares new one ,the Atma(soul)discards the worn body and attains a new one !This transformation is the rule of existence. It then donned upon me. I realized the futility of pain .After all the tree was destined to shed the flowers at any time .How was I entangled in its transformation ?Why was I disturbed ?I also realized that I had labeled it as my friend .And a friendship is tested more so in adverse condition .The tree had lost its glory ,but did I do right thing by abandoning the visits? In its difficult times were not my visits as a friend more meaningful?


 I resumed my daily visits. Though the tree was still bare I was not sad .The routine continued, I still observed it with great intent .I still used l my sensory faculties the smell ,vision ,sense of touch to explore it .I did not hear it as it was silent. I did not taste it as there were no fruits. The from of the tree appeared same , radically symmetrical and well spread in all directions. I realized that its ?core? had not changed despite the transformation .



 Some two weeks passed .I noticed a tiny outgrowth at a branch .It was the first light green leaf. I rejoiced .In no time the tree was covered in leaves, all over symmetrical and well spread. My friend had rejuvenated, reinvented itself.


 I still continue my walks, I still meet my tree on the way .In it's transformation ,it taught me two things .One to accept the transformation. It happens all the time .One changes ones existence in many ways. We translocate to new geography ,we assume new roles ,we leave burdens behind and accept few more !The transformation is a reality and change is the face of it .What matters is to retain the 'essential core ' intact .The core of our personality ,beliefs ,attitude ,ethics and outlook.

 Secondly it endorsed an often repeated cliché ! We need not change our friends if we understand that friends change!


Subodh Prabhu ,16 th  August 2009


Posted by svpneuro on May 1, 2009 at 8:51 AM Comments comments (7)

Silence has its own language.

It takes harsh notes after a quarrel,

It speaks in melodies when lovers look at each other .

& It speaks sooth-saying lullabies of inner peace.

When silence is integral part of neighborhood nature !


The most striking feature of my existence here so far is ,


A truly majestic ,splendid ,crystalline quality of silence !


I did not notice it the first few days .Then it gradually seeped in ,entering the mind with each breath that I took! This is quite striking because of my past. I lived a life where I was constantly chatting up ,speaking a lot ,spewing a torrent of words.It was part of my profession. I was explaining things to patients & their relatives ,explaining neurosciences to whoever wanted to learn about them ,explaining behavior of people when it appeared skewed,

.Words !millions of words !!.

Some sacred, some profane ,some profound and many, perhaps most - utterly useless.

Such wanton use of the faculty of speech, which only Humans are endowed with ,was worrisome .I used to seek retreat in mountains , forests ,at lonely beaches and try to cleanse my brain of these piled up words .Yes ,each such word creates a memory encoding .If you remember the context in which they were uttered , then it is an additional memory trace.

To use a modern theme , a burden of utterly useless downloads and temporary files that occupied precious space on my hard disc drive (brain)


Here in Grenoble it is different .A part of it is being a stranger. Other part is being at foothills of snow clad mountains.

I do not handle patients. The conversation with my group although lively, is limited .Conversation with experimental animals is mainly non verbal! This is the first part.


But more importantly it is the things around you. French is a sonorous language ,almost musical to listen to. Persons I have met so far(at least) are also soft spoken .Nobody honks a horn , No blaring loud speakers , No processions ,no cacophony on the streets. I initially was slightly uneasy with this all pervasive silence in a town.

And the mountains! They encircle the town .If you stretch your imagination they encircle you too .Cuddling you up in the 'cold' embrace. The word 'cold' is used to denote the physical attribute. Actually the embraces is quite warm once you are attuned to nature around you. Why, even the birds vocalize in a deep throat! I have noticed a crow that croaks in such pitifully a low pitch that I always feel that either it must be asthmatic or terminally ill!.

So at 7 00 pm when I am at home it is curtains! Not even a word is spoken .I have my cocoon of serenity ,solitude ,seclusion and silence!


This silence doesn't hurt. It provides you a space and time platform for introspection .In a way, an opportunity of communication with your own brain .I am not uncomfortable .The more one thinks about it , more one realizes that silence is also a language .A language that we in modern world seldom use effectively ! Just a gaze at a true friend is sufficient to know his thoughts ,moods if you are tuned to each other. A grave silence can communicate more meaning than pages full of arguments after a disagreement. Simple people use silence as the tool for defence .And crafty people do use same silence to serve all their purposes!I quote here the Sanskrit phrase ?Maunam Sarvartha Sadhanam ?.Keeping mum is their way of getting rid of all the problems!

I think my brain was hardwired for this blissful ,peaceful kind of silent software . 


Subodh Prabhu ,30 th April 09