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We chose happiness and compassion; we chose life

Reshmy Krishnakumar Sunday, March 19, 2017
We chose happiness and compassion; we chose life

It is a widely accepted fact that the ultimate aim of anyone in this world is to attain the state of happiness. We study, earn, live and even struggle a lot with an aim to be happy; but we fail to realize that, happiness is our choice and not a consequence of any of our action. Happiness comes from within when you decide to be happy. We have a doctor couple on today, who radiates positivity around them; Dr. Vinod Grover, renowned Senior Surgeon at Jahra Hospital, Kuwait and former president of Indian Doctors Forum, along with his wife Dr. Saroj Grover, Physician at Infectious Diseases Hospital, Kuwait. Both are well known for their seamless service and support offered to the community especially for those under privileged. IIK is happy to feature this cheerful and happy-go-lucky couple on this International Day of Happiness.

IIK: To be happy is easy, but to make others feel happy and cared for is not possible by everyone and when this quality is imbibed by a doctor couple as often vouched by both Kuwaiti and expatriate community alike, then it is worth mentioning.

Dr. Grover: Thank you You have always been our support for any of the social activities. Actually it is not so difficult to share and spread happiness. Just an insight of the fact that emotions are same for all is enough. For us, as doctors, patients are part and parcel of our life and we care for them alike, be it a Kuwaiti or an expatriate. Pain is the same of all and the relief they get from pacifying words from their doctor is also the same. A kind word can make them feel the soft touch of hope. When they start feeling happy and sense the flavor of care and understanding on the part of his/her doctor, there starts the journey back from illness.

IIK:: Whoever knows you says that you are a happy couple enjoying every moment of your life. Being in such a profession, how do you balance the stress in work? Or what is that special tip which makes the recipe of your life tasty and yummy?

Dr. Grover: As you said, this profession has got its own shadows and stress. In surgeries we cannot avoid complications and consequently we have tensed times at work. Sometimes we are able to hide it and sometimes we are not. But we have families dependent on us and the life has to go on and for them, you have to come back to normal. Since we are from same profession we have a better understanding of the professional complexities. This gets reflected at home also and that makes it easy for us to balance each other.

Dr. Saroj: Exactly. The support and coordination between us plays a major role in keeping ourselves happy. If both the husband and wife are working, then it is obvious that the responsibility of family and kids should be shared. Sharing the responsibility doesn’t mean that he comes to kitchen and helps me in cooking even if he is not good at it. As a woman I can handle quite a lot of things and as a calm and cool person he is good at handling many other things. He takes up those areas where he is good at so that I don’t have to worry about it at all. That is how the sharing should be. You should not push your partner down just because he/ she is not good at helping you with something you wish. Another important thing is the communication. When we understand that anger can take us nowhere and it is better to talk it out, there lies the solution for any issues. We have tried to pass it on to our children and even now we make sure that they communicate properly with their partners.

IIK:: According to you, what is the relationship between happiness and health?

Dr. Grover: Definitely a happy mind will be healthier than worried mind. Scientifically explained, happiness reduces the illness as it has direct relation with the immune system of body. Also when we take the psychological part of it, happiness around us will get reflected in our life positively. For example if my wife returns home from work with a gloomy face, then that will certainly reflect on me and my kids. The whole atmosphere of the home will change.

IIK:: Now-a-days people are seen to be stressed. Do you find major difference in the mindset of previous and present generation? Why people can’t be happy and take life as it comes?

Dr. Saroj: People are not happy because all are on a race to win the world. No one has time to enjoy the company of friends or family. Working hard for a better financial status is good, but that should not be at the cost of your relationships. Today kids have everything they want. They have to just name it and it is made available for them. Parents don’t want their kids to miss anything they missed in their childhood. But in this run they are actually depriving their kids of the most valuable thing we all had; the personal touch and the family time. Our mother used to feed us with her hand, she used to hug us for no reason, and we used to have food together where we shared the day’s experience with everyone. Today no one realizes that at the end of the day what really matters is not money, but relationships.

IIK:: Is that why stress management is gaining more importance?

Dr. Grover: Stress management is actually the most important thing in our life today. People are stressed at work and home in a similar way. Lifestyle is the key point. Today we have to deliberately teach people the ways to release or manage their stress. Walking, simple exercises and yoga can help you in balancing your stress. These should be made a routine in our life. One step further, one should not restrict himself from consulting a psychiatrist if he cannot manage the stress himself. There is absolutely no stigma attached to it. Meeting a psychiatrist should not be taken as a mental illness. He can be considered as a third person who can analyze the stressful situation at work or home from a totally different point of view and suggest a way out. Sometimes the stressful situation might be a mere result of misunderstanding between someone.

Dr. Saroj: Good friends and good family support is equally important. In the western world we have seen that the parents and kids don’t care for each other. We decided to shift from Vienna just because we don’t want our kids to be like taking an appointment and permission to visit us during a weekend. In India we give so much of importance to relationships and that is why we are mentally strong and sound. Social scenario has changed and now the family members are settled in different places. Relatives rarely get to meet each other. So, we have to take initiative to keep the bond. I remember when our kids were small, we made it a point that during summer holidays we go to India, meet all the relatives and spend time with them, which reinforced the family bond. I am happy that, as a result, even now living in different places around the world, they are bonded so well that they are available for each other.

IIK:: IDF is always connected with common man from the expatriate community, through various medical camps getting organized in Kuwait. Do you feel that these camps are really touching their life or lifestyle? Is there any feedback system to understand the effectiveness of such camps?
Dr. Grover: We have taken lectures on the stress management, heart diseases, diabetics, hypertension etc. to make people aware of these illnesses and their impact, giving importance to the concept of prevention better than cure. When such seminars are being conducted for small groups we are able to get feedbacks. There are people who really take forward the message they get from such classes and change their lifestyle. But when we talk about the medical camps it is very difficult to know whether they have really followed the instructions given according to the diagnosis. This is because the camp is organized once in a year and those attending this year might not be there for next camp, for many reasons. They might have gone back to India even.

IIK:: What could be the reason for poor attendance at seminars organized on health issues?
Dr. Saroj: It is a common nature of human to ignore things as less important till it happens to them. The seminars are also falling under this category where people think that “it will not happen to me or my near ones; then why should I attend”? It is very much important to understand that prevention is better than cure and I should say that it must be emphasized wherever possible.

IIK:: What can be done to make such camps more beneficial for the underprivileged?
Dr. Grover: Even though different associations are conducting quite a number of medical camps all through the year, the percentage of people who take advantage are very less compared to the Indian population in Kuwait. The majority who is living and working here, who really needs to be made aware of the healthy practices, are not benefitting from any of these camps. There are many factors which should be considered to have a complete beneficial medical seminar/camp. The camps/seminars meant for the underprivileged should be organized at their labour campsite. We have to understand that they won’t be interested in spending money for the taxi and attend a medical camp conducted elsewhere. Also most of them don’t know English language. In short we have to have seminars in their regional languages, preferably at the place where they are live or work. We have such camps and seminars once or twice a year, but we need more of them for these people.

Dr. Saroj: It is worth mentioning that these camps are amazing in two ways. One is that, we could pick some cases of deadly diseases like cancer and tumor. If we are able to diagnose even one or two cases, that is worth our effort. At least we could save those lives by an early detection. Second is that, we are making some people happy by just talking to them. When doctors from the same state talk to them in their regional language, they are so happy. Though the capacity is not there to reach everyone all the time, we never miss such camps. We go together, and personally, each camp gives us a blessed feeling that at least in our own small way we are able to do something for the society.

IIK:: I have read that the attitude of the people around will affect the speedy recovery of a patient. What is your opinion on this?
Dr. Saroj: Yes, the attitude of the people surrounding or those paying a visit even for few hours will affect the patient. Not only those people, the attitude and approach of the doctor himself will also have an effect on the recovery. As a lady doctor there are situations where I see the patients going through personal trauma. In such situations my role is not over just as a doctor. I have to take the responsibility of a well-wisher, friend, guide, a person who can support them throughout their illness and the life beyond illness. I had some patients who come for the consultation just to cry on my shoulders. I sit with them for hours just as a listener. While you enter the room of a patient and he/she is crying with pain, I can approach it in two ways. Either I can tell them bluntly on face that the pain is inevitable for his/her illness and have to bear it or I can tell them that I understand the pain and give us some time, then it will fade away in few days. Our words will definitely have effect on the patient. What I feel is that we cannot hide the illness from any patient and we should not. If you tell them that they don’t have any problem, they won’t believe you and if you tell them as if hitting on their head then that will push them down. The way you approach, the words you use, the way you frame your sentences, all matters a lot. The moment you make them feel that you are with them, then there evolves a solution for their problem and everything goes smooth and in two or three visits the patient will become your friend. Then we can get a lot done.

IIK:: How you both landed up in this profession?
Dr. Grover: My father was a doctor and like any other doctor parent he also wanted his son to be in his profession. My brother was interested in engineering and I had little bit of interest in the subject. Rest is history.

Dr. Saroj: For me, this profession was a dream-come-true. If anyone asks me, ‘given a chance will you change your profession’, my answer will always be a firm NO. When I came to Kuwait, I was offered a lucrative job in the planning division of Ministry of Health. But I was not able to continue there since administration was not my cup of tea. Despite of having a comfortable office job, with no night duties and other related stress I was not happy. I wanted to be with the patients, to pacify them, to be their hope and relief.

IIK:: You came to Kuwait in 1980. Thirty Seven years of life in Kuwait. Relocating to a place away from our homeland will always be tied in with lots of missing feelings and a never ending process of comparison between here and there, even at a simple situation that we face. What was your experience?
Dr. Saroj: We never had any such issues. Actually Kuwaiti lifestyle was not completely new to me then. Five generations from my maternal side was living here. My grandfather came to Kuwait from Basra long back in 1947 when India got partitioned. He was one among those to start a banking system in Kuwait and they flourished from there. So for us Kuwait is like our home.

Dr. Grover: Adding to what she told, from India we both relocated first to Iran, for about four and half years. Then we went to Vienna for another 6 months and it was on our way back home to India we stopped by here to visit the family members. All these helped us in getting adapted to Kuwait very easily.
Dr. Saroj: Actually the problem is that man is never contented with what he has at this moment. A shift in the perspective can change this problem. As I told you, Kuwait was just like my home and I am very much thankful to this country as it showered us with lots of blessings. It was this country which provided us the opportunity to give our children the best education in best universities of the world. Now they are in such a position in their career that we always remember Kuwait with a grateful mind. If you take the medical field, in Government hospitals, the facilities they give is quite a lot. Especially, in cancer therapy and various surgeries, irrespective of the fact who you are, an expatriate or a national, even the expensive treatments and surgeries including cardiac surgeries are given almost free of cost.

Dr. Grover: Also they are very much aware of the credibility of Indian educational system and the knowledge par excellence of an Indian doctor. Any Indian doctor is appreciated for his expertise, hard work, honesty and sincerity. They trust us for their life and recognize our work and we have experienced that. I was conferred with the title best surgeon of Jahra hospital by the governorate and that was a total surprise for us. Dr. Saroj was featured in KTV2 as ‘women of substance’. We feel good and proud when we are recognized for our work. Negative sides might be there, but believe me, we can always find something positive at every situation.

IIK:: You have seen the drastic developments which Kuwait witnessed all these years. On a retro mode, how do you see the changes that happened in Indian medical field compared to Kuwait?
Dr. Grover: Back in India I worked at Kanpur and Delhi. That time there were not many hospitals in the private sector except for some 4 bed, 6 bed nursing homes and here we had all the latest equipments and facilities as in Europe, compared to what we had even at the best hospitals in India. Kuwait was ahead of India for many years in the medical field. Gradually now, in India for the last 10 years what we are seeing is the tremendous increase in private sector hospitals with incomparable facilities. They are investing more on the technologies available in the world. Now, India has the best doctors and best treatment, provided you can afford to pay.

IIK:: Is there any hobby that keeps you happy always?
Dr. Saroj: To be happy is our choice. We are happy and contented at what life gave us. Dr. Grover is a voracious reader and he love to spend time in reading, and meeting friends. I love children and long back we had a gathering called ‘Kalakrithi’. It was not a so called ‘association’ but just a gathering to keep the kids engaged in a creative manner where they are given chance to taste various things like designing rangoli, drawing, coloring, glass painting, henna designing, gift packing, reading etc. In long run the space where it functioned was taken back and the ladies who supported also got diverted into many other things as their kids grew up. If given time, I love to spend time with kids. I do yoga to keep myself fit.

IIK:: Tel us about your happy family?
Dr. Saroj: We have one son and one daughter. Both are highly qualified in the financial field from the top universities, as toppers. Excelling in their career, both are married and settled abroad.

IIK:: What is the message you would like to convey to the society?
Dr. Saroj: Trust your children, talk to them, be available for them in their good and bad time, and keep the family bond live and strong. Also we should understand the importance of personal touch. Cuddle them, feed them, sleep with them and hug them. Make them feel that we are available for them when they need. Only then they will come back to us. Understand that by the time we work hard and earn money for the kids, it will be time for them to leave home seeking their own life. Then we remain gaining nothing, neither the love of kids nor the family life. Back in India we both were brought up like that and precisely that is why, happy couple as you all see us, we both are able to anticipate each other’s needs and necessities and be of mutual support. Then only we can make a happy family. I can vouch it because we did it for our children. Whatever be the duty schedule, we found time to give ears to them when they needed us.
Dr. Grover: Exactly. We are working hard for the children. But it is not worth if we are not going to have our family. Make little compromise with your career and job for the family and kids.

IIK wishes this happy couple, radiating positivity and happiness across, a very happy and fruitful life ahead. Thank You so much for your time and thoughts shared.
Reshmy Krishnakumar is working with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) as Research Assistant. Having done her post-graduation in Statistics, she worked as lecturer at St.Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, until her relocation to Kuwait. As a freelance writer, she is contributing to various magazines, blogs, and websites. Her passion includes classical dance, writing poems in Malayalam and Hindi. She is a member of the Writers’ Forum, Kuwait and the Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK)
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Friday, October 15, 2021
Hello, great story about great personalities. Dr.Saroj looks like Saira Banu, indian actress!!!!!

Dr. Thomas
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Dr Grover is one among the incomparable surgeon to many in the field of gastroenterology. 18 yrs back even though we never knew each other, when i happened to take my wife for a minor operation under an emergency situation, he took the lead, admitted her and successfully completed the operation. More than the surgery he did was the healing words he mentioned that gave confidence to my wife in bearing the pain as well, the strength he gave me when I had no one to help in my surroundings. This healing touch is nowadays never seen in many docs coz their ideology is different. There is no moment we never shared with others without mentioning Dr. Grover's humble and excellent skills he possesses. May God bless him abundantly and in all endeavors.

Shakeel Ahmad Khan
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Dr. Grover is an impressive personality and humble man. He is pioneer in community services. Any Medical Camp organized by the Indian Associations are not complete without him. I have a very good personal experience with him and found him very friendly and supportive. Me and my wife are his big fan. May Almighty give him more health and happy life.

He is a living Legend in Kuwait.

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