The first time I went to Narasimha Rajapuram (NR PURA) in Karnataka India was in 1966. On our way back from Davangere after securing my medical seat, my dad took me to my cousin Kuriakochettan at NR Pura. Getting to NR Pura was not that easy and it required us to change buses at Harihar and Shimoga where we got a primitive looking bus heading to Sringeri. The buses were overcrowded and those days the road from Shimoga to NR Pura was not tarred. The road winds up and goes through thick forest. I sat on the window seat and gazed at the scenic route. Suddenly a grit went into my eye which caused conjunctivitis.  

Kuriakochettan was a business entrepreneur who walked out of his house at Chengal, Kerala, India and managed to build a successful timber business at several locations in Chikmangalore district, Karnataka state. He looked pleasant and cheerful all the time and talked with a sense of humour. He got married in early 1960s and for the wedding reception, I helped him to procure vegetables and fish from Trichur market. In 1966, my dad and myself stayed in their house for one night and Kuriakochettan and his wife received us warmly. Their house was built of timber on the slope of a hill. He had a black ambassador car, and that was the car in which I learned to drive first time. I am indebted to him and his family for his gracious outlook on that matter.   

 That evening he took us to his friend,  Elias to play cards. He introduced to us ,7-8 of his friends assembled in the large house of Elias. While playing cards one of his friends was exchanging implied low key insults to someone in the group. On that rainy evening, we played cards for over three hours and called it a day as my dad was feeling sleepy. Next day afternoon, Kuriakochettan took us in his car to Mangalore driving about 80 miles to help us to catch Managalore Mail train bound to Cochin. Prior to that we all had dinner in Woodside restaurant. To my distress I had food poisoning, which caused diarrhoea throughout the train journey and had to visit the toilet in the train several times. 

 In my earlier blog, I had mentioned about strikes in JJM Medical College, Davangere. Mostly they were for lowering fees or to repeal a student dismissal. During that time, it was customary to close the mess of the hostel, to persuade students to go home, there by dispersing students. These strikes, seldom lasted longer than two weeks. It was about 12 months after my joining the college, there was a college strike. As Kuriakochettan had invited us, I escaped the turmoil by going to NR Pura. This time I was going to be there for at least ten days and had time to know more about his friends.  

 On that occasion, I learnt about the politics of Malayali community in NR Pura. The Malayali community had different groups and  factions, as Malayalis would do where-ever they go in the world. Ninety-five percentage of them were Christians who migrated to NR Pura in the previous ten years. Kuriakochettan and his distant relative Jose were Syrian Catholics, while Poulose, Avaran, Sunny, Thoma  and Elias were Jacobite Christians. Among Jocobites, there were factions supporting Bava and Methran, but unfortunately they were arch enemies. Elias was very wealthy, looked slim, quietly spoken person, always wearing white juba with solid gold chain on the neck.  

 Once in NR Pura, every evening I was going with Kuriakochettan for playing cards mostly in Elias’ house. On one of those days, the simmering slanders ended up in a physical assault and Kuriakochettan and Jose had to keep both Jocobite factions apart. The fight was a consequence of Elias overbearing nature.  Later, Poulose visited  Kuriakochettan’s house and on close questioning he revealed that a worker of Elias sustained head injury accidentally and died on the eve of Elias’ wedding. This happened when the drunk butcher attempted to hit the head of a pig restrained by the worker. In India, it was not unusual to suppress such incriminating incident by staging a road traffic accident. Poulose enumerated everything in line with faking a road traffic accident. But Poulose was very uneasy about the way Elias treated the victim’s widow.

  Jose, the next door neighbour and relative to Kuriakochettan, used to boast that he had a double barrel gun with which he could even kill an elephant. During that stay, Kuriakochettan organised a hunting party, for which I borrowed a headlight and hunting boot. We wandered through the thick forest in the night and shot porcupines, partridges and Indian civet. Indian civets sitting  on the trees were spotted in the night by the headlight reflecting from their shining eyes. It is extremely important to stay in a group to prevent stray bullet hitting a person not with the group. One should also be wearied about nocturnal reptiles like poisonous snakes. While being in the forest, I was bitten several times by leeches, and sustained injury to my leg, which got infected. I went to Dr. Hegde to get the wound dressed and to get tetanus toxoid injection.  


I suppose I visited  NR Pura again after a year or so when there was another strike. By then Kuriakochettan’s  timber trade was booming and he had set up timber depots in Bhadravathy, and Tarikere.To help him, he brought his younger brother Georgekutty, who was a contemporary to me. Georgekutty was not that focussed and organised as Kuriakochettan, as far as business was concerned. Kuriakochettan was an advocate of mixing business with pleasure. He was a party animal, but I never noticed him drinking alcohol or smoking. Kuriakochettan always took us on every business trip, and as I have written earlier, I used to love journeys to enjoy scenery, explore others outlook and to have fresh experiences. 

 We visited the hilly station of Kemmanamgundi which was on the top of a hill and the car had to negotiate a number of hairpin curves. I felt it was much cooler than NR Pura as it was 4500 feet above the sea level. There were cascades of mountain streams, lush vegetation, ornamental gardens and valley views. When I gazed at nearby mountains they were found to be foggy. After coffee and snacks we returned from Kemmanamgundi. On our way back, Kuriakochettan stopped at several saw mills for business negotiations.  

The next visit was in 1970, when I just completed second MBBS .Then I had good knowledge of pathology and disease process. Kuriakochettan looked rather unhealthy with a slightly protruded abdomen. He was just managing things as normal but I had a feeling he was not attending to the business  properly. Georgekutty and his younger brother Devi were there to help him. I first heard from his wife, that he might require an operation in Kerala for certain liver trouble, on that note I had a suspicion that he might have had cirrhosis of liver. As an inquisitive medical student, I asked Kuriakochettan directly about it, but he vehemently denied any history of alcoholism.  

During that gloomy spell, Georgekutty suggested that we all go for a trip to Sringeri, which was about 30 miles away from N R Pura. But only myself and Devi accompanied him .Sringeri Mutt and temples were established by the great philosopher Adi Shanker from Kaladi, Kerala. Adi Shankar or Shankaracharyar was born and brought up at Kaladi only a walking distance from the birth place of Kuriakochettan. Temples in Sringeri have an architectural resemblance to temples in Kerala. When we returned, we noticed a gathering of people in front of Kuriakochettan’s house. Soon it emerged that he had sudden vomiting of blood and they decided to take him to Little Flower Hospital in Angamally, Kerala. I vividly remember him getting into the car  with others support. The silence and expression of his face reverberated many of his adventurous experiences in NR Pura.  

After a month or so I received a letter from my mother, that the condition of  Kuriakochetttan was deteriorating. I took some time off   from study and went to Trichur and on the next day early morning, I set out to Angamally to see him. When I asked at the reception, I was told that he had passed away and the body had been taken to his home at Chengal. The funeral was held on the following day, and I had the occasion to meet his parents, brothers and sisters, and shared with them the sorrow of losing Kuriakochettan prematurely.  

Once more I went to NR Pura when I was in the Final year. Georgekutty and Devi were there in the house with the widow and two children of Kuriakochettan. I realized that the timber business was not flourishing due to various reasons and they were beginning to wind up the business. The atmosphere was sombre and there was no usual  hustle and bustle in their house. Many years later, I was informed that Georgekutty too sadly died of Cirrhosis. This made me to think that they all carried a mutated gene causing familial cirrhosis. When I went to Chengal in early 2000, I visited the widow and children of Kuriakochettan, who had left NR Pura for good.

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Dr.C.J.George FRCS

This blog is about my experience as a doctor working in various countries in different clinical set up. This experience spans through 45 years, in which I acquired a lot of favourable contacts and unfavourable encounters. I shall dig deep into them and make it interesting to the readers. Unlike others in the profession, I worked as a community medical officer in a remote areas, prison medical officer, benefit service medical officer, in cardiac surgery in prestigious institutions and as a private doctor. I was managing my own businesses, and real estate in three continents. I hope the information I impart will be valuable to the like minded readers.

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