Cataract Surgery and Sightseeing around Madurai

Friday, October 17th, 2008 @ 3:46 pm | Uncategorized

Dr. VRMWith the monsoon season (September – November) in full swing, this last week has been a little more relaxed and slow paced than the previous ones. Thanks to a package from mom, I was able to make pancakes with home made raspberry jam for my friends Verma and Ashwini for brunch on Sunday morning. Later in the day we took our new friend Ankoor (the MEEI resident I met last week) sight seeing to Thirumalai Nayak Palace. The building was amazing, especially the pillars (58 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter). See the picture below for some perspective!


Most of the palace is under reconstruction and really not much to look at, but there is also an adjacent museum with lots of cool sculptures and other ancient ancient artifacts. Outside we decided to take a walk around the palace grounds, where we found a group of children who for some reason were thrilled to see me, maybe they thought I was famous. Anyway, it made for some good laughs and you can see the picture below too!


Early this Wednesday morning I saw Dr. Prajna do six cataract surgeries and a pterygium removal with conjunctiva transplant. All the surgeries were different, in one case I observed a Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery, which is done without the use of the expensive phacoemulsification machine. Dr. Prajna dexterously removed the lens and replaced it with a solid implant within 10 minutes! After the surgery was over, he told me that it is really the great results that bring patients to Aravind. Former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam comes here for his care, and at least one patient that I saw that day had come from Chennai (8 hours by train) to have his operation at Aravind. Another bonus of getting up early was that the chief of cornea surgery invited me to stop by anytime to see some LASIK or cornea transplantation surgeries, which I will definitely take him up on.


This week was also Dr. VRM’s birthday, so the evening before we went on a little shopping trip to buy him a cake and gift. I thought I was just there for moral support, but ended up deciding on the birthday cake and coming up with a design for it! We also made a trip to Pudumandabam market where there are hundreds of shops covered by a high stone ceiling. It is right across the road from the Meenakshi temple (and considered part of the complex which dates back to 600 BC). You must haggle here, and one of the shop attendants informed me that she frankly doubles the price for any foreigner. That’s not a surprise, but definitely helps to have Tamil friends!


At the birthday party Dr. VRM cut the cake and looked around for the oldest person in the room, that person receives the first slice. That’s a new tradition for me, but singing the old “happy birthday” tune was the same here as everywhere else. As were the people, won’t say who, sneaking frosting from the plate afterwards!



  • Advice for Future India Fulbrighters
  • Farwell India
  • Meenakshi Temple – Kumbabishekam
  • Spending time in Madurai – In Situ Hybridization
  • Fulbright Conference – Kolkata, Varanasi, and Kathmandu
  • Indian Wedding in Madurai and trip to Bangalore
  • Indian Pilgrimage – Thekkady, Munnar, Mahabalipuram
  • Asia ARVO – Hyderabad
  • Fulbrighters come to Madurai, friends and I visit Dayspring Home
  • Birthday and New Year in Tamil Nadu

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