Archive for bungawalla

Beautiful Baby

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was closing up for the day. There had been a trickle of customers coming to the 3D Unit, mainly single mums working as designers and who needed prototypes fabricated, builders and plumbers wanting small components printed, and people who wished to create unusual gifts. There weren’t that many of them though. People were still confused and a little scared of 3D printing. Every new technology takes time to catch on.

However things were shifting in the right direction. The rest of the Transfer Station was busier than ever. There was less trash and more recycling. The next step was material recovery, where the stuff people bought that they had no further use for could be transformed into something else immediately.

A small black car was speeding through the Industrial Park. He watched it take quick sharp turns as it came towards the Transfer Station. He had unbolted one gate already, and could race to pull both gates closed, but he decided to wait and see who it was.

A young woman lowered her window and said, “Hello, are you still open?”

“Well, it’s six o’ clock and I was just closing.”

“Dr Bungawalla sent me. He said I should see you.”

Sami favourite recent project had been modelling the doctor’s brain. He pulled open the gates and said, “Come on in, let’s see what we can do.”

The woman was distracted and kept looking away from Sami. She bumped her head on the door frame and almost fell out of her car. She had an awkward shape. Was she pregnant beneath her big coat? Sami dare not ask for fear of getting it wrong, which he knew was the ultimate faux pas.

She said “I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I should do this.” She looked weak, about to fall down. Sami felt he should do something.

He said “Would you like to come into the office and sit down? I’ll make you some tea.”

He checked his phone while the kettle boiled. No word from his pal, Shama, who was driving him to Strattus tonight. Cell reception at the Transfer Station was terrible.

After taking a few sips of tea, she said, “I’ve seen my baby in a scan. She’s beautiful, so beautiful, but I really want to hold her now. I want to see her in the nursery, to see if she will like what I have done for her. To see if she likes all the toys and colours.”

Sami’s previous job as Guru Baba’s assistant had brought him into contact with troubled people. This woman was really hurting about something. Sami was an expert listener, and where possible, a helper.

He said, “I am sure you have made a beautiful nursery. What colour is it?”

“It’s mainly pink and yellow. Pink because it’s such a soft colour, it reminds me of buds and petals, and yellow is like sunshine, so happy, so happy always.”

“It sounds really lovely. I’m sure your baby will adore it. When is she due to grace our world?”

The woman handed Sami her ultrasound scans, both as pictures and on disk. “Can you please make a model of her for me?”

“It would be better to wait till she is born. We can scan her then. Right now the spatial resolution and image depth of the embryo scans are…”

“She’s not an embryo! She’s a baby! Scale her up! I don’t care about spatial resolution or imaging depth. I don’t care about anything.” She began crying and said, “I do care. I do care. I do care. Please make her for me.”

Five messages came through on Sami’s cell phone. Dr Bungawalla had been trying to call him all day, to tell him about his patient whose baby had just died inside her.

Sami realized that this model was the only baby she would ever hold. He decided to work all night to deliver her baby the next morning.

Executive Functions

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Dr Bungawalla was waiting already when Sami opened the Transfer Station. Why was he so early? What was the hurry?

Lucerne’s veteran doctor drove to the trash area first, disposed of a few bags, on to the recycling bins, ceremonially depositing paper, card, metal, glass, and cartons in appropriate receptacles, and then came over to the new 3D Unit, called 3DU.

“Hello Sami, how are you? Good, good. I didn’t know you were running the Transfer Station.”

“Well, only for today. I am officially in charge of 3DU, but the other guy is attending a family funeral, so I am managing waste and recycling operations too. It’s mostly automated, pretty straightforward. Anyway, Doctor, what can I do for you?”

Dr Bungawalla shifted and smiled. This motion had put his patients at ease for forty years. He had discovered that moving his head from side to side whilst holding a fixed grin amused infant patients, and then he tried it with adult patients. Now it provided a gentle reassurance to all.

“I wanted to develop a project with AMP Co., something of great personal interest. Alfred said The Authority has declared his lab a National Strategic Asset, and nationalized his business. He told me to come here instead; he said you would help me.”

Sami had visited the Doctor’s office a couple of times this year but never got past the fearsome receptionist, who had given him practical advice and sent him home. It was great to finally meet Dr Bungawalla. What a sweet man. Why are the nicest people always surrounded by the fiercest? Maybe they require protection.

“What’s the project, Doctor?”

“Well, I have some brain scans from the MRI machine. They are all on this data stick. Can you please model them for me?”

“Sure, I’ll put them through the CAD systems and send them on to the 3D printer. Please tell me the key aspects, facets and dynamics involved, so I can highlight them in the system parameters.”

Dr Bungawalla handed over the stick. The file stated Confidential: file not to be removed from lab.

Dr Bungawalla looked embarrassed. “I am the confidante in question. You are allowed to proceed.” He pulled out a pen. “I will write some key concepts down for you.”

He wrote:

Lateralisation (left and right brain dominant functions)

Protection (thick skull bones, cerebrospinal fluid, blood-brain barrier)

4 lobes (frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital)

Functional divisions – cytoarchitecture – topography – cognition – weight – language – pathology – metabolism

Executive functions (self control – planning – reasoning – abstract thought)

Functional vs. anatomical definition

Encephalization Quotient

Neural tissue (closed head injuries, poisoning, infection, psychiatric conditions, degenerative disorders)

48 hours later, Dr Bungawalla picked up his brain model. Sami had added special circuitry as requested, powered by lithium cells. Flickering lights within the transparent model made it seem like a lamp.

Alone at night, Dr Bungawalla watched it crackle with activity as his own brain and body declined. His life had changed since he had self-diagnosed Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases. Every spark of life was now more precious.

He watched his thoughts.

White Matter

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by javedbabar

Sammy poked his head around the door. “Yes, Doctor? You wanted to see me?”

Dr Bungawalla looked up from his desk but said nothing. There was something bothering him. Then he said, “Yes, yes. Please come in. How long are you with us for, altogether? Ah good, a month. So you go back to school in September? Perfect.” He pushed his chair away from the desk, pulled it back in, and shuffled papers.

“I was wondering if you would help me with a project. I think we can complete it in four weeks. It is not something mentioned on the internship documents; it’s more of a personal project. It will be helpful research to me.”

Dr Bungawalla had been the village doctor for forty years. Sammy recalled his always being nice to him, especially as a child, giving him snacks and sweeties, even pop. Good job he had become a doctor not a dentist!

Sammy nodded to indicate he would help. When someone’s just lost his wife, you should do everything you can for him.

“Oh good. I’m sure you know that the brain is composed of grey matter. Well, did you know that there is also white matter? It’s lipid tissue veined with capillaries; actually pinkish, but let’s not worry about that. It was previously thought to be passive tissue but now we know that its main function is to transmit signals, acting as a sort of relay, consolidating communication between different brain regions. It has an important role in processing and cognition; it plays a role in both our function and dysfunction.”

Sammy nodded along and said, “Is white matter your special area of interest?”

“Yes it is. Specifically, there are areas called White Matter Hyperintensities which show up as bright signals on MRI images. No, they are not really dangerous; like most things, they are essentially neutral, and it depends on what you do with them.”

“Can I take a seat?” said Sammy.

“Ah, yes, yes. So sorry, I was going to stand up but then forgot. Please take a seat.” Dr Bungawalla explained his strange request to Sammy. It seemed like a good way to spend his month here. They would both learn something useful.

For the first week, Sammy ate a Mediterranean diet. He stocked up with fruit, vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, and olives, and drank strong coffee and smoked cigarettes. Dr Bungawalla scanned his brain with the EMU (Electromagnetic Medical Unit), and recorded the changes. His chief interest was in the effect of olives; olive wood had been used in Greece to make statues of gods. There must be a reason for that.

The second week, Sammy ate pulses, macaroni, rice, beef and pickles. This Egyptian diet had fortified the builders of the Pyramids and Sphinx. Dr Bungawalla was especially engaged with the nourishment provided by lentils; these tiny seeds were a source of total nourishment. He saw that Sammy’s Hyperintensities had decreased in volume.

The third week, Sammy consumed an Indian diet. He added plenty of coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, salt and pepper to his meals. He also ate curds and sweet fried pastries. The chilli made him sweat and activated other nutrients he’d consumed. Spice fires the soul. Dr Bungawalla saw that this diet was boosting his antibodies, with no detrimental effects on Hyperintensities.

The fourth week Sammy ate Chinese food. He ate mostly vegetables and rice with a wide variety of meats, including pork stomach and trotters, beef brain and tongue, chicken gizzard and feet, and snake guts and heart, all washed down with pearl green tea. Dr Bungawalla saw a reduction in the volume of Hyperintensities. After further examination, he saw that it was not caused by food; it was caused by pearl green tea, which calmed the spirit and created fluidity. From now on Dr Bungawalla would drink this tea in the hope of slowing down his Alzheimer’s’ Disease.

Dr Bungawalla never assumed that modern medicine was best. He believed one should try traditional cures, beginning with your daily food. Hyperintensity Volume was a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, a reduction of which leads to a reduction of strokes and cognitive decline. But he also knew that it wasn’t just diet. There were associated memories encoded in White Matter, those of family joviality. Any of the diets that Sami had tried – Mediterranean, Egyptian, Indian or Chinese – would help Dr Bungawalla if rather than eating alone each night, he could share them with someone.

Always Sunshine

Posted in Alternative Energy, World Myths with tags , , , , on February 26, 2012 by javedbabar

Safra preferred the children’s sections of waiting rooms. They were often orange or yellow, had funny seating, and a range of wooden and cuddly toys. The adult sections were always so boring – full of old chairs, old magazines, and old people – and if you were visiting a medical professional, they generally made you feel worse. It had been a year since he’d last visited a doctor, and it was never something he looked forward to. But at least he was seeing Dr. Bungawalla – healer of his family for fifty years. Safra sat in the adult section, enviously watching the children playing.

As a boy he’d loved the sun and wished that there was “always sunshine”. You should be careful what you wish for! The world was now four degrees warmer, and there was lots more sunshine – most would say too much. Climate change had caused global upheavals, but for the owner of GPS: Gaia Power Systems, that hadn’t been a bad thing.

“Mr Safra?” the fake blonde receptionist called out. He walked over to the desk. “Would you please complete this form before seeing the doctor? It’s just lifestyle information for our metrics.”

“Is that you?” he said. “On the poster behind? What’s it for?”

“Oh, it’s a sponsored walk I do every year. We raise money for children’s charities, mainly for skin cancer.”

“That’s very good of you,” said Safra. “When’s the next one?”

“Next month we’re walking from Mt. Alba to Mt. Negra; that’s 100 km.”

“Wow! Put me down for a dollar-a-kilometre. Make sure you’re wearing plenty of sunscreen though. That will be a pretty hot haul.”

“Thank you Mr. Safra. That’s very kind of you. Now, if you wouldn’t mind completing the form, the doctor will see you shortly.”

Safra filled in the personal data and then began the travel section. There was never enough space. His work as an alternative energy specialist took him all over the world. He spent weeks on end in deserts during installation, and his larger projects required annual checks. This year he had already visited solar farms in Texas, Morocco, Arabia, and Tibet; places where there was “always sunshine”.

Someday he’d like to visit the Southern Wind Belt – joints like Congo, Brazil, and Indonesia – but with all their crazy storms – a hurricane here and tornado there – you were putting your life at risk. Those were adventures for men younger and braver than he.

There was always the option to explore the Northern Wind Belt – American East Coast, Central Europe, and Upper China – but what would he do there? Their populations had shifted, their monuments were crumbling, and infrastructure destroyed.

There were no opportunities in the Wind Belts for energy production; the elements were just too fierce. Maybe there would be stronger materials soon, and more robust systems, but for now GPS would stick with solar power in central deserts, and wind power in polar seas. Leave the hair-raising stuff to the kids, he thought.

He returned the completed form to the receptionist. “My, we are a world traveller,” she said. “We’re lucky to have you in Lucerne.”

“Well, even a salmon returns to its river once in its lifetime,” he said. “This is home.”

“I’ve been here for two years, Mr. Safra. I’ve never seen you before. You must be an extraordinarily healthy man. Good for you!”

“If I had seen you before,” he said. “I would also have remembered.” She blushed as he said this. “Miss…?”

Mrs.” She emphasized, and looked at him in a mock-stern manner. “Mrs. Bungawalla.”

“Mrs. Bungawalla! So Dr. Bungawalla is your…?”

`           “Dr. Bungawalla is my husband.”

Boy he’d kept that quiet, the old rascal. He was in his seventies, and she was in her – forties? Fifty, tops. Wasn’t this the fifth wife in as many decades? What was his secret? “How is the good Doctor?” he said to fill the silence.

“You can ask him yourself. He’s expecting you now.”

Safra felt foolish hitting on the doctor’s wife/receptionist. He wondered if she would tell her husband. He knocked on the door marked “Dr. A.K. Bungawalla” and entered upon hearing a muffled hailing. Dr. Bungawalla was a small, dark man with luminous skin, which absorbed and reflected all light in the room. Despite having treated Safra since boyhood, he maintained his professional air. “How can I help you, Mr. Safra?”

“I’ve got these strange blotches on my skin. I’m concerned it could be skin cancer. Can you please take a look at them?”

Dr. Bungawalla examined the blotches and said, “Nothing of concern.”

“My eyes have been hurting on the insides. I wonder if my retinas are burned.”

Dr. Bungawalla pulled Safra’s eyelids and peered in with a small torch. He said, “All quite normal.”

“Also I’m feeling feverish. Do men have menopause? I didn’t think so.”

Dr. Bungawalla said, “Well not quite, but tell me more.”

Safra told him about the hot flushes and panic attacks; the temper tantrums; the insomnia and self-loathing.

“Mr. Safra, it’s good that you came to see me about this. I am not able to help you personally, but can recommend a good psychotherapist. It’s a common complaint these days called “Oedipal Overheating”. As the world’s temperature continues to rise, people feel guilty about humanity’s part in climate change. They feel that they have caused their Mother, Earth, so much pain that they must punish themselves continuously. A few sessions of Alternative Therapy – to match your Alternative Energy; how’s that going by the way? – should do the trick.”

Safra told Dr. Bungawalla about GPS, then prepared to go.

“Wait! I have some good advice for you,” said Dr. Bungawalla. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

“That’s very good. Is it yours?”

“If you were a lady, Mr. Safra, I’d say yes. But I will admit to you that those words are Mr. Whitman’s.”