From the desk of Dr. Mohan Dewan | Assisted by: Adv. Aboli Kherde, Adv. Sachi Kapoor & Adv. Shubham Borkar
-Adv. Arjun Pradhan
In February 2021, the Central Government has recently passed ‘The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021’ thereby abolishing the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (hereinafter “FCAT”). The FCAT, having its headquarters in New Delhi, was a statutory body established under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 1983. This ordinance which has come into effect from April 4, 2021, has amended the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by omitting some sections and replacing the word “Tribunal” with the term “High Court” in other sections. In India, all films are required to be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (hereinafter “CBFC”) before they are officially released in theatres, broadcasted on television, or shown in public by any means. Further, the CBFC also reserves the right to refuse certifying a film or even order to cut out certain scenes or shots if they are considered objectionable. The CBFC has three organs: The Examination Committee, the Review Committee, and the FCAT. Until now, in case a filmmaker was aggrieved with the decision of the Examination Committee, he or she could approach the Review Committee. Further, if the filmmaker was not satisfied with the decision of the Review Committee, the final resort was to approach the FCAT, post which he/she may appeal at the Courts.
The FCAT though not perfect; has been instrumental in saving some of the most controversial Indian films including: Bandit Queen, Saheb Bibi aur Ghulam, Haraamkhor, Lipstick Under My Burkha, and Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, giving an "A" (Adult) certificate, overturning some of CBFC's oppositions and excessive cuts. The FCAT enjoyed considerable support of filmmakers for a variety of reasons, a few being: the FCAT was considered more progressive than the CBFC, it passed quick judgments, allowing the producers to release their films on time & ultimately saving them money. However, an important aspect of the FCAT was that its members sometimes included people from the Indian film fraternity, who could judge the film in the right sense.
Abolition of the FCAT will mean that filmmakers will now have to approach the High Court in case they want to challenge the decision of the CBFC or censor certificate. Several filmmakers have poured in their discontentment across various social media platforms.
Counterfeiting and protection of intellectual property rights are two sides of the same coin. No product is safe from the counterfeiting market.
Haldiram India Private Limited (Haldiram) is known for selling quality Indian snacks since at least the 1980’s. Haldiram was incorporated as a Private Limited company in 1995 with its registered office in Delhi. The popularity of this food company flourished within no time and the company began exporting its products to the United States of America, which became one of the first countries where Haldiram’s goods were available outside of India.
Aahar Food Distributors LLC (Aahar) is a Limited Liability Company based in the USA.
On March 19, 2021, Haldiram filed a case at the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Aahar for trademark infringement and selling counterfeit ‘Haldiram’ products in USA. Haldiram has also sought damages to the tune of USD 2,000,000 (approx. Rupees 150 Crores and 50 Lakhs).
Haldiram has alleged that, Aahar has not only misrepresented the place of origin on the products but has also used the word ‘HALDIRAM’ on its products in such a manner that it is deceptively similar to the representation of its mark ‘Haldiram’ affixed on Haldiram’s products. Thus making consumers associate Aahar’s products with those of Haldiram. Further, Haldiram has alleged Aahar of using promotional and other advertisement materials displaying the deceptive mark ‘Haldiram’.
Watch this space for more updates on this case!
When attorneys or agents file trademark applications on behalf of the actual applicants/ proprietors, they need to submit to the concerned Trade Marks Office a Power of Attorney, by virtue of which they are acting on behalf of the Applicants. This POA is generally to be submitted along with the Application for Trademark Registration. For India, the POA has to be printed on an INR 500 stamp paper and then signed by the Applicant or its authorized signatory.
As per the memo released by the Trade Marks Office at UAE recently, the period for filing the Power of Attorney has been extended to 30 days from the date of application. Earlier, this POA had to be filed along with the application form only.
This relaxation comes as a welcome move, since logistics have been greatly hampered because of the COVID 19 related lockdowns in most countries. While most law offices and Registries have shifted to virtual communication and filing modes, signatures, stamp papers, notarization, and such other practices are still carried on offline in most places. In trademark applications, date of filing is most crucial. With this memo of the UAE office, filings in the UAE will be smoother as attorneys will have a period of 30 days from the date of filing to obtain a duly executed POA and submit to the Trademarks Office.
Cable News Network Inc., owned by CNN Worldwide, is a multi-national news channel broadcasting across various countries. Cable News Network, Inc. has been operating in India since at least 1992. The company’s tradename, house mark, and trademarks are ‘CNN/’. The company is the registered proprietor of multiple trademarks including: ‘CNN/and various other marks containing the mark ‘CNN’ across various classes such as 35, 38, etc.
One Mr. Fayyaz Shaikh started using the mark ‘CNN’ in relation to news agency services. Cable News Network Inc. filed a suit against Mr. Fayyaz Shaikh and his proprietorship (“the Defendants”) at the Delhi High Court claiming relief for infringement, passing off, misappropriation, unfair competition, dilution and tarnishment, impersonation, rendition of accounts and damages etc.
The Court observed that a prima facie case was established in favour of the plaintiff and that, if an ex-parte ad-interim injunction is not granted in favour of the plaintiff, it will suffer irreparable losses. Therefore, on March 24, 2021, the Court restrained the defendants from using the mark CNN/CNN News or any mark that is deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s mark.
-Adv. Isha Gandhi
Copyright is a bundle of rights given by law to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. The rights granted under the provisions are to reproduce, to communicate the work to the public, to translate, and to make any adaptation of the work.
Just like in United States, Canada, Kenya, etc., in India too official registration of Copyrights can be done before the statutory authority. In India, the registration of copyrights, though not mandatory, plays a significant role in establishing 'proof of ownership' in the court of law to establish the rights over a Work.
The Government of India has recently released the Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 on 30th March 2021. The primary objective of such an amendment is to bring the existing rules in parity with other relevant legislations and at par with technological advancements.
Key highlights of the amendment and its effects are detailed as below:-
1. Changes concerning the filing of applications for registration of Copyright:
- Software Programme:
Earlier the Copyright Rules mandated submission of the entire Source Code and Object Code while filing an application for registration of a Software Programme. This requirement has been largely reduced by the Amended Rules which prescribes the submission of “at least first 10 and last 10 pages of source code, or the entire source code if less than 20 pages, with no blocked out or redacted portions”.
The objective of such Amendment is to reduce the compliance by the Applicant and ensure confidentiality of a Software Programme.
- Postal Orders will no longer be the mode of payment.
- Any document, where a fee is payable, is filed without the applicable fee, or with insufficient fee, it shall be deemed not to have been filed.
2. Electronic mode of communication:
Two major changes, with a view of technological advancement and digitization of the process, brought by the Amended Rules are:
- Electronic mode has become the primary mode of communication to ensure smooth and flawless working and compliances.
- The process of publication of notifications in the Official Gazette has been replaced with the Copyright journal. Such Journal will be available on the website of the Copyright Office.
3. Substitution of ‘Appellate board’ for ‘Copyright Board’:
The Amended Rule has replaced the term ‘Copyright Board’ with the term ‘Appellate Board’. Although this amendment was long-awaited to be in line with the 2017 amendments in the Parent Act but the timing could not have been more interesting as only after 4 days of such 2021 Amendment the Central Government passed the Ordinance of the abolition of the Appellate Board [Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021].
As per the Ordinance, an appeal against the Order of the Registrar of Copyrights, that can be filed has been transferred to concerned Commercial Courts including the Commercial Division of the High Courts. Thus, this Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 is unwarranted due to the Ordinance abolishing the Appellate Board.
4. Reforms of Copyright Societies:
The Amendments have given a lot of emphasis on the functioning of the Copyright Societies, mainly to encourage accountability and transparency. A few of such major changes are as below:-
- Examination of Registration of Copyright Society:
The Copyright Office will now have 180 days to respond to an application for registration of a Copyright Society in contrast to 60 days in the earlier rules. Such an increase in time will ensure a comprehensive examination of an application for the registration of Copyright Society by the Registrar of Copyrights.
- Accountability and Transparency:
i. The Amendment has introduced the establishment of traceable systems for the collection and distribution of royalties. As per the system if the author/owner of the Work could not be identified, the undistributed royalties shall be deposited by the Copyright Society in a separate account.
In case the Society cannot not trace the author and owner of the Work and the royalties remain undistributed, after three years from the end of the financial year in which such royalty was collected, such undistributed royalties shall be transferred to the welfare fund of the Copyright Society.
ii. The most significant introduction in the lines of transparency of royalties is the introduction of mandatory Annual Transparency Report to be published by the Copyright Society which must contain various details including details on license refusals, royalties collected and paid to authors and owners, royalties collected but not distributed to authors and owners, total administrative deductions made from royalty collected, etc.
Such reforms concerning the Copyright Society will surely streamline the asymmetries in their functioning and ensure accountability and transparency for the authors/owners who have not received their due share of royalties.
Even though the Amendment Rules, 2021 have incorporated most of the amendments proposed in the draft Copyright (Amendment) Rules 2019, it has failed to consider a few important changes proposed in the Draft Rules which would have made the system concerning the distribution of royalties more transparent.
With several issues in the Parent Act and the continuous developments in the world of Copyrights, it is imperative that a more detailed amendment to not only the rules but also the Parent Act of Copyrights is required to be passed in a transparent manner allowing public participation.
The Government of India issued an Ordinance “The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization And Conditions Of Service)” on 4th April, 2021 by which the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), has been quashed. All the cases pending before the IPAB are to now be transferred to the High Courts.
Background of the IPAB
The IPAB was constituted in 2003, to hear appeals against the decisions of the Registrar for issues related to various intellectual properties, such as trademarks, copyrights, designs, patents, geographical indications, and the like.
The IPAB consisted of a technical member and a judicial member. A person who possessed a degree in engineering / technology or a Master’s Degree in Science with at least 10 years of experience as a Registered Patent Agent or had worked as a Controller of Patents for at least 5 years, was eligible to become a technical member for deciding patent related matters. The expense involved in such a process was minimal. Thus, the system provided a robust check outside the IP office and a court, where any person interested could raise issues at the IPAB. It is not clear as to what prompted the Government of India to disband the IPAB. One of the reasons appears to be that the IPAB did not have members as required by the law. If that was the case, the power of appointing members at the IPAB lies with the government. It is also said that the government sought to reform the tribunal system in the country to ensure “speedy justice”. However, disbanding the IPAB seems to be a myopic decision raising a number of issues.
Issues arising post disbanding of the IPAB
With the introduction of the Ordinance for disbanding IPAB, several issues have arisen which need to be addressed. The issues and corresponding suggestions are listed below:
a) Approaching the conventional courts
Now with the disbanding of the IPAB, it remains a moot point that even if any person interested finds that an application is not fulfilling some provisions of the Patents Act, 1970, would he/she choose to approach a court. Let us presume that an interested person finds that an application lacks novelty and inventive step, would he/she find it convenient to approach a court of law? Interested persons may no more be interested in approaching a court of law, simply for pointing out lack of novelty or inventive step. There may now be appeals in the court only when large commercial interests of interested parties are involved.
Similarly, in case an application has been refused on the grounds of non-compliance with the requirements of the Patents Act, 19701 , the applicant shall have to approach the court for redressal. So is the case with disputes regarding division of applications2 , date of application3 , anticipation of application4 , patent of addition5 and the like.
Such cases involve only the applicants and the patent office which exercises quasi-judicial functions. Such cases are different from patent enforcement/infringement cases and need to be addressed in a quick and time-bound manner. It is suggested that a mechanism be created by which issues involving only an applicant and a patent office are addressed in a time-bound manner. The courts could have scientific advisors for assisting the speedy disposal of such cases. Such processes need to be economical, otherwise, it would disincentivize individuals, start-ups and small companies. IPR is an important element for stimulating the growth of small companies and start-ups.
b) Retention of guidelines and precedents of IPAB
The IPAB has delivered several judgments over a period of time and has laid down guidelines for various issues related to patents.
For example, while deciding the case regarding filing a divisional application of Esco Corporation USA, the IPAB laid down guidelines for formal and substantive grounds for filing a divisional application. The formal grounds lay down general guidelines for the applicants whereas the substantive grounds relate to how the patent office is supposed to look at a divisional application. One of the substantive guidelines is reproduced here and states, “Even though the Patent Rules provide statutory powers to a Controller regarding a divisional application, such statutory powers need to be used judiciously. If a Controller takes objection for unity of invention, the divisional application shall not be disallowed, provided it meets other statutory requirements”. It is very heartening to know that IPAB in the instant case has been a torch-bearer for the applicant and the patent office as well. The order laid the ghost of “divisional application” to rest.
Patents rules worldwide have introduced the concept of a person skilled in art (PSITA) for assessing inventive step of an application without defining his /her abilities and limitations. While deciding the case related to Glaxo Limited (Glaxo) and Fresenius Kabi Oncology Limited6 ,the IPAB held that PSITA is not a dumb and ignorant character. He / she is aware of the happenings in her field and has skills to perform experiments with the knowledge of the state of the art.
There are several such judgments that have guided both the applicants and the patent office in IPR matters.
Section 2 u(B) of the Patents Act, 1970, which has been deleted with the ordinance, states that “prescribed” means,- in relation to proceedings before the IPAB, prescribed by the rules made by the IPAB”. There are a large number of judgments, prescribed rules, guidelines that have been framed by the IPAB over time. Some of the Rules, guidelines issued by the IPAB have been mentioned herein above. What would be the fate of these prescribed guidelines and the Rules post deletion of section 2u(B) of The Patents Act 1970, remains to be seen.
Ignoring such prescribed guidelines and the rules issued by the competent IPAB over a period of time in the form of Orders would be like re-inventing the wheel. It is suggested that the guidelines issued by the IPAB should be retained and orders delivered by it should serve as precedents in court cases now on.
c) IPR trained judges assisted by advisors / technical experts handing IPR cases
All the pending cases with IPAB shall now be transferred to the High Court. Are our courts/judges equipped to handle the backlog and the cases related to IPR that shall come up in future? Would it have been advisable to create special IPR courts before disbanding IPAB?
India, like many other countries, is a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for effectively protecting and enforcing IP rights. Although TRIPS does not mandate setting up special courts for protection and enforcement of IP rights, many countries have come up with courts which specialize in handling cases related to IPR.
Let’s take the Republic of China for example: it has Basic People’s Courts, Intermediate People’s Courts, High People’s Courts, and the Supreme People’s Court. All the Basic People’s Courts and High People’s Courts including the Supreme People’s Court of China have specialized IPR divisions. Almost all the Intermediate People’s Courts also have specialized IPR courts. The specialized IPR Court of Supreme People’s Court was set up in 1995.
Although Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts have been created and a separate Commercial Division has been created in the Indian High Courts to deal with commercial matters, which inter-alia includes IPR matters, there are no specialized IPR courts.
IPR laws are complex and the patent applications are filed in diverse and cutting-edge technologies. The courts will have to deliberate not only on issues arising out of the complex IPR laws but issues arising out of facts related to science and technology. Some of these technologies may be clear only to those professionals who have knowledge and experience in the field.
It is suggested that now at least steps should be initiated so that the Indian jurisprudence has specialized IPR courts. It may not be possible to come up with specialized IPR courts overnight. Judges may be exposed to IPR and related educational programmes.
It is also suggested that the judges should be able to avail the services of technical experts / assistants / advisors during hearing of cases. These experts could advise the judges on the technical facts.
d) Simplification of evidence procedure
The court procedures in India are relatively time-consuming. In order to ensure quicker decisions, it is suggested to simplify the process of evidence for deciding the cases. One of the steps in the right direction was the introduction of “hot tubbing” by the Delhi Court which allows experts to give evidence in presence of each other and in the presence of judges so that experts are cross-examined to arrive at quick conclusions. More such measures need to be introduced to ensure the evidence process is simple and not time-consuming.
Having a robust, responsive and efficient jurisprudence for handing IPR issues would ensure quick, consistent and predictable decisions. The consistency and predictability of the decisions of courts in matters related to IPR is of utmost importance. Such decisions give confidence to the applicants, investors, researchers and MSMEs and have a direct bearing on the development and growth of a country. Creating such a legal system shows the resolve of a government as to how important is IPR for them, boosting confidence of all related to IPR. IPR has assumed greater significance especially since India was ranked 48 amongst 131 countries in the global innovation index 2020 and had moved up 4 places since 2019. s
6ORA/17/2012/PT/KOL (No.162 of 2013)
-Adv. Chinmay Pawar
The Haryanka dynasty is believed to be the first important and powerful ruling dynasty of Magadha. The Haryankas ruled from 544 BCE to 413 BCE, for approximately 130 years. The empire saw 3 powerful rulers- Bimbisara, his son Ajatashatru and grandson Udayin (Udayabhadra).
Bimbisara was the son of Bhattiya, a chieftain of a community of villages situated in modern day Nalanda District of State of Bihar. He ascended the throne at the age of 15 in 543 BC. Though he had scarce resources at his expense in terms of army and finance, Bimbisara managed to establish a powerful kingdom through his military and administrative genius. He developed an effective administrative system. The officers occupying high posts were divided into 3 branches – executive, military and judicial. Bimbisara established his capital at modern day Rajgir in Bihar then known as ‘Rajgriha’, meaning ‘the home of Royalty’.
He followed a policy of conquest and expansion. The most notable conquest by Bimbisara was that of ‘Anga’ which he annexed and placed under the viceroyalty of his son Ajatashatru.
Bimbisara is also known as a shrewd ‘diplomat’. He had a bitter rivalry with the kingdom of Avanti and its king Pradyota. But later, Bimbsara sent his royal physician ‘Jivaka’ to the Royal Court of Pradyota when he was suffering from jaundice. He started the practice of using matrimonial alliances to strengthen political positions. He had 3 wives: Kosaladevi (Daughter of King of Kosala and the sister of Prasenjit), Chellana (daughter of the Lichchavi - chief of Vaisali) and Khema (daughter of the King of Madra- Punjab).
According to Buddhist religious texts, Bimbisara was a close friend of King Suddhodana, father of Prince Siddhartha i.e. Buddha. He was also said to be an admirer of Mahavira, who was also his contemporary.
*We claim no rights in the above logo. It is being used for representative and educational purposes only.
IKEA, the one-stop-solution to all your furniture needs, isn’t that exactly how we associate with IKEA. With their first store in India located at Hyderabad and their second store at Navi Mumbai, Indians now have a new brand to go all ga-ga over! Ever wondered why the brand is called ‘IKEA’?
Nope, it’s not a Swedish word, in fact it is an acronym created by the initial letters of not only the founder’s name (unlike most eponymous brand names) but also his town and village location. The brand was kickstarted by a 17year old entrepreneur named Mr. Feodor Ingvar Kamprad in 1943! Mr. Ingvar Kamprad was from Elmtaryd, Agunneryd, in Sweden.
The yellow and blue colours were adopted in order to instantly create an association of the brand with its country Sweden. Still lost? The Sweden flag looks like this:
Like we always say, once you see it, you cannot unsee it!
-Adv. Chinmay Pawar
Stone megalith at Willong Khullen- Manipur
India never stops to surprise any type of tourists- nature lovers, city hoppers, history buffs; it has everything for everyone.
India’s north eastern region is connected via a thin stretch of land to mainland India and encompasses 7 of its 28 states. In India, these seven states are popularly known as ‘Seven Sisters’.
Location of Willong Khullen (Source: Google maps)
Manipur, one of the seven states, shares its eastern border with Myanmar. Willong Khullen is a small village in the district of Senapati, around 120 kms from the state capital Imphal and a short distance from the main highway. Willong Khullen is home to a site similar to Stonehenge in England. There are approximately 135 stone megaliths. Some of the tallest megaliths erected at Willong Khullen are seven meters tall and one meter thick. Villagers believe that this site was commissioned by a tribal king to pay tribute to his fallen warriors.
Stone megaliths at Willong Khullen
Lockdowns all over the world are putting people to funny chores. Making useful long forms from short forms seems to be one of them:
a. NEWS: North East West South
b. DATE: Day and Time Evolution
c. SMILE: Sweet Memories In Lips Expression
d. CHESS: Chariot, Horse, Elephant, Soldiers
e. COLD: Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
f. JOKE: Joy of Kids Entertainment
g. AIM: Ambition in Mind
h. EAT: Energy and Taste
i. PEN: Power Enriched in Nib
j. BYE: Be With You Everytime
-Dr. Mohan Dewan
On 30th March, 2021 I officially tested "positive" for Covid-19. The virus was detected through my throat and nasal swab. I am not an "irresponsible" citizen. I was mostly at home. Traveling in my own vehicle to my office three days a week. Maintaining strict social distancing, using hand sanitizer regularly. Yet I contracted the disease. So did my wife Niti, my son - Vishesh, my daughter - Disha, both our drivers, both our maids, her son and our Gardner at home. It appears that the mutant in the second phase is air borne and highly highly infectious. I suspected I had contracted it 3 days earlier when suddenly in the night I lost the sense of smell. The medical professionals say that you lose both, smell and taste sensations. But I believe the basic tastes are there, sweet, salty, bitter and sour. The flavors are missing. Everything "tastes" the same.
Surprisingly I had a mild cough, no cold and fever for two days. Suddenly on the third day my body temperature went up to 102.1. The day after it came down to 101.6. But then it started rising again, so we consulted a doctor telephonically, who recommended that I take 9 tablets of Fabiflu in the morning and 9 in the evening. This did not work for me. My oxygen saturation levels started going down. We ordered an oxygen concentrator at home it didn't seem to help much. When the O2 level touched the 83-84 levels my family got worried. I did feel a little disoriented. This was my third mistake. My first mistake was to immediately start steam inhalation, my second was to drink coconut water. The steam inhalation is good for prevention not once you have contracted the disease. At least in my case, drinking coconut water was poison. It increased my potassium levels. I should have known better. Hyperkalemia is dangerous. My humble request is as soon as the oxygen starts falling below 92, consult a physician and take proper medication. Well-meaning friends and relatives will give suggestions. But there is no substitute for a trained and experienced physician.
It was on Saturday morning, 3rd April that my wife and daughter took me to Ruby Hall Main hospital, here in Pune. I checked into the casualty ward. They immediately took me for an X ray and a CT Scan and put me straight on normal oxygen. Within half an hour I was taken to the SMU ward on bed no 4. First thing they did was take off my clothes and make me wear a pretty mauve coloured top and pyjamas. The admission was smooth. The SMU ward was clearly a makeshift Covid ward with 12 oxygen beds maintained with social distancing. Each bed had a blue curtain around it. I was lucky to have a corner bed. Only bed in the room with a window and a view to the outside world. I could see a tree with yellow fistula biflora flowers outside. I felt lucky. In the ward there was no TV and more importantly no toilets. So urine had to be passed in a bottle and stools in a portable drive through commode. For some reason they called it a urine pot. Very elegant. I started to enjoy myself studying the on-goings in the ward. Not a moment of boredom. Each patient was unique. The medical team decided that they would put me on a Remdesvir drip, inject me with Methyl Prednisolone and a course of antibiotics that included meropenem, Polymix B in Dextrose and Ulinastatin all in three separate drips twice a day. Then there was a continuous drip of plasmalyte. I was scared about my blood sugar that had gone up to 440. The doctors were not worried; they said they had to manage the potassium levels first. They gave me human actrapid also in the drip and injected several units of insulin in my stomach along with a brand of heparin. I was also given dexamthasone injections and subsequently in oral form.
I was quickly absorbing the sounds around me. On the start of the first drip I was asked two profound questions: what was my name? And when did I have my CT scan taken? I thought up some clever answers in my mind. But that it is wiser to avoid any "wise cracks". I am sure both pieces of information should have been there on my case papers which were placed on a makeshift table at the foot of the bed. The table was an all-purpose table. It also served as the breakfast, lunch and dinner table and also served as the elbow rest for the consulting doctor when he/she came to visit.
Otherwise I was absorbing the sights and mainly the sounds around me. I recollect on the first day itself a pompous patient who was trying to throw his weight around. He summoned the nurses and the doctors, stating that he was a fully paying patient and demanding that he be served food and medicines quickly because he was a heart patient. I don't think the medical staff were impressed by him.
Then there was another who was fighting loudly with some members of his family: He started scolding his wife in Gujarati (a regional language in India). He told his daughter that she was the biggest problem in his life. “Get out of my house and my life”,he said. In my opinion, this is a time when you value your relationships not shout at them.
Then there was another guy calling someone, shouting at them, calling them crazy and asking the called person to put the phone down. I am learning about the superegos of people.
Suddenly there is a loud bang on the floor. I think a metal tray fell down. I was amused for some unknown reason. My thoughts went back to last year when Modi asked people to bang pots and pans. People thought this was to drive the virus away.
Dinner comes. I am given a diabetic dinner, Palak bhaji, some dal and two rotisserie, no salt. It doesn't matter because everything tastes like chalk powder.
Late into the night I was subject to the charge of the drip brigade: one antibiotic after another and bottles of plasmalyte and of course human actrapid, a type of insulin.
I think I just fell asleep after the last drip, when I felt some one shaking me awake. It is the "mama". The all-powerful male lord of the ward. It was 5:30 a.m. I am undressed and "sponged" down with wet wipes from head to toe. It is an "exhilarating experience". I am given a fresh pair of hospital suit. Rotated to one side then to the other, to remove the bed sheets under me and place fresh ones. The "maushee" is the mistress. She controls the urine pot and the portable commode. Therefore much in demand. All patients are woken up to carry out the bedding change routine. It is a lesson to watch the different stages of grumpiness when they are woken up. I am learning and enjoying every moment of existence being there, celebrating romance with life.
Each ward has one mama and one maushee who are in great demand. There are also ward boys who run errands for the nurses: the sisters and brothers. They are the interface of the ward, the patients and the outside world. The patients' families who want to send them things, particularly food. The staff in the ward rotates from 8 am to 2pm, then 2 pm to 8pm, 8pm to 2 am and 2am to 8am. The night shift is the worst, round the clock. All the staff were covered in PPE kits, wearing two masks, a surgical mask and an N95. There is generally one doctor on call except at around 10:30am in the morning when the consultant walks in. It is an eventful moment as all the patients and the beds are spruced up and tidied and a whole group of doctors and nurses surround the patient. The patient gets his/her two minute moment of sunshine.
On the second day in the morning my main concern is my rising blood sugar level. I enjoy my first dose of insulin in the stomach. I am in good hands. The treatment and the care is the best. I spend my time enquiring about the life of each of the staff. Most are very scared, terrified with what they are seeing. Most have not told their families in faraway Kotayam, Trivandrum, Calicut, Hubli, that they are working in Covid wards with Covid patients. Most have not seen their families for months.
I feel each one is basically scared, but inwardly wants to be treated like a human being. This is all I can give them in return for their care and kindness. Most have sad life stories, their own and their families. Some even lost their family members but could not attend their last rites. All of them are compassionate human beings.
I learn fast. I ask for some essentials to come from home. My portable blood pressure machine, my blood glucose meter hand towels, a tin of talcum powder, my toiletry kit, hair brush, shaving kit, trimmer, hair gel and face wash and my oral meds and best of all my supplies of Himalaya Mineral water. These will greatly help during my 12 day stay in the hospital. When they arrive, I feel like Robinson Crusoe. The hair brush and the water is particularly useful.
Great experiences. They are loading up the ward pushed in on one more bed feels like a congested hospital corridor. They cannot help it as the cases are rising. Everyone is doing their best. Patients mostly are grumbling and finding fault with every little thing. I have the best bed in the ward only bed with a view to the sun and a water tank and a tree. I am so grateful for the support of my family, particularly my dear wife Niti and my daughter Rhea, for my existence for being alive and feeling well.
On 6th April my oxygen saturation starts fluctuating. Very fortunately a bed is available in the high pressure flowing oxygen ward. The NTU ward. Here there are only six beds well-spaced apart and all the facilities. I am really lucky, to get a bed with a window behind me here as well. Not as pretty as in the previous ward. Yet a window to the outside world. Truly grateful and appreciative for the big and small mercies. I don't know it yet but I will be here for the next six days on high flow of oxygen 60 litres per hour.
I have now made so many friends among the mamas, the maushees, the ward boys, the sisters and brothers and the matrons and doctors. They stop by just to talk to me. Each has his or her own story to tell. Vita, one of the maushees, her husband is in another ward on the heart lung machine. Her daughter has a tumor removed and is on a colostomy bag. Yet Vita smiles as she polishes the floor. By this time Bhaskar, a mama arranges hot water for me in the morning for my sponge bath and powders me so that I feel fresh in the morning and the evening. The one thing I miss is the shower. I know in my heart it will not be long now. Bhaskar arranges for a barber who gives me a shave and trims my beard. A few kind words go a long way. They arrange a chair for me and I have my breakfast, lunch and dinner sitting on the chair. What a world of a difference!
My only pain is the intravenous catheter. It is changed 14 times during my sojourn. Almost every day sometimes twice. It gets displaced every time, sometimes outside the arm, sometimes inside dripping fluid into the tissue. My hands and arms are punctured all over even more. They say my veins are either collapsing or tortious. But for me each puncture means I am on the road to recovery. My palms and arms swell up. I need my catheter to be continuously flushed as the catheter gets blocked. This part is a novel painful experience but I get used to it after the 50th time it is done. The blockage makes the drip slow, what should take 30 minutes takes two hours. I develop purple patches on my arms. They look like tattoos! I enjoy the novelty of the experience in absolute wonderment and appreciation of how much punishment my body can take. My blood sugar is swinging from a dangerously low 51 to dangerously high 414. But I am at peace knowing I am in safe hands with my new found friends. I realize that home is where the heart is, even you can make yourself feel at home in a hospital. This experience drives the fear of hospitals right out of me. I will suggest any person who needs to be hospitalized, not to opt for a private room. Having experienced both I can say this with a degree of confidence. The support system in the ward is excellent. In the final days I was shifted to a private room which had one more occupant, only because my oxygen had stabilized and some other patient needed the high flow oxygen bed. The final days would have been disastrous but the friends I made in the ward all collectively came to my assistance to make my traverse smooth and comfortable right till the time of discharge. My neighbour who is diabetic is also terrified of taking insulin. I tell him about my experience and slowly convince him that it will be temporary and why the insulin is required.
I think in the end they were sad to see me leave. I am truly grateful to the support I received from my ward friends and from my wife Niti. If I came out of this well, the credit goes solely to them.