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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Doctor of Repurposing


‘It’s all about thinking inside the box rather than out of the box’ advocates Dr. BA Anantharam, a renowned plastic reconstructive hand surgeon who is a president of Annasawmy Mudaliar CIE’s Public Charities in Frazer Town Bengaluru. He was a former president of Indian Society for Surgery of Hand.

 Ingenuity is not lost, we bring you an interview with Dr. Anantharam.





Bottle with no wine, so question arises ‘What do we do with the bottle, it’s still new?

We sat across his cluttered work desk and  found his workspace teeming with stories of repurposed items. Dr. Anantharam said excitedly ‘So here is a pen-stand made of out of wood from birch tree which I had picked in Geneva’. He continues ‘you know there are tree surgeons whose job is to focus on health and safety of individual plants and trees’.
When one asks him what triggers this behavior of repurpose. He replies ‘It’s a question of having access to very high quality material that’s considered unfit for use by others.‘
So here goes the story, one day the Doctor visited a certain shop seeking another piece of that perfectly modeled pencase he used to have. The shopkeeper said that it was one of its kinds. Dr. Anantharam was disappointed and decided to create one for him and till date he continues to surprise himself with self-designed products intended for his various needs.
For instance once there was a problem of staining of his shirt with pen ink and lot of time spent trying to use plastic or other materials.  The solution was not consistent. Suddenly one day he notices a leather pen pouch with a pen dealer and he cried ‘eureka!’ He realized in leather stock for patients, there will be few scraps of high value leather. Hence, decided to turn them into pen cases.’ He says, showing his custom made pen case ‘it’s made out of calf leather, the more you use it, the softer it becomes but the nappa leather is finest of all’.
But there was more on his table that continued to electrify us and one notices another brightly coloured pouch made out of discarded jute ment for special knives for various purposes of his trade.  Even his Swiss army knife has a leather holder which was custom made from locally available material. He spins his self-made top made of empty refill and bottle cap on the table while informing that the ‘top is one of the earliest toys invented by man’.
One notice there is lot of cut pieces of tiles which were converted into coasters and card holder. He was quick to add ‘all these come handy to be custom-made gift items to people’

Organize for efficiency
Recently in a super specialty hospital when Dr. Anantharam was in a surgery and also at a post –op round he asked for scissors and was handed a blade instead. At AMGH (Annasawmy Mudaliar General Hospital), bandage and scissors are kept ready in a holder out of an empty drip bottle and consequently it take 10 min for a dressing which would take twice the amount of time at other places because the staff are running up and down looking for things the Doctor asked for.
‘Efficiency is the key word, developing a methodology which is optimum in nature. Implementation in hospital becomes an uphill task’, says Dr. Anantharam, but in AMGH this is not the case, while taking a tour in the surgery room, the doctor shows us how various tools are organized the way they should be. How neatly the register is maintained and how the waste paper is being reused. It is impressive to see that staff members understand this virtue of orderliness and follow it diligently. Even a patient contributed by specially designing a surgery steel hand stand meant for surgery of hand.

Age of instant gratification
T-20 to T-1 will be the future of cricket where a match will be played in one over with 10 balls in an over. People find test matches too long to endure. ‘Virtual’ cricket may eventually happen say Dr.Anantharam. He mentions that people want consultation online; they describe their pain on a phone-call. That is why there is mushrooming of online portals. He muses ‘what people don’t realize is health is an “IN EXACT” science. They want conversation, but not listening’. Now days an organ transplant is being spoken about but one forgets that with transplant comes anti-rejection medication for the rest of one’s life.
In the same breath he adds, Why did Kodak fail ?-- because they did not capitalize the need of conversion from Analog to Digital .Therefore two factors influence the big picture, the access to it and the need for it.

These things keep me busy and occupied

We want to thank Dr. Anantharam for sharing his experiences of repurposing and how it’s closely related to efficiency in life which gives us a new perspective on waste.  He went on to instruct his colleague to get him discarded pieces of mahogany, sal and teak wood from which he crafts walking sticks, his current hobby.


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