A way to relax in Kolkata

Braving the congested roads of Kolkata with an anesthetist, who took Hannah to one of his favourite spots in the city.....
20 January 2015

Interview with 

Dr. Saptarshi Basu, Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata


Braving the congested roads of Kolkata with an anesthetist, who took Hannah Critchlow to one Hoogley Bridgeof his favourite spots in the city....

Basu - I'm Dr. Saptarshi Basu. I'm the intensivist and the critical care specialist at the Institute of Neurosciences Kolkata.

Hannah - And you brought me to this beautiful and very busy park in the middle of Kolkata. Can you describe the surroundings to our listeners?

Basu - Well, this is the Prinsep Ghat as we say. Just behind it is the second Hooghly Bridge and it's a park, nice place to be with a lot of greeneries and very busy part of the city. This is one of the places you must visit when you are in Kolkata.

Hannah - Dusk is just setting on Kolkata and there's lots of families running around, having picnics, playing games.

Basu - Yeah, they're playing badminton. The winter season in Kolkata is here and people are celebrating the winter. It's Saturday evening. You have many lover's point also here. People are making their girlfriends and boyfriends come here, take pictures and photographs. It's a nice place to be here.

Hannah - So, just to note that the winter in Kolkata - well, I'm wearing a short sleeve top and leggings and I'm actually quite warm. It's probably about 20 degrees here. It's lovely. Can you tell me a little bit about what made you start working at the Neuroscience Institute that Robin Sengupta set up?

Basu - Well, Professor Dr. Robin Sengupta is a father figure in neurosurgery. So, when he offered me the job, I couldn't say no to him.

Hannah - You've always lived in Kolkata?

Basu - I've been born in Kolkata and my studies are also here.

Hannah - What's it like? Can you describe a typical day for you working at the Neuroscience Institute in Kolkata?

Basu - Well, I'm an intensivist, so my job is to handle those critical patients who are there in the ventilators with a lot of emergency medical conditions coming in with the emergency department. So, I always have a very hectic day. You have to manage the patient and deal with those ventilator settings and at the end of the day, it feels really satisfied if I bring smile to the face of the family members of the patients who were admitted there.

Hannah - What kind of typical injuries are these people coming in with from having seen the traffic in Kolkata? Is it head injuries from traffic accidents?

Basu - Yeah. Definitely, we get a lot of trauma patients, road traffic accident patients. As you saw while travelling with me, that there were a lot of people who were just not very ignorant about their fact that they might injure their head and fall down. A lot of road traffic accidents, a lot of trauma cases with extradural hematoma, subdural hematoma, a lot of people coming in with neurosurgeries are needed. So, that is where we specialise a unique institute.

Hannah - And there's also lots of motor cyclists as well, weaving in and out of the traffic. I believe that there's been a new law passed within Kolkata to make sure that the majority of them at least are wearing helmets to protect their heads?

Basu - Yeah, very true. You need to wear the helmets and protect yourself first. Still, there are certain who would, I would still suggest to wear their helmets and protect themselves first.

Hannah - The dusk is really setting now here in the park and so, the bridge has just been lit up with some beautiful blue and yellow lights. I've got a couple of people that have come up to what's going on and what we're chatting about myself and Basu. Hello, who are you?

Female - Hello.

Hannah - And your name? And how old are you?

Female - 12.

Hannah - 12 years old?

Male - 11.

Hannah - What have you been up to today? Have you been playing in the park?

Female - (foreign language)

Basu - So, they're with their Auntie and roaming around. As I said, it's a festive season, so they're roaming around and having fun.

Female - I like very much Kolkata. Kolkata is a very beautiful places.

Hannah - Are you at school?

Basu - School.

Female - (foreign language)

Hannah - And what's your favourite subjects?

Female - Math, literature.

Hannah - Literature and math. Have you got a favourite poet or a favourite writer?

Female - Rabindranath Tagore

Basu - Rabindranath Tagore. He is a world famous poet. He has won a Nobel Prize for Gitanjali. In each phase of your life, we have this song. It's such beautiful songs.

Hannah - And you like maths and what do you think of this bridge here, this second Hooghly bridge? Do you think the maths, this trigonometry that have made the engineering possible are good?

Female - Very nice and good, triangle angle.

Hannah - Thanks to Saptarshi Basu and also to the Kolkata children who assured me that they do wear safety helmets when on their father's motorbike. Next up, we brave the traffic to return to the ward with Professor Robin Sengupta to visit a patient who hadn't faired so well on the streets.

Robin - He was knocked down by a 4-wheeler and he was unconscious for a short period of time. but he regained consciousness and then he was brought in here and these are the external injuries he had, so tomorrow he's going home.

Hannah - So, the right side of his face is very swollen and he's got very big bruise around his eye. What kind of treatment did he get when he came in here?

Robin - What he had, because he was unconscious, he had a scan, and to see, there is a slight contusion of the brain, but there is no big blood clot to operate on. contusion means that little bruising of the brain itself. So, I heard his condition did not deteriorate so we did not have to operate on him. These are taken care of by dressings, and he has had x-rays to see any fracture but he did not have any fracture, but you can see the black and blue he is. The boy can speak English. He goes to the local school. So, you can ask him questions.

Hannah - What's your name?

Stewart - Stewart

Hannah - And how old are you?

Stewart - 14 years.

Hannah - How are you feeling now? Can you remember being hit by the car?

Stewart - No.

Hannah - Completely gone, all the memory has gone.

Stewart - Yes.

Hannah - Are you feeling okay now?

Stewart - Yes.

Hannah - Are you going to go back to school next week?

Stewart - Yes. The exam is finished and that day I got accident.

Robin - The day his exam finished, that day, he had the accident.

Hannah - No celebration.

Stewart - No.

Hannah - Maybe celebrate when you're out and when you've fully recovered.

Stewart - Yes.


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