When THE HEART speaks

Dr Kaul writes from his heart like that old-school enthusiast, and makes us feel that our world is simple
 “My desire to return to the green meadows and the snow-capped mountains of the Kashmir Valley burns like a wildfire within me. I dream and long of a day when I can finally settle there and spend my remaining life in its beauteous lap.”
“My desire to return to the green meadows and the snow-capped mountains of the Kashmir Valley burns like a wildfire within me. I dream and long of a day when I can finally settle there and spend my remaining life in its beauteous lap.”Special arrangement

Three people from Kashmir have strongly influenced me in the last three decades. Two ‘Pandits’- Prof. Agha Ashraf Ali and Mir Mohammad Farooq Nazki.

One ‘Muslim’- Prof. (Dr) U. Kaul. Dr Kaul lives and writes from his heart like that old-school enthusiast, believer, and makes us feel our world is simple, just, fair, beautiful. As a reader I’m tempted to agree, too.

To me the book is all summed up in the above paragraph. According to Dr Kaul himself, “My desire to return to the green meadows and the snow-capped mountains of the Kashmir Valley burns like a wildfire within me. I dream and long of a day when I can finally settle there and spend my remaining life in its beauteous lap.

He had always wanted to build a house in Kashmir. A home. His mother Gauri Kaul always had a strong desire to return to the valley and have her own place. She didn’t live long enough to see Gauri Manzil which he did build in 2013.

When the heart speaks” is all and about his mother. And motherland. Also, an intimate personal story of the love for both. This way.

That way. Every which way we can think about the book is about the author yearning to return to his roots.

So much so that those who know and those who will read the book might even agree with me that should he have not left the valley with his parents as an infant when he did, he might not have love him beloved home so much. The desire to return back becoming so increasing more telling and overwhelming over each day than stay back ever could.

Since 2013, he would visit every month and spend a few days in his home. Then his 10000 plus steps early morning, treat his patients all day, invite friends and well-wishers for tea, dinners, long conversations and return back. Only to be thinking of his next trip back to the valley.

Since 2020 September these monthly visits have become weekly. Now three days in Kashmir rest of it reluctantly in Delhi. The book follows the same trajectory. Each page becoming the home. The homeland it actually is.

Travelling all parts of the valley, giving public talks on prevention of heart disease and building awareness about high blood pressure and diabetes bring joy to his life.

As a cardiologist he has always been a Kashmiri legend. As a curer we know him well. But his role and life are both a model of prevention. The book offers a varied spectra of things in that direction.

In the preface he writes, “I try to make the people of the valley realize that managing these problems early can reduce the chances of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failures which are major public health problems. I have many colleagues and friends to help me in carrying out this mission. I am a regular writer of educative articles on preventive medicine in the most popular daily, Greater Kashmir”.

Kashmir, is his birthplace, even though his education has been in Delhi. The book deals with both his initial days and early life at some length, which seem has always enamoured him and given the strength to become what he has achieved today.

However, even then one can read how in his younger days, the magnetic pull to return to Kashmir for spending his vacations always made him perform better. Hence, his parents would willingly allow him to go as often as he could.

His love for the people there has always been reciprocated by them. Despite the ill feelings of Kashmiri Pandits towards the majority community after the happenings of 1990, his affection for his people never changed. This has often led to criticism by many people, especially on social media, who have repeatedly questioned his integrity.

The book, and his reactions, have always been that all need to stand together and not be polarised. It also breathes about the very small Pandit community that needs to realise and move forward to preserve our common culture which cannot be centric to just one religion. This preservation can only come by being in Kashmir as often as possible and not by imagining the serene valley and trying to replicate the valley elsewhere in other parts of the world.

The Kashmiri heritage in him continues to thrive and his visits to the valley are becoming very frequent. On every visit, he goes to see places which he had missed around the city and the valley. He has developed friendship and intimacy with the young and old, poor and rich. The book talks about them all.

Based on 19 chapters, starting with From Khans to Kauls, birth and parents, schooling, medical school, junior doctor, becoming a Cardiologist, Joining AIIMS and the Australian Fellowship, beginning of coronary angioplasty in India, coronary stents, pacemakers and a horrid London experience to the dark era in Kashmir Valley, visits to Pakistan and China, association with Sathya Sai Baba and exit from AIIMS and experience in private healthcare to Gauri Manzil and Gauri Kaul Foundation.

Prof. (Dr) M. S. Khuroo, renowned Gastroenterologist in his blurb says, “It should be read by all those who are interested to know about the past and present culture of Kashmir.

It is an eyeopener for those who are pursuing to excel in their careers and want to get a feel of passion, dedication, zest to learn and serve the motherland. For those patients and their families who have benefitted from his service, the book tells what Upendra Kaul stands for.

Of course, to the medical fraternity at all levels, the book teaches how to serve and balance your career despite fame, glory, and success. For those who want to serve their motherland, including the NGOs, the book shows a way of how to walk and tread on the right path of service.”

Dr Kaul over our long conversations thrice a week repeated and says, “I am still waiting for the day when I can move to Kashmir for good. Delhi, where I have spent most of my life, never gave me the peace of mind and comfort which I have been longing for.

I have no doubt seen the world, healed many hearts and brought in additions to the medical advances in the country. My mind and thoughts however have always been very much in the charming Kashmir valley.

But we also discuss that the beautiful and serene valley, however, has transformed into a very different atmosphere over the years. The smile and cheer are clearly missing.

The number of people from his community has become a very tiny minority. Their homes give an impression of uncared for structures about to crumble down.

Persons of his generation from the majority community miss the composite culture we used to have in the days gone by and talk about it very often.

Dr Kaul feels much about the generation of Kashmiri Pandits born after 1990 who are mainly living in Jammu or other parts of the country. They have very little motivation to return to their roots. On the other hand, the generation of young men of the majority community have their own issues. He worries for that too.

The book subtly looks to keep both things positive and wants all to delve and invest into our future. Recently the insecurity of the minorities in the valley who chose to stay back has been an issue from time to time since the 1990s. It has still been a matter of serious concern despite the state turning into a Union Territory.

The recent killing of a well-known chemist of Srinagar caused tremors in the hearts of the Pandits living there. The majority community, however, came out in their support and reassured them. No fresh exodus has happened so far. But everyone is numb. All at loss.

Amazon describes the book, “The medical profession is considered to be one of the noblest as doctors are tasked with the responsibility of alleviating the sufferings of mankind.

But there is very little understanding about the lives of doctors. Dr Upendra Kaul (Khan), one of India’s most accomplished cardiologists, tries to quell this curiosity in his memoir by recalling some interesting incidents from his life.

The book talks about how he did not let the difficult circumstances in Kashmir, the place where he was born, deter his dreams and kept working hard to achieve his goal of serving humanity. Throughout his career, he came across several personalities.

While looking at the many positive aspects of his profession, he does not shy away from talking about the changing patterns of medical ethics and the start of kickbacks seen during his professional time.

The work is an eclectic mix of events and occurrences that keeps the readers hooked till the last page. Dr Upendra Kaul, a Kashmiri cardiologist, is one of the pioneers of non-surgical procedures on heart in India.

He is well known internationally for being a teacher and an academician par excellence. Dr Kaul was conferred the Dr B.C. Roy Award and Padma Shri for his contributions to Indian medicine.”

In the days to come, months and years to follow, as we look at where we are and where we ought to be going, there will arise reasons to hold on to some and give away a few things. Can we be able to hope for a semblance of order and trust in the sub-continent?

Against all odds, and counting, until Kashmir wakes up into its own hope of investing peace in the hearts and minds of its own people helping bridge that ‘trust’ gap between the two neighbouring countries India and Pakistan.

To make that happen we have to rise above our own sufferings and pain. Dr Kaul’s life is a prime illustration of how that is actually possible. His book above his own loss leads the way to work for the welfare of his people; it is an essential read. It’s a call to all faiths and faithful to come together. And make that happen.

Ajaz Rashid, CEO, Gauri Kaul Foundation

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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