in Books, Friend, Life, Music, Podcast, Problem Solving

S1 E5 – Sreekanth Vemula

On following ones curiosity, being comfortable with not fitting in and taking care of his next patient.

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Dr. Sreekanth is a leading Neurologist at Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad. He received his MD from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and DM in Neurology from Institute of Medical Sciences at Chandigarh. Teaching medical students is one of his passions, he has been actively teaching and advising students over 10 years.

“Thinking clearly, unselfishly, solves most problems in this world” and “Don’t worry, you will be automatically happy” –Sreekanth
Enjoy my conversation with Sreekanth

Show Notes & Links

I have no moonshots, I just want to treat my next patient to the best of my abilities

Transcript Follows

Madhav 0:07
Today my guest is Dr. Sreekanth Vemula, Sreekanth is a leading neurologist at Apollo hospitals Hyderabad he received his MD from all India Institute of Medical Sciences and dm in neurology from Institute of Medical Sciences at Chandigarh. Teaching medical students is one of his passions. He’s been actively teaching and advising students over 10 years now. Thanks again for taking the time to join the show. Always My pleasure. Awesome. you’re originally from born and brought up in Tirupati or where were you born?

Sreekanth 0:39
Yeah. Although I was born in Chennai, I’m a Telugu. I’ve been brought up I was brought up in Tirupati. And then most of my childhood was in property. So I’ve been places but born yes in Chennai.

Madhav 0:53
Learning tonight. Oh, those days gone.

Sreekanth 0:56
Yeah, those days called Madras and it was a difficult time for us to take In the name of Jenna we always secretly still say metres no risking the fear of getting you know bashed up by the politically correct people but yeah, yeah Madras people of a certain generation know it as much as but he does Chennai before he became yes so I can I can understand how people think you know overall people have a sense of history they would agree with tonight but people who were very you know in the present at the time it was called Madras or Daisy so it’s like that it it changes it was Chennai Madras no 10 again so yeah.

Madhav 1:37
Oh god. Yeah. So you moved from generally when you’re like very little or

Sreekanth 1:44
no, I was never part of Chennai. I was just born.

I was born there. My mom mom was studying there, and all my relatives. But there so she had her roots in Chennai, when there was no proper place where my dad We’re staying, you know, to take care of pregnancy and delivery and stuff. So she had to move to Chennai, when she was in early pregnancy and during a delivery so that her relatives are, you know, my mom said like this could help her out. And it was not. I was just born there and then moved back to finish.

Madhav 2:21
Yeah, got it. And, and you mentioned your dad. So your dad was a think your dad was already in the medical profession by then or Is that right?

Sreekanth 2:32
Yeah. My dad wasn’t a doctor when he married my mom. And he Yeah, he was he had, he had already completed his MBBS practicing when he married at the time, you know, doing specialization was not a priority and it was not needed to have a successful practice. So he started practicing after MBBS How was it growing up for you when to you know, move back to under Pradesh and was just a bit brief glimpse into your childhood like where you there’s not a little kid doing all kinds of crazy things are very, very like. Good agree. How How was your early childhood? Oh goody goody is not at all what I would call myself when I was a kid from school and hop onto my dad’s Jeep us, camping at all, used to go to camp as a monk school, jump into my dad’s Jeep and then move to a scans. The my mom got so frustrated with what I was doing, she decided to put me in a hostel. And that had been to me very well. The hostel was in Chennai, I had to go back to Chennai for that from under British. That didn’t suit me. Well, I didn’t know they didn’t gel with me and the hospital had to come right back. But you know, I had fun days. You know, my dad used to have a bike which used to take me on and used to make me meet his friends. And I was the boss. You know, he had people working for him and to boss around. I didn’t know what it meant, but yes, it was good was Not, not good? Not at all what I would call?

Madhav 4:04
No, it doesn’t sound like it at all. You’re You’re basically shoved off to a boarding school

Sreekanth 4:12
had to be done to, you know, put me in control.

Madhav 4:16
Yeah, yeah. And so you were in briefly you were in Chennai, like in a boarding school and then you came back for a few months. That’s

Sreekanth 4:25
okay. Give it back. Yeah,

Madhav 4:29
yeah. And then you went to another boarding school soon after.

Sreekanth 4:33
Soon after.

I was there for some time in Tirupati. I had it my kindergarten kg Ukg and first standard second standard third standard. There’s something that happened I me and my sister. We were not together when we were very young, because my sister was adopted by a couple was more distant relatives of ours. And then she came back Because unfortunately they died. And she came back. She was with me for a while we fought a lot, because I didn’t do that because my kingdom, my sister, not my kingdom anymore. So I didn’t take it very well. I used to fight a lot. I got some physical, and my name’s gone a lot. So they wanted to separate us and go back to the peaceful situation, which was there before she came in. And I had to bear the brunt. And the wanted to send me some back my uncle who knew pretty badly and how, you know, really how disciplined was that? He thought I should write an entrance that there was a first batch of students who are joining the road entrance and move to Puttaparthi. So yeah, I had to move back to move to put a party in my fifth class.

Madhav 5:52
In the fifth. Oh, you started in fourth grade there and then. Yeah, you stayed on till 12. So I know that I joined you.

Sreekanth 6:04
Yeah. Jordan, you need so yeah. Five years.

Madhav 6:08
Oh, yeah. Five years and five years. Yeah. We probably I’m not sure if I I’m sure we met in 84. And I joined it must have been so 25 years or so.

Sreekanth 6:20
Rocky, did you mention against at 430? Because the 1935 years? Yeah. 35 years? Yeah.

Madhav 6:26
How was the sciences inclination? Was it early on for you?

I never did anything, which I didn’t want to. If I did something I had, I was passionate about it. And I always wanted to know, know about things. Why did it happen? What can happen? How can we change it? Lots of things. Yeah. So that that was like a passionate thing for me and I had to find out deeper.

Maybe that’s what led me to taking up science and I was good at math too. But then it didn’t tickle me much because I tended a certain place. No, not like I could go deeper into science but not so much math. So yeah, science. I the the Sherlock Holmes was my favorite character he he got a clue if he found the culprits. I thought science did the same thing. You You had you investigated you found out and then you get the clues and you came to a conclusion that for me science was all detective work.

Madhav 7:28
So yeah, I never heard of this analogy. That’s pretty cool. So medicine is sort of like a detective work. So were you interested in I think you read a lot of these detective or all kinds of books when you’re in property school if I remember I know we had a small library but I recall used to be reading like crazy, but quite a lot, right but not

Sreekanth 7:54
a lot. Anything that could that I could lay my hands on, you know, it need not be it needed. NIMBY, only this genre that john, I could read anything, just lay my hands on you can complete it. Which is curiosity. What you What did that what is there in that book and what is written and by the by that I did it just curiosity like, I love stories. Any good story? No, no, no, no made me curious and then I had to complete a book,

Madhav 8:22
but lots of books. Wow. And I mean luckily the Curiosity didn’t kill the guy here but

Sreekanth 8:29
I hope not.

I hope not. Yeah.

Maybe it has nine lives and


Madhav 8:43
Any particular like lessons or things that strike out to you as you go back into the time input of it from your fifth grade to 12th mean anything that strikingly you recall that might affected you in one way or the other, you know, as a person positively negatively either way

Sreekanth 9:08
I love to solve things problems and I love to be needed in a hostel that was not difficult to be needed, you know, I,

I wanted to, you know, be of use to somebody else. So, if somebody needed me, they could come and I could, I could talk to them, I could, you know, try to figure out a way to come out of the situation.

So, and I, I’m not very, I’m not very, you know, social social, I don’t go out of my way to make friends. But if somebody came to me, I would love that. So, for me staying in the hospital, helped me in a way that even though I didn’t go out of my way to make friends, I did make my friend I did make friends who are with me till now and it’s like, It’s like a slow development. Yeah. I was not in the hostel.

Madhav 10:05
hostel Life was good. Hi interesting. So you had all the setup you had the people, you’re constantly with people and there was more scope for people to come to you. As opposed to if you’re outside, you might have had to do it yourself proactively to reach out to people which you are not that interested in. I

Sreekanth 10:24
yeah, I was not very proactive in going out and making friends. Right. But hostile, hostile life, sorted that out for me. I made sense. Going out of the way.

Madhav 10:34
Yeah. Got it. Yeah. Cool. Cool. And then you You brought you into a lot of different other things beyond reading books and studying while you were there.

Sreekanth 10:47
I wanted to do everything. I wasn’t good at many things. Yeah,

I wanted to do everything. Like sports. I was reasonable, but I was not Good. It was reasonable. Art. Yes. I love that. I could train I could draw and I did some stuff. It is not great. But it made me happy. And literature, any literary activities, you know, organizing things, all of them cruising,

Madhav 11:19
especially assessing especially right, I recall. Yeah, again, that goes back to I think what you said earlier quizzing, probably because there is something about what is it? Why is it curiosity? Yeah.

Sreekanth 11:31
Yeah. drove me to participate in a lot of quizzes.

Madhav 11:35
Oh, wow. I see. That seems to be a common thread. Interesting. Yeah. And then you move on from once you’ve completed high school. You’ve moved on to medical school directly from young right. And then what was it like? medical school, starting medical school in put up into buddy Sorry, I was It like how was the life there? It was a different environment, obviously. Now first of all, you’re outside the hospital and all that. But also in I don’t know you’re grown up, somehow you have to do things yourself.

Sreekanth 12:14
Even for anybody, let’s say if they were staying at home even without being in hospital, moving from 16 to 17, or 18 is a huge thing every year when you’re a teenager. Is it a terrible event, and coping with the changes that happen and coping with all the expectations and you become an aspirant, a mere professional from being the student was being taken get off. That’s a lot of stress. People expect a lot out of you, you’re supposed to grow up quickly. And you’re from 16 to 18.

That’s not so easy on many of the teenagers and coming out of hostile a protected environment and particularly the everybody took care of each other and the staff It was great and everybody had on took care of you without making you feel awkward or, you know, separate. But when you come to the outside world, I refer to this as the outside world because it’s, it’s difficult to cope with the demands of a place, you know, outside of particulars, which is very smooth for most kids who joined there.

So for me to not only joining a medical college where the demands on your time to read and also to think of lots of other things is very high now and not to cope with the outside world. And whatever that means to people who are listening to this.

You had for me it was an upset but but I was with my parents, so they helped me cope quite a bit. I my my house was just next door to the hospital, a big College and the hospital. Yeah, so it was easy. It was not that difficult to cope, but it was a it was a bit of a struggle. You know, I moved from mobis school to go education, that was also a little difficult, you know, things happen and then you are you’re trying to adjust to the new realities and then you’re awkward and then but still you have to cope and you’re trying to catch up.

These things can take a toll on how you’re thinking, and your sense of balance and make you awkward, make it difficult for you to join the crowd. Make your socially little embedded imbalanced and these things happen.

I’m sure most of the, you know, most of us already experienced that. Yeah, we tend to be shy and revealing clothes.

Madhav 14:47
Yeah, exactly. I think the teenagers are pretty stressful in so many ways. And you like you said I mean it’s sort of understand the world inside as well as the world outside Islam. hormonal changes and whatnot. I mean, it’s just a lot compressed into two, three years.

Sreekanth 15:08
To discover a lot of a lot of them are not very pleasant.

Madhav 15:14
Like plays a huge pressure on you.

Madhav 15:16
Yeah. Yeah. Any particular example or story comes to your mind on a challenge that you faced kind of growing up, quote unquote,

Sreekanth 15:27
yes. See what happens is when you go to a qualification place you’re trying to adjust and then you feel attracted to the opposite sex and they tried to become friends with you and then you’re not sure and that was an age where it was not as permissive as it is now. Yeah. And you will do you think a lot before you became friends with the with anyone? And especially if you I mean, I was a little little liberal in my thinking. So, I had to be sure my place somebody turns what they thought of this and that made it both difficult for both me and yeah and I had to get into my shell for a while and I had to because I was you know,

I was looked at as a role model now being a role model is not difficult because having this friendship so being friends with the opposite sex is not taking no badly.

Yeah. time you had to you had to listen to your parents and for societal norms and many things that made it is very awkward for me to, you know, get you. Yeah, there are many such incidents but this is our record. And

Madhav 16:56
I mean, how did you go, but like into a shell. I mean, was that? Did it affect your school like grades and education like learning? Or was that something that you were able to? I’m trying to understand how you overcame that and move on, move forward.

Sreekanth 17:16
For me, as you know, academics are never a problem. I could go up easily and because I loved what I studied and what I did. So for me, I didn’t have to put in any extra effort for that. But for other things, for all the other things, like being accepted socially, was difficult for me. Yeah. Many people didn’t understand me. My behavior was not like what others did or expected.

So for me to fit into a crowd was extremely difficult. I thought in a certain way, most of the others thought in a different way and I wanted to put in, I wanted to begin very badly, but it does not Obviously, and so I’d remained with a very few close friends who still are my friends.

Yeah, but I could never be that, you know, the, the jock. The popular guy. Yeah, one of those people I could never be. Because, yeah, I mean, I’m not the time it affected me a lot. That right. Not able to do what others are doing by me not able to I everybody wants to be popular. I wasn’t.

Unknown Speaker 18:30

Sreekanth 18:33
mean, the general you know, the society I don’t mean, I was friends with many of my know many of the people in my class, but there are people who are extremely popular and everybody loves to be around them. I wasn’t one of them that that was difficult for me to accept. Now I don’t you know, really mind it. I mean, I’m happy today. I was. I didn’t I didn’t have to go and do stuff which I didn’t like to do. I’m happy now.

Madhav 19:03
Yeah, no, that’s interesting. I can you’re saying about how, you know, studies was not much of a challenge and it’s always come naturally because you loved it. And then also recall your sort of started out doing other things on campus like introducing something called panels, like a new way for people to bring out the creative aspects while in the middle of medical school. I mean, whether other things that you did sort of to apart from education, which was not a big deal for you, but to cope up with these other pressures, like being popular or trying to fit in, where the tactics or things that helped you like, you know, focusing our mind on other things, and not just worrying about why am I not popular, why am I not fitting in Did you use some tactics or things that sort of distracted you from this and put your energy somewhere else?

Sreekanth 20:09
You could say that, actually, I knew my strengths. And obviously, I knew my weaknesses. My, I was good at organizing, I was good at recognizing what talent people had. I was good at putting it out for everyone to see for me, but once was this, you know, it was a, it was a display on the ball, which at the time, we didn’t have a lot of cell phones or social media and stuff. So if somebody had to show the talent, they had to actually physically put it up somewhere for for the others to see. I think there’s a good medium for everybody to express their talent. And it was a huge hit. I started it in 93. It’s still running in the hospital in the college. Good evening. They tweaked it a bit and they came back to pass now so Yeah, yeah, at the time it was not accepted very well because people said Why didn’t you go and you know, do your job busy studying, studying you people, you know, you waste your time you do all this stuff and you are no good at all that I didn’t want to bother with what they thought I did it anyway. And it

Madhav 21:22
was that was just the teachers seven professors or was it co students who were saying this to my students,

Sreekanth 21:29
but a very happy to have this, you know, they wanted to, you know, show off. Yeah, they put up stuff and make this, you know, and see how talented they were. Yeah, it was the professors and the other faculty and administrators, those people to see but they came around, they will come around and they they were very happy with it and

It was not unusual for me to see that happen, you know, they, they first reject all these ideas happens. They don’t mind taking the credit. So yeah,

Madhav 22:13
I didn’t I didn’t mind it. It’s like the fight is the ridiculous. And then they turn around and then you win.

Sreekanth 22:27
Credit anybody can take I was happy that I did it. That’s all it matters. That’s all that matters.

Madhav 22:31
Yeah. Because I do see some folks sort of doing that age or time period where you’re constantly discovering new things about yourself and about the world around you. And you start to have self doubt and you start to have things that sort of affect you mentally. You know, why am I not fitting in or is this am I awkward and oddball out here and things like that and Having the energy spent, I guess wherever you spend the energy is where you see the effects, I guess. And it looks to me like, you’ve definitely put some of these other things behind. You didn’t focus your energies and all these other things and somehow you were able to cope up with it, doing other things that interested you. Another interesting point you mentioned is like you knew what were your strengths and weaknesses. I think that’s a super important thing, right? Like to discover to discover what you’re really good at and then focusing so you do you double down on what your strengths are? Or do you worry about what your weaknesses are and try to improve on where do you spend your energy? I can tell you for a fact everybody worries about their weaknesses. Yeah, but the but the trick is in moving on, hmm. You I can’t be Superman or any of the person who is multi talented or can do everything I can be i know that i real. I wanted to, I must confess I wanted to do everything. But I knew I couldn’t I just moved on. And I’m glad I did. Because that made me focus on what I could do and I could do this. Those things. Well, how do you do? Sorry, go ahead.

Sreekanth 24:10
There was another thing we did in the college, which was very controversial again, the, for the first time in the history of the college. I started Cultural Festival, intercollegiate cultural festival called a Synergy.

Madhav 24:23
synergy. Yeah. Remember that? Yeah. You’ll get

Sreekanth 24:29
the inspiration of an episode. Absolutely. Yeah. From my college to come to your college. You know, we participated, remember? Yeah. And, and you guys

Madhav 24:39
used to come and take away all the quizzes and all this like, just nail it. Yes, thank you. And

Sreekanth 24:48
that gave me an inspiration to start the synergy thing and do it again the law of resistance, but we could pull it off. At the end of it though. It was a bit comfortable. Some of the people who are close to the management, they tried to pull it off as they don’t achievement. And the for me, that’s not a problem. But where it hurt

Sreekanth 25:16
people who work with me to make it a success, you did not get the credit. I was thinking that it’s okay for me to let go. But I do not think about those other people who also work for that. Yeah, it was not about me. I was selfish at the time to think that I don’t mind losing credit for this thing, because I did it anyway. But I did not think about a few other people who also did it to wanted some credit because they were not in the front, but they worked a lot for it.

That was something I still regret. And if I did something like that, and I won’t let it happen.

Madhav 25:53
Interesting, more interesting. So that’s sort of like a team leader. Not just looking out for himself or herself like, Okay, I’m fine. And I didn’t get the credit and I don’t care. I did it anyway. But it’s it’s more about, hey, you’re the team leader, you’re not, you know, leader is actually responsible or accountable for your team and making sure that the team is happy. And so that’s something you would go back and change if you did if you had a chance.

Sreekanth 26:21
That’s one thing I would change about the whole thing and I would make sure that the other team members got it ready because they went out of the way at the time. I should also tell you that my classmates were not very enthusiastic about what I was doing getting kicked. But my junior they were my sisters, classmates. They supported me outright, they said what you do something will get there behind you. And I I guess I let them down by Yeah, by not, you know, letting them get the credit that they deserved. And that was stupidity on my part at the time. I won’t change it. Go back

Madhav 26:56
got it got it and as always, exhilarating, I think to I didn’t realize you took the initiative and lead this the first time starting synergy in the medical college. But it’s, it’s very exhilarating, right to take something of an idea that was never done before. And sort of bringing people together convincing them that this is cool and, and sort of ignoring the naysayers, those your classmates, not necessarily very excited about it. And bringing the team together to make it happen, I mean, any team or leadership lessons that you can share from that experience?

Sreekanth 27:40
Never let anybody else, you know, bog you down and never let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Yeah. And there will always be people who like your ideas and will support you.

If it’s any good. And you should, you should go ahead and do what you feel is good. If as long as it says it’s it’s you know, it doesn’t hurt anyone and there is some stuff in it. Yeah, go ahead. And yeah, it won’t be easy, but it’s doable.

Madhav 28:08
Yeah. Awesome. Hey, that’s I know, we’re talking a lot about your, you know, initiatives in medical school and the fun things it did and all that any tactics or routines that sort of helped you just get through not like get through but actually as the college and then pass the college, I know you went on to All India medical sciences instead of Medical Sciences. Take away any lessons from wondering if there is something that you used during those five years of medical college that sort of helped you get some discipline around your college credits and you know, exams and whatnot.

Sreekanth 28:54
Right from my school days, you know, you you know me your you will You would have seen me before the exams, you know, talking to others and I love to teach, even when I was a student, you know, my 10th class in my intermediate class one and class two. Yeah, I mean, I didn’t know something. If I told someone else about the topic, I had to be title in the topic to tell them. It was a tactic to understand the topic. No reading for exam, you can get away with not being clear about certain concepts.

But when you teach, you can’t. You have to be 100% clear in what you’re thinking and what you’re telling that guy because that can start asking questions, you better answer them. Otherwise, you look like a dumb fool.

Madhav 29:44
At least

Sreekanth 29:45
to not make myself feel like that.

Madhav 29:47
Oh, I really carefully and then go into it and then teach. Of course, my classmates were very happy that I told them things, but they didn’t know why I was doing it secretly. I was just being selfish. You know, just Get ready. It’s a tactic. I don’t know how you picked it up or how you came about it. because not many people in high school think they can teach. They don’t they think they’re there to learn not to teach and how did you come about that idea?

Sreekanth 30:17
I do it planet. Yeah. But when some somebody asked me randomly Oh, yeah, yeah. You seem to get some marks you let me see how top of your head with this.

Sreekanth 30:32
So I would have probably told him and realized that I got better marks on the topic where I explained the thing to the guy and then I thought that was a good thing. I don’t remember actually. But I think that might have happened. Yeah,

Madhav 30:45
yeah, it seems. Yeah, it makes logical sense. I mean, when you teach you you have to be more prepared than when you’re just giving an exam, answering your question because you’re actually trying to explain and make the other person understand What’s in your mind when

Sreekanth 31:03
you go into details when you explain that you wouldn’t normally go into I’m just taking an exam so I realize that and it helped me a lot even during my college days that was that that goes against my base to do combined studies you know, nowadays Nobody does it. I used to encourage my my children to do that nobody does it now very very few do and my students also I teach in medical colleges now. I’ll try to tell them combined studies they look at me you know, with wide eyes.

Madhav 31:34
Combined studies You mean like you said with other classmates and others in the medical college like hospital or whatever and study with them? Is that what you mean?

Sreekanth 31:46
Absolutely. Don’t get to where we are. Well, we all the fun loving people wanted some fun out of it. Yeah. We got together. It was weeds. No be combined to study but Quality studied was was something else you know you Yeah. to another and we used to go off into different topics and it was nonsensical, but you know, I did not fit the very process, you know, of going deep into something some topic, and then disrupting it threadbare. It was fun. It is there is no seriousness to it, but we could do it, we could go deep.

And at the time, it seemed nonsensical, but later, I understood that the process itself got ingrained into my brain and I had the capacity to know boutique into any topic and that helped me

and my friends suffered in my hands at this but they don’t Okay, now.

Madhav 32:47
That’s, that’s a really I think it’s a nice takeaway. I mean, like, you could maybe try doing it alone, but I think it just makes it more fun and probably easier. When you do it with the you know, A group of people, your friends, especially trying to go deep into the bottom of a particular topic and get different perspectives.

Sreekanth 33:10
And you remember those things which you speak about, you know, rather than what you read. Let’s say you read a topic. Yeah. You know, memorize it by yourself. Some people will even say those things loud. Allow it, you know, like they’re speaking it out and then trying to recall and stuff. But when you speak to others, those very same topics, let’s say you get the question in exam, you would recall something you told to your friend, or you know, which you discuss with your friend better than if you read it alone. I think many of you, I mean, I’m sure you recall the same thing if you told something to someone you recall telling them the only better than if you read it alone.

Madhav 33:55
Absolutely absolute something about it that they Say even for. I don’t know if it’s similar, but they say if if you write something down, you will remember it better than if you just read it. But this one seems to be even more if you not just read it, but you actually told someone about it and try to explain it or talk about it, you’ll remember a lot more

Sreekanth 34:18
very interesting. If you focus on this, when you write down, sometimes you may not be totally attentive, your mind may wander, or 10% or 20% may wander. But when you tell someone, it rarely wonders, because you have to make sure that the other person is actually interested in what you’re telling. And they understand what you’re telling.

The younger le won’t get off. Yeah, so that helps you remember that that topic?

Madhav 34:42
storytelling or some sort of, were you good at that, like, I think used to be pretty good at that. Like, were you good at telling something to people and sort of making them understand it seems like you were I mean, you were obviously

Sreekanth 34:56
I was actually and I still am. If you I think is now for medical students. Yeah. And all the hero stories. Yeah. Lots of stories. I stopped my classic story. I fill it up with stories in which, you know,

Madhav 35:14
I recall the first time I faced someone who tell stories was our principal. You know, Hello, sir. Yes, I was in his classes. And that was my first year in property. And I was kind of clueless. And I was just trying to even learn English and things like that. And I sit in his classes and you’re saying all these stories about 1980 you know, 1857 mutiny and some Jhansi and something something and

Sreekanth 35:44
somebody was describing I mean, I can still visualize what he said at the time. You know, Boston Tea Party, awesome deal lake in front of my eyes.

Madhav 35:53
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, the storytelling was so so amazing that I was just in love it and I said, Listen As if it was a my grandma or somebody telling stories. And then and then like two months later, there was unit test and I basically failed it because I thought he was just telling stories.

Sreekanth 36:11
I can move that back.

Madhav 36:19
But, but I think what you’re saying is super interesting in the sense like, even today, you sort of use those lessons learned from childhood, like in terms of being able to communicate the topic or a point. You can say, as a fact, matter of fact, and maybe it won’t actually sink in on the other side. But when you say it in a story format, you actually get them sort of pay attention to you and then you you can be what you need to convey.

Sreekanth 36:50
Yeah, I always look at it is I’m let’s say when I’m teaching, I try to imagine myself as a student, I would I understand this better When I was a student, I wanted people to tell me lots of stories. I love stories. I told you I love books, reading all those things. I love stories.

If somebody made a topic interesting by telling it in a story form, or making it, it had a beginning and end and you know, narrative. I would love that. And I, I didn’t forget that.

So even now, when I teach, I try to look at the lowest common denominator, the student who doesn’t know anything, isn’t it, they can’t understand high, you know, high stuff like neurology, which I am, I’m a practicing neurologist.

They won’t understand neurology. So I try to go down

to the very basic level and tell it in a story form then they start by diet, you know, they start listening, wide eyed and full attention all yours and I love that feeling. I love that look on the face. I tried to go for that look. Once I have them hooked and I can go to the topic, the main topic, but then some address need an appetizer example. So bring the story and get them

Madhav 38:00
That actually leads me to like you mentioned you are a practicing neurologist now before you became the practicing neurologist that you are I mean you between the Medical College and this you had a few other things going on. Maybe briefly touch on some things like you went and did your TV in all India Institute of Medical Sciences, even just a basic question like how did it get into it was there were there things that you had to do to get into Ames? Because that’s super hard.

Sreekanth 38:33
If I tell you it’s it was about pure accident. Believe me, was the what happened was I was doing my internship, what in in medical studies, we have a college course. At the end of the college course we have a practical training of one year duration, which we call an internship. I was doing my internship, and luckily we were eligible to write the end entrance exam for all Indian student medical sciences, there was the premier Institute in the country, premier medical institution in the country. My seniors are going to write the exam. And I thought I would apply, but then I was not sure I would get it and I was not serious about it. My dad has a different view, in a very different view. He was very upset with me that I didn’t apply on time. And I was given a dressing down for not applying and he took me to the post office made me fill up the form and post it at the time we didn’t have emails, so we had to physically post it was deformed.

Sreekanth 39:35
And that got accepted. My seniors are going I thought I’ll take some time off from my internship and then go see New Delhi, you know, at the time, I hadn’t gone to North India. So for me, it was just outing excursion, but I guess the lack of pressure on my mind. Yeah. made me take the entrance exam very well. I there’s absolutely no pressure and I took the exam and I did well and I got into The institution by vilela still doing my internship at the time it was unusual for that to happen, you know, in for anyone and it was good for me. But I would see how I studied was that again, I didn’t want to study in the wrote a form like no go to library set, lead, come back memorize No I didn’t like that What I did was in my internship, I wanted to you know spice up things a bit. So I organized quiz shows, quiz show interest, medical and medical topics. So I got my PG to organize the shows and I participated. Sometimes I conducted the quiz shows what I want made, then what changed for me with that was that I had to focus on the details. When you conduct the quiz. You can’t write an essay and hope to get away with it. You have to actually go to the details. For me that mattered a lot. And that helped me get to the entrance also.

Madhav 40:58
Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, it was a little

Sreekanth 41:02
odd preparation, but it did the trick works for you.

Madhav 41:07
Yeah. And I can’t believe dad had to sort of take you to the mail application. So

Sreekanth 41:17
I must, I must confess, I’m very lazy. In many, many things. It actually helps,

Madhav 41:22
I think, right. I mean, the, in some ways people consider laziness in some ways is a bad thing. But it actually I think helps right? Sometimes you want to find the most optimized or efficient ways of doing things because you’re lazy.

Sreekanth 41:38
Absolutely. You find you find ways which work for you. You can call them only because you’re lazy and it does help.

Madhav 41:55
You talking about your dad and it seems to me like and your mom maybe as well. Can you share a little bit about the roles?

Sreekanth 42:03
My mom supported me, whatever the situation, she remembered her. I don’t recall my mom screaming at me once, not even as I had never. She was always there. And whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and she used to stay up late with me to study with me and make coffee or tea for me whenever I wanted. So there’s no question my mom was great. I mean, I couldn’t have survived the ordeal of medical college without my dad was different. He wanted me to study sometimes used to scream at me, I needed that actually, if I didn’t have that, I would have, you know, be more laid back. Give it up more easily than all that if it was not for my dad. So he made sure that I was on track. And we had some interesting moments, difficult moments. But looking back I wouldn’t have done this without my dad. And we still have a strong relationship.

Madhav 43:03
Yeah, but anything that you recall particularly that, you know, when you look back you think, you know, that was actually amazing that he did that, but at that time was painful.

Sreekanth 43:13
I used to get scolded for steak late nights with friends are not being on time. Not doing things on time. I procrastinate a lot.

Yeah, I’m, I don’t, I’m not very organized. I tend to you know, sometimes go back on my word. I tend to not stick to plans.

Madhav 43:42
Very interesting. Oh, man, I have so much to talk about here. I think I need to learn a lot about those things. So you you tend to change your plans quite often you. You You said you’re not very organized. But nobody would think of those things and they think of free can. I mean Like, but they seem to have helped you. I mean, because one of the things I heard is, I think Jeff Bezos from Amazon he talks about one way doors and two way doors. And he talks about in life most of them are two way doors like you can go in and if you don’t like what you see you’ve just come out. People think that everything is a one way door and they try to think overthink and not make decisions fast enough, because I think you’re going and you can come out, which is not the case. Like you are, you have a perspective somewhat similar where you see life as a two way door and you can make changes. Can you explain a little bit more about your changing and things like that? Sorry, good.

Sreekanth 44:34
And no problem. I am not religious make a plan. If I feel somewhere in the middle of the plan that no, this is not working out. I don’t stick to it. Yeah, I don’t want to I if there is a better plan that comes to my mind. Along the way, I would go the plan.

For me the outcome, and the overall balance is important rather than sticking your plan for the Plan C so I would abandon the planet. If I thought it was not working for me even better. Me, I would rather be late and do the job well then be on time and to do it badly.

Madhav 45:07
Yeah, so

Sreekanth 45:08
many people did not take kindly to my timings. But even now, many patients, sometimes it stretches and stretches. Even if I started time, sometimes I’m not able to see the next patient on time. But then I would make sure that the patient I’d seen previously gets my complete attention and get the job done. Rather than trying to maintain I don’t look at the watch. So if I did, I would probably suck at my job.

Madhav 45:39
I think I like honesty.

Sreekanth 45:42
I know what the thing is about for me.

I can’t pretend to be someone else. And I can’t do things which work for others maybe being books for the others. It didn’t work for me. So I guess I don’t notice it. But my dad saw meriton being on time because That also helps, you know, sometimes it may not be because of the work alone. It may be because you’re lazy. I mean, I’m lazy. So sometimes I just postpone things, or even be honest, even when some I mean other people are involved and where I should have given them importance, I did not give them that importance. And for my own laziness, I used to postpone things. My dad brought back some perspective into that and made me see reason why I should respect others time and what I should do, you know, trying to balance things, you can’t do, you know, be selfish and look after yourself alone and then ignore what others need others timings so that he always brought me back.

Yep. To see things in a proper perspective.

Madhav 46:48
Yeah. And I think talking about that and helping others and not being self centric. I think your dad was constantly in that mode. If I recall those days like history. Take us You including me sometimes wish to be on this medical cams where he would go and help people from all kinds of places, remote places and other cities not just through but he, it seems to me like he was pretty well aware of helping others is a way to help yourself in a way.

Sreekanth 47:18
Absolutely. He was a revolutionary innovate. He’s a smart he came from a very small family. small farmer. His dad was a very small farmer. He studied my dad studied, literally under the street lights. He had to work in his farm in the morning, go to school barefoot, there is no road at the time he had no slippers to go to the school, come back in the evening and work in the farm again. Otherwise, the family couldn’t sustain itself. And here to his dad didn’t have the money to even pay for the college at the time. At the time, the college few fees a piddly little small amounts even to even have that money. His uncle helped him and he made sure he understood the value of what he went through and he Very hard he Houston works very hard to become wha he became. And he wanted to give something back. He conducted more than 600 camps over discounts, identity, awareness of diabetes with very little population very low. And he made sure that everybody became aware used to conduct blood sugars freely in a blood test blood sugars really connect can make everyone aware. And he did stuff.

I wish I could do a bit of what

Madhav 48:32
he has done. Yeah, very impressive. Very impressive. I’m sure they’re there. They rub off on you and you carry some of those lessons. In your daily profession, I’m sure. Just quickly touching on you said your mother was constantly there for you supporting you. But there was no pressure per se from her in terms of you need to do this or you need to do that. A bit.

Sreekanth 49:02
Not a bit. Not a not not a bit here. Yeah,

Madhav 49:05
yeah. Any any specific thing you could recall that sir very cherished memory for you from your relationship with your mom.

Sreekanth 49:14
You know she she sent me from the fury of my dad.

Lot of people used to feed me I couldn’t. I mean when I was too busy studying and I couldn’t place my hand in the plate and then you know, take my mouth she did that for me. Oh man. Yeah, it’s to sleep on her lap and then study and she sued me because the lab was important for me,

the associates she stayed awake as I need to get up in the morning. She knew she had to been cheated she to stay back. More than any event. This is little things mattered a lot to me. And it was always ongoing, you know, events etc. Is this every day. I knew I could depend on

Madhav 49:59
yeah Yeah, absolutely. Wow, what a what a blessing, right.

Sreekanth 50:04
It’s huge. We don’t realize it. Yeah. Because we take it for granted and it’s so routine.

Madhav 50:13
I could be completely off here but I think your sister Yamini I mean, she was pretty much looking up to you as this little model as as you were in college and she used to look up to you pretty much. Maybe I hope

Sreekanth 50:35
she remember we were all good friends. You mean my sister. I remember you went to see her when she was in the hospital. Yeah. And you, you know you took care of her and you spoke to her at great lengths when she was down.

You speak very fondly about it. When you

Madhav 50:57
talking of music, I think he was Big into music like you listen to a lot of music, any

Sreekanth 51:05
everything under the sun, and I’m not very fixated on any genre I, I can listen to anything, anything that is musical. Everything that I started with groups like Boney m Abba. I listened to a lot of telco music, Elijah, yeah. Allies everywhere. Whoever sang well or composed, well knows they’re listening to them. So no one in particular. Any any good music was okay by me just listen to music. So yeah I don’t want to listen to it after this. It feels it’s my background, it’s my background in my life. It runs all through life very interesting.

Madhav 51:47
I’m very impressed like how you have a very wide variety of, you know, interests and not only interests within each of these interests, like music or literature or books. It is pretty eclectic. Like wide ranging, it’s not narrow. It’s so interesting how you have this much diverse set of things are interested in what is the what is that about? I mean, are you sort of like always, you want to know more, you want to do more you want to find more. You’re always like that ambitious want to do everything kind of person or what is that?

No, I’m not. I don’t want to achieve. I’m not an ambitious person. But I’m wide eyed child, you know, wondering what’s happening.

What is this story going to lead to? And just a curious child.

I know I know. I look like one

Madhav 52:39
feel like one

Sreekanth 52:46
wonderment and I’m wondering sounds great, huh? How did they do it and I love this lyrics or to be song. The mean by this are very distinct. going to lead to the just the small things I’m not an ambitious person i

Madhav 53:05
that is very interesting. It’s not about conquering the world it’s really out of curiosity and wonderment Yeah,

those things small things small things maybe we tend to ignore the small things meet Oh, my God. I realized life is there in the details. Yeah,

Madhav 53:24
life is in the details. That’s very interesting. I’m only heard about the devil is in the details. Any, anything you recall from those few years in northern India, whether in Delhi or in Chandigarh where you did your

Sreekanth 53:36
there are two branches basically, medical branches and surgical branches, maybe branch off after the basic MBBS degree which everyone needs to have the branch off into being a physician or a surgeon for a physician mandatory to do MD internal medicine, after which we can spend into a specific branch like I didn’t urology, somebody else might become a cardiologist, some of the person I recommended. So the MD training still helps us. You know, when patients come to us, they don’t come with a neurological problem alone. Yes caused by that’s called This caused by another medical problem, which we need to know about. So my training did help me and still continues to help me. I stayed away from home at the time, we didn’t have a telephone service, which is you know, which is regularly usable. So I had to beta out in the cold weather to call home. It is a pleasure just to get a call from it was good. Actually, the interesting thing was, when I I, all my life, I wanted to become a physician. At least internal medicine, but when I wrote my entrance and knowledge Institute, I did not get internal medicine and the first coat so I got an ophthalmology seat and now becoming I was I thought, this this is my destiny, I’m going to become an author. I started operating also the time Oh.

But then something happened. My my colleagues went to court about the seat balance which leads to toss giving out. And the High Court of deadly ordered a review of how seats are allotted. And I could get into internal medicine because of the review. And for me, it was a good thing. It was a huge thing. And my dream was realized

Madhav 55:34
that’s a life changing event. I mean, it was not something you try

Sreekanth 55:37
it right. I badly wanted it didn’t happen.

Madhav 55:42
What do you say? What do you say for that? I recall Steve Jobs talking about you cannot connect the dots looking forward but you can connect the dots looking backwards. And he says you have to believe in something karma destiny whatever this seems like this is completely not in your hands. You didn’t even try for it. It just happened and that changed complete life. direction in which you and

Unknown Speaker 56:01
I have no name for it.

Sreekanth 56:03
I love what happened. Yeah.

I don’t remember being anxious so much, you know? Yeah.

Now there’s a lot of anxiety because there is a fear of missing out and you’re supposed to take calls, you’re supposed to look at the messages, you’re supposed to do a lot of things, there’s no such pressure then. You know, it was cool. It was relaxed life and I don’t regret not having all those gadgets then. Yeah.

Madhav 56:33
Yeah, I heard someone mentioned in like, just like FOMO there’s JOMO joy of missing out. I love that guy. Right. Yeah, yeah. And what prompted you from Delhi did you go from Delhi directly to You’re Jen bigger.

Sreekanth 57:02
Yeah, there was something interesting which happened. See, just like I wanted to be a physician, I wanted to become an endocrinologist made because my dad practices, diabetes medicine. So I wanted to do something in in those lines, become an endocrinologist and treat diabetes and other sexual disorders. I did write the entrance for endocrinology at All Indian Medical Sciences, but I messed up my paper. I made a mistake, which, you know, I didn’t call back. I didn’t expect that. It was a big heartbreaking moment for me. Because had been, you know, I’ve been waiting for that my whole life. Yeah. When I was very down. My friend, my junior quit just joined six months before. Before I wrote my exam, my final exam. She said, No, take it easy. It is not the end of life. I was I asked her what should I do now? She said bye. Play for PGI, the institute in Chandigarh I said what do I play? There’s no endocrinology See there. She said I played you know, what’s there you’re writing it anyway just write that. So randomly with no planning, I just applied for neurology. And there was a last day, so we had to rush to the post office and you know, the career via we had to just put it in a Korean man. It was that latest that was little like,

Madhav 58:27
literally to the wire.

Sreekanth 58:29
The wire, there was only one seat of neurology, one seat, and black. You can call it luck or whatever.

Madhav 58:37
You’re kidding. So there was only one seat and you were not even planning to apply for it. And your friend was to you and you applied in you got

Sreekanth 58:45
Yes, you can know things happen.

Madhav 58:51
That’s insane. That’s insane.

Sreekanth 58:54
At that time, I didn’t believe what was happening, but I took it and I was still planning to leave Now two months after I joined, oh, there was but six months after I joined I love I love urology. My love on your logic grows every day. And my, my wife, child, you know, he continues to widen his eyes ever. Beautiful it’s so interesting neurology and I can’t believe my luck that I’m here. Some

Madhav 59:29
people say it’s the last frontier of health. people haven’t really figured out the problem figured out most of the parts of the body but the brain is super mysterious and

Sreekanth 59:42
is that a cue? In the log to explore and still there in the beginning?

Yeah, it’s a it’s a it’s lovely. Studying the brain. Yeah.

Madhav 59:54
As a practicing like neurologist you’ve been practicing for how long No been practicing for a while now. Right?

Sreekanth 1:00:02
It’s been nearly 20. I know, it’s 17 years, I think 17 years. Wow.

Madhav 1:00:11
That’s a long right? We’ll have to do a separate recording Camilla time, just 17 years of your experience, but just if you if you, if you can call out one or two things, especially I’m interested in any dark moments in your professional life, that and any lessons from that in the last 17 years, like things that you either dark or maybe not, it could be the way but I was going to call out maybe a dark moment and maybe a very highlight of a very positive moment as well. Or an experience rather, that you learned something from.

We don’t want to make mistakes as doctors But all of us make mistakes all the time. We try to minimize the mistakes the adopter who makes the least mistakes is usually one who’s more successful.

It’s it looks like that we don’t make mistakes. But we do. And my I made mistakes, and you learn from them. As remember, see, if you talk about, you know, those highlights. Yeah, I remember treating a patient in 2004. I was just beating my practice then. And that patient came with, with no hope. Basically, she was referred to me from an outsider from a doctor who I knew from a different hospital, but she was basically given up for dead because she was unconscious, which should have been infection. With lots of clots inside the brain. It’s called venous thrombosis and epilepsy in Europe at the college GBS gabber syndrome and she was continuously seizing. And she in addition to all the she developed the demon list in the brain, she has Everything that a neurologist could hope to study, but didn’t want to face she was given. But we struggle with that for two and a half months. And even the relatives lost hope she, she came through and she’s still she’s alive. And she’s doing a job. And we have a chat or enough she doesn’t need me anymore. Yeah, we meet outside and we have a chat and it’s all good. So for me that those situations give me hope. It is impossible, you know, there is nothing we need to give up on. And it is still possible to do things.

Well, but then there have been dark, dark moments to where you struggle, you struggle you do yourself, you lose the patient.

Yeah, and many times, the relatives of the patients understand that is a difficult situation, but sometimes they don’t get played the game to you they spend this up money and you couldn’t do it. There’s some debt sometimes and it’s difficult to not only feel for the patient, but also explain to the patients attendance by we can do it and also tell them by the money that they spent, not yield dividends or results. So situations are a little awkward, difficult and then you you don’t know exactly how to tackle those you can’t put on a face. So those are difficult moments. I yeah. I can’t quote anyone, but they happen. Yes.

Madhav 1:03:39
And that’s a constant. I think it’s pretty. I mean, both highs and lows are pretty it’s like a roller coaster in some way.

Sreekanth 1:03:47
You need those to make a stronger, yeah. But avoid those but if you don’t have those, you will not be the person that you are.

Madhav 1:03:54
Yeah, I think it helps you grow. It helps you grow right quickly overnight. Wow.

Madhav 1:04:03
I just saw this last few things. She can’t. I know we’re definitely over an hour now. And I want to make sure I respect your time. Just where do you see this whole, like course the next frontier for the brain related, like research and things and what do you see in like the next 1020 years? artificial intelligence is

Sreekanth 1:04:25
in a big way. And we make people who are paralyzed, walked out easily. We made three dimensions and we may be able to reverse them. As we move into treatments for Muscular Dystrophy genetics is huge genetic gene, making rapid strides. All the treatable genetic disorders now have been treated. So it’s, it’s great for the future is very exciting and I’m hopeful the next 10 years are going to see a huge revolution your ology yeah and. And I hope I can use some of the revolutions to treat my patients. Yeah,

Madhav 1:05:07
you’re a half glass half full guy

Sreekanth 1:05:11
hoping that the glass becomes I know that the customer You know, that’s down to the glasses.

And personally like this is super exciting and I couldn’t agree with you more just being in the computer science field and and definitely learning myself about machine learning and AI and very fascinating advancements there. But it’s this for another discussion. Hopefully we’ll get to chat again sometime, but just a few last, like rapid fire. Where are you going personally or professionally? Sorry? Like, what’s your next 1020 years look like for you?

Sreekanth 1:05:51
I I sound very awkward and sheepish when I say that. I don’t plan a lot. Yeah, I didn’t really for me, the patient is what dos. Many people ask me, why don’t you build a hospital? You You are this and that and all that. Yeah, but I do, I can run one. So I didn’t plan one.

So I don’t know where I’m going professionally but I want to take care of the next patient. Well, that’s all I can say.

Madhav 1:06:13
Very interesting. Wow. That’s pretty profound. I mean, I heard somebody said is like you don’t build, you don’t build an amazing wall. You just lay the bricks. The next brick really well.

Sreekanth 1:06:24
That’s all I hope to do. Because I know the future of my hands on the next page. I want to care for completely. I want to do that. Awesome. Personally, I’m in a very happy space.

I’ve got a great family. My parents gave me still a lot of support. They still ask whether I have eaten or not. I mean, I I get reminded that you know, somebody’s still taking care of me just being taken care of when I was younger, and that, you know, that gives me a lot of joy. And my my kids are both fantastic. They give me a lot of joy every single day. And I can’t ask my friends. Yeah, you know, we are again constantly with me.

And I’m very, I told you I’m very lazy. I procrastinate a lot. I don’t get in touch with them. They still love me. And I can’t ask for more.


Madhav 1:07:19
Perfect, perfect. One other question. What books did you give the most and why

Sreekanth 1:07:25
many people call me unemotional? I want to think practically because I I look at it in a different way. Yes, I do have a lot of feelings or emotions. But you know, if you do things well, you would have less cost for emotions, less costs for feelings. Why would why would you do things in a way with it, which is emotional. But then you will do things a little less perfectly when you’re emotional, and then invite more, you know, emotional situations. You understand what I’m trying to tell you? Right?

So I read this book called The Art of thinking clearly. It’s a tiny book. Each chapter is A couple of pages or maybe three. Yeah. But lots of interesting takes on how to deal with situations in a very practical way. That’s the gifted the most.

Madhav 1:08:15
This one is this one is a tricky one. But I imagine there’s a full moon that the whole world can see if you had a chance to write something on it. So the whole world can see what would you write on it, but be practical, be practical,

Unknown Speaker 1:08:29
be practical.

Sreekanth 1:08:31
Think, think properly, think clearly. I guess that’s just an extension of the book, which have gifted most people because I feel thinking clearly sets more strong right in this world.

When you have when you have an oddball thinking when you think about situations, selfishly or emotion emotionally or you know, being That doesn’t involve the best next step for mankind. And if you talk practically. And clearly, I guess most of the wrongs can be set, right? I guess I would just,

Madhav 1:09:15
that’s awesome. Yeah. Make sense? Knowing what you know now, if you have if you were to advise your younger self, what would you advise them? Don’t worry. No, no, be happy. Just don’t worry.

Just don’t worry. You’ll be happy.

Madhav 1:09:34
Yeah, yeah. Awesome.

Sreekanth 1:09:37
And we achieved in, you know, thinking of a lot of things.

Madhav 1:09:39
Don’t make sense. Cool. Cool. No, that’s awesome. I think that’s a great way to end this.

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