Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dr Jamshed C. Taraporvala

I have just returned from the funeral of our beloved teacher Dr. Jamshed Taraporvala. He appeared a pale fragile figure a shadow of the ever smiling, young "buddha" that we fondly called him in our JJ days. 

I have known him and learnt from him from my undergraduate  days where his anecdotal description of conditions like frozen shoulder remained etched in our memories. Then when fate destined that I specialize in Orthopedics, my colleague chose unit II over unit I in JJ enabling me to work under JCT directly. Grand rounds were an event lasting 4 hours on Wednesdays, with every patients problems discussed threadbare, the levels of academic discussion reaching high academic levels meant for exam going students and also catering to fresh housemen like me. The importance of treating patients ethically and giving the correct management without succumbing to the temptation of operating just to learn was firmly imparted to young knife happy youngsters. Conservative treatment in the days when operations were not entirely safe was emphasized. However, progress and change was allowed only if it benefited the patient. Sir backed his residents at all times and fought tooth and nail with authorities in case of any conflict. He would admonish us and point out our faults, but made sure that he never pulled up a senior before a junior. He exerted authority but in a manner that never made his subordinates feel bad.  I can cite numerous examples where JCT as teacher towered above his peers. For instance, when a few elective cases  had unexplained infection, he chose to systematically go to the root of the problem and stopped surgeries till the problem was identified. The importance given to documentation and follow-up  was reflected in his unfailing presence in every follow-up OPD. His surgeries were neat meticulous and every step in the book was neatly demonstrated to all of us. The marathon Saturday PG clinics which he held before the exams with special cases which came from his private case collection, showed a rare and dedicated commitment to teaching, seldom seen in PG teachers.

All these qualities were combined with wit and humor,  good natured sarcasm and a smiling demeanor, which made us all love and idolize the great man and teacher.  Every six months Sir with his gracious wife hosted us residents for a term ending party and served us rare cock-tails made by himself. While there were issues where he had problems in JJ due to ungrateful subordinates and officialdom, he remained committed to teaching and molded many a student. He had a great second innings as PG teacher in Bombay Hospital after retiring from JJH. As an examiner in PG exams he tested knowledge with common sense and I remember his words about his responsibility as an examiner. "My duty as an examiner is to not loose upon an unsuspecting population a man who is  dangerous to the community and patients in general." I think every examiner must learn from his example. 

In 1989, when Sir was President of IOA, an honor he richly deserved, he graciously accepted my invitation to inaugurate my Nursing Home in Baroda. That day was truly a red letter day in my life and I will be eternally grateful  to Sir for giving me more than I deserve.

Life moves on and the old must give way to the new, but for me I can say that Sir was responsible for laying a sound foundation on which I built my career and life as an Orthopod.  I regret not having been in touch with him, due to our busy life and schedules. I feel it is my duty and the duty of the many Orthpods he taught to honor his memory and continue his legacy of importing knowledge to one and all. In these times of materialistic greed and crass commercialism, I can say with conviction that  teachers and persons like JCT are not going to be seen, at least in our lifetime.  JCT sir we salute you and we will miss you.

Dr. Vispi Jokhi

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