Get a life! by Dr. Ian D’Souza


It’s that one constant that has plagued man since the beginning of time. With each passing generation, despite advances in lifestyle comfort, the spikes in stress simply seem to soar higher and higher.

As medical professionals, we have to deal with it in spades.

Make no mistake, we love what we do. We love the respect that our profession brings. (Although in Modern-day India that is open to debate). And all the tea in China cannot replace the warm glow of satisfaction when a seriously ill patient pulls through. Okay, maybe that too is debatable, but I’m sure you can catch my drift.

It is an undisputed fact, however, that at some point of time, typically in our late 50s or 60s, our profession will begin to get to us. After decades of being practically married to the job, we will want to look beyond hospital corridors and suffering patients and the sterile smell of antiseptic to see what else life has on offer.

At that point, as in every other life-changing event, the proverbial fork in the road will inevitably come into play. Only this time, it will not be the one ahead but rather the path we chose to tread on to get here.

I know of several colleagues who are absolutely terrorized by the thought of retirement. In stark contrast, there are others, and I’d like to think that I’m one of them, that are completely excited by the concept and can’t wait to get into that phase of life.

In the former group, work was their life. Once that is taken away, there is absolutely, and I do mean – absolutely – nothing to look forward to. The others worked equally hard at their profession (well… umm… most of them anyway), but somewhere along the way they did latch onto one or more passions other than work.

Something that may be started on a very lowkey when they were young and nurtured quietly over the years. Playing second fiddle to the main focus of developing a practice. Up until now, when it was time to move on, ready to shrug off all those restraining fetters and be fully indulged in.

For me, it was photography and a love of wildlife. I guess they were both my Dad’s hobbies that rubbed off on me.

Using his old cameras, like the Rolleiflex, and spending at least a month each year on shikar in the dense wild jungles of Central India – Central Provinces, as it was known as in the sixties – the move seemed the most natural thing in the world.

Today’s digital cameras are hi-tech pieces of art that make photography easy. A far cry from the film cameras of yesteryear where each roll of film held only 36 exposures, and one had to think long and hard before releasing the shutter. Remember, there was no LCD monitor to confirm the quality of the image taken. It was only weeks later when the roll was developed that you got to see the result. Let me tell you, there were more times than I care to remember that many a memorable ‘life-defining moment’ remained just that – a memory!

As in any other passion, marketing forces tag on pretty quickly, putting a considerable strain on the purse strings. Photography is no exception. In fact, looking back, I will admit it’s a prime example notwithstanding the fact I happened to choose the most expensive genre of the hobby – wildlife photography.

Having said that, do not be discouraged by expense. Even the modern-day phone has a great camera to practice photography with the added advantage of being so much more convenient to lug around.

Once you discover that you are interested, I would encourage you to move on to a basic DSLR with a kit lens and try and stay away from the ‘auto’ function. Your images will suffer from the inevitable learning curve but, trust me, in the long run, it will add hugely to your creativity.

Many leading companies offer reasonably priced basic DSLR bundles with a couple of lenses like a 24-80mm and a 70-250mm that will allow you the versatility to explore different types of photography before you decide to upgrade to a more specialized setup.

Apart from DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are an exciting alternative and IMHO, are the future of photography. They have been around for a while and now becoming mainstream having ironed out many, if not most, of their teething problems. Especially if you are starting fresh, it is well worth spending a bit of time researching the market before you begin to invest in a particular system.

I have over the years gone in for Canon and have a range of lenses and camera bodies that would be useless if I now decide to shift to mirrorless. Of course, I could use adaptors, but the degradation in image quality would definitely be a negating factor.

Even in a concrete jungle like Mumbai, there are many quiet spots where one can get close to Nature. Mahim Nature Park, Bhandup Pumping Station and Airoli, where the creek becomes a surreal pink with hundreds of flamingoes, are well worth visiting.

Ovalekar’s Butterfly Park in Thane and Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali are other noteworthy examples. And I personally find it extremely relaxing to spend a morning at any one of these.

Apart from Nature photography, I enjoy other genres of photography as well, including portrait, people and even landscapes.

In fact, at the time of writing this, I’m quite excited at the prospect of a new photography project I’m got myself into. I’ve recently invested quite a packet on Amazon acquiring a whole bunch of equipment including studio lights, reflectors, LED lights, huge backdrop…you name it… the works! Over the past 48 hours, the pieces of equipment have been gradually coming in, and the time is fast approaching for me to set it all up.

I plan to convert one of the rooms in my home into a fully-fledged photo studio.

There is one small problem, though.

My wife is not aware of my plans…yet.

And here I was preaching about coping with stress!

P.S. – I was given strict instructions by the Editor to keep this short and sweet. For those interested in a more detailed article with many more images, feel free to visit my blog:

P.P.S. – If you thought I was promoting my blog by that last remark. Let me assure you: You are quite right.

P.P.P.S. My son had requested me several months ago to do a similar article for his website and so – especially if you are a young girl of marriageable age – you may opt to peruse the piece there!!

P.P.P.P.S. – Now if my wife doesn’t get me, my son probably will!

Click to read Dr Ian D’Souza’s Blog

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