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Today was one of the best days of my life. It made me happy beyond belief, and I’m not cheerful usually. I was excited before it even started.

We entered the Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre behind Narayana Hrudalaya. The conference room is one of the Hospital’s many, this one delegated to discuss Advanced Therapeutics. The organizers made us wait in the foyer while they got things started. Hemanth and I went through our notes for the last time, and Soumya Ma’am wished us all the best. The doctor-organizers called the 30-odd participants names out and we entered the room.

The hall was huge. We were seated in a row of chairs towards the front, facing three presentation screens. The first round was a written round. The doctors explained to all of us the rules and I began to mark the answers on my paper. Primarily, I was exultant because I loved the atmosphere. I loved the doctors and I loved the hospital. We had an hour to finish but I finished in the first fifteen minutes. I checked my paper twice and handed it in towards the end of the hour.

We were given a break of fifteen minutes while they checked our papers. Soumya Ma’am suggested we revise for the next round. Hemanth went through his notes on his phone. I read through my sheets, but my primary worry was that I hadn’t made it through the first round. We had a couple of neurosurgeons talk to us about what neurosurgery is about and why they chose neurosurgery. We watched videos about some of the feedback their patients give them, and we watched the jubiliant Dr. Devi Shetty speak about his experiences. What stuck with me the most is that he took stock of the fact that he has enough money to provide healthcare to many villages and rural towns in time, and as a consequence of his duty started many programs that benefited the lives of many people.

The results were announced and as luck would have it, I was in. The next rounds happened in a whirl of difficult and easy questions, sheer luck and edge-of-your-seat suspense. From the top fifteen, we were brought down to ten and finally the top six. Every round saw winners and losers and the wise-cracks the docs never seemed to run out of. The best and worst parts of the experience was that the neurosurgeons had the last word on any issues that came up. I mean, since they were the experts in the field and all that. There were fifteen neurosurgeons with us, and the whole experience was both awe-striking and humbling at the same time.

The final six of us took the doctors’ chairs on stage and the docs stepped down. The final round was a photo round in which we identified various illnesses or scanning procedures that were taking place on the screen. At the end of the quiz, I closed in on fourth place. Thinking about it now, it wouldn’t have mattered even if I won because I loved the game.

They took us for a tour of the hospital after the quiz. We met patients who had undergone brain surgery and understood the way MRI and PET scans work. We spent time with the doctors and moved around in their circles. Truthfully, I couldn’t have felt more at home.





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