When Arrogance Is Bliss

Arrogant Surgeon

“I am an arrogant guy,” I wrote on a Facebook post.

And it’s true.

Most people think of arrogance as an undesirable trait. Not me.

I have a slightly different perspective. And believe there are certain roles it’s practically impossible to play well unless one is. Like being a paediatric heart surgeon.

Kids with heart defects are often gorgeous, beautiful. It’s as if Nature compensates for one mistake by being abundant in another way.

An infant’s heart is the size of a lemon. My tiny patients weigh just a few kilograms. The smallest baby I’ve operated was barely 750 grams! Some have defects where their largest arteries are just a couple of millimeters wide.

There’s absolutely no room for error while operating on them. Even an inadvertent muscle twitch could kill my patient. And everyone in the room knows.

As I stand over one of these little angels, holding an instrument of cold, cruel steel in my hands, how could I possibly take the next step… unless I am supremely arrogant?

French surgeon Rene Leriche says: “Every surgeon carries about him a little cemetery, in which from time to time he goes to pray.”

He’s right. I have my own. And each time I scrub for an operation, fear grips my heart. A British consultant I trained with replied, when I asked him: “The day I’m no longer afraid, I’ll stop operating on kids.”

Yes, the fear can be paralyzing when a child’s life hangs in the balance.

My arrogance stems from having to make split-second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. Not once or twice, but hundreds of times.

Unless I absolutely believe, in the absence of any evidence or experience, that the actions I’m about to take next will save a life, I couldn’t do my job. I need the confidence of my ‘arrogance’.

For years, I thought one of our professors was a very arrogant man – until I watched him perform an incredibly difficult operation. Since then, I’ve changed my opinion!

Arrogance is confidence that is not backed by competence.

And that’s why, for as long as it helps keep a child alive, I’ll happily be arrogant!

P.S. – If you haven’t watched this clip of Alec Baldwin’s ‘I Am God’ speech, do it… and you’ll begin to understand!


BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything Review

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It’s just one mindgasm after another!

Many years ago, I noticed this book on my shelf… and ignored it. Over time, it vanished from sight. I don’t know what happened, or where it went. And didn’t much care.

For my last birthday, my sister gifted me another copy. Once again, it languished for almost a year on my long list of ‘books to read’… until one fine day, two weeks ago, I opened it to start reading.

And that was that. I was hooked. Instantly. Irretrievably.



Holding Hands
  • She likes her coffee weak and sweet; I prefer mine strong and black.
  • She loves sour tasting stuff like gooseberries and raw mangoes; I like other flavors like grapes and ripe mangoes.
  • She enjoys being outdoors and traveling; I’m a homebody who’s happier curled up with a book.
  • She copes poorly with stress; I thrive on it.
  • She likes horror and drama movies; I watch comedies and thrillers.
  • She needs a good 8 hours of sleep a night; I’m comfortable with barely five.

The list just goes on and on.


Meaningful Numbers

Meaningful Numbers

The sheer size of India’s population is staggering. And that leads to some interesting spin offs.

25 people isn’t a “crowd”. Only 250 people is. Or maybe ten times as many.

Educating 100 children doesn’t seem special. 1,000 is. Or better still, 10,000.

Go big, or go home.

It’s taken (too) literally.

Something gets lost along the way.

A sense of fulfillment, even pride, in what’s achieved pales in light of what remains to be done – and expected.

A solopreneur doesn’t think of bootstrapping his way to the first 15 or 20 customers – but sets up on a bigger scale right from the beginning.

An author believes finding 50 readers, or even 500, is ‘failure’ – and dreams of selling 50,000 copies of her debut novel.

Everyone’s got their eye on the “Numbers” ball… and it’s BIG!

But see another perspective.

A sick man who’s cured of his illness isn’t as concerned about how many more have benefited from his doctor’s skill – only that he did. And it doesn’t lower the value he received from the medico.

A college graduate who secured a high-paying job that will transform his family’s circumstances forever doesn’t care if he’s one of 40,000 others. Or 4,000. Or even 400. His achievement will change his world.

Big numbers are nice. They make for impressive statistics and pretty graphs.

Small numbers – like ONE – also matter.

Often, even more.

Because they tell stories of individuals who have won or lost, lived or died, succeeded or failed.


Book Review: Koi Good News – By Zarreen Khan

‘Koi Good News’ is a deliciously humorous peek into the pregnancy of a Punjabi couple, Mona and Ramit Deol.

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Crafted in a unique storytelling style, you’ll find yourself flipping alternately from inside one’s head to the other’s, getting to see the same incident from two different perspectives. Once you get the hang of it, this is fascinating.

And at times, incredibly funny!

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