Dr Riddhi Shukla is a Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician practicing at her own Arogyam Speciality Hospital, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad.
She is also running a high-risk pregnancy unit at Sterling Hospital, Ahmedabad and is a specialist in ensuring delivery in complicated pregnancies like pregnancy with jaundice, kidney disease, AIDS, etc.
We met Dr Riddhi Shukla at her Arogyam Speciality Hospital in Ahmedabad.
Excerpts from the interview:-
My mother wanted me to become a doctor as I was always inclined towards study. She emphasized that everything can work together in life; that a career could co-exist with household responsibilities. When I could not get admission in a medical college in Ahmedabad due to a shortfall of half a mark, it was my mother who prevailed upon my father to let me go and study at Baroda Medical College. I was the apple of my father s eye. He wanted me to be at home with him every day. My mother explained to my reluctant father, Tare aevu manvanu ke thaiaine vaile parnie ledhee! ( Assume that you have married off your daughter a little early! ) Be that as it may, there was a pall of gloom over the house while I was away at Baroda. On Fridays, I would come for the weekend to Ahmedabad and it was only during these days that the house lit up with cheer. My brother would always comment, Now that you are here, mummy will cook all the fancy stuff.
The one and a half years that I spent at Baroda Medical College were the watershed of my life. Prior to that, I had never even gone to a bank, a vegetable market or travelled alone in buses or trains. At the Baroda hostel, I had to fend for myself. The education was entirely in English medium which only made matters more difficult for me, as I came from a Gujarati medium background.
After one and a half years in Baroda, I returned to Ahmedabad and pursued my MBBS and post-graduation studies here. I will always remember the long days away from home at Baroda. They drove me to rely on and become friends with many of my hostel mates. The friendships became so strong that even today “ after almost two decades “ some of my best friends are from my Baroda days.
With Ketan “ The Early days
Though my marriage to Ketan was an arranged one, we both knew each other well since Ketan s brother Divyang is married to Ami, a very close friend of mine. Ketan was my senior and helped me during my studies. We were engaged for two years. During this time, he was in Mumbai and I in Ahmedabad. Despite our busy residencies we made time and met each other every month either in Ahmedabad or in Mumbai.
Ketan s residency was very stressful. He had more than his share of bad times during his stay at Mumbai. Around this time Divyang and Ami left to settle down in London and thereafter his father, Dineshbhai was diagnosed with renal failure and passed away just fifteen days before Ketan s final exams. He had to come to Ahmedabad to attend the final rites etc., and return immediately for his exams. Yet, no doubt due to the blessings of his father “ he stood first in Bombay University.
Our ambitions after marriage were nominal. We both wanted safe jobs in government hospitals and lead a simple, hassle-free life with friends, relatives and family. We found out “ both Ketan and I “ that we were not cut out for the politics, bureaucracy and apathy that are the rule in government hospitals. I got a job at a family planning centre where the doctors were to supervise family programs in the slums. To my dismay, I found that no doctor had ever visited any slum for the last ten years; they were merely rubber stamping fictitious reports and collecting their pay. Ketan was toiling over 15 hours a day. His assiduous and honest approach baffled his peers and he “ like me “ soon got disillusioned with the system. In time, we both left our jobs and set up our private practise. This was the time we accidentally bumped into Vaastu.
Dr Rao and Vaastu
To begin with, we worked out of rented premises. I think Ketan was the first “ and only “ urologist without his own set up. This is how we began our career. Soon enough, we acquired our own clinic and it was during the rounds we were making, distributing the invitation cards that a doctor friend suggested that we should get the clinic layout etc., approved by Dr Rao, a seasoned and proven Vaastu consultant. Ketan would not have any of it. The opening of the clinic was just a week away and there was no room for any alterations that the Vaastu consultant was bound to insist upon. That “ we thought “ was the last we would see of Vaastu. Of course that was not true, because if that were so, I would not be here talking to Vaastuyogam.
Today, you can say we are settled and well off. Our practice is doing well. Our family and social life is uncluttered and cosy. We could not have asked for more. If Ketan and I were to explain what made this happy story happen, both of us may have our different versions. But one thing will be common throughout our different versions and that will be the role Vaastu and Dr Rao have played. In fact, the premises itself, where we speak right now, have an interesting Vaastu story.
After sometime at our clinic, we began scouting for a larger place. We did find one and were on the verge of finalizing it when we recalled Ketan s friend s earlier caution about Vaastu and his seasoned and proven consultant. This time, unlike earlier, Ketan felt we were not too late. We showed Dr Rao the premises. To our surprise, he rejected it outright. When we asked if he was rejecting it because he felt the premises were not good for our practice, he replied dramatically, How will your practice succeed if the premises itself will remain incomplete for a long time. Whilst we were leaving, he pointed to a plot right behind the place we were buying and remarked that buying a place here would be a good idea.
Some months passed. On a tour to Jaisalmer we bumped into our builder friend whose premises we had rejected on Dr Rao s insistence. After we exchanged pleasantries he enquired whether we had finally bought any premises. We replied that we were still scouting. Then why don t you have a look at my new scheme Oh! You ve started a new scheme already? I remarked. Yes. Actually the old scheme is still incomplete due to litigation and may take quite some time to finish, so I have decided to start a new scheme. You will like it. In fact, it is in the plot that was behind my incomplete scheme. This came as a bolt out of the blue. Just as Dr Rao had predicted, our builder had been unable to complete his project. The other attractive piece of news was that he was coming up with a scheme on the very plot that Dr Rao had pointed out. We saw this as destiny playing its hand. Without delay or further thought we bought this place.
Everything you see here is designed as per Vaastu and has Dr Rao s approval. It is a simple design, not extraordinary at all, yet it has worked marvellously well. Many of my patients confide in me that they feel very comfortable and at home here. This place, where we are sitting is a favourite place for many of my relatives and friends. Whenever they are nearby, they drop by for a chat. Often, I stay here overnight to attend to emergencies and I have always found solace and comfort in this place.
Vaastu and the Study-Room
Most women, even though they are working, always have the family on their mind. It could be their husband s career, the studies of children or the health of their in-laws. I have changed my consulting hours five to six times to accommodate the schedules of my children.
Vaastu has certainly helped me with the children. My children did not have any formal tuition till class VII. I myself taught them. Here, the Vaastu-oriented deign of their study room has helped. The three of us “ my son, daughter and I “ got off fabulously during those formative study years. Each day, I spent three hours in that room teaching them till finally I developed a love for learning. Ketan insisted that I should reserve those three hours for study even though the children were on their own now. So, I have taken up a management study course, which frankly is tougher than studying medicine. In a way, therefore the Vaastu of the study room has bound me to education.
This is only a slight exaggeration, but I can say that I do not even drink a glass of water without consulting Dr Rao. I have experienced the impact of his Vaastu advice in my career, family and social life.
Currently, we are having a new house being built at Rancharda – a suburb of Ahmedabad and have planned it as a weekend home right now but in the distant future we might actually shift there. We bought this place with the full involvement of Dr Rao in the selection of the plot and the design of the house.
Now that construction has begun, I am very nervous that some silly oversight might upset the Vaastu balance of the place. We explained to our architect that we wanted our house to be in accordance with Dr Rao s advice I constantly prevail upon Dr Rao to keep a check on the work.
For me and for Ketan the perfecr Vaastu of our place is as important as the place itself. because we know that having a proper Vaastu house is pivotal to a happy life.
Dr. Riddhi Ketan Shukla
M.B.B.S., D.G.O., P.G.D.H.C.M, (Post graduate diploma in Healthcare Management)
Specialist in HIGHRISK PREGNANCY SPECIALIST AND CONSULTANT GYNECOLOGIST
She has visited the Department of Gynecology-Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, U.K as an observor May 1999.
She has taken training in following specialised subjects at various well-recognized centers.
Laproscopic sterilization – Civil hospital , Ahmedabad.
Microsurgery – V.S General hospital, Ahmedabad.
Ultrasonography- Federation of Obstretic & Gynecology Society of India.
Endoscopic surgery- National institute of Laser & Endoscopy, Mumbai.
She has made the following presentations
- Paper on Maternal Mortality in Unregistered patients at SOGOG 1996 at Ahmedabad.
- Paper on Maternal and Perinatal out come in Unregistered Patients at World congress on Labour, Mumbai 1997.
- Paper on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission in HIV positive patients at SOGOG 2003, Ahmedabad.
- Invited as guest speaker at Ahmedabad Obstretic and Gynecology Society, August 2003.
- Invited as a faculty AICOG 2008, Delhi, World Congress on HIV 2009, Nagpur, AICOG 2010, Gauwhati.
Dr Riddhi is the founder of Naari a Forum for Women’s Health & Happiness and is the West Zone Co-Ordinator of FOGSI AIDS Committee