After a long day of college, we sat down with Dr Elfride Sanjana, the HOD Ophthalmology, and got to know more about her over Hannah ma’am’s delicious cakes. At first glance, you might think that she’s just another medical professional, but as we got to know her our views changed.
So, Tell us about yourself.
I am a Gujarati, but I lived my whole life in Chennai. I did my UG in Stanely Medical College and then did my PG in Madras Medical College. I was blessed to study in one of the greatest eye hospitals in the country. I further did cataract microsurgery in Shankar Natralaya. This might come as a surprise to you guys, but I actually worked as the first
ophthalmologist in PIMS in 2002. I then worked in SRMC, Chennai and finally landed back here as HOD. So, If you see, in a way life has taken me through a full circle. My current designation is challenging and requires a lot of team management, but I enjoy it.
I am single by choice. I live life on my own terms but strictly according to the rule book.
Why did you choose to study medicine?
Basically, It was a silly bribe by my father. I had gotten into BITS Pilani but my father said that he’d get me a bike if I stayed in the city and joined medicine. Not surprisingly, the bike never came *laughs*. I was never a planner. I always went with the flow, sometimes it was turbulent, sometimes it was smooth, but that’s life. I also feel like coming here was destiny.
Why did you choose ophthalmology as a speciality?
Although I dreaded ophthalmology during my UG, it was a ‘default thing’ as I didn’t want to do a speciality where I run around. After joining PG I knew it was meant to be.
What were your hobbies as a student?In school, I used to
In school, I used to sing and I also learned
classical dance. In college, I did not get many opportunities. I would usually hang out with my three close friends and we called ourselves the BASE gang (an acronym of our names). I was also a voracious non-fiction reader.
How do you spend your weekends in Pondicherry?
Sundays I go out with my mother for lunch to different restaurants. My favourites right now are Rendez-vous, Promenade and Dis-Dis & Co. I also like to spend time with my colleagues and PG students because I find that when you have a better personal relationship with them, you also have a better academic relationship. I have always appreciated the faculty-student interaction here in PIMS which you can’t find in other colleges.
What genre of music do you listen to?
Right now I’m into Deep House and EDM. Some of my favourite artists are Kygo and Ellie Goulding. I never miss a song by Ellie Goulding. I also listen to Calvin Harris, Clean bandit, Jess Glynne. I have listened to the new album by Chainsmokers but was not impressed. When I was younger I liked pop and alternative music, then I went through a hip-hop phase and, of course, George Michael in the 80s.
What’s on your bucket list?
I definitely want to travel to South America. Especially to Peru and Sao Paulo. Vancouver in Canada. I have always liked the fairy tale feel of European villages. I have already gone to Paris and a few of the villages like Giverny village in France. I have spent a few months in the UK and also visited Singapore. I usually go places under the pretext of a conference but always go out gallivanting.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Interior design. As you can see from my house (and we did) I love interior design. I found this out pretty recently and now all my friends call me and ask me for tips. I feel like interior design, EDM and deep house music was an epiphany. I am multilinguistic, I know Tamil, Hindi, Gujarathi and a wee bit Telugu
Are you a F.R.I.E.N.D.S or a HIMYM person?
What are your weaknesses?
Dessert, momos, basically any good food. I also love shopping and not just window shopping.
What do you think is the best part of your job is?
The most satisfying part of my job are the geriatric patients. Pondicherry is one of those places where you can find patients with bilateral cataract. When you treat these patients, they go from being blind one day to being able to see the next day. So, they are overwhelmed with joy and they shower us with blessings. Even with the OP patients even the smallest show of affection towards them they just break down and cry. I’ve always felt blessed that I’ve been able to reach out to so many people and it’s a humbling experience. I also have a word of advice for the students. You guys should keep six months to one year aside to just work in the community to get to know the people that you will be treating.
I’ve only become this philosophical after I reached 40. I read this book – ‘Secrets’ which was about the laws of attraction and positive thinking and I remember thinking to myself, ‘What rubbish!’. Recently I started believing in the laws of attraction and stuff like, ‘what goes around comes around’ or you could call it karma.
Interviewed by Adrian Jacob & Dipti Kannan