The Curious Adventures of a Doctor from Jaffna: From Old World Charm to Majulah Singapura

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Editions Didier Millet, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 311 pages
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From a childhood spent playing marbles and climbing trees in Ceylon to a medical career in bustling Singapore, Dr K. Puvanendran’s experiences have been rich and varied. A leading neurologist, he counts kings and presidents among his former patients. This charmingly written autobiography traces the trajectory of his life against the changing landscapes of two vastly different countries.

As a boy in Jaffna, Dr Puvanendran found imaginative ways to fill his time. He recounts with great relish the carefree pranks, adventures and school experiences. Woven into the evocation of these simple pleasures are also sobering glimpses of the darker periods in Ceylon’s history.

After attending medical college in Colombo, Dr Puvanendran stayed in Ceylon to work before accepting a position at Outram Road General Hospital, now Singapore General Hospital, in 1971. As the narrative unfolds, we read about the roots of his interest in neurology, the highs and lows of his career, the doctors who inspired him and the most memorable medical cases from his fifty years of practice. Some of these intriguing cases include sleep-related crimes, for which he has testified in court as a local pioneer in sleep medicine. 

Dr Puvanendran’s story takes us through the old world of Ceylon and into the heady post-independence days of Majulah Singapura (“Onward Singapore”, as the national anthem proclaims), offering along the way a successful doctor’s take on the study and practice of medicine. 

 

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Contents

Foreword
10
Preface
12
A vanishing old world charm
17
Thus I came
18
Schooling in Jaffna
39
Exciting moments of a relaxed life in Jaffna
49
My father and some of my siblings
56
To Colombo to study
66
Royal College of Physicians in London
168
Medical students and doctors
171
We need to be the authors of our own life
185
The days of the efficient civil service
188
Research and discourses
194
Of amorous palms and human lives
207
The old Tan Tock Seng Hospital days
216
Travel tales
223

Medical college days
75
My other siblings
86
Down to serious work
95
My interest in neurology
104
Karainagar days
110
How I came to Wonderland
130
Wonderland Singapore
137
The perfect theme for Alice in Wonderland
138
University department of medicine MU1
142
Life is far too important to be taken seriously
152
Neurology in 1971
159
For whom the bell tolls
232
The last realm
240
Growing up with my kids
243
Of presidents and kings
247
The Most Memorable Cases in My Fifty Years Practice
255
Epilogue
307
Acknowledgements
310
Index
311
Back cover
312
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

 Dr Puvanendran was born in Jaffna in 1937. He completed his undergraduate training in medicine at the University of Colombo in 1962 and earned his membership and fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1968 and 1986 respectively. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. At Singapore General Hospital (S.G.H.), Dr. Puvanendran has held the positions of Senior Consultant and Associate Professor of Neurology. He has been awarded the “Invaluable Services Award” by the Singapore Ministry of Health, “Long Service Award” by S.G.H., and “Lifetime Achievement & Contribution to Neurology” by the ASEAN Neurological Association. A local pioneer of the science of sleep and sleep disorders, he founded the Sleep Disorder Unit at S.G.H. and the Singapore Sleep Society. Other past leadership positions include presidency of the Singapore Society of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Singapore Epileptic Society, and the 27th International Epileptic Congress. Over the course of his career, he has taught 42 batches of medical students and published more than 150 scientific publications and discourses. Dr. Puvanendran’s interests include tennis, photography, music, and literature. He is married to an anaesthetist and has two daughters, who are both doctors, as well as four grandchildren.

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