About the Book
4 Victoria Terrace: Memoirs of a Surgeon covers tumultuous
times in recent history, beginning from the later years of British Rule till
the present day. Rarely does one come across a doctor's account of what it
meant to experience and handle human tragedies of the magnitude of the Bengal
Famine or the Partition of India.
being a doctor's travelogue- there is hardly any major city in the world that
Dr Chatterjee has not visited this book also unfolds
an extremely perceptive description of one of our most important social
institutions: medical colleges and hospitals. We get an inside view of the
medical profession itself, one of the most politicized at every level, but not
without enduring friendships and knowledge sharing.
pages contain some tragic stories of dedicated brilliant doctors, who become
the victims of their own profession. There are also accounts of almost
miraculous surgery that saves patients, all but dead, and often just a few
ends with a reflection on the ethical dilemmas inherent in the medical profession
in general and pediatric surgery in particular.
About the Author
Professor Subir K. Chatterjee is a major
world pediatric surgery and
has pioneered the speciality in the eastern region of the
country, especially, in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and continues at 85
years to dedicate his life to treating patients and teaching surgery to his
students. Some of his students have become leaders in their fields. Professor Chatterjee
has authored numerous learned papers in national and international
journals and is also the author of Anorectal
Malformations (Oxford and Delhi, 2006).
request of several close relatives and friends, I have put together the events
of the last 80 years of my life spent mostly in a single city, Calcutta, now
Kolkata. I have retained the earlier name of the city, 'Calcutta', in this
book. I lived the first 5 years of my conscious existence in a small house on
one of its best known thoroughfares, namely Park Street. My father started a
nursing home in this building and named it Park Nursing Home. Five years later
we moved to a new location, 4 Victoria Terrace, but the original name Park
Nursing Home was retained. For the first 11 years, our home had the same
address as Park Nursing Home. Then our home was relocated and all of 4 Victoria
Terrace became Park Nursing Home and remained so until the Nursing Home closed
down in 2002. By this time the name of the street had changed from Victoria to
Gorky and we developed a new hospital complex on the same premises. It was
called Park Clinic; it began in 1997 and though it was structurally complete in
2007 it is still in the process of evolution.
hoped that by 2010 all the problems concerning Park Clinic would be sorted out
but they have not. Park Clinic is poised to get a certificate of completion
from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation but we have not got it yet. The bank
loan taken by the promoters, namely the family is being repaid regularly but
still a sizeable amount remains. On the other hand vast sums of money due to
the Clinic remain unrealized due to Third Party Assurance or TPA. The finances
of the Clinic are predominantly being managed by the family, but the family's
ability to sustain its control indefinitely is becoming uncertain. This is
partly because the Clinic now has new specialties with which the family is unfamiliar. Even its flagship
specialties are being threatened by the appearance of competitors on the
horizon. With one grandchild after another opting out of medicine as a career,
there is cause for concern.
our home moved out from 4 Victoria Terrace in 1949 this address continued to
remain my workplace and the workplace of my parents. It also became the
workplace of my wife, my sons and my daughters in law, but all of us have spent
a great deal of our working lives elsewhere.
with, I went to St Xavier's Collegiate School and St Xavier's College between
1933 and 1943. I had a wonderful time in these two institutions and am still associated
with them as a father and a grandfather, and also as a member of Alumnorum Societas, Alsoc for short, the School's ex students' association. It
was most gratifying to have been the chief guest of the College's ex students'
Association's annual function in 1997 and of Alsoc's
annual function in 2006.
In 1943 I
joined the Medical College, Bengal and stayed there till 1951. This also was a
most enjoyable experience but the enjoyment was partially overshadowed by the
turbulence that had overcome the city for the greater part of my time in the
College. I have cherished my membership of its Ex Students' Association and the
invitations to deliver in 1984 a prestigious oration, to receive in 2008 a
lifetime achievement award, and to participate in 2011 in the centenary
celebrations of the hospital where I learnt surgery.
1951 and 1954, I was in the UK learning surgery and then came back to start
work in Calcutta. Subsequently, between 1967 and 2005 I visited the UK several
times, to learn, to teach and to socialize.
1954 and 1985 I spent more time in the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College Calcutta than I did in the Park,
striving to set up academic standards of surgery and to develop the specialty
of pediatric surgery, hopefully with some measure of
success. I am still invited to their programmes. I also took time off to help
doing the same thing in some other organizations, notably the Ramakrishna
Mission Sevapratisthan and its academic wing, the
Vivekananda Institute of Medical Sciences; I continued to be a part of this
institution till 2009.
family of pediatric surgeons is relatively small, and
it is sustained by travel to each others' place of work and to meetings of
different societies. I have combined business with pleasure and seen bits of
all continents except South America. The USA was where I learnt pediatric surgery and where I stayed the longest. My
travels within India have mostly centred round programmes of pediatric surgery, general surgery and pediatric
medicine, interspersed with a few purely social outings.
professional life in the Park began in 1954, seeing a few private patients and
performing a few operations. I got involved in its administration from the
early 1960s and from then on it has been an endless story of triumphs and
frustrations; converting a small two storied rented house to a seven storied
state of the art hospital complex, planned to reach professional and ethical
excellence. In this I involved not only my immediate family, namely my mother,
my wife and my sons and daughters in law but also a vast number of senior
colleagues and students as well as numerous friends and well wishers. It has
been an immense pleasure to see the institution grow and thrive even after
2006, the year I reached 80 and ceased to be involved full time in its affairs.
For this I remain ever grateful to the Almighty.
Prologue: Two Memorable Days
My College: The Medical College, Bengal
Life in the United Kingdom
My Hospitals: The Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College
My Hospitals: The Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan
The United States and Europe: Travelogue and
Australia, Africa and Asia: Travelogue and Pediatric
From Park Nursing Home to Park Clinic
Park Medical Research Society
The Ethical Dilemma of Pediatric Practice
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