He made people come out and talk about sexual health and she found happiness in being surrounded by bony babies. Doctors Sudhakar and Kiran Krishnamurti trace their journey with Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Their cosy den in Somajiguda belies the sweltering heat outside. The spacious living room is inviting, with its ethnic touch. Dr. Sudhakar credits the careful selection of ethnic artefacts to his wife Dr. Kiran. Paintings done by Kiran and his sister Suchitra Krishnamurti add a touch of vibrancy to the walls.

New in the city

Sudhakar and Kiran haven't always been in this comfortable abode. Their friends and peers hold them in high regard for having built up their base in Hyderabad from scratch. He was one of the first andrologists in the country and she, a paediatrician. They made Hyderabad their home way back in 1985. Just after completing their respective postgraduations, the Krishnamurtis came to Hyderabad with their basic belongings and a motorbike. They met in medical school in their teens, courted for seven years before tying the knot. “It's been 35 years of knowing each other,” smiles Kiran and recalls, “We worked in Bombay for a year. But setting up our medical practice and a home in Bombay was intimidating. We wanted an emerging cosmopolitan city with good cost of living. Since Sudhakar speaks Telugu, we thought we'd give Hyderabad a try,” recalls Kiran.

The couple rented a small apartment in Marredpally and had just the basic amenities so that they could move out in two years time if things didn't turn out to their satisfaction. Kiran commuted by cycle rickshaws and buses and used a kerosene stove to cook. Two years later, they didn't think of moving out of the city. “Every bit of effort put in back then was worthwhile and didn't seem tough. At that time, if we wanted to treat ourselves to a meal, it would be a thali at Taj Mahal, Secunderabad, priced at less than five rupees,” they state.

If Sudhakar's name has become synonymous with andrology in Hyderabad, things were quite different in the 1980s when he began practice. “Even medical practitioners weren't informed about the science of male sexual health,” says Sudhakar.

Woman's world

Coming out in the open to discuss sex, male infertility and associated problems was almost a taboo. Today, he is glad that educated young men and women walk into his clinic by themselves or accompanied by their respective partners and seek help on male and female sexual health.

“Today's women are not afraid, are well informed and practical. A number of times, working women have come to my clinic, discussed their problems and then have brought their spouses. Barring a few sections of society where chauvinistic sentiments rule, others have no problem in seeking medical help for their sexual problems. In fact, I am invited for interviews more often for channels watched by women than men,” he says.

Over the years, his columns in newspapers followed by his first book, Sexx is not a four-letter word, helped open up vistas. “You think about your heart or brain only when they threaten to stop functioning. But you think of sexual well being all the time. Science shows that couples are sexually active in the eighth and ninth decades of their lives. So why hesitate to discuss it openly?” he asks. He laments how even doctors sometime feel uncomfortable when a patient broaches the topic. “If doctors squirm in their seats or turn their gaze away, the patient will hesitate to elaborate further. There are studies to show this,” he says.

Sudhakar is now working on his second book. “The first book was written from a doctor's point of view — from the experiences of talking to people who consult me. The second one will be from the bedroom— for instance, talking at an emotional level on how a man feels when bogged down by sexual and infertility problems,” he explains.

He considers it as one of his career high point to be part of the first batch of doctors at Oxford when sexual medicine was introduced as a separate course in 2007. Travelling often to deliver lectures in the country and abroad, he is glad with the strides made in andrology over the years.

At work

Kiran, on her part, is glad she never doubted his passion for an emerging branch of medicine in the 80s. “He would wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of a surgical procedure,” she says. Kiran and Sudhakar support each other's individual work spheres. “I look forward to going to work each day at the prospect of seeing healthy, bony babies and satisfied mothers. Mothers aren't easy to please,” laughs the paediatrician.

As a mother, she would know. Her elder daughter Ulrika is away working in London and second daughter Aria is studying in Bangalore. “Children are physically more demanding of the mother in their early years and later on there is this huge emotional dependence,” she smiles.

Sudhakar pitches in as a proud father, “All along I've been surrounded by women. I was the oldest in my family and was surrounded by my mother and three younger sisters. Now I have Kiran and two daughters by me.”

Like his youngest sister Suchitra, Kiran too began painting a few years ago. “More than a decade ago, when I touched 40, I did some introspection. I wanted time to do other things — I dabbled with painting, enrolled for Bharatanatyam under Hemamalini Arni and have always been a student of classical music,” she says.

As for Sudhakar, his bartending skills are legendary though he is now a teetotaller. His large collection of single malts has been featured in lifestyle magazines. “I have a technical approach to things, whether it is photography (he prefers portraits over landscapes) or bartending,” he says. Burettes, pipettes and flasks make his bar resemble a chemistry lab.