Centenarian on medical practice in Madras

S. Ramaswamy, who will turn a centenarian on July 20, recalls his clinical practice from a shed in his house at Kodambakkam and his travels on the tram for a monthly fare of ₹4.50

Published - July 09, 2024 10:16 pm IST

S. Ramaswamy

S. Ramaswamy | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

Seated in a room filled with books and files at his home along the busy Chamiers Road, S. Ramaswamy, who will turn a centenarian on July 20, took a trip down memory lane, reminiscing the days as a medical student, an anatomist in the government medical colleges in Chennai, and his love for singing and sports. Born at Nagpur in Maharashtra on July 20, 1924, he moved to Salem, along with his parents, in 1929. He completed his intermediate course at National College, Tiruchi, and joined MBBS at Madras Medical College (MMC) in 1941.

The shift to Madras from Salem was a big change for the young man. “At first, I stayed with my cousin on Lloyds Road. I then moved to YMCA where I stayed from January to March 1942. In July, I moved to a rented house on Nainiappa Naicken Street,” he said.

During the years as a medical student, Dr. Ramaswamy noted that he was a cricket player representing the MMC, a class representative, and a passionate singer. “I used to sing at every function,” he said. A 21-day posting at the maternity hospital at Egmore gave him a number of pleasant memories, he said, adding that he got the opportunity to assist a senior surgeon in a Caesarean section. He was also posted to work at a Primary Health Centre in North Arcot district. “I lived in a mud house and there was no electricity. I then learned to cook from my father,” he said.

Dr. Ramaswamy went on to study M.Sc. Anatomy. “I had a special interest in neuro-anatomy, and at a later stage in my career, started to concentrate on hypnotherapy,” he said. He started his teaching career as Demonstrator of Anatomy at the MMC in January 1949. He has worked in various capacities as tutor, assistant professor, associate professor, director (in charge), Institute of Anatomy (Stanley Medical College), and professor and head of anatomy, Stanley Medical College, Kilpauk Medical College, and Madurai Medical College. He later worked at St. John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, and Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute. He became the professor emeritus and consultant in anatomy at Sankara Nethralaya’s Elite School of Optometry.

“I had my clinical practice from a shed in my house at Kodambakkam near the railway station,” he said. He recounted his travels on the tram for a monthly fare of ₹4.50 (season ticket). “There used to be only two cars on Mount Road,” he added. “I liked everything about Madras right from the beginning, including its temperature (weather). The city has changed a lot. Now, there are high-rise buildings everywhere, and we can see advertisements about apartments almost every day. Such multiple high-rise buildings have ruined the water supply,” he said.

For aspiring medical students, he said there is no half-knowledge. “One must be completely attached to the subject and master it. I follow the ABC principle in life: if there is a problem, accept it, bear with it, and challenge and change the situation,” he said.

He has to his credit publications in Indian and foreign journals on human larynx, hypnosis, and hypnotherapy. He has received a number of awards.

(As told to Serena Josephine M.)

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