A forerunner poet, Pampa, from the pre-Shakespearean era of Karnataka, wrote this beautiful poem:

ಚಾಗದ ಭೋಗದಕ್ಕರದ ಗೇಯದ ಗೊಟ್ಟಿಯಲಂಪಿ ನಿಂಪುಗ 

ಳ್ಗಾರವಾದ ಮಾನಿಸರೆ ಮಾನಿಸರಂತವರಾಗಿ ಪುಟ್ಟಲೇ 

ನಾಗಿಯುಮೇನೊ ತೀರ್ದಪುದೇ ತೀರದೊಡಂ ಮರಿದುಂಬಿಯಾಗಿ ಮೇಣ್‌ 

ಕೋಗಿಲೆಯಾಗಿ ಪುಟ್ಟುವುದು ನಂದನದೊಳ್‌ ಬನವಾಸಿ ದೇಶದೊಳ್‌….

It means, “Even if I am repeatedly stabbed with a bullhook (Ankush), I still yearn to be reborn in this beautiful land full of sacrifice, splendor, joy, riches, musical concerts, and academic conferences, even if only as a honeybee or a cuckoo.” The COVID-19 pandemic took away my international travels and replaced them with a streak of local tours. The most intimate was a visit to Banavasi, the first known capital of ancient Karnataka state, where Pampa lived and where the Lord Madhukeshwara Temple is situated.

The Madhukeshwara Temple is a magnificent architectural feat. Every stone carving is stunningly beautiful. However, the most astonishing work is the carving of Nandi (Bull), located in front of Lord Shiva’s temple. Initially, it appears as if Nandi is guarding Lord Shiva. Yet, if you visit Goddess Parvathi’s temple, you get the impression that one of Nandi’s eyes is also watching over Goddess Parvathi. I felt that wherever I stood, Nandi was staring at me! There are many such wonders in this temple. How did those sculptors pay attention to even the minutest detail and achieve such perfection?

“Michael, with all due respect,” the tailor says, “I made the original jacket and these four replicas. Everything is sourced and constructed exactly as it was forty years ago.” “Something’s off,” Michael says, “it’s not right.” As the debate intensifies, Michael suddenly realizes the problem. “I see it,” he exclaims, pointing to Muhammad Ali’s collar in the photo. “The stitching on the collar of the replicas is single thread, but look, in the photo, it’s double thread.” The tailor squints, realizes Michael is correct, and remembers that in the mid-1970s, the thread fabric changed, leading him to abandon the double-stitching technique. He shakes Michael’s hand and sets off to make the jacket right.

“As it turns out, Michael Mann is a savant-level researcher. I had never before (nor since) met a more thorough cinematic scientist,” Will Smith recounts in his autobiography, ‘Will,’ about his experience with the director of his film, ‘Ali.’ Some outliers go to great lengths to achieve perfection. I’ve read similar stories about the acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, famous for ‘Seven Samurai.’ For his film ‘Red Beard,’ he wanted an authentically aged clinic set, so he instructed his assistants to dismantle rotten wood from old movie sets to create the prop from scratch. For the same movie, needing old and stained teacups, and unable to source them in time, he had his crew dip new teacups in tea for over fifty years until they appeared ancient and stained.

An even more thrilling anecdote is from the shooting of ‘Throne of Blood.’ In one scene, lead actor Toshiro Mifune is attacked with arrows by his own people. As he ran, director Akira had archers shoot real arrows toward him from about ten feet away. To avoid being hit, the actor had to carefully follow chalk marks on the ground. Fortunately, he escaped unharmed, with some arrows missing him by only an inch. The actor later admitted that he was genuinely terrified and even suffered nightmares afterward.

Today, Dr. ABR Desai, a legendary Otologist, has left us to join the heavenly abode. I didn’t have any personal acquaintance with him. However, I’ve heard countless stories about how he meticulously paid attention to every detail while operating. Remarkably, he performed an audiogram in the operating theater following stapedotomy surgery. God bless his soul and give strength to his family members to endure this loss.

A similar impression is made by maverick surgeons such as Dr. Meghanath, Dr. Vijayendra, Dr. Baser, and many others. While demonstrating a surgery, they address every minute detail necessary for a flawless operation. Recently, Dr. Meghanath showcased FESS surgery on our first episode of “Weekend with a Maestro.” The level of attention he paid to each surgical step was incredible, and watching such masters in action is a pleasure (https://youtu.be/Z2bvttYJIb0).

There is a significant debate over focusing on the big picture versus attending to minor details. Accomplished American biologist Leroy Hood once said, “If you just focus on the smallest details, you never get the big picture right.” However, I’ve observed that students who understand every minute and intricate detail of a procedure learn surgery quickly. In contrast, those who concentrate only on the big picture falter. The famous sculptor Michelangelo, who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, said, “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” Michelangelo worked tirelessly on every minute detail that others might have deemed trivial. When operating on a live patient, nothing is inessential. Former CEO of Citigroup, Sanford I. Weill, rightly emphasized, “Details create the big picture.”

Corporate diva Nita Ambani passionately explains, “My husband, Mukesh Ambani, is that rare man blessed with the ability to see the big picture but will not ignore the smallest detail. He works an 18-hour day and still finds time to help the kids with their homework.” Therefore, please dismiss the statement, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” and embrace “The devil is in the details.”

“Every surgery should be like a painting on the Sistine Chapel, and every surgeon should be a Michelangelo!” thus spake PNB!

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Unexpected events have forced us to postpone “Superficial Parotidectomy” to 6th February 2022. This week’s topic will be “Trans-sphenoidal Pituitary Surgery.” It’s an excellent opportunity to understand how a maestro’s devilish attention to every surgical detail manifests. Please click this link to join us this weekend, Sunday, 23rd January 2022, from 06.00 -08.00 pm IST, for our “Weekend with a Maestro!” program:

With best regards,

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
22 January 2022

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