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Article: KANAKAVALLI VIGNETTES : Pranathi Reddy - The Miracle Of Life

KANAKAVALLI VIGNETTES : Pranathi Reddy - The Miracle Of Life

Dr. Pranathi Reddy, one of Hyderabad’s leading gynaecologists, leads an incredibly multifaceted life, perfectly suited to her vibrant personality and irrepressible vivacity. Apart from revelling in the joys of bringing life into the world and working tirelessly to promote women’s wellness, Dr. Pranathi Reddy is a fitness enthusiast, a trustee of a hospice, and an avid reader who is fascinated with history.

She believes that beauty is not just skin deep, but born out of attention to detail, and a reflection of self-confidence. Based in Hyderabad, Dr. Pranathi is a loyal patron of Kanakavalli and delights in shopping for the kanjivaram online. Making time in a schedule that, though bursting at the seams always manages to accommodate a little more, Dr. Pranathi tells us about where her passion for medicine comes from, what beauty means to her, and how she keeps herself busy... She also picks her favourites from the repertoire, curating a selection of kanjivarams that weaves together varied elements and aesthetics of the craft. Excerpts of a conversation with Aneesha Bangera below…..

The Miracle of Life

Ambition & serendipity

My mother is a physician and she was my biggest inspiration. She practiced in a small coal mining town and was absolutely devoted to her job. As a child, I was fascinated by the amount of respect and adulation she received. Wherever we went – a cinema hall or a temple – there was a patient or family member who recognised her and tried to do something that would make life more comfortable for all of us in small and big ways. I remember the time she had to rush off in the middle of the night to save a young girl’s life – a girl who came from a disadvantaged background in a nearby village. Every time the girl came back to see my mother for a check-up, her father would bring a delicious home cooked chicken curry for all of us… That’s what medicine signified to me from a very early age: the ability to make a difference in somebody’s life –a difference that was never forgotten. It was like leaving footprints on people’s hearts.

Above: Dr Pranathi as a child, held by her mother who is her greatest influence and inspiration.

As I grew up, I became keenly interested in science. At that stage (in the 80s in India) the medical field was aspirational and entry into medical school was the pinnacle of academic achievement. With this background, I set out to make it my ambition. From a young age, I have always been an incredibly determined and driven person in everything I set my mind and heart on. Gynaecology was a combination of serendipity and ambition. While at medical school and during my internship, I developed an interest in Gynaecology and Paediatrics. And Gynaecology was the available choice for me at postgraduate selection. So, I took it.

Finding the balance

What do I love most about my work…. that’s easy. I just love the fact that in this minefield of medicine which deals with disease, suffering, pain and disappointments, I am so blessed to be working in a specialty which deals in joy, happiness, hope and new beginnings. I begin my day with a prayer of thankfulness for this. To guide women, couples and families through the journey of pregnancy, to make it joyous, to make it natural, to allay their anxieties and finally to be assisting them in that moment of utmost joy when the baby arrives, is for me the most fulfilling experience. Despite the loneliness, sleep-deprivation, tears and laughter, and adjustment to a completely different way of life, I’m happiest when I’ve gone out of my way to deliver a child as naturally as possible and have been able to participate in the joy of that moment with the family and our team. I truly believe that Obstetrics represents the coming together of the medical sciences and humanism. The challenges are obviously the difficult clinical situations when things go wrong as is bound to happen in any field of medicine. But in this field of pregnancy and childbirth, it is even harder because there is a baseline expectation that nothing should go wrong both by patients and doctors; unlike true disease where everyone is prepared for negative outcomes. It makes us very unforgiving of ourselves. Another challenge is striking the work-life balance. This is a 24 hour / 365-day job. A woman can go into labour at any time, problems can arise at any time. All my social and family time comes with the proviso that I can disappear at any moment, to attend to my work. This is hard on my family, but over time we have come to accept it and make the most of it. And now it doesn’t bother us so much. I think my husband and son understand how much it means to me to do my job right.

Fitness as a way of life

What started out as my quest to beat my strong family history of obesity and diabetes has now become a passion for me. I enjoy my workouts; I feel strong (I lift 75 kg at deadlift), invigorated, and mentally stimulated. It is also an hour every day that belongs only to me. It is no longer about weight management, weighing scales and blood sugar measurements anymore – it is about enjoying the process. And the results are bound to come. Many gynaecological problems are the result of hormonal imbalances arising from excess weight and a lack of attention to physical fitness. Fitness is non-negotiable to me. And that should be the case for all women. Unfortunately, in India women tend to be unwilling to talk about certain health issues considered to be private. Having done my training in Urogynaecology, I’ve been committed to bringing these issues to the forefront, to encourage women to seek help. I think that, strangely enough, women are reluctant to address quality of life issues they face, while they are quick to seek help when it comes to the health of their husbands and children. I think families need to invest in the wellness of women with more seriousness, and we all need to treat women’s health with the same alertness as we do any other field of medicine.

Life beyond the hospital

I have been a Rotarian since 2010, and was president of the club in 2016-17. Our signature project is Sparsh Hospice, a centre we run for terminally ill patients where we provide palliative care services. My father-in-law died of cancer and as doctors, my husband and I were fortunate to be able to provide palliative end of life care at home and he died peacefully, surrounded by his family. This got us thinking about the palliative care services in the community which we found to be woefully lacking. Terminally ill cancer patients invariably turned to hospitals which are not geared to provide palliation; and the entire intervention becomes a slow and painful process for the family, sapping them all of physical, emotional and financial resources. Sparsh Hospice is the brainchild of my husband to address this unmet need. As a Rotarian and Trustee I work hard to raise funds for the hospice through a combination of lobbying, networking and promoting awareness. As President of the club I also worked hard to make it a fun place of relaxation and happiness. When I’m not bringing new life into the world or working for the hospice, I’m usually either reading murder mysteries – Agatha Christie is my favourite – or watching reruns of old TV shows, including Friends, Poirot and Blue Bloods.

Above: A glimpse of Dr Pranathi's bookshelf, featuring her favourite author Agatha Christie

I also have a great fascination for certain time periods in history and enjoy travelling to experience those places. I am intrigued by World War 2 and its aftermath in Europe, so over a period of two years in short breaks we have travelled across places that were most affected by this era of history – Berlin, Auschwitz, Krakow, Warsaw, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Hamburg, Amsterdam. It was incredible to see these places and people, to understand their historical struggle with adversity.

The essence of beauty

I love saris. For me, childhood memories are filled with me playing ‘house’ and trying to drape myself in my mother’s saris, folded in half… I enjoy being well groomed. I don’t believe in narrow definitions of traditional beauty, but I do believe that a little care and attention to detail can truly enhance a woman’s self-confidence. I think I inherit my love for saris and for dressing up from my mother. Despite her busy schedule she always wore beautiful saris and well-matched blouses. She took the trouble to change her sari at least twice a day! My mother-in-law, who was always immaculately turned out with jewellery and hair accessories perfectly accenting her saris, grew up in Chennai and her gorgeous collections of kanjivarams have also influenced my aesthetic. Being a South Indian I also naturally gravitated towards kanjivarams; drawn by their rich, regal splendour. I read somewhere that they are referred to as silks for the Gods. There is something so dignified about them, just like there is something dignified about being a doctor.

A sari, to me, doesn’t come alive until it is paired with a beautiful blouse – however simply tailored or elaborately designed – and set off with the right kind of jewellery. I honestly believe that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to look your best; in fact, much like medicine, it’s a unique combination of science –paying attention to detail – and an element of the human – infusing the ensemble with your personality! To me beauty is a woman who is content and at peace with herself, who takes pride in and brings passion to what she does, whether she runs a household, raises children, or works as a doctor, delivering babies. (caption about the sari she’s wearing for the shoot)

Above, Dr. Pranathi Reddy is wearing a vivid leaf green shot parrot green kanjivaram with bold checks in silver and gold zari across the body. The black korvai border has a band of silver tissue, and the pallu, also in black, features silver zari. “Most people associate the kanjivaram with rich, gold zari, but Kanakavalli has changed my perceptions – I absolutely love the beautiful saris in their repertoire that are detailed with intricate silver thread work. I love silver as a metal: in practicality, I think it far surpasses gold. Ahalya’s signature silver jewellery is truly exquisite, and I enjoy pairing it with these timeless kanjivarams. I love the way Ahalya brings so much passion to her work at Kankavalli and Ahalya jewels. It has been a journey of love for her and that is reflected in the aesthetics of her saris and jewellery."

- Dr. Pranathi Reddy, in conversation with Aneesha Bangera




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