How to treat non-lethal bullet injuries: lessons from Bollywood movies

Abstract: There is currently insufficient detail on how to perform emergency surgery for ridiculous bullet wounds that result from confronting Hindi film villains in everyday situations. Therefore, a clinical survey was undertaken with the purpose of identifying acceptable medical procedures compliant with known Bollywood practices. Two case studies presented here demonstrate that despite identical etiology, disparate outcomes result from the state of inebriation of the patient during the medical procedure. Here, the “daru kharab cheez hai” (liquor is evil) theory is validated using the popular Bollywood actor Dharmendra as a test subject. Therefore, it is the recommendation of the author that caretakers use alcohol only as a local disinfectant in order to avoid unnecessary molestation of health-workers. It is hoped that the research presented here will ultimately lead to a renaissance in modern health-care.

Figure 1: Successful surgical procedure for ballistic trauma

Introduction: The goals of this study are two-fold.

One of the least appreciated concepts in modern medicine is the “daru kharab cheez hai” theory widely prevalent in Hindi films (Vide Anthony Gonsalves et al. 1977). Briefly, this theory states that filmi heroes perform uncommon and unnatural acts under the influence of alcohol, which they would otherwise avoid. However, alcohol is also widely used in Hindi films as a local disinfectant for emergency surgical procedures and to prevent hypothermia after song-and-dance routines in Switzerland. To address this disparity, a comprehensive review of the wide body of relevant Bollywood filmography was performed.

The second goal of this study is to recommend appropriate field practices for treating trauma injuries. Filmi heroes are known to be exceptionally prone to non-fatal ballistic injuries suffered from poor aiming at close quarters by villains and/or their cronies. These injuries can be identified by a simple chemical examination for tomato sauce or water-soluble paint.

Methods: One filmi hero, Dharmendra, referred to colloquially as Dharam Paaji (D.P.), was subjected to different ridiculous, but non-life-threatening injuries (Vide: Kartavya; Shehezaade). A knife was sterilized by the acceptable method of heating on stove. The heroines (Rekha and Jaya Prada, respectively) were then instructed to remove the bullet. In the control study, D.P.  did not drink any alcohol, whereas in the experimental analysis alcohol was taken by mouth at the dose of one bottle of Old Monk desi rum and one bottle of VAT69 blended phoren scotch.

Figure 2: Validating the "daru kharab cheez hai" theory

Results and Discussion: The results presented herein (Figures 1 and 2) unambiguously establish the benefit of using the “knife to wound” method for treating bullet injuries.

Based on the results presented, the author would like to caution against allowing the filmi hero to imbibe alcohol during the 24 hours before or after the surgical procedure as it can result in undesirable outcomes.

Acknowledgments: The author wishes to thank the makers of Kartavya and Shehezade for sharing of materials and methods.

Mandatory Disclosure: No animals were harmed during these experiments.

References:  1. All images are low-resolution and used only for the demonstration of the purpose of the study. Copyright of original works resides with the original creators.

2. The text is subject to copyright (registration in USA and India) and cannot be used without prior permission from the author and publisher (A.M.).

More Bollywood Science here.

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How to catch a killer or a spy

How to catch a killer.

Murders happen all the time. As reported by the UN, there were at least 37,000 murders in India in 2002 making it at least one of the top two “killer nations” that year (since China did not openly disclose this sort of data). In addition to the reported numbers, there are death that go unreported, as well as deaths that aren’t definitively determined to result from homicide. How many of the reported murders actually get solved? I’m curious to know the numbers for India, but interestingly, in the United States, one of the most advanced nations on the planet in terms of forensic technology, the numbers aren’t stellar compared to what they were only a few decades ago. It is estimated that around 90% of murders in the United States were solved in the Sixties compared to about 65% nowadays. Clearly, improvements in technology and training have not been able to deter all criminals or bring them to justice.

Now, I want to put aside these sobering thoughts and mention a murder case that actually did get solved.

A body of a man was retrieved in a village in China, On examination, it was found that the man had been stabbed to death. The investigator, wanted to know more about the instrument used to stab the victim, so he obtained the carcass of a dead animal. By stabbing the carcass with various sharp instruments and comparing the wounds on the carcass to the that of the dead man, he was able to determine that the victim had been stabbed to death with a sickle.

Having established the type of weapon that was used to commit the crime, the investigator set about to identify the criminal. Now, a sickle is a very common farming implement in many parts of the world. In those days, it was common in China too. The investigator decided to start the process of interrogation in the village. He asked each villager who owned a sickle to meet him for questioning. All the villagers who owned sickles obliged, and one was immediately apprehended. On further interrogation, this villager broke down and admitted that he had committed the murder.

How did the investigator determine the identity of the killer? Although the killer had wiped the sickle clean, flies were attracted to only his sickle. The astute investigator had been able to connect the dots and to pursue his line of questioning with that incidental clue.

By now, you may be wondering what was so special about the resolution of this particular case. Modern forensic entomologists use their knowledge of insects all the time to determine time and place of death. What is amazing is that the incident I recounted occurred in 1235 and is the first recorded case in forensic entomology.

How to catch a spy.

In the fog-of-war it is imperative to obtain actionable intelligence in a timely manner. Chanakya, prime minister to the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta, provided a detailed discussion on the use of spies in the defense of the realm in his magnum opus, Arthashastra. Similarly, in the Art of War, Sun Tzu mentions five classes of spies: 1) local spies who actually live in the territory of an enemy, 2) moles who are traitorous officials in the employment of the enemy, 3) double agents, who keep up the deceptive appearance of being a spy for the enemy, 4) doomed spies, who are sent with the purpose of providing false information to the enemy, and 5) surviving spies who successfully bring back information from enemy territory.

In the height of the Cold War the intelligence agencies of the two superpowers played a constant game of cat-and-mouse and the term surviving spy became something of a euphemism. Soviet agents tried to utilize US sources to gain vital information on American national security. Similarly, American agents entered the Soviet Union with hopes of being able to report back to their home bases. The American spies underwent extensive training to fit into Soviet settings. They knew how to speak perfect Russian and dress like the Russians. They had all the right papers including fake Soviet passports. On paper, it seemed like the perfect plan. In reality, hundreds of the American spies did end up getting caught.

How did the Soviets successfully pick out the American spies? Simple artifacts found in the KGB museum in Moscow point to the answer. The fake Soviet passports were identical to the genuine ones in every way, save one important detail. The staples. The pages of the fake passports found on the American spies were held together by staples made out of stainless steel and therefore did not corrode, while the genuine Soviet ones rusted. By the simple test of adding a drop of water to the stapled portion of the passport and observing the next day, the Soviets were able to pick out the forgeries. One seemingly minor detail turned out to be the undoing for hundreds of intelligence agents.

Moral of these two stories:

Le diable est dans les détails. Details, details, details. No machine can do the job of a dedicated analyst. Technology can aid in investigation, but cannot replace astute observation.

Royalty-free images courtesy of spekulator@SXC

© 2010-2012, Anirban

How to write an application letter in Indian English

Pappu Patligali, our perennial hero, recently moved to India after spending years abroad working on various IT projects. Pappu studied in English-medium schools before completing his engineering degree from a state engineering college in Karnataka. In school, Pappu enjoyed reading novels written by Enid Blyton, but was not thrilled with studying English. He didn’t know why his teachers insisted that he study grammar from Wren & Martin, a book originally written for children of British officers in 1935 (during the reign of King George V) .

Pappu wrote in a very ornate style before moving abroad for higher studies. He soon learned how to write letters and emails in a more direct manner.

So, upon his return to India, he applied to join the local Housing Cooperative with the following letter:

Dear Sir/Madam:

My name is Pappu Patligali. I’ve recently moved into the neighborhood and I’d really like to join your Society as a full-time member. I’ve enclosed a completed application form along with all required fees. I’d really appreciate your help in expediting the process.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information. I look forward to meeting you in person!

Thanks in advance,

Sincerely,

Pappu Patligali

On submitting the letter, Pappu was told brusquely that he didn’t know how to write in English and that he needed to resubmit in triplicate with full particulars per the approved sample proforma letter. Of course, there was no use telling the Society’s members that the National Council of Educational Research and Training now publishes a textbook recommending that letters be written in a modern style.  Pappu just ended up showing his NRI ignorance.

Ultimately, Pappu followed the prescribed proforma and sent the following letter in triplicate:

Respected Sir:

Respectfully, I beg to state that I am Pappu Patligali, son of Sri Jhappu Patligali currently domiciled in Nayaghat within PS- Kotwali in District Uttar Dinajpur under the jurisdiction of your esteemed Society.  My permanent address is Village Rampur, of aforementioned District and police jurisdiction. It is hereby requested forthwith that I may please be enrolled as a Member of your Society under the provisions of Bye-laws and State Act of 1962 the Rules framed thereover and thereunder.

Therefore, I seek to humbly request herewith to deposit the prescribed amount as payment in cash the membership fee and the entrance fee today for which kindly money receipt from branch-office near Hanuman Mandir may please be issued on paper in my favour. Further, I am to forthwith state that I shall endeavour to solemnly and most faithfully abide by the rules and Bye-laws of the Society as Member of the Society with my firstborn forfeit and under pain of death (as per provisions articulated in Byelaw No. 221 Part C dated Jan 20, 1962).  Moreover, sir, it is my heartiest and most humble entreaty to you to kindly and most generously look into the matter and do the most needful at your earliest convenience.

I remain, yours obediently,

Full signature of Pappu Patligali

Place :

Date :-

(s/d attestation of first-class gazetted officer)

Needless to say Pappu’s letter is currently in a file under a stack of similar letters awaiting review by the Secretary of the Society.

Footnote: Although I’ve written both letters specifically for this post, I’ve been heavily influenced in the second letter by actual examples on the internet including this one.  If you have time, take a look at question 17 of the 2009 UPSC General Ability Test which asks test-takers to look at the following sentence: “Respectfully I beg to state that I am suffering from fever for the past fortnight.”

Read about Pappu’s next misadventure here.

© 2010-2012, Anirban