When the Heart Speaks: Memoirs of a Cardiologist by Dr Upendra Kaul is a book of honest narration of heart touching events of a Kashmiri Pandit who despite traveling to different places wanted to have a home in his homeland.

The author comes from a respectable family from the picturesque village of Hawal, Pulwama. The book published by Konark Publishers Private Limited, begins with the family and how the surname was changed from Khan to Kaul.

While sharing a funny incident from his maternal grandfather’s interview with Tyndal Bisco, a British missionary, he wrote in his book,

On the day of the interview, Biscoe asked him, “Tell me, what grades did you go through?”

Nanaji replied confidently, “Wular Cross!

Although the author moved to Delhi with his family, he left his heart in Kashmir and is still looking forward to the upcoming holidays.

Recalling his time spent in Kashmir during holidays, he wrote: “My maternal home was on the bank of a channel of the Jhelum River. We used to play on the wide stairs in the bank called the chand with neighboring children. Visits to the ancestral village Hawal would also be lovely. In the evening, the children of the village went near the streams and played games with a wooden ball and a makeshift bat.

Although his parents forbade him from going to the theatre, when his friend told about the film shot in Kashmir which was to be shown in the matinee, he would be glad to know that he will be able to watch Kashmir from Delhi. He was so enthralled to see the Valley on screen that he watched the film several times that day.

The author was candid in talking about his failures in school life, trying new things in college, and his struggles and successes in the medical field.

He continued his medical studies at the prestigious Maulana Azad Medical College. Mentioning his interaction with Dr. Naseer who was an examiner during his last semester, he wrote:

“He looked up and asked, ‘Can you speak Kashmiri?’ I said, ‘Ahnaz (yes sir).’ He smiled at me which boosted my confidence and I had a great exam.

During his first month at AIIMS Delhi, while performing a cardiac catheterization procedure, a wire slipped into a patient’s heart. Top Cardiac Surgeon and others wanted surgery but Dr. Kaul thought outside the box and requested a Dormia Basket Catheter which is used to extract stones from the urinary tract. Dr. Kaul received a sterile device which he inserted into the vein from which the wire slipped out while looking at the X-ray image.

“Finally I grabbed the thread and pulled it out. These procedures which are well described now were novelties in 1981,” he described in his book. He continued to do one after another wonders in the field of cardiology.

One of the valley’s leading cardiologists, Dr. Kaul continues to commute between Delhi and Kashmir and pursues his passion of providing free medical assistance to the poor and needy. He worked a lot in remote areas and organized camps.

Dr. Kaul is one of the pioneers of non-surgical heart procedures in India. He is internationally known as a teacher and academic. He is the founding director of the Gauri Kaul Foundation and has contributed to the society under the banner “No Heart Attacks Mission”.

For his contribution, he received a number of awards including the Dr BC Roy and Padma Shri awards for his contribution to Indian medicine.

He credits Mian Bashir Ahmed Larvi, caliph of the Sufi Islamic order (Naqshbandi Majadadi, Larvi) to J&K, and a revered religious leader of the Bakarwal community, with introducing him to the remote regions.

The chapter, A Dark Era in Kashmir Valley refers to the beginning of militancy in the valley. During the 1990s when Dr. Kaul was at AIIMS Delhi, he treated a number of patients from the valley.

“I have always been Kashmir-centric and wanted to do my part in this time of crisis. I have extended the OPD hours so that as many as possible can be accommodated. Now the Word had spread about my sweet spot for Kashmiris – including in the valley. This attracted more patients and I became known as U. Koul,” the book reads.

The book is dedicated to the memory of his mother, Gauri Kaul, who was his greatest supporter. Like Dr. Kaul, she was too attached to Kashmir and wanted to return home. One day she asked the author that she wanted to have a little house of her own in the valley. He not only built a house in Srinagar in 2014 but also established a health center Gauri Heart Center in Srinagar in 2021 which provides all non-invasive cardiology facilities to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Also, Gauri Kaul Foundation, an NGO was established with its offices in Srinagar and New Delhi.

With an “End Heart Attacks by 2025” initiative, Dr. Kaul is reaching to the furthest point in every district.

The book is rich in anecdotes, giving us the meaning of harmony, friendships and love.

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