Apr 3, 2015

Laser Eye Surgery in Nepal : Things You Need to Know

On October 21, 2014, after having worn glasses/contact lenses for almost 15 years, I finally
underwent a laser surgery (Refractive Surgery) for both of my eyes. I have been enjoying this new found freedom for almost 6 months now. Till date, once in a while I just look in the mirror and feel so good that the clear reflection I see of myself is devoid of any glasses or contact lenses. It would be quite difficult for people who have never worn powered glasses to comprehend the joy of getting rid of glasses. Only people who have gone through their lives feeling so dependent on glasses, feeling inadequate at even small moments in life such as rushing to find your glasses the moment you wake up, having a difficult time playing any sports for the fear of breaking your glasses, having a difficult time at the swimming pool would understand how great it feels to be free. 

Anyway, to come back to the objective of this post, ever since I went through the surgery, I have been receiving many calls from friends and acquaintances asking about the surgery. They usually want to know where I got the surgery, how much does it cost, if the quality in Nepal is good enough, how long does it take to recover and most of all: if the doctors will do some kind of check up before the actual surgery to ensure if it is suitable for their eyes. Based on my experience, I have already advised about a dozen people. Then I thought many other people might also want to know these things. So I have decided to present my readers this set of frequently asked questions about laser eye surgery in Nepal. I hope this helps.

1. Is it possible to do laser eye surgery in Nepal?
Of course. Tilganga Insitute of Opthalmology (TIO) has a ultra-modern Refractive Surgery Unit that can perform both LASIK and ReLEx SMILE surgeries and correct myopia (near-sightedness) and hypermetropia (far-sightedness). I don't think other hospitals in Nepal have such facility currently.

2. What are LASIK and ReLEx SMILE?
Just the name of the two technologies used. ReLEx SMILE is the latest one and better one but is more expensive than LASIK. At Tilganga both technologies are available and the surgeon decides which technology is more suited for you depending upon your eyes. They charge the same amount for both technologies.

3. How much does it cost?
At the time of my surgery, it cost NRs. 75,000 for both eyes. The total cost including pre-surgery check up and medicines would come to around NRs. 80,000. The cost could have gone up slightly now. Still the cost is relatively very cheaper than similar surgeries in other hospitals of Nepal and hospitals abroad. I hear it the cost starts from Rs. 200,000 in India. TIO provides discounts for poor and needy people.

4. Who can go through this surgery? What age group? Up to how much power?
The patient has to be above 18 years old. There is no upper limit regarding age. Powers of up to -14 and +6 can be corrected. But one has to go through a series of tests to see if he/she is eligible for the surgery. The doctors at Tilganga are quite fussy about the requirements. In my case, it seemed that they were checking my eyes over and over again. It was quite a  tiring process but comforting to know that they were ensuring safety. I had to even go through a special retina check up before they said yes.

5.What is the procedure? What steps are involved?
You have to call their office and book an appointment for pre-surgery check up. You can call either 977-1-4493775 or 977-1-4493684 to book an appointment but make sure that you mention that you are calling for RSVP or else they might mess up your appointment like they did mine. The check up consists of series of tests on your eyes that determine the dryness of your eyes, thickness of your cornea and the retina. The check lasts for about 4 hours. So be prepared to spend a whole day for the check up. It cost about NRs. 2500 last October. Only if you pass the pre-surgery tests, you can go through the surgery. If you pass the tests, then you can ask for a surgery date. The waiting time in not much long. In my case, it was two weeks.

6.  How much time will the surgery take?
The surgery takes about only 15 minutes  for each eye. That means within half an hour you are done with the surgery of both of your eyes. Then you have to spend 10-15 minutes in another room with your eyes closed. You are visually incapacitated for the rest of the day though as you cannot open your eyes and you have to put in different kinds of drops every 15 minutes and every hour. For me, that was the most exhausting and irritating time.

7. Do they make you unconscious during the surgery? Or do they just anesthetize your eyes? Is it scary?
They just anesthetize your eyes. A tool keeps your eyes wide open preventing your eyelids from shutting. You can see everything. You feel slight irritation while the laser operates in your eyes but it lasts for a very short period of time. Nothing to worry about.

8. How long will it take to get back my normal eyesight?
Your sight is restored immediately after the surgery but it is quite blurry for the whole day. I had tried to watch TV to kill some time after the surgery but failed to do because the vision was too blurry. However, in the next 2-3 days I was able to return to my normal routine except riding my motorbike. You have to keep putting drops of medicines every half hour through the week though. That was a minor inconvenience. But you are not allowed to wash your face properly for a week, a major inconvenience.

9.  What are the risk/potential side effects of the surgery?
They say the risks associated with laser surgeries are almost non-existent. But they do exist. There are two major side-effects though. Dryness and Increased glare. For the next 3 months after the surgery, my eyes would get dry once in a while and I had to put a few teardrops. Teardrops do become your best friend after the surgery. Five months down the line, I still have to use teardrops but rarely. Maybe once in a week. Sometimes once a fortnight. My eyes need teardrops when I use computers for extended period of time. But at other times, my eyes are perfectly fine. Another side effect I witnessed is the increased glare while staring at light sources. This is a minor inconvenience while driving. The glare was large in the early days but returned to normal in about two months after the surgery.

Well, I have answered all the questions usually asked to me. I hope this helps you. If you have any additional queries you can just call or visit TIO. By the way, you can also check out this Avenues TV for more information:

Mar 27, 2015

Story of an entrepreneur: Nischal Tiwari of CricNepal

Started in 2010 with very few resources and manpower, CricNepal today has grown into one of the most popular sports portal of Nepal. Visited by millions of Nepali cricket fans every year, the site is a popular destination for both domestic and international matches. In this video below, Mr. Tiwari shares about why and how he started CricNepal, how it has been doing and what are his plans for the portal in future. The video was taken during Uddhyami Junction, one of the regular programs of Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) - Nepal in which an entrepreneur shares about his or her entrepreneurial journey to students and aspiring young entrepreneurs. Enjoy!

Feb 22, 2015

Story of an entrepreneur: Khadananda Shiwakoti of Shiwakoti Bags

Shiwakoti Bags is one of the leading bag brands of Nepal currently. It not only supplies bags to Nepali market but also exports them abroad. The annual turnover of Shiwakoti Bags is in millions but very few people know the humble beginnings of this company. The company was established by Khadananda Shiwakoti and his elder brother in 2000, who were then working as laborers in other bags manufacturers. Shiwakoti brothers who started their careers as street hawkers had managed to save Rs. 50,000 by 2000 when they decided to start their own company. Below is the video of Khadananda Shiwakoti sharing about his entrepreneurial journey from a street hawker to the proud owner of a leading national brand. The video was taken during Uddhyami Junction, one of the regular programs of SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) Nepal.

Feb 20, 2015

How to Improve Electricity Transmission System in Nepal?

Majority of hydropower projects in Nepal have not gone under construction due to the absence of transmission lines and thus it is one of the key constraints that has been keeping the country from realizing its enormous hydro potential and easing the prevailing electricity crisis. Nepal Electricity Authority, the state owned monopoly has a practical monopoly in the construction and ownership of transmission lines in Nepal. Since Nepal Electricity Authority is mired with corruption and inefficiency, it has been acting as a bottleneck for the development of hydro-power development in Nepal. How can we solve this problem? What can be a better policy option for improving the transmission line system in Nepal? I have co-authored a paper titled "Policy Options for Improved Electricity Transmission System in Nepal" with my colleagues at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation. You can read it or download it below:

Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback on this paper.

Jan 3, 2015

Interview with Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Member of National Planning Commission

Just stumbled up on this interview of Dr. Swarnim Wagle who is currently one of the members of the National Planning Commission of Nepal. Dr. Wagle had an impressive career so far. Born in a remote village of Gorkha district, he got educated in the prestigious Budhanilkantha School and then attended London School of Economics, and Harvard University before finally getting his PHD from Australian National University. Having worked for international institutions like World Bank and UNDP in several countries, his decision to return to Nepal and take up a job at National Planning Commission that pays about 1/40 of his previous salary is truly appreciable. I am more impressed by the fact that he seems to be committed to promote the role of private sector in the economy and does not shy away from making his views clear although he is regularly swamped by leftist intellectuals and their centuries old rhetoric whenever he presents his views regarding the economy. I hope he will be able to make the changes he wishes to make before his willpower and motivation in engulfed by the corrupt Nepalese bureaucracy and politics. We need more people like him. My only fear, though, is that he may start patronizing and may end up making the state mechanism more efficient at repressive entrepreneurial aspirations of the citizens. I hope that does not happen.

Dec 31, 2014

10 awesome books I read in 2014

 I managed to read only 27 books as opposed to my lofty goal of reading at least 40 books this year. The solace, however, is in the fact that I managed to read some pretty amazing books. Long after I finished reading these books, the lessons are still etched on my mind. That is becoming a trend by the way. I mean, missing the target but reading some amazing books. Unlike the past years, this year however, I focused on reading Nepali language books.

Anyway, here are the 10 awesome books I read in 2014:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
While reading this book I was constantly thinking, why the hell didn't I read this book earlier? This book is considered the father of motivational literature. I must say the book lives up to the hype. This book is not a get rich quick book though. It is about how letting yourself consumed by an idea or a passion can ultimately land you riches. It is about how our thoughts eventually manifest themselves in reality through our actions. If you are consumed by the idea of getting rich, you will get rich eventually if you persist enough. I think, this is among the few motivational books that I really liked and found insightful.

2. Delivering Happiness: A path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
This is the story of Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, one of the most beloved companies in the world. Zappos sells shoes online but it is not what Zappos is famous for. Zappos has taken customer service to a whole new level. According to Hsieh, the main objective of his company is to deliver happiness, not just sell shoes. In the book, Hsieh recounts the journey of his life so far and how he ended up building Zappos. The story of his childhood ventures will surely bring a smile on your face and his ventures after growing up will teach you a handful of insights on what the tumultuous journey of an entrepreneur looks like and how to build a great company.

3.Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by James C. Collins
The author with his research team analyzed 28 companies over the period of 5 years to determine what made companies leap from good to great. The author has derived common aspects of all those great companies. All of those companies had level 5 leadership, culture of discipline, used technology as accelerators. The concept of Stockdale Paradox (Being brutally honest with your shortcomings but optimist about the future) is extremely useful not only in business but in personal life as well.

4. Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson
It is the autobiography of Richard Branson, probably the most adventurous entrepreneur in the world, who, while not creating a billion dollar company, is busy attempting and setting world records. In this book, he recounts his journey since childhood and how he ended up creating 8 billion dollar companies from scratch. Need I say more?

5. Radha by Krishna Dharabasi
Krishna Dharabasi is one of the more creative Nepali writers out there. In this novel, Dharabasi has woven a tale that breaks the patriarchal storyline created by our religious texts and stories. Unlike in the religious scriptures, in this novel, Radha has been portrayed an independent woman fighting for her identify and respect. Dharabasi is right to portray the Mahabharat war as a war created by the egos of the elites where thousands of commoners died for nothing. Amazing book!

6. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High Impact nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield
This book is to non-profits what "Good to Great" is to for-profits. The authors conducted a research among the most effective non-profit organizations in the world to find out the common things among them. Like, Good to Great, this book also have several very good lessons, which if applied, can take your non-profit organization and the cause it champions to newer heights. I think every Nepali NGO personnel should read this book as they seem to have understood none of these lessons.

7. An American Life by Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan lived an amazing life. Coming from a humble beginning, he started his career as a sports commentator and later became a very successful Hollywood actor of his time. Then after retiring from the career, he started working as a salesperson for General Electric which ultimately became a platform for him to start a political career. His political career started as the Governor of California and ended up as one of the most popular American presidents in recent history. In this memoir, 'The Great Communicator" tells about all the twists and turns in his life. He has also shared about the rationale behind the decisions he made as a president and how he contributed in ending the cold war.

8.Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
If you want to read only one book out of my list, please read this one. This is the story of three generations of women in China. The author's grandmother lived in the times of feudal lords where women were treated like dirt, her mother lived in the times of communist revolution and Chang grew up under the rule of Mao. The author provides the readers a window to the life of commoners under Mao's China, so called paradise of the peasants and workers. The book should be read by every Nepalese, especially those who dream of establishing a Mao's paradise in Nepal.

9. Kamalari Dekhi Sabhasad Samma by Shanta Chaudhari
Shanta Chaudhari, who rose from the life of a modern slave into the position of a parliamentarian, is truly an inspirational figure. In this book, she recounts her unlikely journey full of struggles and hurdles. Her life if a testament that if a person wants, he or she can overcome any barrier and achieve success, provided that they are passionate enough and persistent enough.


10. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki
This is a straight-forward, no nonsense book for any aspiring entrepreneur to help them start their enterprise right away. The author provides practical tips and tricks for starting up along with lessons to keep in mind after that. One of the tips he provides in the book is start your company's name with earlier letters in the alphabet so that you get first listing in any event or publications. Another suggestion that I liked is: forget about the mission statement, have a mantra instead. There are such lessons in every page of the book. A must read for any aspiring entrepreneur.

Well, that is my list. What do you think about it? Have you read any of these books? If yes, do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Nov 26, 2014

Youth and Entrepreneurship in Nepal: My Radio Interview

On November 15, I was invited to Radio Rajdhani 100.6 Mhz's program Leo in Change to talk about the prospects and challenges about youth entrepreneurship in the context of Nepal. Below is the recording of the radio interview. Leo in Change is run by Leo Club of Kathmandu Central Town and is focused towards young audience. Hence, the informal language and the discussion format. Please skip the first one and a half minute as there is a song playing on. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comment section below.