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NRI doc donates $20 mn to Kerala village
August 01, 2007 10:23 IST
An Indian-American neurosurgeon, who was born into an "untouchable" caste in a Kerala [Images] village of Chemmanakary, made millions in the US and has now donated some $20 million to establish a neurosurgery hospital, a health clinic and a spa resort in his village.
Kumar Bahuelyan, 81, did not wear his pair of shoes until he went to medical school but earned so much that his lavish life-style included five Mercedes Benzes and one aeroplane.
"I was born with nothing, I was educated by people of that village and this is what I owe to them," he told the Buffalo News.
Life for him has come full circle, the paper said - from dire poverty in India to the life style of rich in America and back to his native village where he has traded his Mercedes for a bicycle.
"I'm in a state of nirvana, eternal nirvana," he told the paper. I have nothing else to achieve in life. This was my goal, to help my people. I can die any time, as a happy man."
Another Indian native, Pearay Ogra, the former chief of infectious diseases at Women and Children's Hospital and the president of the Bahuleyan Charitable Foundation, said he understands why Bahuleyan donated his fortune.
"He grew up in a traditional Hindu culture, with a deep sense of universal giving," Ogra told the paper. "You can afford it, give it back to the people who brought you up."
Others too are moved by Bahuleyan's spirit and energy, the paper said, adding Bill Zimmermann, executive director of a Buffalo sailing school is helping Bahuleyan set up a sailing and boat-building school in Chemmanakary.
The venture is designed to teach sailing and boat-building skills to the Indian villagers, provide more jobs and use its profits to help fund medical treatment for the villagers.
Once Bahuleyan got hooked on the concept, he started spending 50 hours a week at Zimmerman's Seven Seas Sailing School, located on the Buffalo ship canal, trying to learn about his latest venture.
"He's not mesmerising or evangelical, but he seems like a living saint," Zimmermann said. "He does nothing but imbue a sense of calm and decency. He brings out the best in you."
Bahuleyan, who lives in Buffalo with his wife, pathologist Indira Kartha, now spends half the year in the US, the other half in India. In his native land, he oversees his foundation's work, gets around on a bicycle and still does almost daily surgery.
"My dream is to see this all running without my help, so I can pass away peacefully, knowing that I created something and gave something back," he said.
"That would justify my existence."