| COMING OUT: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Mad not to seek help for madness
The Welsh actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones, has made the same point that the psychiatrist, Dr Raj Persaud, has in numerous conversations with me over the years Indian parents coping with mentally ill children should seek medical treatment urgently instead of hiding them away.
As the example of Zeta-Jones illustrates, with modern medicines, mental illness bipolar disorder in her case can usually be managed.
We all remember the scene in Satyajit Rays Apur Sansar when the young man who comes to marry Pulus cousin, Aparna (Sharmila Tagore), turns out to be a pagal patra (mad bridegroom) and a guest, Apu (Soumitra Chatterjee), is persuaded to step in as the substitute.
Now, convinced by Persauds arguments, perhaps I can suggest the word pagal be banned from civilised discourse.
Zeta-Jones, 41, revealed her bipolar disorder had been aggravated through helping her husband, the Hollywood star Michael Douglas, 25 years her senior, cope with chemotherapy for his throat cancer.
He is improved but his wife checked into a psychiatric hospital for five days to seek treatment.
According to Britains National Health Service, Bipolar disorder previously known as manic depression is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. Each extreme episode can last for several weeks or longer. The high and low phases...interfere with everyday life.
Zeta-Jones was remarkably brave in admitting: This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them. If my revelation of having bipolar has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.
Indeed, this is also Persauds advice.
Among Asians, the reasons for mental illness are many and varied, Persaud has told me. A big problem for a lot of Asians is that when they come to Britain, they carry their culture with them, much more than those from other cultures do.
It remains to be seen whether Bollywood stars can also be as honest as Catherine Zeta-Jones.
| MEDICINE MAN: Vel Sakthivel
Playing for his club, Littleton and West Hill, against Burghclere in the Hampshire League three summers ago, Vel Sakthivel helped his side win by 94 runs, carrying his bat for an unbeaten 111 (8x4, 7x6).
Club records state that in the latter half of the innings Vel cut loose... to take the score to 218 with 104 coming off the last 14 overs... Vel making a superb 111 not out.
Our hero, Vel, is actually Kulandaivel Sakthivel, 40, who grew up in Walajapet in Tamil Nadu and did his MBBS from Madras Medical College before coming to Britain in 1994. He was back in India from 1998-2000 before settling in the UK.
Today, in between nets in his back garden, he manages to be a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General and Poole Foundation hospitals.
Vel, who specialises in treating sports injuries and is in the process of setting up a clinic to deal solely with this condition, has just caused a stir by alleging that over-ambitious coaches are doing more harm than good by pushing talented under-16s beyond what is good for them.
We are seeing an increase in the number of sports injuries in children each year, ranging from serious ligament damage and fractures, to strains and sprains, and the pressure applied by coaches is to blame on many occasions, says Vel.
He insists he is not anti-sports but merely urging parents and children to be cautious and have realistic expectations.
Vel took a day off to watch the India-Sri Lanka final and is closely following IPL. So I ask if parents in India are pushing their children into playing too much cricket too early in the hope they will earn big money.
He does not want to overstate his case but says that if youngsters are being trained to become fast bowlers, persistent aches and pains should not be ignored, otherwise a young boy could end up in with spondylolisthesis thats when one vertebrae slips over another.
Vel happened to be a match doctor during an India-Pakistan encounter in Chennai in 1999 when I attended to Tendulkars elbow and gave Azharuddin an injection.
Vel says Tendulkar has managed his fitness regime very wisely by giving up Twenty20. At 38, if he wants to prolong his career he may want to give up one-dayers for Tests but he is clearly getting good advice.
During our days on The Sunday Times, I remember Nigella Lawson as a pleasant girl who was supportive of Salman Rushdie during his little disagreement with Ayatollah Khomeini. Then, almost overnight, it seemed, the humble hackette blossomed into the Domestic Goddess, deploying her voluptuous curves on television to make an estimated £7m. She also married art collector Charles Saatchi.
Last week, while cavorting on Sydneys Bondi Beach, the 51-year-old mother of three wore a Burkhini a three-piece swimsuit designed to preserve the modesty of Muslim women apparently to protect her alabaster skin from the sun.
Lawson, an Australian newspaper noted wryly, has made something of a spectacle of herself.
The pictures, lapped up by UK papers, were not flattering.
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Media magnate Rupert Murdoch has ordered £20m be set aside to compensate celebrities whose mobile phones may have been hacked into by reporters on The News of the World.
Up to 3,000 high-profile figures were targeted, including possibly PR superemo Max Clifford, supermodel Elle MacPherson, actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller and Sadie Frost, actor Jude Law (who is to be on the Cannes jury next month), and Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson.
However, Indians are clearly so unimportant that not one appears to have been targeted.
To have your phone tapped is deeply upsetting, Oscar Wilde might have observed. Not to have your phone tapped is even more upsetting.
Shilpa Shetty should get Keith Vaz to issue a statement in the Commons: The winner of Celebrity Big Brother fears her phone was not tapped. She is devastated.
Legendary television interviewer Sir David Frost is auctioning 270 bottles of fine wine he has collected, for £80,000-1,20,000, because he is moving house.
My education in wine was really initiated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where I devoted at least as much zeal to this subject as I did to my more official education in the subject of English literature, he joked.
The quip reminded me of a comment by Amartya Sen, who said in 1998 that he had taken a big salary cut to move from Harvard to Cambridge to become Master of Trinity.
But I do have access to free claret from the College cellars, he admitted.
We agreed he could make up the salary shortfall by drinking 10 bottles of the finest claret every day of the year.
This being Easter, it is opportune to recall a British joke about the alleged arrogance of General Charles de Gaulle, who voted to keep the UK out of the Common Market.
After de Gaulle had listened to his government discuss elaborate plans for his state funeral for when the time came, he shook his head at the proposed extravagance.
Hardly worth it for three days, he said.