I have been in private practice as a Board Certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist for the last 40 years in San Jose, CA.
Childhood / Young Days:
I was born the eldest son of Ramabai Ramnath Nayak & Ramnath Keshav Nayak in a fisherman’s village called Versova, on the outskirts of Mumbai. I was the eldest child and never did I imagine I would one day live in the USA. My father had 3 brothers and we all lived together as a joint family of 19 people. It was a full household with a lot of kids my age to keep me company. When I was young, my mother always said that she wanted me to be a doctor and help people. Neither of my parents went to college, but still they had high hopes for what I would grow up to be. My mother, especially, placed high importance on getting a good education. After my high schooling at St. Xavier’s high school in Vile Parle, I studied pre-med at Bhavan’s college Andheri. I went on to do my Medical schooling at Topiwala Medical College, attached to Nair Hospital in Mumbai. Unfortunately, my mother passed away when I was in my pre-med program from complications related to her chronic asthma and never got to see me achieve this dream of attending medical school. I was lucky to have close family around and my mother’s cousin, Balakrishna Bhat, & her uncle, T.N.Rao, were most influential & supportive, emotionally & financially, in me becoming a doctor. Without their help, I don’t think I would have been able to finish my medical schooling. I had already left India when my father passed away and the same joint family raised my younger brother & sister.
Beginning of Career:
After graduating in 1973 from medical school, I was not able to find a residency in Ob/Gyn in Mumbai, as at that time, there were too many applicants and not enough positions. I heard about the shortage of applicants for the residencies in the USA and decided to apply. While I was waiting to get in to a residency program I did a registrar’s post for just one month at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Parel, Mumbai. I think fate made me go there just to meet my wife, Rekha, who was working at the same hospital. It was love at first sight and the rest is history. Needless to say, there was opposition initially to our alliance from both our families since I am Konkani and she is Marathi. Eventually, both families agreed and we were married in April of 1975.
In July of 1975, I was selected to join the Ob/Gyn residency at St. Joseph’s hospital in Chicago. I was extremely lucky because I would not have been able to even afford the plane ticket, but the hospital loaned me the money for it. It was decided that Rekha would remain in India until after Ganesh Chaturthi as it was her first one as our family’s new daughter-in-law. This also gave me the chance to earn enough money to buy her a plane ticket. I arrived in Chicago with 8 dollars in my pocket (the maximum allowable by Reserve Bank of India at that time). Chicago was hard. There were hardly any Indians around, no friends or family, and only one Indian grocery store. Rekha joined me in Chicago in September of 1975 and we soon experienced our first Midwest winter. We learned how to dress for below-freezing weather and wind so strong it would almost knock us over; quite a difference from living in Mumbai. It was a huge adjustment to move to a new country without any supports but luckily, we were able to slowly start to build a network of good friends who soon became like family. We were all experiencing this new country for the first time, without any relatives close by, and we quickly formed bonds that would last a lifetime. While I was completing my residency, Rekha worked at the State Bank of India.
After four grueling winters in Chicago, we decided to move to the Bay Area, where we have been settled ever since. I started my Ob/Gyn private practice in San Jose in July of 1979. Practicing medicine was so different then. The hospital would page me and I would have to look around for a pay phone to call them back. Things have come a long way since then. Now, I can see the fetal monitoring strip, of my patient in labor, on my cell phone. Ever since I started my practice, Rekha has been the most supportive person in my life. Without her support & understanding, I would not have been able to have the thriving practice that I have had for forty years, delivering over 6000 babies so far. She also worked with me in my office for 7 years. Delivering babies has been my passion and nothing can replace the gratitude and happiness that I see in the eyes of new parents, after I have delivered their baby. I see the same gratefulness in couples, who had trouble conceiving, after helping them conceive.
Rekha has always been artistic and has done many craft projects over the years, big and small, ranging from baby blankets to wedding backdrops and fancy antarpaths. She always believed in the importance of having hobbies and loves finding new and creative books and art supplies.
In 1989, Rekha acted in her first full-length Marathi play without ever having acted before. The play, Suryanchi Pille, was directed by Arun Londhe and the cast was full of incredibly experienced actors, including Arun and Veena Londhe, Mukund Marathe, Sudhir Alekar, and Nutan Bhiwandkar. Rekha describes the experience of working with such talented actors as having been so powerful, that she fearlessly performed her role with the same confidence as them. Since then, she has acted in numerous plays and went on to direct three plays, making her the first female director of a full-length Marathi play in the Bay Area.
One very special experience was when she got to be a part of the filming of a movie. The film actor, Mr. Ananth Mahadevan, was directing a movie called ‘Me Sindhutai Sapkal’ and the actress playing this role was denied a visa to come to the U.S. for the filming. Because of this, she was given the unique opportunity to be the stand-in for this role in the scene showing when Sindhutai Sapkal first arrives at the airport in the U.S. This was a very memorable experience for Rekha and she continues to value having being given that opportunity.
Currently, she remains busy at the India Community Center in Milpitas, taking yoga classes, teaching skits and dances to senior citizens, and volunteering her time whenever help is needed. She also helps host ICC’s talent shows once or twice a month.
We have two lovely kids, Vishal & Radhika. Vishal did his Bachelor’s at UC Berkeley & Master’s in Multimedia Arts and Technology at UC Santa Barbara and works as a software engineer on flight simulation software at Aechelon. Vishal’s wife, Neha Marathe, also did her Bachelor’s at UC Berkeley and attended law school at UC Davis. Neha is now a lawyer who advocates for children and youth at Law Foundation. They have 2 adorable sons, Shreyas & Sidharth, whom we love to babysit and spend time with. Radhika did her Bachelor’s at UC Santa Cruz in Psychology and received a Master’s in Social Work at Boston College. Radhika is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works at Satellite Healthcare, a dialysis company. Both Radhika & Neha learned Bharatanatyam and have done their Arangetrams. Vishal started learning tabla at the age of five and still enjoys playing.
An unrelated venture that I was involved with in the past for many years (both financially & time wise) was the manufacturing of a device, called ‘ignition interlock’ which, when installed in the car of a person convicted of drunk driving, would not allow him to start the car without breathing in to the device. This would have helped save numerous lives killed by drunk drivers. Unfortunately the company, ‘Autosense International’ went under due to lack of political backing to the DUI law. This is one of my big disappointments. Hopefully, someday the installation of that device will become standard in cars and save many lives. I was happy when I heard that the California legislature recently passed a law making it mandatory for all DUI convicted drivers to have the device installed in their car.
My humble advice to young adults is, no matter what you do, do it with passion & dedication and success will follow.
Important Link: My practice website is obgynsanjose.com
Major Acheivements & Honors: