Saturday, July 31, 2010

Musings of a muse-Family doctor

“What? You don’t have a family doctor?”
I was sitting in front of a young, renowned eye specialist with my wife who was to be operated for cataract, a simple and routine matter, so I thought. This was our third visit. The first visit resulted in the doctor declaring cataract and prescribing some drops to be put in eyes. The second visit was continuance of the first, with suggestion of additional drops with some tablets for a week. This was the third visit.
The doctor declared that my wife was now ready for the operation and set a Tuesday as the D day, five days hence the visit. He further ordered: “Meanwhile, get her blood pressure checked. Also sugar because she is diabetic and bring a certificate from your family doctor that she is fit to be operated.” To which I said that I didn’t have a family doctor.
Doctor: “What, you don’t have a family doctor?”
Me: “No”.
Doctor: “You mean you….don’t…. have…. a…. family….doctor…?”
Me: “No”.
Doctor: “You are serious?”
Me: “Yes.”
Doctor: “How is it possible?”
Doctor: “Tell me, how many members in your family?”
Me: “five.”
Doctor: “Yet you don’t have a family doctor?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “And of varying age?”
Me: “From five to sixty five.”
Doctor: “I can’t believe it, five members and no family doctor?”
Me: “No.”

The good doctor stopped writing and looked at me with piercing eyes. I suspected that he was looking at me properly for the first time since our three visits. Perhaps he was trying to make sure that I was from this planet and not some alien. He kept his penetrating look on me for a while, thought hard and said: “Such a big family with a small child and no family doctor, careless of you.” I kept silent.

Doctor: “Perhaps you are new in Mumbai, recently transferred?”

Me: “We are in Mumbai for more than fifteen years.”

The doctor now seemed exasperated. He stressed: “I don’t understand. Then what possibly could be the reason of not having a family doctor?”
Me: “We don’t fall ill, so we don’t need one.”
Doctor: “None of you?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “How is it possible, in this time and age?”
I had no reply so kept silent. The doctor took his decision: “I cannot undertake this operation.”
Me: “I can bring all test reports to you. Surely you can determine from those reports whether she is fit to be operated.”
Doctor: ‘I can but I won’t.”
Me: “Why?”
Doctor: “It is risky. I cannot take the risk. I have my reputation to think of. Even if her reports are normal, I don’t know her medical history. Only a family doctor can determine her present status. I am sorry.”

Back home, I narrated the story to a dentist doctor residing in our society. She telephoned an eye specialist known to her. My wife was operated within a week without fuss. A year has passed, there is no problem, her eyesight has improved tremendously and she keeps looking at things she shouldn’t, but that’s a different story.

I came to the conclusion that in this day and time, you cannot afford to remain fit and healthy. You simply cannot afford not to fall ill frequently in order to have a family doctor and you cannot afford not to have a family doctor.’
Irony of time, what else?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Musings-Practical father

Circa 1963, place Calcutta, once my friend Ramesh’s father summoned me to his place. Our age was around eighteen then. Ramesh’s father, a no-nonsense man, came straight to the point. That Ramesh was disobedient, that he was refusing to get married, and that too to a girl of their (parent’s) choice, which was unthinkable at that time and since I was a good friend, I should drill some sense into him, and he dismissed me.

Ramesh, contrary to his community’s trend (I won’t name the community, lest they take offence), was a boy of literature and believed in some principles in life. He was a boy or should we call him a man, of poetry, which was almost a sin, in their practical, down to earth family. Now Ramesh (name is real), did not want to get married that soon and if at all, he wanted to marry a girl who was educated, like minded and interested in poetry and literature like Tagore, Amrita Pritam, etc. His father, on the other hand, wanted Ramesh to marry a fourth standard girl who was plump (and I am putting it mildly) whose father was offering twenty five lakh Rupees in dowry, besides normal other things, which was equivalent to more than a crore now. Ramesh, on his part, did not want to spoil the girl’s life, arguing that he would not be able to do justice to his marriage, and it was dishonesty and against his principles. To which his father argued that let Ramesh marry the girl, climb social and business ladder with the help of his super-rich father-in-law, without being dishonest to him and that was common in their cast. The girl would be happy to remain at home with a couple of kids. Once Ramesh was up high, field was open for him to fool around, which again was a norm of the rich. This was a practical advice of a father to his son. His father was to prove right. Two months after this confrontation, I received an invitation to Ramesh’s marriage to the same girl. I attended the marriage. Soon after, I got a job in marketing and after initial few months, was posted elsewhere. We drifted apart.

More then a decade later, I spotted Ramesh in Bombay near Metro cinema. We went to a bar to celebrate our chance meeting. Ramesh had changed completely. He was shining of that typical confidence of the community of the rich. He had two children with his wife, she was a good home maker and after initial wondering, was happy and content looking after their brats. Ramesh himself had nothing much to do about being their father except to bring occasional gifts for them. Where earlier they had a medium sized business, Ramesh had diversified in steel with the help of his father-in-law. His in-laws too were happy with his hard work and honesty in business. He was still based in Calcutta but had four branches in Madras, Poona, Bombay and Baroda. He visited any one branch every month and he had a regular girl at each. His father was happy, his wife was happy, his in-laws were happy and above all he was happy and prosperous. And no, he was not interested in Tagore and Amrita any more.

His father’s predictions and farsightedness proved right after all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Musings-Irony of times

Recently, one of my friends went to Kashi, Gaya etc. for some religious ceremony. Upon his return, when we asked about his journey, he seemed quite amused. He commented that the Pundits (Brahmins) performing ceremonies there have become modern and businesslike. He further explained that he had gone there to perform Barsi (ceremony performed after one year of death) of his father there.

When he and his wife reached the ghat (river bed where people take religious bath and perform pujas) next day morning, the Pandas (Pundits) gheraoed (surrounded) them, as is their wont. After some deliberations, they selected one and took him aside. My friend and his wife then explained to the Panda their requirement and reason of the ceremony to be performed and asked him for an estimate of the entire process including the materials that the Panda may require. To their utter surprise, the Panda responded by saying that it was a package deal, starting from five thousand Rupees to any amount, it could go to twenty, fifty or even a lakh of Rupees depending upon their shradha (faith).

My friend and his wife, not expecting such commercial attitude at such a religious place, were amused, to say the least. When they asked why the rates differed so much and how their father would benefit if they spend more, the Panda explained that for the basic package of five thousand, five Pandas would perform the ceremony, eleven Brahmins would be fed (Bramha bhojan), and the event would last for about one or one and a half hours. Still amused my friend asked about the package of twenty thousand, he was told that fifteen pundits would perform puja around the sacred fire, twenty five Brahmins would be fed, and the puja would last for about three hours. For fifty thousand, twenty five Pandas would perform for his father’s soul, fifty one Brahmins would get food, they would use pure ghee in the ceremony (does it mean that they would use contaminated ghee in lesser packages?), and it would be a six hour affair.

Last, but not the least, and most amusing, for a lakh of Rupees, fifty one Maha pandits would chant Mantras for the departed soul, one hundred and one poor Brahmins would be fed special food, several cows would also be served, only Chandan (Sandal) wood and pure ghee would be used in the sacred fire and the performance would last for nine hours. Not only that, to top in all he would get a big jar of purified Gangajal (Gangawater) to take back home.

What do you say? How do you find the schemes? Incidentally, my friend haggled for the package of twenty thousand, brought it down to eleven thousand and told the Panda to be done in an hour’s time. And so it was.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Musings of a muse-Little speak

When I was a school boy, our after-school activities were either playing games at the nearby play ground or go to a friend’s place for indoor games or just gossip. Those were the days when T.V, computers etc. were not there. Even telephones were rare. One could easily go to a friend’s house uninvited and vice-versa. There was nothing to it.

One of my friends was Vinod. We frequently visited each other’s homes to pass time in the evening. It was said that Vinod’s father spoke very little. I thought it was o.k. Some people are like that. They seldom speak. Even my own father avoided unnecessary talks. But nothing had prepared me for my encounter with his father when I met him for the first time.

One day we went to his place to play. We had not expected his father to be home at that time of the early evening. But he was there alright. Upon seeing me Vinod’s father raised his eyebrows at Vinod: ‘Hun?’(who is he)
Vinod: ‘My friend.’
Father: ‘huun?’ (never seen him)
Vinod: ‘We are in the same class.’
Father: ‘huh huh.’( o.k.)
Vinod ventured: ‘His name is Chitto.’
Father with raised eyebrows: ‘Huuuun?’ (what kind of a name it is)
Vinod: ‘He is Kakababu’s son.’
Father: ‘Hun?’ (confused)
Vinod: ‘Bhowanipur wale.’
Father: ‘Ohuuuuuun.’ ( yes, yes.)
Vinod: ‘We are here to play carrom.’
Father: ‘hun hun.’ (go play)

Later, Vinod told me that his father knew my father. I asked: ‘How do you know?’
Vinod: ‘He grunted.’
Me: ‘He grunted at every thing you said.’
Vinod: ‘Yes, but there is a difference. I know.’
Me: ‘But how?’
Vinod: ‘We recognize from sound. Short, lengthy, up, down, nasal, sudden etc.

Another day in my presence, Vinod’s servant came and demanded some money from his father. Vinod’s father: ‘Huuuuuuuuuuuun?’ (longest ever hun). The servant fled.
It was amazing how Vinod’s entire family had adapted to his father’s long and short bursts that they knew exactly what he wanted to convey.

On yet another occasion, Vinod’s sister stormed in.
Sister: ‘Father, I want one hundred rupees.’
Father: ‘uuun?’ (why)
Sister: ‘I have to pay library fees.’
Father: ‘Huun?’ (meaning library fee was not that much)
Sister: ‘I also want to buy two books.’
Father: ‘Hoh’ (now I understand.)
Sister: ‘Shall I take it from your Drawer?’
Father: ‘Huum’. (yes)
Sister: ‘Father, no money here.’
Father: (drawing money from his pocket) ‘Here, take it.’
And that was the first time I heard his father’s speak something sensible after several visits.

For no reason I remembered Vinod’s father a few days back after nearly fifty years and for no reason at all I wondered how Vinod’s mother must have tackled on their wedding night.

NOTE: Interpretations in the brackets were explained to me by my friend each time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Humor thoughts-Clout

It is said that one thing leads to another. Previously, I narrated an incident of an educated and well-to-do lady in the mall. I happened to tell of this to one of my friends in our society, and he in turn, told me of an interesting incident he had witnessed a few years back.

My friend went to a posh store frequented by the rich and wealthy in Dadar. Malls and mobiles did not exist then. There was mild rush in the store. People then did not shop like the way they do today. They came with specific one or two things in mind, bought them and went away. There was no open and eye catching display like it is today.

There was a gentleman in the store asking to be shown expensive gift items. He was obviously rich as he had put on an expensive Safari suit (it was in fashion then), gold watch and a gold bracelet. He selected one item, approached the payment counter, made his payment and demanded that the article be gift wrapped. This store had no such facility. Gift packing in all stores was not in vogue then. The salesman and the cashier explained their inability to gift pack the article. The gentleman in Safari ordered the salesman to get the item gift packed elsewhere and he would pay for it. The salesman refused, commotion followed. The owner of the store came and offered refund of the item. The Safari gentleman would have none of it. He started to throw his weight around, dropping names of influential persons of that area including one very notorious local goon with political clout.

Customers meanwhile had different reactions. Some were amused, some were bored and some waited patiently for the thing to get over. One customer, quite funny looking with cream shirt, looked quite amused. He was smiling ear to ear. Suddenly, the cream shirt approached Safari and whispered something in Safari’s ears for a few seconds. Safari shot out of the door like a sputnik. Excitement over, normal activity started in the store. My friend, quite inquisitive by nature, asked the cream shirt what transpired between the two of them. This is what the cream shirt had to say: “I just bluffed him and said that you appear to be a respected person that is why I am telling you this. This store is actually owned by the very goon you mentioned just now. This owner is fake, only a front. A couple of the goon’s lackeys were here and they have gone to fetch the goon.”

The Safari gentleman fled without even bothering to collect the article he had paid for.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thoughts-Paw in the bottle

Day before yesterday, while on my early morning walk, I noticed a lady walking on side of the road talking on her mobile. With autos and taxis on strike that day, traffic on Link Road was thin but fast. The lady, talking business on her mobile, was walking a few meters ahead of me. Visibility was poor. The lady, while talking, tried to sidestep a pool of water on the road, when a motor bike stopped inches from her with ear-splitting screech to avoid hitting her. The biker cursed loudly and moved on. The lady escaped serious injuries if not death. The lady, aware of what had happened and her good fortune, was shaken to death. The biker’s skill saved her.

This generation is moving fast, real fast. They want to do everything at once. The boys want to study, work hard in office, swim, gym, club-all in a day. On top of this, mobiles and computers are always there. Resultant, no task is complete or satisfactory. As such, depression and dissatisfaction remain at the end of the day. I fail to understand how they manage to do forty eight hours work in one day. But they try and sometimes succeed. But the best way would be to split various activities on alternate days. This would give them enough time for each activity and with that satisfaction. But they are trapped.

This reminds me of a story I had read many years back of how native Africans trapped monkeys in jungles. The trick was entirely based on psychology of Monkey’s greed. The Africans used to tie a bottle with a very strong rope to a thick branch of a tree. Natives used to put some peanuts in that bottle. The opening on top the bottle would be big enough for monkey to put its paw inside the bottle, but small enough so that when monkey grabbed the peanuts and closed its paw it could not take out the closed paw. Monkey being monkey, would not leave peanuts to take out its straight paw and could not take out the paw with peanuts. The greed would not allow it to leave nuts and the rope would not allow it to carry the bottle with nuts. He was trapped by greed and caught. Natives knew this. Most of us are like that, trapped in desires.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Musings-Well to do lady

Last week-end, I was in a reputed mall to buy a couple of things. Being week-end, the mall was full to capacity. There were at least ten payment counters and there was a long queue at each of them. People with baskets and carts loaded with goods were standing in the queues. There was one payment counter near the extreme wall where there was a notice saying “up to five items only.” There were hardly ten or twelve persons in the queue. I stood in the line and it moved swiftly. When I was third from the payment counter, there was a sudden commotion. The line stopped moving. There was an argument between, the counter girl and a young lady obviously from a well to do family.

The lady had six items in her basket and she wanted the girl to accept them saying one more item was not going to make any difference, that, after all, she was not asking anything for free, that she was standing in the queue for fifteen minutes and was not going to move from there. The girl, now intimidated, said that she could not accept more then five items, other customers would object and she would lose her job if the supervisor found out.

The lady retorted: “Don’t threaten me with your supervisor. Call him. I want him here. I am not moving.”

The supervisor came and politely pointed to the board. The lady: “Don’t show me that silly board. I am educated enough and from a well to do family (It was obvious). I am not going to stand in another queue. As it is you have wasted enough of my time. Get these items billed wherever you want to, I will make the payment. But I am not moving from here till then. Call your manager.”

This went on. The poor counter girl was scared and looked at us pleadingly. I moved further and told the lady: “Madam, we can easily solve your problem and save your time. (Never mind about our time). Simply take out one item and get the remaining five billed. You won’t have to stand in another queue.”

The lady’s face went blank for a friction and then brightened. She smiled, took out one shampoo and got the remaining items billed, made the payment. But here too she wanted to have the last word and groused: “See, this gentleman here solved the problem in a jiffy. This suggestion should have come from you.”