The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday, 22 February 2013


Complete write-up

The grandpa-aged uncle is in urgent need of some medical intervention. He needs a doctor and medicines that can work on him. Age is not the only factor that is adding to his problems. At 81, he is burdened with many physiological problems and the medical diagnosis has failed to put forward any effective hint about the problem directly affecting his mobility and so his life.

Medical consultants like neurologists, cardiologists and orthopaedic surgeons have ruled out that is he affected from any chronic illness of nerves, heart or bones. Even a psychiatrist was approached but his medicines produced negative effect making his ‘difficult mobility’ even more difficult.

He has had a long critical medical illness history but the specialists are unable to make any sense of it in the context of his present condition. His one ear is dead since the early 70’s; other is partly working with hearing aid. He had an open heart surgery in the 90’s. He regularly takes blood pressure pills. Last year, he was hospitalized after danger of cardiac failure and some seven-eight liters of fluid was taken out of his body.

Another problem that has much to do with his increasing immobility is increasing sense of inertness in his legs and abdomen.

This problem began some five-six years ago from legs and now it has reached to the abdomen. He feels a sort of heaviness in these parts weakening his legs rendering him unable to stand-up or to walk even smaller distances. His abdomen stiffens like a hard ball. He feels extreme weakness, but surprisingly there is no sensation of pain.

MRI and every other medical diagnosis recommended by the experts have been carried out. Even then, the categories of medical experts mentioned above have failed to detect any infirmity and so to resolve the crisis.

This time, it was thought to go for some other form of treatment, preferably Homeopathy. After deliberations and advices, a name of South Delhi based doctor was found to be most impressive. Now, the grandpa was to be taken to the clinic of the doctor.

On calling the clinic, the people there tell that any nearest appointment available is only in April 2013. If there is urgency, then we can walk-in on the days the doctor sees the walk-in patients. There is no appointment for it over the phone. One needs to come to the clinic and wait for his turn to see the doctor.

As the need is urgent, it is decided that the grandpa should be taken to the nearest walk-in session. One fine day, they begin for the Bengali dominated locality where the clinic is. The doctor’s sitting hours are 4:30 to 8 PM it is told. They start at 3:30 PM and reach the clinic by 4:30 PM.

There, they are made to sit in multilayered queues. On surface, the number of people waiting doesn’t look more than 40 and they breathe easy thinking it should be over by 6 PM.

While enquiring for the charges, they are told by others that the doctor doesn’t charge the consultation fee from the walk-in patients. They only have to pay for the medicine. Only the patients coming through the appointment need to pay the consultation fee of Rs. 1000.

The claim of charity, as claimed by the clinic’s website, they think, is somewhat true. Yes, the person accompanying the grandpa had one some googling on the doctor and had some basic information about the doctor.

The website claims the clinic has distributed over millions of charity subscriptions over the year. Also, he could spot patients there who could not afford the high consultation fee of Rs. 100. So, giving the prescription free made a renowned doctor accessible to the needy. So far so good.

A short while after 4:30 PM, the call is made for everyone to take the registration number. The grandpa’s number is 36. Also, they come to know that everyone waiting there is not to see the famed doctor only. There are other consultants in the clinic and many of them are getting registered for them as well. Another prospect of breathing easy!

But it ended at this point only.

The security guard, on routine interrogation on how much on an average it takes for the doctor to wind up with this many of patients, tells us it would be anything around 8 PM. He further tells the doctor usually comes around 5:30/6 PM. The doctor only leaves when all the patients registered are done with and he gives due attention to every patient.

That was around 5 PM.

So another hour of wait lies further ahead. They are sitting in the lobby of the clinic. A while after it, an elderly gentleman advises the younger of them to go inside as they are the first-timers to the clinic and their names would be called to show the reports.

Thanking him for the advice (a valuable one), he goes inside. Soon after entering, he finds his name being called by another clinic assistant. The assistant gives him a small piece of paper with the number 36 written over it and asks him to show the reports of grandpa to another doctor sitting in the chamber adjacent to the registration kiosk.

He proceeds and finds that he is in queue there. The doctor inside is taking her time while talking to the visiting patient and diligently asks and writes detailed reports on patient’s medical history.

Around 5:30 PM, his number comes.

He goes inside with the reports and briefs the doctor but when he feels he cannot go back much longer into the medical history of the grandpa, he brings him in. The doctor thoroughly goes through the reports of grandpa and talks to him about the health problems he is facing. She efficiently jots down every detail and gives a case-number to the grandpa’s and fills approximately 4 pages of a small-sized booklet. They come out of the chamber after it to wait for the next step. They are now carrying the 4-page report history with them to be shown to the doctor.

That was around 6 PM.

Soon the number 36 is called. Apparently, the doctor has come or the doctors have come. The patients are advised to be in the queue in front of a room that has name plate of two doctors. The room is divided in two chambers. In a side-room with yet another chamber, there is another doctor sitting. Common to the rooms is a passageway that is not more than 2 feet wide. There also lies a washroom on the passageway that is about 2 metres long.

The waiting patients are asked to stand in queue in the passageway. He asks the grandpa to sit and wait and goes to stand in the queue. He finds he is 11th in the run to reach the celebrated homeopathy doctor ofDelhi. 36th to 11th – he feels a rush of relief that is going to be short-lived.

He is standing in the queue waiting for the grandpa’s turn to come. The queue is moving with a speed that even the legendary tortoise of the ‘hare and tortoise race’ fable could not match.

There is plenty of time at hand but cannot be utilized in time-pass activities like reading a book as one cannot stand in the corridor easily. Patients visiting to the other doctors are passing through the same passageway. There is regular in and out of the assistants. Then, there are people keeping the washroom constantly engaged, one after the other – all in the passageway, 2 metres long and 2 feet wide, having 15 people cramped in it. Nor, one can use gadgets like cellphones or tablets to talk or surf the internet as the signal is too weak. 

So people are there, standing in the queue waiting for their turn to come. The immediacy and the boring moments of the long-wait initiate the natural process of socializing. People start questioning why so much of delay, why the queue is not moving at all, why no one is coming out. People begin conversation. They make comments. There are attempts to make or receive phone calls in the weak signal zone. Some of them keep asking the assistants how longer it is going to take.

Someone says the doctor gets deeply involved with his patients and such long waiting time is routine. He can see it. No problem with that.

But, then there are certain natural questions making inroads.

Why making people stand like nonentities when there can be alternate arrangements without changing much or without altering the no-frills look and feel of the clinic? There is plenty of waiting space, in the hall of the registration kiosk as well as in the lobby outside, and it would not alter the branding of the clinic. Instead, the good word would make it even better.

All it takes for an assistant is to call the next patient when the previous one leaves. And there is good number of assistants in the clinic. Be it the free consultation and paid medicine or paid consultation and medicine, people are being made to wait. What if someone is in urgent need of attention or if it is someone who cannot stand for so long or someone like this grandpa who cannot stand even for 10 minutes. At least give the gentleman a sitting place till his number comes.

Like said earlier, there are many thoughts, many comments, many observations and some solutions, being said, being proposed, while waiting to see and meet the doctor. A good-sized piece (like this one) can be written on the recollected thoughts of these waiting hours. 

Meanwhile, there comes a privileged case. An assistant ‘guides’ someone out of the turn and takes him directly to the doctor. That, in addition to the regular calls on the doctor’s cellphone, makes the waiting time even longer. The frustration of wait makes getting to the place in the queue, which offers a direct view of the doctor, an achievement. The younger man with the grandpa, like others, is slowly inching towards this supplanted victory. 

When the grandpa’s number finally comes, it is 8 PM. The younger one calls the grandpa in the doctor’s chamber. The doctor takes five minutes to go through the medical history written by the other doctor. Then he asks the grandpa some questions. He checks the heart beat and writes a prescription on one of the pages of the 4-page medical history. The grandpa is given three types of medicines. The regime is for one month and the doctor will see the progress to decide on the further course of action after it.
It is 8:10 PM when they come out of the room. The younger one hands over the 4-page report to the assistant and pays the medicine cost. He is given a small card that contains the case number of grandpa – the further link of interaction with the clinic. They are again asked to wait for the medicine.

After 10 minutes, name of the grandpa is called. The younger one with him is handed over a packet containing three vials of universally familiar white globules or pellets, numbered 1, 2 and 3 - three pellets from vial-1 – after two hours of it, three pellets from vial-2 – after two hours, three pellets from vial-3. The cycle is to be repeated again and again vials-1, 2 and 3 in the sequence. The sequence, at intervals of two hours, is to be repeated every day till going to the bed, for a month.

When they finally begin back home, it is 8:25 PM. The grandpa reaches his place around 9:15 PM and he reaches his home around 9:30 PM.

Cost of the medicine + cost of the travel + 4 hours of in the clinic – should we really call it a charity?

..or sometimes, we should say, “the charity doesn’t come free!” (Sort of corporate social responsibility, where every social funding is an investment aimed it creating social capital to drive home the scaled-up profitability.)

By the claims of the clinic, it has distributed over millions of free prescriptions over the years under its charity drive. Also, the medicine was not too costly. At the cost of long hours of wait, it makes treatment by a good doctor affordable to many who cannot even think of paying the consultation fee of Rs. 1000. Good marks to the doctor on this front.

But yes, given the way the clinic is operating, like practicing the age-old practice by the homeopathy doctors of not revealing their treatment to the patients or not giving any prescription slip, and at the same time charging for the cost of the medicine (like many homeopathy doctors do), it naturally raises the point that charity doesn’t come free always. It was certainly not free here, at this noted homeopathy clinic of the celebrated doctor in the Bengali-dominated locality of South Delhi.

And this paid charity has given them smart return – a brilliant branding – amply enhanced by the good use of technology focusing on elite ‘customers’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -