Sunday, November 14, 2010


noun,plural-er•ies. 1. a display of driving prowess. 2. showiness, splendor, or magnificence by driving.The Urban Dictionary

I beg to differ when someone says women are bad drivers. But I hate to admit one thing: that I am a bad driver and happen to be a woman. Or at least I was a bad driver until a couple of days ago. Rather let me put it this way: May be I wouldn’t have been a bad driver had it not been for the few incidents in the past.
Scene one: As a child, I was as carefree as I could get on the road, when the wheel of an auto rickshaw ran over my feet. Though it was just the skin that got terribly bruised, deep inside my mind a bruise remained: A fear of vehicles. Since then,even if I spotted a lorry or any tiny vehicle a kilometre away, I would get off the bicycle, wait for fifteen good minutes for the vehicle to pass and then ride the bicycle.
As soon as I turned eighteen, I made sure I enrolled myself in a driving school and had a really wonderful instructor who taught me how to drive. From changing tyres to opening the bonnet to have a peak into the machinery, he taught me most of the driving basics (Though I still don’t know what to do after opening a bonnet and having a peak!).
Under his guidance I managed to pass my driving licence test. Driving test in Mangalore is a serious affair. At least it was to me. There was a theory exam where the first half of the paper was on road signs and the second half of the paper was questions and answers. When I landed in the RTO office in the Maruti 800 that the instructor drove that day (because I was too tensed), I was in for a surprise. I had just memorized a few traffic signs and the significance of red, orange and the green lights. There I see boys and girls of my age with books preparing them for this test with a lot of theory and chapters! I only hoped that my good marks at school would rescue me. Indeed the road signs part of the theory paper was a breeze. And I found myself qualified for the next round of the theory paper. Some of the questions in the paper are still so vivid in my mind. There was this question on what do you do when you see cows in front of you. Do you honk? The correct answer is no, you don’t honk when you see a cow because the cows wouldn’t know that you are asking them to move away. Instead you get out of the car and shoo the cows away from the road and then drive! What a learning!
There was another question on when you are speeding a bike and are on a turn, do you accelerate and turn right or left? I remember writing timidly on the paper “How am I supposed to know?, I have applied for a four wheeler licence!”
The examiner must have been impressed with my wit rather than my knowledge of the roads, I cleared the theory exam. The driving test itself was pure fun. The officer who approves the licence sits by a window next to a steep sloping road. So the test was to drive on the sloping road, stop in front of his window, give him a “ I know it all” smile, then declutch and move ahead, without moving an inch behind. Since I was specially trained for the exercise, it proved easy too!
The instructor had instilled in me the kind of overconfidence that was just needed to overcome my fear. Before I could master the roads, one day, I hear a breaking news that he has run away with the driving school’s money. I sympathized with the instructor rather than the owner of the driving school. More than that, I sympathized with myself for having lost such a good instructor. But teachers are for life! Even now I remember him when i break or declutch, like i remember my dentistry teachers, every time i give an inferior alveolar nerve block or prepare a class I cavity on a maxillary molar.
Scene 2: With my newly acquired skill of “drivery” , I offer to reverse my dad’s car out of the gate. The only next thing of the incident I remember is a loud thud noise and a huge dent on the side door of the serviced and polished car. My dad didn’t say a word. May be, had he scolded me for it, I would probably not have developed the fear which lasted ever since.
When I moved to Gurgaon, I hired a driver to drive me to the college that I teach in Ghaziabad( UP). Now driving in UP is a totally different ball game even for an experienced driver by profession. Reaching the college at eight thirty in the morning bypassing all the trucks that carry potatoes and onions is a new challenge every day. The first week that I went to college, there was a red colored bus that hit my new sedan from behind. The entire bumper was destroyed; the chassis of the car bent! I was new to the city, but I did not want to give up. I remember this incident happened in a placed called Khichripur. I knew the amount that would have to be spent on the car would be much more than a few months’ salary, but I had to do justice to the car. I couldn’t spot a cop around, but I managed to click a picture of the bus driver on my mobile, and managed to send my driver to find the nearest police station. In the mean time I also managed to deboard all the passengers of that privately owned bus. Not bad for a first time in the city eh? Now it’s the question of a brand new sedan! My driver managed to find a constable after a good one hour, and we drove to the police station along with the red bus. Exactly four days before this accident, I had also managed to get robbed of my new Nokia N72 at a mall. All my contacts were on that phone, and it meant a lot to me in terms of my professional and personal life. A cop in Gurgaon absolutely refused to file an FIR, so I already had an experience.
The cop in this police station in Delhi was quite nice to me. I told him that he better file an FIR, and that i have lost trust in Police. I remember his words even to this date “Hum Dilli Police hai ji! Dilli aur Haryana Police mein faraq hain” He filed an FIR, seized the documents of the bus and made the bus park outside the police station. Though there was a very deep sadness inside, I was quite pleased with what I managed to accomplish.
The next day on the same route to college at fifteen minutes past eight, I was in for another surprise. The same red bus was behind my car, this time at a distance of five meters away from my car! I realized that I cannot beat the corruption in the city, and that was one of the lessons that I learnt for the day!
For another three years, my car managed through the roads, after sustaining a few major dents every month. I also realized that the maximum any person who has caused a loss of 50,000 rs. would pay up would be 500 rupees!
Scene 3: Ten days before my son was born, my car got hit by a truck on the side that I was sitting. My car was again crushed on the side, this time in the middle of the maddening traffic in UP. I got out of the car, not minding the huge traffic jam that it had caused, and started scolding the driver of the truck. When I turned to my right, I saw a convoy of vehicles belonging to the faculty of my college. I was so proud to have their support, when one of them asked me to get back into my car, as they were more concerned about me than my car. That is when I decided it was time for my maternity leave.
Drivers have come and gone over the years, I am not sure, if it is my HR skills that I need to hone or that of my driving! But not being independent has really crippled me. I break out in sweat when I get a call at seven thirty in the morning from my driver to tell that he is not going to turn up for work. Rahul has asked me, what am i afraid of? Death? He’ s been telling me to get independent. But I don’t know what scares me.. The thought of getting crippled, or may be, more than that the thought of getting dents on my car.. Rahul’s even offered that he would repair all the dents that I cause if I start driving.
A few weeks ago, i happened to read a book called “Many lives, Many masters” by Brian Weiss. I call a self help book good, when I am able to relate the book to my life. After realizing that we all go through so many lives, I decided, I have to overcome my fear, and I started taking my car out. Two weeks ago i also bungee jumped. The whole exercise was to overcome my fear.

Though learning never ends, Iam quite happy with my progress. I have been instructed by Rahul to keep on the left side of the road. That’s the side that I hate the most. You have the slowest vehicles in front of you, cycles overtaking you from your left and overspeeding vehicles overtaking from the right. That's why i have decided to be on the extreme right on the fastest lane. I drive at fifty five kms/ hr on the fourth gear( because my first classes were on a Maruti 800,and it did not have a fifth gear). Never mind the dirty looks the drivers of other cars give me because I am slow. A few days ago, they would lower their window glass, pop their heads out and give me looks. Now they just give me looks through their rear view mirrors: A clear sign that I am improving each day. When they honk, I just lower my window glass and yell “ Uncleji horn kyon baja rahe ho?” I hope to be a good driver very soon, and I will still beg to differ!:)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Working towards a social cause: My opinion on the same has changed over the years. It is no longer about fraudulent NGOs and donations made to save taxes. I have seen acts of kindness in my everyday life that have moved me and inspired me. A lot of people who I know do a lot of generous gestures without any expectation of a return or recognition. I believe they do understand Life’s most basic Law that every single act of kindness love and generosity will multiply and return to you many times over.
The other day my driver was asked by a dentist friend of mine to deliver a carton full of biscuits to someplace. The driver then gives me the details:
Most of the children of the labour class are unable to afford education here in Gurgaon. There is this lady who in the confines of her two bedroom apartment has a school for such children. During the day when her family is away, each of the room in her apartment is converted into a classroom from 1 to 5. In the afternoon, the house gets converted into classrooms 6-10. People in the vicinity send goodies in the form of food, books or clothes whenever possible.
After I dropped my son at playschool, one day, I decided to visit one of my very dear friends. I called her up and she said I could come over. When I entered her home, I was in for a surprise. There were huge containers containing kheer, apples and puri sabzi spread on the dining table. Her mother- in -law tells me that every year on the day of her husband’s Shradh, she personally cooks food for the children who are educated in her garage. All the food was individually packed by my friend and her mother- in- law to be sent to the children. Now this kind of a gesture, I believe is enjoyed twice, first by the giver who revels in the pleasure of doing this act of kindness and then by the receiver who receives these acts of kindness. Any child( rich or poor) would love to eat hot kheer once in a while after school.
After I give an inferior alveolar nerve block before I start a root canal, I get chatting with the patient just to open him/ her up and make her relax. A conversation with one of my patients opened my eyes to this wonderful world of giving. He is a part of a foundation that organizes tree plantation drives in Gurgaon. The citizens who enrol themselves as members plant trees around the city and his foundation has people to look after those trees. I always felt very strongly about this issue and how nice it would be if each of us planted one tree and looked after it! By the end of two years, whole of the city would turn green! They also run cloth bag campaigns where they hand over free cloth bags to people and educate them to carry their own bags before they go shopping.
Another of my patients is the founder of a prestigious foundation. He believes that the only way we can make a huge change in the society is by bringing a change in the young children. The foundation runs schools where the children are personally taught by him to wash their hands before eating and also taught the right brushing technique. This has automatically brought a change in the childrens’ parents’ hygiene habits too. And thus they have brought a major change in the grass root level.
Our driver who has been enthusiastically taking part in the durga puja this dusshera decides to forego half of his salary to feed young girl children as a part of their festivities. I wonder what it takes to be that generous when you don’t even have enough food for your family!
After reading a very inspirational book, I have realized that giving doesn’t have to be materialistic all the time! When you come across someone, you can silently wish them happiness and joy. This kind of giving is very powerful, and after having done that I have seen people suddenly opening to me in joy and happiness.
As I type this post on my net book , my baby’s nanny comes to me and asks me how much does my netbook cost. When I mentioned the price, she said she too wanted to buy a white small netbook for her brother. I told her that it is going to cost her a few months salary. She replied that two of her sisters and she are going to contribute to buying this net book as they are very fond of her brother. Since she could not afford to continue her education, she wants her brother to study further and not miss out on what she missed in her life.
Giving and happiness are so inexplicably intertwined. Go out and give! Even if it is a smile! And see the change in your life yourself!

“Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor man”, but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.” Swami Vivekananda.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My first ride on Delhi Metro to the Qutub Festival.

It’s been more than three years in Delhi and till yesterday I haven’t taken the metro. Delhi has been in a festive mood ever since the opening ceremony of Common Wealth Games , and it pinches me to think that i haven’t been a part of this historic event.
Out of the blue, at six thirty in the evening yesterday, i decide to be a part of the celebration.
” Lets attend ‘Delhi celebrates’ festival!” I tell my husband. “Let’s take the metro and explore Delhi, it’s going to be fun!” For a change, he agreed to my sudden plan and I checked the newspaper to see what’s in the schedule after eight pm. Qutub Festival suited us perfectly. The festival is famous for showcasing talent from different cultures across India to the backdrop of the classic victory tower built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
Most of the best moments in life happen when you don’t really plan. After we parked our car at Guru Dronacharya station Park and Ride, we bought a metro travel card each. I wonder when our next ride on the metro is going to be; nevertheless I hoped to travel often to Delhi to explore the place and culture I am so much in love with. Buying the travel card instead of the regular tickets proved to a wise decision. Besides the privilege of bypassing standing in queues (not that there was any huge queue), you also save an additional 10 % every time you travel. Moreover, you don’t have to be a frequent traveller to buy the card! Saving a rupee while travelling on the metro gives me a strange sense of satisfaction of being money wise. Never mind the splurge of thousands on a shopping spree in a mall when you save on things like this.
Having battled the bumper to bumper traffic on Mehrauli -Gurgaon Road for three and a half years now, what a breeze this journey turned out to be. I couldn’t appreciate the much raved about greenery of Gurgaon that you can see on your ride, as it was dark. The incidents of broken rear view mirrors, bent bumpers and innumerable scratches on my car which couldn’t be eliminated unless I repaint my entire car again, flitted through my mind. The sheepish look on my driver’s face when he hears a thud, the feeling of blood draining to my legs as soon as I hear the noise, the hopeless arguments that you have with the driver of the other car on whose fault was it anyway : I was so glad, that it was all going to be over!
In no time, we hopped off the metro at the Qutub station and hopped into an auto rickshaw waiting for us at the entry itself. The driver said he knew where the programme was held, so he would drop us right at the gate. I had a chat with the driver, and asked him a variety of questions ranging from the traffic at Lado Sarai to the significance of the number 786. Rahul was more than eager to answer my last question, when I told him that I wanted to hear the driver’s version. “Yeh hamara lucky number hota hai ji” the driver answered with a smile. I was happy that i brushed my skills in hindi and i learnt that 786 is saath so chiyasi. It is good to revise once in a while.
As soon as I reached the venue, I walked straight up to the cops at the gate and asked them where to buy the tickets. Imagine my disappointment and the look on Rahul’s face when he said “ Passes tho Dilli haat mein milenge aur ab tho bahut late ho chuka hai”. I cursed myself for venturing out like this unplanned. Rahul turned around and started looking for another autorickshaw. Looking at my disappointed face, he asked me “What do you want to do now? “. I didn’t dare suggesting going to Dilli haat only to find the place closed.
“There’s no harm in trying at the gate once” I suggested. I walked to the same cop and told him that we have come all the way from Gurgaon, and weren’t aware that you don’t get tickets there. The cop just smiled and said “get in”. Wow. This is so cool. I was a gatecrasher for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked through the Qutub minar complex . Qutub Minar looked all the more beautiful in the night. I wish I could capture its glory on my camera, but there is something I need to figure out on my Canon night portrait settings. As we walked a hundred meters we were stopped by another gentleman at the Complex gate. I just smiled and told him that I didn’t have the passes and the cops just let me in. He smiled back and said ‘ Koi baat nahi hai, you are welcome!”
Now this is what i call Forces of the Universe working for you.! After a usual security check we were let in and greeted with two cokes! There we were at the Kailasa concert which hadn’t begun yet. The open ground was so crowded that I thought, only if i were Sheila dixit, I would manage a place somewhere. For once I wanted to turn back. It is only then that I noticed that the left corner of the stage was empty and uninhabited. I wondered why people weren’t standing there when the whole ground was so jam packed. Probably because there were cops with automatic assault rifles dangling on their shoulders.
“ Ladies and Gentleman! Kailash Kher has just arrived” and there was a huge applause from the audience. The entire crowd was waiting there for more than an hour to get a place to sit and to listen to Kailash Kher. I slowly made my way towards the left corner of the stage hoping that no one would shoot me. Surprise surprise ! No one stopped me. I noticed a large wooden trunk which carried some equipment for the concert. It could accomodate two people and I gestured Rahul to sit with me. We both looked up at the cop who was right next to us. He smiled and said “ Abhi yahan se uth math jaana!” Other people who got there were chased by the cops and we waited for our turn to be chased out as the concert began. What an atmosphere it was. Just then there was another lady cop who asked me to get up from my self- made Gallery seat. This cop who was next to us stared at her and asked her not to trouble us. I wonder who this cop was in my past life that he was being so nice to us. She said” Sorry madam, CM saab aa rahe hai “
Before i had time to think or get up I see people being shoved around and there I see Shiela Dikshit one feet away from me. Now I realized that the left corner was unoccupied to make way for the chief minister! As soon as she was seated in the front row, we continued sitting there. I suddenly remembered the conversation that i had with Rahul when we were watching ‘ Zangoora the gypsy prince’ at Kingdom of Dreams. Rahul had told me that the most privileged seats in any theatre where the gallery seats on the side. That’s where Abraham Lincoln was shot when he was watching a play. That’s were we sat. Kailash Kher arrived and showered praises for the CM and that she was a true rock star. Sheila Dixit asked him to stop the praises and move on with some real music. His first song Teri Dewani sounded better than ever before. There is this sheer magic in his voice that has the ability to move people. The atmosphere was electric. He sang most of my favourite numbers like Allah ke Bandhe, Dhol vajda and the new number for the common wealth games. There’s this number called Babam bam that I heard for the first time.. It sounded ten times better than what it sounds here on youtube.

I loved his common wealth theme song too: Yaaro Jashn Manao! I don’t know how he manages to sing better live than these recorded videos!

The cop who was standing next to us started chatting with us. He asked us how we managed to get the passes. We repeated our story and he said that getting passes was extremely difficult and if we wanted any help we could contact him in the future. He even gave his phone number! As soon as he found out that i was a dentist he took my number and I more than readily offered him a complimentary orthodontic consult for his daughter: All this on the left corner of the stage! “Aap thanda piyenge? “ He asked. I am very sure Shiela Dixit must not have had the kind of treatment that we recieved! I can bet we had a better view of the stage! What more can one ask for?
As soon as the chief minister felicitated the band, Rahul wanted to get back as soon as possible. We had to find an auto rickshaw again. I walked back sipping my coke, smiling to myself thinking about the wonderful evening that we just had.
At the exit, a gentleman walks to us with a Namaste and a smile “Sir, do you want to reach the metro station, we have a complimentary feeder bus to the metro station for you here” :)
The turn of events that evening would probably happen only in India, in Delhi. Probably we are “like that only “!. But i would rather prefer us to be that way. I would rather see the smiling face of the cops than a grumpy old face shooing away the patrons of art and culture such as us. The evening turned out to be extraordinarily special because of the bada dil of the Dilliwalas. True to their name. What an evening it was!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On letters, facebook and others..

I am amazed at the advancement communication has made. Forget the day Graham Bell invented the telephone, I am amazed at how things have changed over the last two decades that I have lived.
Class Five: There was a concept called “pen friends” then. I would eagerly wait for letters from my pen friends in that red little letter box . The postman used to arrive home at half past eleven in the morning. Come Diwali or birthdays, there was more excitement. The sheer joy of seeing more than two greeting cards in the letterbox was something i always looked forward to. Computers were an unknown entity then.
When i was in class six, my father enrolled me for computer classes during my summer vacation. The first class of two hours was on how to switch on the computer. You first switch the cabinet on, and wait for green light to appear, then switch the monitor on, wait for orange and then the green light. At the end of the day they had a test, which every one had to clear, and i proudly told my dad that i had cleared the first test in computers. They taught me something called MS DOS where you typed a hundred commands( i still am not able to figure out its application: switching on the laptop and typing google is just fine) and then you took printouts of the commands in brown colored paper..The computer instructor would then correct each of the commands one by one, and award marks accordingly.
The landline telephone connection first arrived in our home when i was in class five. And how life changed after that! I would eagerly wait for my mom to go for that evening walk so that I could chat with my best friend for at least an hour. I discussed social studies with my friends, and also took telephonic viva just to check on how well prepared we were! There were other times, when my best friend and poetess recited poems and I used to be her best critic!
Within few years, I moved to Dharwad to do my dentistry, and the landline telephone became the most important means of communication. During my first year there was only one telephone booth in the campus to cater to five hundred plus students. We waited endlessly in queues (overhearing each other’s conversations) for hours, and finally when my turn came to make that call, i would run out of words because of the sheer worry that somebody else is waiting and staring at you through the tinted glass of the phone box. “Ok mama, everything’s fine, say hi to papa” was the only conversation that i mostly ended up with.
And then came the india telephone card. The funniest of the lot. There was one extra telephone in the hostel where you could use this card. You dial atleast twenty numbers atleast ten times spending atleast ten minutes only to realize that you have dialled the last number wrong! Please try again later. There was no “again” as there was somebody behind you holding another telephone card. By this time the only postal letters that i would get were from my father on how to prepare for an exam and how to relax before an exam by doing breathing exercises and eating healthy. The only letters that i wrote were to my father on why i needed that extra little money for the month.
By the time, i was in third year of my dentistry, emails arrived. The prospect of getting replies to my email within two hours thoroughly fascinated me. And there i was, at the college cyber cafe spending 20 rupees every three hours to check whether there was any new mail in my inbox. It is interesting to note that the first account that i opened with yahoo, is still my main email account. Internet explorer had just arrived, and i continued exploring the world wide web.
It was not before my internship that i got my first mobile phone. The mobile phone, if i were to describe it was slightly smaller than an ac remote control and had an antenna an inch and a half long. The brand was alcatel. One of my college mates felt it was large enough to stall the wheels of the dharmasthala temple chariot! Nevertheless it saved me the time and i spoke on it till the last fifty paise of the prepaid service was used. And then another recharge of fifty rupees.
Alcatel changed to Samsung, Samsung changed to Nokia and i was back in Dharwad for my post graduation. If there is one thing that i would vote as the best technological innovation of the millennium, it would be google. I felt empowered by this search engine. I could find all the pdf files that i wanted, download the best journals in the world, find all the favourite music that i wanted without having to buy any music cds, use wonderful images for my powerpoint presentation. How did they ever manage typing a dissertation with a typewriter i wondered. By the end of final year of MDS, my mom replaced my desktop with a laptop, so that i could study in the library. And what a boon it turned out to be. Though i had my desktop in my room, i became too lazy to turn it on as i could browse whatever i wanted on my laptop in the comfort of my bed.
At around the same time, social networking arrived. Orkut was a big rage then during my examinations. Social networking made it possible to connect to my friends world over, share pictures with friends. The time that i spent searching for scientific research articles, now was also spent on replying to scraps from friends.
Any technology or application, i have noticed, becomes popular or obsolete at the same time with all people. By the time i thought it was better on facebook, i noticed that most of my friends felt the same too. And most of the orkut accounts became inactive. I have also noticed that about Farmville. When i started playing the game, most of my friends too were on the same game trying to fertilize each others crops and posting their farm pictures on facebook. When i felt that iam wasting time, my friends too felt the same, around the same time.
My hp pavilion laptop now felt a little too heavy to be carried around. I am wondering if it has anything to do with the number of images i have stored in its hard disk. It is now replaced by a vaio netbook, but i would rather prefer checking my mails and facebook on my blackberry. I would rather browse the internet on my blackberry than switch on my netbook wait for half a minute for it to boot. Browsing on a blackberry has its own disadvantages. First of all, since it is so accessible you are so hooked on to it. I rarely watch television these days. The other day i spent half an hour watching a programme on discovery science and i felt thoroughly enlightened. Whoever called television the “ idiot box”. I wonder what he has to say about facebook!
As soon as there is a comment, i get a notification on my phone. Ten notifications in an hour is enough to keep you wasting the whole hour on the phone. A wise well organized dentist friend of mine only browses for twenty minutes in the evening and twenty minutes in the night. I wish i was that disciplined! These days you have an option of liking a comment. So instead of ten notifications you get twenty.
There was a time when people managed without any phones at all, and these days everyone has two mobile phones each. One for office, one for personal use/ One for patients, one for personal use/ One for local and one for STD: reasons for carrying two mobile phones are plenty. There were days when there were no phones at all and people got lost in the melas to meet after good twenty years, and these days you feel insecure about going to a grocery store without a mobile phone!
With all the changes that have happened over the years, the way we communicate with each other has drastically changed. But there is one thing that has not changed at all over the years for me. The excitement, whether it is another letter in my red letter box or another notification on facebook, has just been the same. Though I would love to receive a hand written birthday card with a postal stamp on it

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Every year on the 24th day of September i set out in search of a gift for my mom. This year i just found a priceless piece of photograph in one of my photo albums, twenty seven years old!

Happy Birthday to you, Mom!

Each year I’m extra happy on your birthday;
Your day reminds me of God’s gift to me--
A mom who gave her all to raise me right,
A mother like the one I want to be.

By Joanna Fuchs

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Finally i decide to blog...There are many reasons for not blogging for so long.I am a very visual person who believes in ‘seeing is believing’ rather than ‘ reading is believing’. I’ve always thought posting images is much easier done on facebook or Picasa rather than on a blog.

Secondly I am a person whose writing is concise and to the point ( Perhaps that is the reason why i was not among the highest scorers in descriptive subjects ) . But now that my confidence is inflated thanks to my dear friends on facebook , i am typing already! If Amitabh Bacchan has been blogging for a couple of years now, its high time that i start right away :) My professor and HOD friend in endodontics will be extremely unhappy if she would come to know that i am writing a blog rather than writing my research article, but never mind...There is this strange happiness that you derive when you do things that you aren’t supposed to be doing. I used to love watching cricket ( even if it was the quarterfinal of a test series, even if i don't like the game) just one day before my exam. I watched the whole of Sholay for the second time, just before my tenth standard boards, though i was never a hindi movie buff. This is one of such pleasures.

Now let me stop my excusitis for not blogging and talk about Eyetis..
It is a word coined by me( patents pending), because i don’t like the use of any other words that is used to describe it: “ Conjunctivitis”, “ Eye flu”, “ Madras eye” or “ Pink eye”. I thought let me find a more subtle word to describe it, just in case i get affected by the highly contagious infection that has continued to haunt me for few years now.

If there is one thing that scares me it is the virus. I am scared of this little infectious particle, not because it causes a variety of deadly diseases, but because it is one of the only living species that makes man repeatedly realize how helpless and not in control he can get in front of them. Be it a silly running nose or life threatening AIDS, there’s nothing much that can be done, once this creature gains entry into our system!
And there are reasons, why Iam continually haunted by eyetis. There are memories that are painfully etched in my mind of the infection and the stigma that came attached to it. I guess, everybody treats an HIV infected person with respect, thanks to the etiquette that the education system has taught us “ They are no different people. Treat them like humans”. But when it comes to Eyetis, i guess everybody forgets their manners, and just runs away.

The first time it hit me was when i was in my internship, in the department of pedodontics. It was school vacation time in May, with lots of interesting children patients coming to the department. But there were two other thing that came that season along with the kids. Flu and eyetis.
There was a filling in a front tooth of a five year old child that i had to do. As soon as i realized that she had eyetis, a hypochondriac that I am, i politely refused. My professor who was doing his usual rounds saw this and made sure that i took up the case after shoving it into my head that i was the most unprofessional doctor to refuse a patient.
Predictably, pink striae started appearing in my eye by evening( that's why i believe it is called Pink Eye). My friends who said a “ hi” by shaking hands, stopped doing so and kept a distance of two feet from me. By late night, my eye opening on the left eye was restricted to 1mm. I woke up the next morning only to find myself at the wash basin trying to open my left eye for half an hour. I am eternally grateful to my roommates, who even once did not give me a feeling of being unwanted or being infected. And some of my fondest memories of convalescence are in room # 133. It was a Saturday, and though you cannot afford to bunk on a Saturday because of the heavy load of patients, i was immediately quarantined to the Isolation room where they deal with difficult children.

Saturday was also a day when they serve you ice cream in the mess in the afternoon. Our combined mess, meant to cater to all the students of the hostels, was a large one. However it used to be extremely crowded on a Saturday afternoon because everybody gets back from college at the same time.( also probably because they serve you ice cream). Though there was enough and more seating arrangement, you always had to wait for your turn to sit on a crowded day. This Saturday, the mess was especially so. The waiting queue almost extended till the stairs of the mess. So i had to wait for another fifteen minutes before i finally found a chair to sit.
The moment i sat on a chair, a very strange thing happened. Five chairs next to me on either side got vacated instantly. I thought everyone must have finished their lunch, so i looked around, only to find the standing queue still extending to the exit door. But no one would want to sit near me. I quickly gobbled my lunch and ice cream in embarrassment. I faintly remember this story told at school about how Dr. BR Ambedkar was made to sit next to a tied goat away from the rest of the class and treated like an outcast. Today i was treated like one. I thought the whole ordeal would last for three days max, so i was glad that there was a Sunday in between. By Monday, i realized that my right eye just caught the infection from the left. So that made it another four days for the right eye to heal, hence a whole week of eyetis. When i was finally out of eyetis, i was so glad that a difficult funny phase of my life was just over.

Seven years have passed since then. I am now a practising dentist in Gurgaon. I again hear about eyetis doing rounds this monsoon just before the commonwealth games. I ignored it all this while until the dental technician who comes to the clinic to collect the impressions, comes wearing jet black goggles. This is the beginning of problems i thought.

“ Stay away from him,” I tell my dental assistant. “ I don’t want you to catch this infection. I have rootcanals lined up for the whole week. I cant afford to get eyetis again.” He laughs, but tells me that he’s been avoiding sitting next to him in the reception and having a chat with him.
Dont even go to the reception area when he is around.” I advise him. “ I have a very important patient who is flying here just to get his rootcanal fixed this Tuesday. Imagine me calling him up and telling him i cant do his rootcanals because of my sore eyes! Avoid!”

The more i try to avoid something, the more it haunts me. True to this rule, my dental assistant turns up to the clinic the next day with small red eyes. In my fit of anger, i gave him a good piece of my mind on ignoring my advice to stay away from the lab technician. My assistant says “ abhi kya kare, jo ho gaya hai uske barein mein kuch nahi kar sakte..”

I resigned to my fate of spending time with the dental assistant in a closed space of 12 square feet. I sent him to the reception area for most of the time that i was in the clinic. I set an appointment with my ophthalmologist and asked her for prophylactic eye drops. I continued using the placebo eye drops for three days, until my assistant’s eye became better. I asked him to wear a pair of glasses, only to find that he too had bought the same kind of jet black big goggles with golden side rims. I wonder if the virus spreads by just looking at the redness in the eye that everyone buys these stupid looking glasses. My patients would run away , had they seen him with those black goggles. Imagine, getting treated by a dentist with an eyetis patient half a feet away from you suctioning your mouth!. So i asked him to avoid wearing those black goggles now that his eyes had drastically improved.

“ Stay away from the dental assistant” i warned my driver. Imagine my driver getting eyetis and me resigning to fate of spending time in the closed space of an air conditioned car waiting to get infected by him. “ Haan, mujhe pata hain!” “ Didi, meri biwi ko bhi aankh ka infection huwa hain

Now who can stop me from getting infected i wondered. My driver instead of returning home went to his brother’s house for two days to avoid the infection. I began calling my dentist friends to tell them that i may have to tentatively cancel my root canal appointments at their clinics as i may get eyetis in another two or three days. A wise senior dentist smiled and told me that conjunctivitis only affects you once. I instantly took his words. I would love to believe his words. After all Tuesday was just three days away. This very important patient had to be treated at any cost!

On Saturday i developed a slight running nose, which got converted to a severe sore throat by evening. By Sunday i developed temperature and my eyes were slightly red. I kept looking into the mirror inspite of my fever just to see if there were any pink striae in my eyes, but there weren’t.
I took a course of heavy duty antibiotics just to make sure Iam fine by Tuesday. On Monday, i could barely walk, but by Tuesday i was up and ready for this root canal that i waited for so long.
At ten past ten in the morning, a man wearing jet black goggles walks into the dental office and shakes hands with me “ Hi, Iam scheduled for a root canal in your office!”..
Not again!:)