Madras the Medical Capital

Every once in a while, on those rare occasions when the Chief lets him off the chain, the Man from Madras Musings allows his mind to wander. And on those days he switches on the television and gives his mind a complete rest. This happens to be invariably late at night and what should MMM see but a plethora of (and this he is sure is NOT what you thought he watched) of medical programmes. Most of these have a doctor as the guest of the evening and the episodes are of the calling-in variety where a certain percentage of our naïve and medically conscious population, as befits the health-care capital of India, calls over the phone and discusses its real and (as MMM strongly suspects) largely imagined problems.

Leaving that aspect aside, what intrigues MMM is the brazen way in which the doctor on call (please pardon the dreadful pun) does his best to advertise his clinic, his area of specialisation and also when possible speaks of costs involved in various treatments and ends up by stating that the same procedure could cost a lot more elsewhere. And all this from a man who must have taken a hypocrites, sorry, Hippocrates oath. A typical sample would be like this and for the sake of convenience let us assume that the doctor in question is an expert on glandular botts.

Compere (All bright and lively): And who do we have here? Hello? Hello?

Ghostly Female Voice: Hello! I am XYZ. I got married a year ago and for the past nine months my stomach is expanding. What should I do?

Doc: Hmmm… I suggest you meet a gynaec. But before that I suggest you come over and have a check up to ensure that it is not a case of glandular botts.

(At this point, an ad for the clinic specialising in debotting glands surfaces on screen)

Old Man’s Voice: (Rasping cough): Doc, I have this case of recurring pneumonia…

Doc: Definitely triggered off by glandular botts. All you need to do is to come over to our clinic and we will set you right in no time.

And so it goes on. An ingrowing toe-nail? Blame it on glandular botts. A case of double vision? Botts (glandular) it is. At the end of it, you would not be far wrong in assuming that glandular botts is an epidemic of sorts that is raging all around the city, giving dengue and malaria a run for their money. In a not unrelated incident, MMM recently espied an advertisement for an exhibition on diabetes, released by a private hospital. The ad ran as follows:

Are you diabetic? Then this exhibition is for you
Are your parents diabetic? Then this exhibition is for you
Are you over fifty and overweight? Then this exhibition is for you
Are you not diabetic? Then this exhibition is for you

The all encompassing catholicity really impressed MMM. He wishes that such a principle is followed in all walks of life.

Policeman – correct thyself

There was a time not so very long ago when policemen went about on foot covering their area. Now, the Man from Madras Musings notices, thanks to a car manufacturer of the city, they go around in swank sedans in air-conditioned comfort. And why should they not? MMM is all for improvement in their working environment. But when the cars begin adding to and not mitigating our traffic woes, the sleeping tiger in MMM is awakened.

Last week MMM was driving along and ahead of him was a police vehicle. Traffic was not all that heavy but that was no excuse for what the policeman in the car did. His microphone suddenly cackled to life at a junction and the whole neighbourhood could hear that he was summoning the cop on duty at that signal. That functionary immediately walked across and the two (cop1 in car and cop 2 on road) began having a rather animated conversation, all the while holding up a whole line of vehicles behind. The same exchange of views could have been held after the police car drew up to a side but that did not clearly appeal to whoever was in the car. After a couple of minutes and especially when the microphone picked up words indicating that the conversation was neither urgent nor pertaining to the profession of policing, MMM decided that he had had enough. He risked life and limb in getting off his car, walking over to the two cross-talk act specialists and suggesting that they took their custom elsewhere. Cop 1 in vehicle was none too pleased but realised that he had been in the wrong. The car moved on and so did the traffic.


That, the Man from Madras Musings learns, is the latest term for describing the Page 3 types who regularly make their appearance on the page bearing that number in some of our city newspapers. This may not be a new term (short, MMM understands for Page 3 People) and perhaps he is one of the last to know of it, which is quite understandable for someone who writes for Madras Musings, but it is the people in it who intrigue MMM. They are forever flitting from party to party, always wearing peculiar clothes and most often clutching a glass of some stuff that hopefully cheers. And they appear to be eternally happy. P3P to MMM, is the grown-up’s version of Peter Pan’s Never Never Land. One look at these characters would convince anyone that they don’t have homes with power-failures, teen-troubles, servant issues, water-logging at gates, cash-flow problems and back-trouble. And so they carry on, hurrying from place to place, ever-smiling and ever-posing for photographs. And two days later, they appear on P3, with an inane set of captions under their names, ranging from ‘strawberry stripes’ for someone who is in those colours to ‘yin and yang’ for a duo that is in contrasting shades. MMM remembers with amusement the picture of a historian that had a caption reading “voice from the past”. MMM wonders if the person featured in it and his family members found it even in the least bit amusing. There was a time when most of Chennai woke up with a cheery read of the obituary column in the newspaper. That was to make sure that in case a friend or a close relative had been called away, the mandatory condolence visit could be made before the morning bath and shave. Now Chennai has gone mod and opens its eyes with a long and lingering look at P3! Times have changed. Perhaps MM ought to have a page 3 too. But what of? Old buildings?