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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Of the Bengali quest for panacea…


Bengalis (those who speak the language Bengali) are a fine class. They have over years transferred ancient Bengali wisdom (not just any wisdom) on how to stay fit and healthy through generations. For example:

Wisdom 01: Eat fish, fish eyes and head especially and you will have a great eye sight.
Well-known fact: Bengalis are bespectacled more than people from other regions.

Wisdom 02: Eat bitter gourd. You will not be diabetic.
Well-known fact: Very high number of Bengalis have high blood sugar.

Wisdom 03: Drink a lot of water. Your kidneys will be fine.
Well-known facts: Considerable number of Bengalis suffer from kidney ailments.

Given this conundrum between wisdom and facts, after careful observations I have come to the conclusion that Bengalis consider medicines, doctors, hospitals and health conditions as consumer products. Go to any renowned hospital (not just any hospital) in any region of the country, you will find more Bengali patients than the rest.

Could be headache, stomachache, cough and cold – but Bengali patients are connoisseurs. They will go to the best hospitals for the best doctors for a mere cold.

In West Bengal you will find medical shops in every 500 metres. And on weekends you will find them thickly crowded. Just as you will find shopping malls crowded on weekends. It is as if the Bengalis come out of their houses on weekends in great numbers and head towards the local medicine shop to sample the new medicines on the racks, read their compositions and may be buy a few to test. They have great comradery with the medical shop owners and even crack a joke or two during their weekend morning stroll.  

Bengalis also have great respect for doctors. If there is a doctor in a Bengali family, then that family is held in high esteem. Of course there is a lot of pressure on that doctor too. He is supposed to know the best doctors for every single known or unknown condition and must somehow have a connection with that particular doctor so that any patient that knows his family is treated by that best doctor.

When it comes to Bengali doctors, there are predominantly two types of doctors:

  1. Doctors with a recognised medical degree.
  2. Doctors without any medical degrees. They are typically the family members and provide first level of triage
The first type of doctors is a very serious set of people. They typically, without fail, diagnose problems under one category: virus. And then irrespective of the severity of the condition, they almost always prescribe antibiotics. The higher they climb the medical ladder, the more serious these doctors get. They almost always wear a somber look, do not smile at any patient and mostly are surrounded by mini doctors. These mini doctors can range from the receptionist to the diagnostic to the junior doctor practicing under the senior doctor. If these mini doctors are also Bengali then only Lord can save you…the poor patient in search of panacea. The senior doctor will almost always communicate only through one of the mini doctors. The mini doctors will diagnose and treat you for diseases that you may get in near future.

One golden rule: you cannot ask questions.

The second type of doctors are no less difficult to deal with. They typically observe you when you get up in the morning, how many times have you been to the toilet in a day, your food consumption and your face. Based on the observation, they often predict the illness you are going to get ahead of time. They are like lighthouses….blinking to help the lost sea vessels find their shores in the dark. These doctors are typically present in every Bengali family (in the immediate family or in the extended one), but there is always one. And these doctors more often than not do practice homoeopathy.

One golden rule: you cannot question their diagnosis

Given the above observation of the Bengali medical landscape, over many years, I have come to the conclusion that the Bengalis are connoisseurs when it comes to medical issues. They have the money, and display great patience, resilience and grit in their quest for panacea. I salute them!

2 comments:

Serendipity said...

Hilarious! And I think I am a mini doctor.

Navoneil said...

So true! I can literally picture it :)