Ads promising a “Family Medicine career in a corporate chain of clinics” will blow you off your feet. But read this before you leap.

Some corporate chains have been exploiting young family medicine (FM) specialists in the name of FM. They show little interest in your family medicine, once that contract is signed.

***

Dear all, a word of caution / alert:

Please take corporate ads offering “Family medicine careers” with a bucket of salt.

  1. Look into the credentials and past history of employers.
    Look whether there is even ONE qualified family medicine specialist among the top management. If yes, then there may be hope.

    Some simple, obvious clues:

    If there is a non-practising doctor at the top, bad.

    If its a non-doctor, MBA-kind among the tops, maybe worse.

    What would they know about the real-life practice of family medicine, apart from what they may have heard, or read,or even imagined by themselves!

    If most of the above criteria match, then you can safely assume what their business is about: Feel-good, commercial thrash disguised as family medicine.

    A non-doctor MBA at the top of any healthcare system usually screams out that it’s a full-out commercial circus: Little of science, and no scope for art.

    Medicine is a science as well as an art, remember?

    So avoid any place that is all-out commerce. You’ll feel rotten from within as time passes.

    Are they employing innocent doctors in the guise of FM to do only corporate health check-ups, manage coughs and colds? And to simply serve as patient feeders to bigger corporate hospitals, from where there is a kickback arrangement in place?

    Are those patients going to be “your” patients?
    Really? Will you ever get a chance to say that aloud?

    Then where is even the chance to practice “family” medicine?!
    .

  2. Never forget to to enquire about the place with past employees: they’re most likely to be frank and honest with reviews.  [Exclude me please- I won’t give any hint to where I got my hard lessons from; so please catch someone else😉 ]Asking the current employees may be tricky; they usually get brokerage money (“special incentive” in corporate lingo) from their bosses for every doctor they suck into their system.

    Ask: “Did they keep the pre-employment promises about the nature or timing of work?” – as promised in their ads or pre-placement talks?

    Ask: “Have there been any relevant, useful and adequate training opportunities”?  …. You may be very upset at the answers you get-if they’re frankly revealed, that is.
    .

  3. Look into their websites for how many of their so-called FM doctors actually have a recognized FM qualification.

    If one of their existing doctors have posted a job offer ad online or in social media, what are the credentials of the person who posted it? Is he/she a qualified FM..? If the ad is about such places, its unlikely that the person who posted it has any background in FM.

    Knowing my fraternity pretty well, I can safely say that even today, an FM person is unlikely to intentionally cheat a fellow FM doctor.

    If they have unqualified, or irrelevantly qualified, or “1-year online diploma in FM” (i.e. otherwise hopeless) certificate holders portrayed as “highly qualified” and “FM specialists”, it means they are cheating the public.

    If they portray pediatricians or internists or gynecologists or pathologists as “highly qualified family medicine specialists”, it’s again open cheating. Worse, most likely you’ll be paid lesser than them,  because you have been subtly but daily brain-washed into believing your “inferiority”.

    But how come? How does a genuinely qualified FM specialist, with a broad range of expertise in holistic primary care,  get paid any lesser than a pediatrician, or an internist, whose scope is severely restricted,  in a “family medicine” or primary care set-up?

    Beats logic, isn’t it?

    But here lies the very loud message: They won’t hesitate to cheat YOU, either.

     

  4. Check out their service reviews, or customer reviews. (Not in their own website, of course, where you’ll find only goodie-goodie awesome stuff)

***

5. Think twice before migrating to a totally new city for such a job.
For, if you don’t like the place, it’ll become a torturous hell .
Not only for you, but also for your own family.

So think – not twice, but many, many more times, before jumping to “what a good offer for someone like me!”.

***

6. DO NOT COMPROMISE ON YOUR OWN SELF RESPECT…..

Hmm…. OK, don’t compromise too much🙂

DO NOT SETTLE FOR BELOW PAR SALARY BELIEVING THAT YOU WON’T GET ANYTHING BETTER ANYWHERE ELSE.

Some of them offer salaries as if you have applied for the post of a …… never mind.

If they tell you “See, we have this chap who’s your senior who is working for peanuts, so we’ll give you the same, since you won’t get anything better anywhere else”, then well….. that senior has either been fooled, or has no aspirations in life, or wants to settle in that locality only for some reason and has some better plan, or… is a selfish plain loser who stupidly spoilt the job scenario for deserving people like you.

NEVER let them exploit your desperation at the start of your career.

7. Finally, keep this universal rule in mind:

THOSE YOU LOOK, THOSE WHO WAIT, THOSE WHO’RE REALLY GOOD, GET REASONABLY GOOD PLACEMENTS, including some excellent ones overseas.

Nearly every doctor has a passing phase of struggle at the start of a new practice- may it be internal medicine, neuro, cardio, whatever.

Struggles are not restricted to FM.
Nor is struggle new to us.

With care and patience, each one of us has reached reasonably happy places🙂🙂

***
You may also be interested in this article regarding corporate job scenarios for FM, published in the Journal Of Family Medicine and Primary Care: Click here.

Moral:
If something looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

One who learns from own mistakes becomes wise.
One who learns from others’ misadventures is wise AND lucky.

All the best!
Jai Ho!

—————–
With inputs from Dr Shantanu Rahman, GP, NHS, UK.

Disclaimer: This article not against corporates in general. There are several corporates clinics/ major hospitals actually supporting good primary care and its doctors with better intentions. The aim of this article is to alert you to the 100% commercial frauds who are abusing the name of this wonderful specialty and it’s doctors.

Posted in Family Medicine, Medical Policies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Patient encounters: The scared sufferer-manipulator.

It happens routinely in 100% literate God’s own country. Maybe, even more so.

***

A healthy-looking lady walked in to the clinic.

“Doctor, I’m feeling much better”

(She was in a near-crippling state 1-2 months ago).

“I want to stop medicines now”.
(She had been explained about VERY severe hypothyroidism when it was diagnosed; that her severe sleepiness, constipation, weight gain, puffy look, high BP and cholesterol are all probably because of that, the need for long term but simple and low-cost treatment, careful follow-ups, good chances of improvement, safety v/s minor risks of the medicines earlier. Cost of the medicine was NOT AT ALL an issue).

***

I am usually very liberal with patients- very much to a fault at times. Both with listening, time, and explanations. Hypothyroid people are frequently sleepy and less alert, and forgetful, and may not remember everything discussed during initial visits. So maybe that made her forget our previous discussion, and re-think now?

Dr: “Do you remember the last conversation. We’d discussed it in detail”

Well-educated Pt: “Yes. You’d told me that I’d need to take medicines for a long time.”

So our lady remembered it pretty well.

Dr: You could hardly walk last month. You say that you feel much better. Do you really want to stop the medicine?

Pt (proudly): In fact I already stopped it last week. I’m going back to *****pathy. I just wanted you to see the lab result before that.

Dr’s thought bubble: “See” the lab result, and then what? You go back to *****pathy, a well-proven hoax which kept you in distress for all those months, promising “cure without side effects” … “if you waited patiently long enough”?

And mind it- they cost her multiple times the cost of her current, simple thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

Her lab report suggested excellent improvement- which meant that she was well on track.

Dr’s words: What do you want me to do for you now?

Pt: Tell me to stop the medicine.

Dr: Why?

Pt’s summarized narrative: Gives the usual story- heard of side effects, no guarantee of cure, “knowledgeable” neighbours, friends, and media articles pushed by quacks.

Last week another learned patient told me: “We keep hearing that all you doctors are working for pharmas and for hospital targets and don’t really want people to get totally cured, because only then you can keep writing medicines for our lifetimes.”

I had thanked him for his frankness in divulging that.
Being frank with most patients is something I love to do🙂

***
(Back to this Pt)…

The Dr listened patiently and discussed. Urged re-consideration.
No luck.

Dr (puts it bluntly in the end): Sorry, I understand that you wish to stop the medicine, but I cannot advise you to do that, since it’s very likely that you’ll slip back into the previous state.

Pt (suspiciously- and was there a threatening tone in it?): Dr, I’ll go for a second opinion.

Dr (Politely): Please, go ahead.

Pt (the bluff is called; now on second thoughts): OK, then I’ll take your medicine for 2-3 more months.

Dr: All all these discussions, if you conclude so, proceed as you wish. You are free to decide the mode and course of your treatment. I just hope you stay healthy and safe.

A short discussion follows, about testing after 3 months.

Pt nods head, says OK, gets up and leaves.
Not a word of thanks- that’s a rarity anyway. Its business. Give money, get the service. Where the scope for a “thanks” there?🙂

Dr: Thanks for coming for an opinion today.

No word. Walks out. Almost slams the door, but the next patient has been eagerly waiting outside, and he stops the door from closing with a bang. He walks in smiling, happy with his results, and goes on to unknowingly make this doctor’s day back to a GREAT one!

***

Similar encounters routinely happen in day to day practice with most doctors. Its nothing special. But they seem to mock the concept that “educating patients” and “literacy” will pretty much ensure that commonsense and trust will arise by default.

OK, lets keep away from extremes of judgement. In any case, we’re used to it and live with it🙂

Feel sad for such needless sufferers, though.
The “sufferer- manipulators”, a not-much-mentioned breed.

***
But sometimes, one is left speechless. 100% literacy. At times, it is worth a re-think before tom-toming literacy alone as a panacea for all social ills and unhealthy attitudes.

Jai Ho🙂 !

Posted in Family Medicine, General, Medical Policies | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One GOOD reason to switch off your phone when you’re with your Doctor.

In day-to-day practice, we come across amusing instances that stump the doctor for a moment. This was one of them. This will be understood better if read in the light of the common Indian sociocultural mindset regarding children and marriage.

***

I usually ask ladies whether they’re likely to be pregnant, so that I can avoid potentially harmful drugs, in case they are.

I had just finished listening to a young lady. She had walked in alone. Looked well groomed; dressed in what most of the 100% literate society here would derisively call “modern” – i.e jeans and a top. Lipstick, yes. Well touched eyes. A fancy, glittery handbag, yes. Looked like she’s spent 5K on her hair this week, yes. Literate? Definitely yes, since she was looking into her mobile every 30 seconds or so. Looked busy, yes or at least pretended to be. But not in a real hurry to go anywhere.

We discussed her problem which was not so difficult to manage. At the same time, my attempts at a careful thought process and communication to help her recover from her seemingly trivial illness were frequently being distracted by her attention into her mobile phone.

***

I say nothing to such distractors now. After all, it’s their life. There is a prominent notice on my consultation door, in two languages- English and local- requesting people in the waiting area to “kindly” switch off their phones BEFORE entering the doctor’s room.

The words have had little effect. If people from a proudly 100% literate state fail to comply with a simple suggestion, I usually don’t spend any more time requesting them to keep their mobiles aside. Previously, when I did, however politely, their faces frequently put up purposeful cringes. At best, there would be mocking apologies. The apologies were usually followed by closing whatever windows they had used the whole day or week, touching various buttons to put the phone in silent mode, and then switching off their mobiles, and then keep staring at the screen till it went completely blank. This took another full precious minute. On busy days, even these single minutes saved, when added up, would result in avoiding confrontations with the last few patients for the day.

Instead, if someone’s obsession with their mobile phone keeps distracting me too much, I now actually put it in the case notes– so in case they come with accusations of negligence later on, I know what to show them.

I don’t know if we realize it. Using the mobile phone when a consultation is on can lead to poor communication and errors in decision making for both parties.

***

Lets come back to our young lady.

Dr (in all seriousness): “Madam, are you married?”

Young Lady: “Yes”.

Dr: “Are you likely to be pregnant?”

Young lady (distracted by her mobile, smiling at something): “I don’t know. My husband will be back after 2 more months”.

***

It sunk in in a second🙂

I’m puzzled about the timing of that smile- was it the joke in her mobile, or was it her own response to the doctor’s question??

Now that will remain a mystery. For the problem she came to see me for, I decided that I didn’t need to know her intimate details.

But I’m still wondering whether to put her exact words on permanent record, potentially inviting trouble for her later on. Technically, nothing wrong with that. Isn’t it?

But in the end, you know how tolerant and alert and careful and what a nice chap your family doctor is🙂

We proceeded to discuss this point. In the end, we had a good laugh and she promised never to let the mobile distract her when she’s in the midst of anything else that deserves due respect.

***

That’s why one should be attentive when the doctor is trying to help. Of course, one may expect the doctor also to stay away from the mobile. Believe me, we try our level best. But we do have to attend to genuine calls. It’s not practically possible for the doctor to switch off the mobile for hours at a stretch while at work- in fact, the mobile is a vital need for the 8-12 or 36 hour shifts for the doctor while at work. Its common sense.

All we request from patients and carers is to keep it away during the 5-30 minutes of the consultation.

***

Moral of the story:

PLEASE SWITCH OFF YOUR CELL PHONE IN THE DOCTOR’S ROOM.

So here’s one good reason for that. God only knows- it may help an unborn child figure out his/her real father’s name in case need arises in future🙂

***
Jai Ho!

Posted in Family Medicine, Humor/Satire, Medical Policies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do Doctors have to do with “doctored” videos and photos?

It is usually agreed that the origin of the word “doctor” lies in old English or French- meaning a “learned person” or a “respected teacher”. Gradually, healers- those considered among the most learned and of much use to society, began to be called so.

The word “Doctored”, however, is a slang.

Slang- which means it is an informal, often abusive word, loosely used in casual talks, but if used in ‘learned’ circles (like- ahem- the media or political discourses), indicates below-par credentials of the person using it.

May be, even a blunt brain trying to pass off as “cool”, but definitely not “cool”.

Why are our highly learned media and politicians using the word “doctored” – this slang word – liberally and carelessly?

No one knows how it originated, and why the term for a service oriented profession- with probably the least of INTENTIONAL malice towards fellow humans compared to most other “respectable” professions- is used to convey a fraud.

What do doctors have to do with a “doctored” video or photo?

Yes, a few practitioners here or there may be involved in manipulating a medical report here or there. How many? One in a hundred thousand medical documents? Does that warrant the profession’s name be abused to convey fraud?

Why such jealousy?

Why such hidden evil intentions, dear media and your political puppeteers, that you’ll use ANYTHING to distract people even subconsciously – by dragging in the name of a profession that is still regarded as much cleaner and trustworthy than yours?

Don’t give us the crap response that the word “doctored” wasn’t invented by you, or that it’s been used for decades. It’s still a slang, and not expected to be used by the learned you, who self certify your morals, righteousness and high standards.

Why not call the photos or videos “tailored” or “engineered”?

Or use the profession that’s notorious for manipulating facts and evidences, rather than protecting truth- “lawyered”?

Because unlike doctors, lawyers can openly and un-apologetically beat you up  if you rub them even a bit on the wrong side- and the world (i.e. the media) believes that lawyers are no pushovers, unlike doctors?

Why not use a word that is the epitome of evil, deceit and maliciousness today- “presstituted”? After all, such videos and photos are of utmost importance to the media, isn’t it? Fair enough!

Why are the media and the politicians cunningly avoiding the use a of neutral word like “altered” for such videos?

Because it doesn’t have negative connotations towards any profession?

Because such neutral, un-sensational words can’t be used for subconsciously stoking the anger of people towards something that stands for (largely) sincere service?

Time’s up.

***

“Presstituted video”.
Well, if you insist on using a sensational, well-known, well accepted and a meaningful slang term, this is the most apt.
Go for it.

***

Jai Ho!

🙂

Posted in Anything medicine, other than Family Medicine, General/ Politics/ Social/ Slapstick, Medical Policies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Satire: Big Boost to “Make in India” programme, major cities to be developed as “African Safari hubs”

Bengaluru, 16 Feb 2016.

In a major boost to the “Make in India” initiative, the government has announced that a few Indian cities will be developed as “African Safari” hubs to boost tourist potentials, starting with Bengaluru.

“It was a no-brainer”, said Dr Mahesh Sharma, minister for tourism. “We already have leopards roaming in Bengaluru. There are a few brilliant ones among them, which get recaptured, and escape again, strutting around just as they would in the wild. Then there are the regular panthers prowling the streets of Mumbai. We hope the monkey man will soon return to Delhi. Then there’s the ubiquitous but unique species called the “Indian mango man” all over the country. Our people needn’t have traveled all the way to Africa to experience wilderness all these years. We have all the basic resources here itself, we just have to use them efficiently. 

The minister added that “Keeping with tradition, we plan to name it secularly and in line with most yojanas. As of now, the name “Rahul Gandhi Chalo Jungle Yojana” seems to be emerging as the most popular pick. No doubt, such ideas will evoke great interest and boost revenues.”

Unable to keep up to their promise of taking black money hoarders to task, the Government is mulling the idea of letting Safari tourists to shoot those who have hoarded black bucks in case they chance upon them. Last heard, Amir Khan’s chief competitor Salman Khan has happily agreed to be brand ambassador and mentor for the programme.

As soon as the programme was announced, politicians from several States, specially UP and Bihar, are dirt-wrestling to seize the initiative and credits.

In a public meeting yesterday, Bihar CM Mr Nitish Kumar strongly demanded the whole state be declared a Safari reserve, claiming to have well-preserved it’s jungle-raj tradition, which is now being vehemently reminded by his predecessor Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav to have been started by him.

In a refreshing departure from his usual “oppose-everything-Modi-at any cost” policy, Congress VP Rahul Gandhi has appreciated the nomenclature, saying that his contributions to Indian politics are finally being acknowledged. Yet, not to be outdone by the wilier old foxes as usual, he has demanded Safari status for his constituency of Amethi, and offered to keep himself stationed there to attract initial crowds. However, a well-intentioned but worried party insider was heard  wondering  aloud, “Him and Safari?….?? Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into another circus.”

Meanwhile, AAP’s the Ashutosh has outrightly opposed the idea. Sharing the results of an AAP internal survey in which he himself was the exclusive participant, he announced: “The safari suit is the symbol of the high handed bureaucrats, which is against the very essence of the aam aadmi. Why the Modi is forcing everyone to wear the Safari? Will the Modi explain?” 

***
Jai Ho!!:-)

Posted in General/ Politics/ Social/ Slapstick, Humor/Satire | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Story of a Slime

***

# 1 

Our THE clerk

In every medical college, there is at least one THE clerk. 

Almost unknown to Principals, Heads of Departments, and the rest of the non-medical world, this clerk manages and manipulates almost every “routine” aspect that keeps a medical college running: postings of medical students and interns in various clinical departments, issuing stipends to interns and paying patients for helping out during university exams, seeing to it that inspectors are happy with the paperworks, and most importantly, preparing marksheets of medical students from their internal exams and sending them to the University in time.

Some of THE clerks, if “motivated” in a way they fancy, will even get you any posting, signature or certificate. If THE clerk is daring enough, even a diploma certificate is gettable, without ever having to do the course. Seriously, yes!

Medical students and interns are the only breed that truly appreciate a THE clerk’s awesomeness.

***

This narrative is set in a little-known medical college in a dry and dusty, sparsely populated area in rural India. This college, too, had a THE clerk. Lets call him Slimy.

Slimy was a “localite”. He was 12th pass- perhaps the most qualified guy his village. In every part of rural India, being a “localite” gives huge leverage. It means you were born there, belong to that place. You are secure among members of your caste, religion, area, whatever. You know how to pull the strings. You perennially remind others that all the local politicians and their goons are your “brothers”. The brothers will do anything for you during election time, even though for the next five years, you may be as precious to them as a pesky pinworm.

Slimy had learnt the tricks of the trade over the years. His lack of “personality” in the conventional sense was never a barrier. Short statured, with his round build flaunting a proud beer belly; dressed in a way that made it clear that he didn’t consider personal hygiene worth a thought; and a mouthful of a deep red and gooey mash of tobacco with its typical stench. His pre-occupation with his piles were a running campus joke. With his somewhat pock-marked, constipated face flashing an all-weather sly grin, you intuitively knew he was one dirty, slippery fat pig.

Slimy was resentful of most medical students, since, he felt, if his father had a few crores to spare, he too could have become a doctor. His ultimate satisfaction usually came from bullying students of a certain “higher” caste and those who studied on merit seats. But to his credit, he was extremely efficient as far as keeping things moving was concerned. He knew his higher-ups’ ways of functioning well and was careful never to cross them wrong.

***

# 2 

Our three medical students

Lets call our unlikely hero Aay.

There was nothing noteworthy about Aay. Quiet. Unremarkable physique and looks. Average height. Dark-skinned, yes. He was born a nerd and met his inevitable fate in a medical college.

He kept to his books and out of people’s way, including the girl he secretly had begun to like.

The girl- lets call her Moi– was junior to Aay by a year. She, too, kept a low profile, was very studious and was among the toppers of her batch. She was seeing a guy, though. He was the Bully from Aay’s batch.

Bully was well built by body and blunt by intellect. Impulsive, brash, and in his own words, a “go-getter” and a “doer”. His parents were both doctors with roaring practices. He had been doled out a merit seat in medical college due to reasons other than academic merit.

Campus gossip frequently explored the mystery of how the sensible and good-looking Moi could fall for someone like Bully. Strangely, they got along well. On occasions, Bully used to get her expensive flowers and cheap pre-printed love cards carrying mushy-mushy, passionate one-liners. They went out on dates in his flashy car. Moi seemed to love the attention.

***

# 3 

Aay’s way of love 

Aay never opened up with anyone. He made a few friends, but they only spoke of academics. His “image” as a nerd meant he was never invited to parties, or sports events.

For Aay, happiness lay in his books and the occasional thought of Moi. Once or twice he thought of talking to her in the library, but he dismissed the idea. He could just never do it.

***

Aay had once seen a bunch of love cards fall out of Moi’s books as she left the library. She didn’t realise it. He picked them up and went through a few of them.

The first one read, “For our bestest frandship” in attempted floral italic font. Down below, “Your sincerest admirer, Bully” was scribbled. 

The next one, a much better looking card, read “I cherish each and every moment with you” in beautiful handwriting. It had no name or signature.

Aay realised that some cards were from Bully, and some were meant for Bully. He decided to keep them all. He felt guilty. But the ones from Moi would be his secret, and only treasure.

Once a week, in the privacy of his hostel room, his love-story would come to life. Moi and him were of the same caste, so there would have been no barriers to their marriage. With this thought he would start to gently go through her cards, and by the time he finished, he would be soaking in a harsh reality: she was already “booked”.

And each time, he would try to put an end to his little one-sided love story and try to get sleep.

***

# 4

year later… 

In his final year of studies, Aay’s grades in the internal exams dropped mysteriously. From high marks in the first two years, he was barely managing to get passing marks in internal exams now. Initially, he wondered, why.

He discovered the reason soon enough. It was common knowledge among the poor performers that one simply had to bribe Slimy- with money or liquor- and your marks would be “adjusted”. If you were of his caste, he would exempt you from the ritual. If you were of a particular religion which he despised, you could be in serious trouble.

In fact, the answer sheets of the internal exams were never checked by the teachers at all!

Slimy was the ultimate boss.

It irked Aay that wastrels who could hardly spell medical terms got top marks, while a few like him had to “compensate” by being failed to keep the averages believable in the eyes of the board; each year, one or two good students failed because they could not compensate for the low marks put by THE clerk in the internals during the final  board exams. At the same time, most of the wastrels passed, since their internal marks were high and hence they had to score that much lesser in the boards.

Slimy was the prime culprit.

Aay still said nothing. He continued to slog and made up for his deficiencies in the internals during the final board exams.

***

# 5 

Another year later… 

Aay was in internship now. He was a quiet workhorse. Long hours of sitting slouched while reading and working had begun to hurt his back. He started applying Leopard Balm, a popular pain-relief ointment, to keep going. He loved its strong, pungent smell and the hot, piercing, almost scalding sensation it gave on application. It was good at making him forget about his ache, and allowed him to go on with his mundane life.

Side by side, unknown even to himself, Aay had developed good rapport with the professors by his sheer inability to offend anybody at all.

***

Once, Aay, along with a small group of interns including Bully, was observing a professor at work in the out-patient clinic. Slimy came to get the latest mark list of Moi’s batch signed by the Professor. Aay peeped into the list.

As expected, Moi was given borderline marks.

Aay decided to speak. He started tentatively.

“Sir, there seems to be some problem with the marks. This girl is a good student”. He pointed at her name in the list. “She has never scored below distinction before. But in this list she is barely passed. Err… could the papers be rechecked?”.

The surprised crowd looked at Aay and the professor. It was a bit difficult to believe that they were actually witnessing Aay take a potentially troublesome stand.

The professor looked at Aay and Slimy. He looked unsure of what to say. For years, he had never checked a paper. Slimy simply used to keep the marklist in front of him, and he simply used to sign.

“Slimy, what is this intern telling? Aren’t the marks fair?” The Professor looked at Slimy disinterestedly.

Bully, uncomfortable with the idea of gossip spreading of how Aay saved Moi, jumped into the fray for his share of spotlight. “Sir, he always does this. He takes bribes and puts marks. He also pockets half of our internship stipends, else we won’t get our posting completion certificates.”

Wham! Bam! Round one to Bully.

There was pin-drop silence. Slimy was red hot in the face and glared viciously at Bully. Any moment now, he would spray him with tobacco spit. Just last year Bully had bribed him to get passing marks, and now in return, for the sake of a girl, he had stripped him in public.

Fortunately, the professor spoke immediately. “Slimy, put the marks in fair order”.

“Sir, this time’s marks are already sent to the University. As you know, these marks are for the next exams. I’ll get back to you later.”

He didn’t give anyone a chance to respond. He immediately picked up the marksheets, turned over and walked away, leaving behind an embarrassed professor and a stunned crowd.

Jab. Round two to Slimy.

***

Bully and his small gang cornered Aay in a secluded corridor later that day. “Stay away from her. Don’t try to be a hero. Or else…”

To Bully’s disappointment, Aay seemed to have no inclination to put up a fight.

They let him go.

Shove! Round three to Bully. 

***

Slimy was restless throughout the day. No one had questioned him all these years. Bully had recklessly exposed his modus operandi, seriously dented his income and shredded his “image”.

No one pricked him and got away. He would have to give it back.

The next day, Slimy went and sat opposite Bully in the crowded canteen. Several heads turned around to watch. Slimy wanted them to.

Bully straightened his posture defiantly. Slimy grinned menacingly. Coolly, he asked Bully, “Did you feel your ass burning when I put low marks for her? Control your passion, kid! What can you do anyway? Don’t be a hero, or else… ” He got up, leaned over the table and got his spit-filled mouth very close to Bully’s confused face, poked a fat finger into his chest, and unleashed a torrent of expletives and tobacco spray.

Bully tried to retaliate, but could not match Slimy for long and went silent.

Everyone saw.

Slimy assumed that Bully got the message, loud and clear. He exited the place with a proud swagger. After a minute, Bully gathered his wits and  wiped his face clean.

***

For the next several weeks, all campus gossips unanimously agreed on one point- DON’T MESS WITH SLIMY.

Dhishoom! Round four to Slimy. 

***

# 6

few months later, on a good day…

Aay was nearing the completion of his internship. He was now posted in Surgery.

Today, Aay was on cloud nine. Moi’s student posting was also in Surgery. She would be attending a two-hour class on piles by the Professor of Surgery. Aay would get to see her for two full hours and drool.

When he reached the lecture hall, Aay’s joy was cut short a little. Slimy was there, too. It was well known that though he understood little of medicine, he listened to as many classes on piles as he could. The Professors used to keep samples of creams used to relieve piles in their cabinets, to be given to poor patients. Frequent disappearances of those creams were attributed to Slimy.

The class started. Aay was already lost in his own world, watching her from a distance.

The professor’s voice seemed to come on and off. “Today’s topic is hemorrhoides and we will look into the practical aspects of managing…”

The minutes passed. Aay was still lost, only disturbed by the Professor’s sudden rise in tone once in a while.

“This is a single-use tube of the cream. Obviously it means you throw it into the dustbin after it is used once”. The Professor was holding the tube up for the rapt class to see, his chest swelling with pride at his attempted joke. Some eager students nodded their heads understandingly. “The cream should be applied around the anus before defecation… to the tube one can attach the applicator, which is a thin, long, tapering nozzle as you see here. One can insert the applicator inside through the anus and squeeze the tube, so that the area as well as the insides are well lubricated…. reduces the strain during defecation, eases the discomfort, reduces chances of bleeding and… ”

Two hours passed. Aay was disappointed that the class got over too soon. He watched as Moi gracefully drifted out of the class.

Aay sat there for a few moments. He pitied himself for being incurably passive. He spent a few more minutes in thought, and rushed out of the room to get on with work.

***

# 7

month later… 

Aay was nearing the completion of his internship.

One day during lunch, the whole canteen was excitedly discussing a “hot” development. The tiff between Bully and Slimy had got out of hand. In order to teach him a lesson, Slimy had decided not to forward Bully’s posting completion certificates for signature from the Head of Department. An enraged Bully had barged into his office that morning. Those who witnessed the scene said Bully had started off with “humble” requests, but Slimy turned abusive first. Things quickly got out of hand with unmentionable expletives getting louder and louder from both sides. Then they grabbed each other’s collars. Bully managed to crash a punch into Slimy’s face. It was difficult to say whether he broke his jaw, because no one could say for sure whether it was blood or tobacco spit that spew out. The crowd managed to prise them apart with great difficulty. A stuporous Slimy was carried away to the casualty. He spent the rest of the morning screaming and cursing there.

Bully was now staring at serious disciplinary action. He would be suspended for at least a few months.

And things did move ahead for him on expected lines.

***

# 8 

Ten years later… 

Aay, Moi and their batch were forgotten in the college now. Bully’s name was legend though, for he had carried out the wish of a large number of medical students a decade ago, and how!

Right now, they were all leading their lives happily, busy in their own practices, with their children and spouses.

***

Aay had a routine day at work today. Tonight he would be taking his family out for a special dinner. It would be ten years to this day today since that historic showdown between Bully and Slimy happened. He rocked back in his chair. His thoughts flew back to the day things changed for each of them.

Immediately after that class in Surgery, Aay had spent a few moments in deep thought. On an impulse, he got up and rushed. To the Professor’s office. It would be empty now, since the Professor would be in the operation theatre. 

When Aay reached, the office door was slightly open. Through the crack, he saw Slimy hurriedly scavenging through the stock of creams that were in the Professor’s glass cabinet. In a few seconds, he found a small carton with “piles” printed on it. Spotting that word was enough for him, for that word was all that he understood and mattered to him. He emptied the carton. There was a tube of cream and an applicator. He re-checked the contents, the word “piles” on the tube as well as the carton, put the tube and the applicator into his pocket, the empty carton into the dustbin, and hurriedly out of the room, oblivious to Aay’s presence in the corridor.

Aay got into the room immediately. He walked to the cabinet. It was not locked. Good. He opened it and easily found another set of the same cream that Slimy had just stolen. He smiled. The plan was on.

Aay took the tube back to his room. He would have to wait till the weekend for privacy.

The next Sunday afternoon, things were calm.

Aay took out the tube and got into a washroom. He carefully emptied its contents into the closet, careful not to crumple the tube. He came back to his room, took out a brand new jar of Leopard balm, and kept it in a tumbler of warm water to liquefy it a bit. After a short wait, he filled a 20 cc syringe with the semi-liquid balm. He then carefully put the syringe to the nozzle of the tube, and pushed gently. When the tube was refilled, it looked almost like new. No one would suspect a thing. He prayed Slimy wasn’t smart enough to notice the tampering.

The next day, when Slimy was out of office, Aay went in, took out the tube, rubbed it all over with a cloth to erase fingerprints (just in case), and placed it in his drawer, along with the applicator, on top of all the files and papers.

For the first time in his life, Aay would discreetly keep his ears open for campus gossip, for any related news.

***

The next week, news spread that Slimy had taken three days off, sick. When he rejoined, his face was puffy. His eyes were red and he looked really, really worried. Scared, rather. It looked as if he had been crying through hell. He walked and sat awkwardly with a bit of discomfort, leaving no one in the campus in doubt as to where and how deep his problem lay. It was clear that this time it was something very serious and unusual. But only Slimy would know what really happened.

The next afternoon, Aay sneaked into his office once again. From his pocket, he took out one of Bully’s cheap love cards to Moi. He placed it on Slimy’s table and walked out.

***

When Slimy entered his office after a while, what he saw on his table threw him into a fit of uncontrollable rage. His scream was reflexive.

It was a card with a message in floral italics:

“My dear,

Is this how the burning fire of passion feels?”

It was signed:
Same with me here, 
Bully.

***

Slimy did everything he could to “teach Bully a lesson”. He refused to get his completion certificate signed citing one reason or another. 

Finally Bully lost patience and confronted Slimy directly in his office. When Slimy accused Bully of having made his life hell, Bully refused to be held responsible. Slimy then took out Bully’s love card and demanded that he admit his crime. A stunned Bully refused. Things worsened. Expletives. Fisticuffs. The punch. The crowd separating them. In the melee, Bully managed to wrest out the card from Slimy’s clenched fist.

Bully was not bothered about the action that would be taken on him by the college authorities. After all, he was from an influential family, of a particularly advantageous caste, and rich. There was a good chance that he could get away with only minor scratches.

But first, he had to see Moi.

Moi was shocked at Bully’s behaviour. She never imagined he would be so aggressive and physical. He demanded to know what she had done to Slimy, to him, and why she had done so. She, too, refused to be held responsible for the mess. Driven by disbelief and blind rage, Bully hit her and left her to cry for a week.

Bully and Moi broke off the following week. They went their separate ways in life.

***

The dust settled over the next few months. Over the next few years, they would all get married to people their parents chose for them. Moi would go on to specialise in Family Medicine (what she called “a beautiful specialty for beautiful people”), Bully would be a Hospital administrator, and Aay would specialise in Radiology.

It was heard that Slimy was very careful while making students’ marksheets for internal exams for the next couple of years. Once convinced that there was no one to challenge his actions among the next generation of students, he eased into his filthy old ways.

***

# 9 

The present moment

It was dinner time in the resort that Aay had promised to take his family to. He was relaxing in a cozily cushioned cane chair. A few feet away, his wife was playing ball with their beautiful daughters, now aged 7 and 4. It made him feel so happy to see them.

The waiter came to take the order.

“I’ll start off with a soup”, said Aay. “Some French fries for the kids”. He raised his voice and called out to his wife, “And what would you like to order, Moi?”

*** 

Final Round: Aay wins by knock-out.
“The story of a slime”

 

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Satire: Indian Cricket Team Banned from Using Fairness Creams to Avoid Series Whitewash

Taking a decisive measure to avoid a heart-breaking series whitewash, Team India Director Ravi Shastri has banned Indian cricketers from using fairness-oriented creams or even appearing in their ads.

“We conducted an internal investigation into the reasons that have led to our impending whitewash in this series, in spite of the Sharmas, Kohlis and co. putting up tremendous and inspiring performances. The answer, obviously, lies in the bowling. Our team psychologist has come up with this brilliant theory after in-depth statistical analysis of why India never got a durable fast bowler after Kapil and Srinath. As per his theory, Manoj Prabhakar was among the first prominent Indian cricketers to turn up with a heavy smattering of sunscreen on his face. We all know which way he steadily spiraled  and ultimately had his career white-washed. We are not sure whether this theory makes sense or not, but we are taking no chances. This time, we’ll literally do just what the doctor has ordered” he thundered.

This correspondent caught up with vice-captain Virat Kohli for his views. It was difficult to judge whether he was just behaving normally or was in delirium, since he was screaming out expletives non-stop, only pausing to breathe in once in two minutes.

“MC$&Q^*$&^Q……. BC#!*$#…….!! All fairness creams and sunscreens profess that your confidence and career shoots up by using them. I do appear in those ads, but tell me, does anyone with brains take them seriously? Yet our bowlers have been using them for years. I suspect poor Stuart Binny had even tried eating a spoonful a day when applying it didn’t work. No wonder we get pasted. Rohit stopped bothering about his looks and creams after he got married, and now he’s hitting centuries. The psychologist’s theory seems to be spot-on!” he screamed.

The most cerebral among contemporary commentators, the legendary VVS Laxman, agreed with the sunscreen theory, but not with the bad-luck-based reasoning behind it. “You see, it seems more of a scientific reason to it. Fairness creams and sunscreens prevent the UV rays of the sunlight from falling on the skin. This makes the skin unable to produce sufficient vitamin-D. Vitamin-D is vital for calcium to work properly in the body. Thus, such creams may be adversely affecting the bone and muscle strength of our fast bowlers. This may be one of the reasons for their diminishing pace once they start playing for the senior team, and frequent injuries, and short careers. If you look more closely, IPL matches are played mostly at night, where they don’t have to use such creams, and their pace picks up consistently into the high 140’s. Additionally, the whole IPL season is always injury-free”, Laxman reasoned.

Meanwhile, whispers are rising about MS Dhoni. A faction of Indian cricketers, known for their superstitions, , were spotted extremely worried, huddled in a discussion. One of them turned around and revealed: “We’ve taken the day off practice to discuss the repercussions of our captain appearing in that T-20 World Cup ad with a totally 100% ghostly white-washed lady. With him refusing to wear his talismanic long hair, chances are looking paler for us in this year’s T-20 World cup. Let’s hope that lady luck will be with us, just like she was once with the legendary Joginder Sharma.

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