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Suffering Delhi

May 29, 2012

When you live life king-size, you pay the price

Anoop Kohli

It’s a rather old joke. A Delhi man on a flight to London asks the hostess for some paracetamol. On being asked if he is suffering from flu, he says it is obvious he flew, but is suffering from Delhi.
That is no longer a joke. People do suffer from Delhi. Laudably, they have learnt to develop sufficient immunity. Dengue, swine flu, anthrax, Delhi belly, the New Delhi beta-lactamase drug-resistant bacteria – the list goes on. And that’s not to mention one of the most non-negotiable traits of eating well there – fat or butter in whatever form generally measured in pounds and added. In fact, the large-hearted Delhi businessmen and politicians who may visit a cardiologist for an examination are bound to call the doctor home for a meal to tell him how well Mrs Singh cooks.
Somewhere in the transaction, the medico’s adherence to strict dietary rules and the overwhelming hospitality of his client reach a compromise. The specialist may relax a few rules for himself, and the client has every reason to take the instructions with levity, having demonstrably conveyed to his doctor that there is a trade-off between good living and good health.
Nature is unforgiving at times, but can also sometimes bestow concessions to those who thrive on its bounty. Little wonder the city of Delhi comes under nature’s benevolence zones. The denizens of the capital, whether born here, or migrated from elsewhere, know that chicken, like them, has two legs; the more muscular, the better, and better still if well-buttered. Drinks are a must as a digestive, and if you can’t take two neat and the news reaches your employers, all prospects of an imminent promotion may be put on the back burner.
Of course, the problem with alcohol is that it might lighten the spirit, but
the roads and dividers here do not keep that in mind. The BMW might
be a nice car but it keeps on killing people in Delhi. No point spending
so much money on a BMW if you don’t rev it up to 240 km/h.
The Buddh Circuit was actually tested on the roads of Delhi, the experiment starting at least 10 years ago. The best incentive for buying a newly powered car is to be allowed a test drive on the circuit.
Overzealous drivers aside, Mother Nature’s benevolence zone doesn’t seem to keep out certain medical issues either. The incidence of coronary disease, hypertension, obesity and obesity-related disorders is pretty high. The approach is still rather casual and accommodative. “I don’t spend money on the treadmill, doc. I have a buddy cardiologist and get an angiography done once a year. That takes care of it all.” Lucky you and hats off to your doctor buddy.
When malady strikes, the womenfolk resort to convenient euphemisms. In this city, you don’t mention the malady, for that could be depressing. The organ stands for the disease. Mrs Chawla the other day was reportedly telling Mrs Bagga, that Brig Dhingra, who just retired from the army, has got “heart” (that is the same as saying he had a heart attack). Likewise, the ever-drinking Mr Chaddha has got “liver”.
The plump Mrs Kapoor is another example; she has got “gall bladder” (gall stones). The enlightened ones do talk of spondylosis, while there are others, fond of periodic swooning, who claim to have been suffering from low blood pressure for 20 years or so.
It strikes me now that no one has ever mentioned that someone has got “brain”. Not that it affects my business as a neurologist, but perhaps the brain is hardly considered a functioning organ of the body here that it could ever go seriously wrong!
And yet, despite all this, there is something about Delhi worth suffering for!

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