The Specialists' Visit
by Vimala Ramu
One wonderful thing about Indian culture is, particularly in Bangalore, people drop in at all times. What is more, they are welcome all the time. No need for a prior appointment as people (hosts) willingly forgo or postpone their scheduled programs to entertain the visitors. It is more interesting in that one doesn’t know who drops in and at what time!
One fine morning at around 9.30, when our morning ablutions and breakfast were over, three specialists, one psychiatrist, one urologist and a gynecologist dropped in at our place led by an automobile engineer and none of them for consultation, mind you.
The automobile engineer from Baltimore, USA was Ramu’s cousin, the psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins was his wife, the urologist was his brother–in law and the gynecologist was the uro’s wife.
Ramu’s cousin had the habit of dropping in during his visits to Bangalore, however short they might be. That day, this group of four was on its morning walk. When the cousin announced that he had planned to visit us, the other three also joined him and thus they trooped in- men in Bermudas and the ladies in capris. The urologist had become a fan of mine ever since he had taken a peek into his brother-in law’s complimentary copy of RAINSONG-my first book. Since then he had acquired all my books for his library. He had also recommended the books to a friend of his and wanted to buy two books for him.
One thing that makes an author happier than when told that somebody read her book is when she is told that it was recommended to others. When I asked the doc, “Which two books do you want?” he said, “Give me any two. All are good”. Have you ever experienced honey going down your auditory canal? I haven’t either. But surely this is what it must feel like.
selling my books to my friends and relatives, I had been left with no copies to spare. But as luck would have it, I had left some copies with two of the biggest bookstores in Bangalore to be sold. I had been fed up of their marketing, rather
a lack of it. In one year one had sold one copy to another branch of theirs and the second shop had sold it to a real customer- an unknown dearest patron of mine; he had become my dearest patron because he was the only one to purchase my book from a bona fide book shop! So, I had just collected in a huff all the remaining books and kept them at home just for such exigencies.
I ran in, packed the books in an attractive paper bag and handed it proudly over to the urologist. He asked me, “What is the amount I owe you?” I could see Ramu’s eyes going up and down, criss cross and all-round and his head shaking frantically right to left and back trying to signal me not to accept payment from the ‘guest’. But then why shouldn’t I? These specialists charge their patients heavily. Should I not take this pittance from him? Moreover while I had been collecting the amount from everyone- friends, kith and kin, why should I not ask a person who was buying them for his friend to pay? I had wasted innumerable copies sending them free to newspapers, magazines and critics in the vain hope of getting a review in print, though my friends had given me glowing reviews online. Thank you, no more freebies.
Thus justifying myself, I told him, “You owe me Rs 360” furtively avoiding my husband’s eyes.
When the doctor sent me the amount later in the day with his man, I gleefully pocketed it - a reverse operation for a change!********