What do you do when you fall ill? You go the doctor.
According to my experience, going to the doc consists of the following steps:
1) Go to the doctor
2) Doc examines you, identifies the illness, writes out a prescription.
3) Take the prescription to the chemist, buy medicines, take them.
4) Get well.
But it works slightly differently in Mumbai.
1) Go to the doctor
2) Doc examines you, doesn't tell you what is wrong with you.
3) Doc's assistant puts 3-5 pills each into little paper packages, puts these packages into ziploc covers, and hands it to you. Each ziploc cover is for one day, and the contents of each paper package is to be taken after each meal.
4) Get well(???)
I discovered this paper-package phenomenon when one of my pg-mates, D, fell ill. Since we did not know any docs around, PG-Auntie took her to her family doctor. D came back with these paper-packages-in-ziploc-covers and a bewildered expression.
Me: What are these??
Me: For what?
D: I don't know!
Me: What did the doc say is wrong with you?
D: He didn't say!
Me: So you don't know what medicines you are taking, and for what illness?
Me: Didn't you ask what these medicines are??
D: Of course I did! He said "How can I tell you my formula?"
I made her throw the tablets away, and dragged her to the OPD of a nearby hospital, without telling Auntie. There they diagnosed her sickness, and wrote out a prescription. We bought the medicines at the pharmacist, and got back. Ah, the comfort that comes with knowing what you are swallowing!
After that I did a lot of research. All the docs I enquired about in and around Andheri were the paper-packages-in-ziploc-covers types. So I took refuge in the OPD of the hospital, and brainwashed other pg-mates to do the same.
Once, my roommate R told me that someone told her about a good doc, and it looked like he is the prescription type. The next time I developed a sore throat that I couldn't cure on my own, I thought it was best to go and try out this doc. R came with me.
Scene at clinic -
The doc examines me.
Me: What's wrong?
Me: Is it an infection?
Doc writes something on paper.
I reach out to take it.
Doc looks daggers at me, passes it on to assistant.
Assistant starts wrapping up little pills in paper packages.
I look daggers at R.
R looks at me apologetically.
Doc takes out a big white can that one normally associates with kerosene. Can contains a bright red sticky liquid which reminds one of cranberry squash. Doc pours out an amount into a small white leaky plastic container. Hands it to me along with the little paper packages.
Doc: After every meal, take the medicines in each packet and drink two spoons of this liquid.
Me: What are these medicines? What is this liquid?
Doc: (Glares at me) Sixty rupees.
I don't reply. I pay doc, and leave with R. Leaky bottle is disposed of right outside the clinic, and medicines are thrown away after being brought home and subjected to an unsuccessful scrutiny to determine what medicines they are.
Next morning sees me at good old hospital.
Now, why, you ask, can't I trust the doc and take the medicines that he hands over to me. Here is just one reason. Suppose I turn out to be allergic to something in the medicine, or a pill has some side-effect, and I need to be treated. Imagine the conversation.
Me: (Aaakkhhhkkhhghgkkghg) I have rashes in my throat! Please doc! Do something!
Doc: Have you taken any medication recently?
ME: (KKKGHHHHGHhhhhhh ) Yes!
Doc: What medicines?
ME: A large round white pill, a little red pill, half of a yellow pill, and an orange capsule. And cranberry squash.
I rest my case.