As a middle class doctor, he was always scared to enter a five star hotel.
His parents were simple ethical teachers all their life, the type who have “One dinner in a five star hotel with family” high on their “Bucket list” of lifetime dreams. It so happened that a minister was attending a marriage function of a local liquor baron’s daughter in a five star hotel, and this doctor of ours was posted as a doctor on duty in the team supposed to tag along with every minister’s convoy. The minister’s secretary graciously asked everyone in the convoy to have the “B” class buffet arranged separately for the staff. This included our doctor on duty too.
As this was his first encounter with a five star hotel meal, the doctor couldn’t help being curious and asked the waiter about wanting to see the typical menu especially for the prices. The courteous waiter obliged him. Upon a glance at the menu our doctor was too happy: he could definitely afford to bring his parents there on their marriage anniversary, as a special treat, if he saved half a month’s salary.
His parents, wife and child were beaming with pride as they entered the five star hotel. They had their best clothes on, which were still a level below the managing staff of this hotel. The five star staff sensed the “one timers” and behaved as high handed as they could. Just as the family finished their calculations of approximate bill of their culinary wishes, they realised that it was still a costly affair. Carefully folding their sweet hunger pangs, they ordered overlapping desires and waited.
“Hi! How come you are here? ” someone slapped our doctor on his shoulder. It was his classmate from school, who had dropped out after matriculation. He now owned a petrol pump, thanks to his father in law in the government. “Our Scholar has now become big doctor” complimented the friend to the doc’s wife, artificially greeting his parents. “I am a regular here.. Do let me know sometime when you visit.., now you must be having so many companies sponsoring you here: Saala Doctor log ki aish hai yaar”.
As the doctor hastily clarified to his family that it was not so, he had lost half his joy, and the parents most of their smile. His father still reiterated that they really didn’t care for five star meals, and will be proud if their son stays on the “right path”. They guiltily finished their dinner, feeling way out of their place. Restless, the doctor paid cash from his pocket in front of his parents and child so they were convinced that this was indeed his hard earned treat.
On the way out, the kid started shouting ecstatically: he had seen his favourite cricket player in the lounge. As they all ogled at the cricket star with his actress girlfriend, the kid begged the doctor: he wanted an autograph of his idol. The doctor requested the hotel staff, he was allowed, and the cricketer obliged. “I am a doctor at civil hospital ” said our doc. Nobody seemed to have noticed what he said, although everyone had heard it. ” So what???” was the universal expression.
The lounge was now all full of glitz and glamour, people from almost all professions were there, except obviously teachers, doctors or labourers. There were lawyers and judges, there were reporters and police, there were celebrities and artists and criminals and politicians. Nobody had any trace of guilt, and most of them were there sponsored by someone. Some were being paid by their company, some by government, many by means of bribe. All the remaining had money which they were not born with, money they had earned from others for whatever it was that they did for earning.
There was a medical update seminar going on, great doctors in the field of medicine from developed world were lecturing Indian doctors. This notice was guiltily displayed in a corner by a pharma company that had sponsored the event. Many who crossed the notice commented freely: “Look at the doctors today: they get all free booze and food from the pharma and then prescribe wrong medicine to everyone! All this medical corruption and malpractice must be banned, these doctors must be sent to jail! They survive by looting poor patients!” etc. “Why can’t doctors live simple lives, avoid all luxury and hold their meetings in poor one star hotels or govt colleges? Why do they need enjoyment or good food that they cannot afford? Why doesn’t the government ban doctors from entering five star hotels?” they asked innocently!
This was all way beyond explanation for our doctor. He had never felt so belittled for his profession. There was nobody who cared to look at the big picture. His merit and his education were his cross and his curse: to carry upon his shoulder, while those from other professions who didn’t care to have merit or ability could jealously preach him ethics that he alone must follow.
As the family cramped into the doctor’s small car, there was a loud panic. Someone had become unconscious. “Any doctor around?” shouted the cricketer frantically. His girlfriend had fainted. Just as our doctor took her pulse, the hotel manager kept shouting: “Don’t worry sir! I will get the best specialist in the town: let’s take her to that five star hospital: The owner is my friend “. She had become conscious again, after some sugar solution, apparently normal.
The five star ambulance left, screeching its siren aloud. Nobody cared to thank our middle class doctor. This was his duty to attend emergencies, taken for granted by all and ordered by law.
Addicted to scientific thinking, the doctor commented to his wife late that night:
“What percentage of people entering a five star hotel do you think are earning ethically and honestly? How many are there directly paying for themselves?”.
His wife hugged him, smiling. “I don’t know. But I know this: none of them is as proud as I am”. Her pride was reward enough for him, he had learnt to forget and forgive everyone else. For the sake of sanity required while treating his patients the next day.
(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande