I am always amused by something or other when I go for for the annual medical examination (which, by the way, I do once in 3 years when threatened at knife point by my Gynaec). For me it is just a chore to be completed to keep my physician quiet for another year (or three) but when I look at the others in the same room I suspect that this may have a far profounder significance - like some sort of a war against disease or something. My amusement starts when I watch people deliver samples of urine and stools. Most people put them in plastic covers and then add a good length of BOPP tape to make sure that the contents don't spill out and then put it in another plastic cover which they staple neatly. Only thing that is missing is a gift wrapping. Outside the room for sample collection, they carefully unwrap the package and deliver the contents. It was the same this morning but even I was shocked when two Kissan Jam bottles emerged out of one such package - I was quite curious to know just what quantity the person decided to give for the test! I think he did not want to take any chances and brought the entire output of that morning!

Ultrasonography is technology's revenge on human beings - that scanner moving on cold gel applied over your abdomen, tickling you all over when your bladder is full is sheer torture. I usually go through it by switching off from my immediate surroundings and letting my thoughts wander to scenes which have nothing to do with water. Normally the doctor asks a few routine questions and goes about his business without engaging the patient in conversation. This one today was also the same but all of a sudden while taking the scanner over my navel he decided to ask me "Actually where are you from?" The question did not register initially and I blurted out: "What?"
I think when you lay on a table with your fat belly and all the abdominal tires exposed, you do not think of manners and politeness. Normally my response would have been "pardon?" or "sorry?" but I said "What?" As plain as that, and the doctor repeated the question. "Actually where are you from?' I do not know why he decided to ask me this question. was this his version of navel-gazing? or did my navel reveal something which made him suspect that I might be an alien creature or something? Did he suspect I was hiding something? I would never know but I gave an honest response and went back to wondering what might have prompted this strange question. Someday when and if I meet the doctor in more pleasant circumstances, I will perhaps ask him for an explanation.

Then came the mammography test. While I was in an unseemly state of undress waiting for the mammogram to be inflicted on me, the technician walked in along with three or four other young girls. I do not know if they are medical interns or apprentice technicians or just some school girls on a trip to the hospitals. I think it might be the last because one girl actually asked "ma'm , is the mammography test only for the breast or is it done for other parts also?" Can this be from a doctor or a medical student? If yes, I am worried about the future of humanity. Anyway, during the mammogram and the mammo sonogram which followed, I found myself becoming a specimen rather than a person who had paid through her nose for the test. Midway through the sonogram, the doctor would stop and tell the girls: "look at these lymph nodes. But presence of these does not necessarily confirm Cancer." And in my mind I would go: 'WHAT? Did she just say CANCER?" and make a mental list of all the things I should do in the little time I may have. When this went on for some time I wanted to protest but then endured it all in the cause of the medical profession. As my reward the doctor cleared my case as having 'no problem'.

Anyway after spending 5k and wasting 5 hours in a million tests, undressing and redressing a few million times, the doctor pronounced what was standing between me and perfect health : 9 kgs.of excess baggage, I mean body weight. As if I did not know that already. This is precisely why I am sceptical of these annual health check-up s (checks-up?) or whatever. I think it is a ruse devised by hospitals to make you pay and then become a 'specimen' on their tables to teach other interns and apprentices. Ok ok, not really but you understand my frustration, don't you? I have had a hard day, please don't argue with me.
There is this yuppy couple in my neighbourhood. Their life represents all the aspirations of today's younger generation - dream jobs in which they are successful; a large house fitted with the most modern equipment, art on the walls, dream kitchens (used by the servants and cooks) and elegant bathrooms, a small gym and a mini swimming pool in the basement. Their cars are large and one of the two, ofcourse ,is an SUV. Their weekdays are packed with them coming home just in time for dinner. Their children get the best of everything that money can buy. Only thing they cannot afford them is time of which they have so little. Their weekends are busy too with getting ready for the next week and obligatory socialising. They hardly know their neighbours nor seem to care. There are times they are face to face with you but forget to smile - either they are too preoccupied and do not recognise you or they are hurrying from or to something. They have two small children and this family of four uses the services of a cook, a live-in domestic help, a part-time domestic help, a driver and a guy who comes to walk and groom their dog.
Yes, a dog to complete the picture of perfection. And not just any dog - a dog from a line of superior dogs. He is a dog who loves people and craves human company. He is a bundle of energy, highly intelligent ( his comes from a breed of highly intelligent dogs) and a gentle soul with the sweetest temperament and of course a very alert guard. Like their kids, he gets the best money can buy - imported food, best veterinary care, shampoo baths in dog care clinics, an ex-policeman to come and train him. But does he care? No, all he wants is a little socialising - a little ruffling of his luxurious coat, a few minutes to bounce the ball to him and to sleep at the feet of his master. And he tries telling them that in the only ways he knows to communicate - he barks and furiously wags his tail to catch their attention every time they walk in and out of the house and all he gets is a firm "NO." When they are inside the house he waits outside the door, stretching his ears to catch any sound from inside and when they are out of the house he waits at the gate for them to return. Hoping perhaps that one day they will notice him and give him a hug. Not realising that for him they may be his family but for them he is just a worker.

And then last month, the man of the house had to leave on his new posting abroad. And so the wife and two children have shifted to another apartment they own just a km away, along with the domestic helps. And he is left all by himself to guard the house - they have employed a person to feed him, groom him and take him for a walk but it is heart-breaking to see him rush to the gate every time there are footfalls on the street outside his house. When I wake up I see him at the gate patiently waiting and when I go to bed he is there hoping they'd come and may be take him with them. Does he wonder where everyone has gone? Does he wonder why they have abandoned him?

I am reminded of Ulysses and his dog Argos. I think of a colleague who was transferred to Mumbai where he could not take his dog because of the apartment rules and his dog stopped eating and died in 3 months' time. I go to him and try to talk to him as often as I can but I can see it is not the same. I have been angry - the kind of anger which harms you because you are helpless to do anything about the cause. I offered to take him in or to find him a house but their response has been rather vague perhaps because they have invested so much and would like him to guard their house now empty.

Why do these creatures have to be so attached to their masters? Haven't they lived long enough with humans to learn of their selfishness and to expect a lot less from them? I think there ought to be strict laws on who can own a pet and their obligations towards them which should cover a lot more than just giving them the best money can buy. But then, I do not blame these people too. It seems that this is the way they treat people too, their own children and parents. Their way of expressing love and care is to buy expensive gifts for them. Only difference is people seem to be ok with it while dogs still seem to have different priorities. Too bad fellow, learn the rules.
Never get attached to one employer. This will stand in the way of your growth and progress.
Loyalty is passe. It is all about the best deal you can get for your services.
And above all, don't have high expectations from your masters. They are , after all, human.

P.s.: Ok, rant over. But I had to get the steam off my chest. This was bothering me so much for the past week that I have been rather depressed. I hoped to feel better after putting it down here but I don't. I suppose this whole situation could be just a matter of perspective - how I perceive it vis a vis the reality. May be the dog feels no such separation anxiety and I am just anthropomorphing my anxiety about the situation as the dog's. Perhaps he is happy to wait at the gate forever and has no perception of the passage of time. Perhaps he seems to have lost weight because he is gaining in height. Perhaps I am totally wrong about the situation, I sincerely hope so.
Further reading optional...


This is an email forward that made me feel better . Read on and you will know why:

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight..

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'
The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked. 'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued back the way he had come with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'
'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'
'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.
'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' he asked.

'This is Heaven,' the man answered.
'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too..'
'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope That's hell.'
'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your good name like that?'
'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind'