Today was one of those days which I fear the most. It was a day of unnecessary waiting for a 15 minute appointment with my doctor for a routine checkup. Going to the checkup driving more than an hour is something that is not strenuous, but waiting there for more than 2.5 hours is something that always makes me shudder in utter frustration. But while waiting, I thought about something that I learnt a couple of weeks ago while browsing the net. In today’s urbanised modern world, apparently there are a huge number of people who has adapted on the new hobby of “people watching”. If you are smirking right now thinking that this definitely cannot be a hobby, you have to just do a simple Google to see how many articles you will find – starting from the very definition of the same, to an “how to (with pictures !)”, to even a morality debate on whether pursuing this is even ethical or not !
Nevertheless, amidst the rush of making the payments and obtaining the much-coveted patient “card”, the staff declared patiently to all the sitting patients that the doctor is stuck up somewhere and will be late by 30 minutes. Well, half an hour of an ordinary citizen’s time cannot be a natural calamity – but being me, I was sceptical on this 30 minutes slot. With my regular visits, the staff knows me by face and so with my male version of Madhuri Dixit smile on my face, I whispered to him and asked whether it’s really 30 minutes. Prompt came the reply in a whisper which triggered boiling of my blood “No, actually it will be minimum 1 hour”. No wonder, my blood pressure measurement taken immediately after this whispering exercise was slightly higher than the normal!
Two things went through a flash inside my brain. First is “never shoot the messenger” – so I patiently smiled back and thanked him for the critical information. I am sure if one of the sought-after highly ranked police cop in a state shared one such information of that criticality to the FBI equivalent in our country, the so-called constitutional crisis would have vanished like a super magic. The second thought that struck me was the eureka understanding that I acquired on that instant. The very statement of “doctor is today’s God on earth” made a new meaning to me. Sometimes God can be “seen” probably easily than a doctor on time.
I thought that this is the time to strike upon the “people watching” moment and here I am now penning down the experience. In that clinic, I was perhaps the youngest person amongst all the patients. Simply going by the percentage of grey hair is not a good measurement index as most of the people tend to provide business to L’Oreal, Godrej, etc, etc. I jumped to the conclusion by surveying how many people even refused to stroll down the small passage to kill time! You could see a number of people slouched into different degrees of laziness with their sitting postures getting converted into almost sleeping postures and associated bug yawns with dolby sound effects.
Then the predominant conclusion you could draw on the tech savviness of the people. Very few were directly on their mobiles watching the latest serials they missed on TV. Some where busy typing whatsapp messages to friends and families – but the typing speed was quite pathetic, which signified very less practice and usage. The majority had almost 6 inch display smart phones on their hands – but just staring at their black locked screens continuously actually convinced me that people have developed the habit of the horses of sleeping with eyes wide open.
I am restless and impatient – that was evident my pacing up and down every two minutes. And whenever I was doing that, I saw some of the uncles and aunties looking at me with scornful eyes – as if trying to convey the message “Not a high deal !! I also could have walked at a much higher speed than you, Beta! But my knee pain has forced me to only yawn and sigh”
Though it was not clear to me, but I was sure there were a group of medical representatives trying to find a slot with the various doctors sometime during the day. How else will you find a young group enclosed in the confines of a medical clinic; yet not only busy with their loud chatting but also occasionally doing the last minute make ups and lipsticks before rushing towards a doctors chamber only to return back dejected !
Then there were the ever ‘rebel’ Mashima’s! Their daughter and sons were trying to bind them into rules that she should not be having sweets every day after lunch specially when her sugar was edging past Virender Sehwag’s highest score in test matches. But the prompt defiance and nonchalance would have made Che Guevara proud and happy. Mashima was loudly protesting “You guys don’t understand anything ! One rosogolla or a laddu after lunch always helps in good digestion!”
By this time, it was well past lunch time and as the stock market was going down, my sugar levels was simultaneously going down at a faster rate. So I decided to take a break and go to the visitors canteen to get some food. Before going, I heard from my trusted friend and staff that doctor will come definitely by 2.30 pm. So it was another 30 minutes to go and I trudged off towards the canteen.
Entering the small cafeteria cum canteen, I saw a group of 4-5 people sitting in a table and laughing and joking within themselves. Surprisingly their table was totally empty without any signs of food consumption. I went up the counter and asked what kind of food is available – it was version of Indian fast food of dosa’s, idli’s, sandwiches, tea and coffee – but the canteen manager proudly asked me whether I would like to try their “day’s special” of chicken roast with paratha. Immediately I guessed that laughing and noisy group must have ordered the special dish – otherwise, why will some patients family members rejoicing just before food, that too in a hospital? And on top of that, they were Bengali’s! A tribe which always looks for yummy food wherever and whenever they spend some time!
My lunch came in 5 minutes – a unique combination of a plain dosa with coconut chutney and sambar, accompanied by the strong aroma of the chicken roast, which by that time, had appeared in my adjacent table. I savoured the aroma more than the food and while pushing off, I glanced at the group with sympathy. They will never even realise later what hit them when, in the evening, they will be running frequently to the toilet – such is the power of a tongue-wagging Bengali’s curse on somebody else’s food through their eyes!
Rest of the event was quite uneventful as by the time I went back, God had come and was busy dispelling his patients quickly. My only job was then to monitor the doctors chamber and count the number of people going in. My practice of counting to 5 was enhanced as I was in the 5th position. Once my visit was over and was leaving the place, I could sense so many people looking at me with envy and muttering to their companions “see how lucky is that bugger !! Going home now when I know I have to wait for 1 hour more with a queue number of 33”
My day of people watching was over and while coming back, I realised the power of this hobby. You could sense many things, personalities, people’s strength and weaknesses by sheer observations through people-watching. No wonder Sherlock Holmes always stressed on keen observation and indeed, it was quite elementary, my dear readers!