Thursday, September 18, 2008

To health, the sweet way...

Tiny white plastic bottles with multi-coloured caps, labelled and filled to the brim with balls of sugar.Once upon a time our medicine cabinet used to be full of such bottles.A sneeze,a cough or a slight temperature change, and we'd be bundled off to the clinic of a famous Homeo doctor in town.A handsome old man with the sweetest disposition treated us of most of our childhood ailments.The two clinics he ran,one at Jawahar Nagar and another at Pazhavangadi were our regular haunts and the long wait in the lobby,an adventure to two very active kids.

To Neil and me, he was the epitome of the art of homeopathy.We mistook the picture of Samuel Hahnemann hanging on the wall to be that of the old doctor himself.His home in Jawahar Nagar was perhaps one of the pioneer modern homes in Trivandrum with a landscaped lawn, a pond with lotuses ,a grand aquarium and a beautiful view from the window of the consultation room.Perhaps it was because we were his regular patients,the softspoken doctor gave a patient ear to any complaints we had.Even if it was just one of us that had an illness ,the other would also be considered for any discomfort of health.That I once told him in a grave voice "Doctor,my finger hurts when I break pencil nibs" remains the most cliched and embarrassing anecdotes of our visits there.After the consultation we'd wait to get the medicines at the dispensary and were friendly with the staff there too.They let us go inside the counter and watch with wide eyed wonder as they opened a huge bottle of sugar balls.Neil and I ventured to ask where we could find a similar bottle.The heady smell of the medicine,the trays of empty plastic bottles,the colourful collection of caps,the label strips, all caught our fancy.Sure enough the healthy one was given a bottle of plain sugar balls as a compliment.

Now the problem when you have sugar balls for a medicine is that the prescribed 3 pills twice a day is hardly satisfying.So half the bottle is over before noon(one more won't hurt,being the thought behind the stealth).Once it got over too soon that I had to refill it with sugar from the kitchen lest Mum noticed!Thankfully we never suffered from an overdose.
Apart from the sweet pills we also used to get tasteless fine powder in neatly folded packets.Now those powders went down only with a spoonful of sugar.
Homeopathy was always the remedy for minor illness and preventive medicines.Come summer and there would be fresh bottles of the sweet preventive medicine in the cabinet.

I have come across very interesting people in this profession.The most memorable one was Ammamma's doctor who claimed to be treating her with imported German medicine.Mummy has this habit of reading all advertisement boards on the roadside and she found this lady doctor in a unfashionable house, brimming with confidence.The consultation took as long as three hours during which Ammamma and the doctor shared pleasantries,sob-stories and gossip and if they had time,the stomach trouble, while Mummy dozed in the other chair! The lady burned a huge hole in Ammamma's purse and sent home enough bottles which helped me practice abstinence.

One of the common things I've noticed about most Homeo practitioners(especially ladies who run clinics at home) are their unassuming consulting rooms(living or dining room or the balcony),messy tables(the stethoscope and pens resurface after a frantic hunt),and an unimpressive dressing sense.I once consulted a nighty-clad doctor looking every inch sickly herself and another time a cat jumped on to the table while I sat with a thermometer clamped between my teeth.Nevertheless their prescriptions worked just right.Sometime back a doctor surprised me when she cured my chest congestion by giving me an oral shot of the medicine.It was immediate relief.

Homeopathy is one branch of medicine which has always faced ruthless criticism from their counterparts.The homeopaths valiantly defend their profession where "like cures like".The argument continues.But for me, it is a 'sweet' memory and a very sweet reason to fall ill. ;-)

8 comments:

mathew said...

oh..actually i had long forgotten those little sugar balls...i remember hoping to be sick so that i could get one of those..my homeo doc used to be an old appappan near pattom who used to dose generous amounts of those in small plastic bottles..I used to even love the smell of em!!

I think we got cured of those colds just because of sheer liking for the medicine..and unlike the regular docs as you mentioned they would get far more personal in interaction and as a kid I loved it!!

Tom said...

No offence, but homeopathy never worked for me. Maybe an isolated case.
P.S. My sis once swallowed a full bottle of that tiny balls; We immediately made her drink a lot of coffee and rushed to the doctor. Luckily, nothing happened to her. :)

VMJ said...

i remember the doctor, his house in jawahar nagar and his pazhavangadi clinic in an almost dilapidated building. And i remember a lot of hyperactive kids there too. i used to wonder if they could be really sick if they seem to have all that energy. So it was all for that sweet balls eh?

Brought back fond memories. :)

nice one.

Neena Padayatty said...

@mathew

"....unlike the regular docs... they would get far more personal in interaction..."

You are right..All my ammamma needed was a patient listener..:-)

@tom

You are missing a lot of sweet medicine ...even i have done a similar feat but no one knew and nothing happened.;-)

@vmj

I knew someone would recognize the doc,he was one of the best in town..."rogi ichichathum vaidyan kalpichathum paal" ennalle parayunne...:D

George said...

Mention the word homeo and the first thing that comes to my mind is my father. Maybe its people like him, which brought disrepute to the homeopathic system, as my dad after reading something like " Homeopathic medicine Made Easy" came to the conclusion that , only practising is whats left now. Fortunately , he did not have to look very far to find a patient. Thuja 6000 was my starter , then I progressed to belladona. Finally after a month of trial and error my Mom intervened, and antibiotics rescued me from that misery.
This apart I had a very good experience from former homeo director K.P.Easo who lived in Ambalamukku.I guess for certain types of illness homeo is the best option. Also it does not have any serious side effects.True to his name , my dust allergy is now manageable.Dr Easo is no more in this world. May his soul rest in peace.

Merin said...

as always u hav chosen a really interesting topic...it brought back a lot f memories not onli frm those naughty n carefree days but also frm the past two yrs...
i loved those sugar balls beyond limits as a kid...n fortunately had an uncle who ws a practioner in this field..he used to give me those white bottles full f the cute n sweet balls evry time i visited his home...
moreover...hw can i frget the pic f someone who used to come to the PG class with those tiny white bottles...n that sweet smell which wil wake up al f us aftr every hour....:)

jj said...

This brings some bitter-sweet memories...

I was once treated by this lady somewhere near Pattom, and the consultation used to last for 3-4 hours with her never-ending self-praise and concern for worldly issues. She surely burnt a hole in my dad's pockets . Even she claimed her medicines were imported from Germany ...(dunno if its the same person you're talking about)
The doc prescribed around 8-9 types of medicines, each of which had to be rotated 3-4 hourly or something like that. Apart from the pills, there were small packets of some sort of white powder. Going by her treatment I had to swallow a packet like every half an hour. Imagine gulping some white powder, wrapped in a small paper right under the nose of a teacher in the classroom!
Within a week my teacher suspected that I was on drugs and questioned my parents... though I still fail to understand what made her think like that, would someone have drugs like that in public and that too in a classroom?

Neena Padayatty said...

@george

He he...don't know who to feel sorry for ur dad or u :D...Guess ur testimonial vindicates the discriminated branch of medicine:-)

@merin

A homeo doc for an uncle?..i envy you..;-)...yes and the "invisible man's" comment that the ilness would be cured in a year's time!

@josmy

Pattom??..yes,i think we are talking about the same person.He he i understand what u might have gone through..and Drugs!!LOL!!