Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Hospital Experience in Delhi

I have been to the hospital a few times so far for various tests and checkups. Before going to the hospital at all, however, a man came to Shilli Uncle’s house (Shilli Uncle is my dad’s oldest brother; his house is where I’m staying) to take my blood. I have never seen this in practice (where someone comes to your house to take your blood, rather than you going to the hospital), and frankly I didn’t trust the man. He didn’t seem to speak correctly, the plastic bag (yes, a plastic bag) in which he brought all his supplies seemed excessively dirty (not sanitized/sanitary), and he came on a motorcycle (he was going to take the vials of my blood back to the hospital on a motorcycle?). I could only hope that he knew what he was doing, though, because this man was about to stick a needle in me!

After the tests were completed, we got a call, and I had to go to the hospital. So Kunwar Bhaiya (Shilli Uncle’s cook-cum-driver) and I went to the hospital together. Once inside, we were totally lost for direction. I have never been so baffled by red-tapism. There were so many forms to fill out for no apparent reason! I had to get a receipt from one place, and a test order from another place, and my test results from a third place altogether! It was chaotic, to say the least.

As one wanders around the hospital looking for where to go to get a particular test performed (nothing is clearly written), one observes a phenomenon that is intrinsic to India – the cutthroat nature of every interaction, stemming from the idea that “if I’m not cutthroat, my throat will be cut.” [To be fair, this is not entirely false.] I will write more about this concept as time goes on, I feel. It is something that warrants conformity, even when there is no desire to conform. Without elbowing your way through “queues” (also known as mini mobs) or shouting at people behind counters, your work would never get done. This is truly a pitiable condition. Where is the sense of community, the sense of friendliness that Indians seem to develop when in foreign countries?

When you arrive at the counter you think you are supposed to be at, nobody is willing to help until you shout at whoever is there. Shouting is not my forte (though I am getting better at it!). Fortunately, Kunwar Bhaiya was there with me on these quests in the hospital, or I would never have completed them. I was still a newcomer in India and especially Delhi, and I was still feeling unconfident with transactions in which I needed to use force to get things done. Soon, I hope, my confidence will build and I will swim like a fish in water in these situations…

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