I assumed a visit to the doctor in India would be a fairly straightforward incident. I was wrong.
“Do you know a good GP?” I asked my driver.
His eyebrows formed a V of confusion.
“A doctor, general practitioner,” I clarified.
“Yes, Madam,” his head wobbled.
The hand-painted sign above the building entrance read, ‘Gynaecologist and Obstetrician.’ I shrugged my shoulders and ascended the dusty, uneven concrete steps.
“Is there a General Practitioner here?” I leaned over the cracked glass counter towards the receptionist. “I have a bad flu.”
The receptionist led me into the doctor’s surgery and I found myself surrounded by baby toys and mother’s books.
“Hi,” I smiled to the woman in a stiff silk sari sitting behind a dented metal desk. “I think I’m in the wrong place. I need a GP.”
“You are not needing a gynaecologist?” her head tilted to the side.
“No, I have a flu. I need a general practitioner.”
“Ah, you are meaning general physician,” she smiled. “I am OB/GYN,” her eyes flitted towards the procedure bed in the corner of the room.
I took one look at its rusty metal stirrups and I did an abrupt about turn like a drill soldier.
“That was the wrong type of doctor,” I giggled to my driver as I hopped into the backseat. “I need a general physician.”
His eyes lit up with understanding. “I am knowing.”
The car bumped down a narrow street of wandering cows, piles of fetid rubbish, and giant idlis of manure swarmed by frenzied flies.
Sliding the door to the side, I stepped into a matchbox-sized cubicle.
“Myself Anil,” smiled a chirpy man in a white coat, “And your good name?”
“Hello, I’m Sarah,” I sat on the plastic chair adjacent to him. “I’ve had a flu for 2 weeks.”
“Madam is paining very much?” he peered into my open mouth like a miner foraging through a tunnel.
“Yeah, my throat feels like it’s on fire,” I croaked.
“I am thinking Madam needs some antibiotics only. Do one thing and purchase from pharmacy.” He scribbled the name of the medication on a blank piece of paper the size of a raffle ticket.
No prescription was required. Better still, the consultation cost me a measly $2. It was a far better resolution than a date with the gyno. You’ve got to love India.