Story 3. The Room Boy.


I would not have used quite the same language, but read on. In a cockeyed way, this relates to this story.

This story would not have happened had it not been for Prohibition. Most of India suffered from this bane for many decades immediately after independence but, sanity was restored due to sheer economics and all but one state in India have now totally removed that aberration or have liberalised regimes that do not consider drinking alcoholic beverages as a criminal activity.

My story takes place in Gujarat where prohibition is still in force but where one can easily get all popular brands of drinks at often lower prices than the neighouring states. In fact, Gujaratis claim that they enjoy their parties more because there is prohibition.

It was in 1986, just about a year after I had one hip replaced that this happened. Those were the days of wine and roses for me and I would not ever consider being without my sun downers anywhere.

I had to visit Gujarat as part of my official duties and I would mostly keep these visits to the bare minimum possible for the obvious reason. Whenever I had to stay overnight, my local contacts would arrange to purchase a bootlegged bottle of whiskey for use by me during the visit. I would gift away and left over before I left the state, much to the joy of the recipients.

In this particular instance, the hotel that I used to regularly stay in could not give me room due to a big convention and I was put up in a newer hotel. I checked in late in the evening after a full day’s work and a cheerful Room Boy carried my bags to my room. I gave him a generous tip and bade him good night and settled in. I took a shower and got into my after office attire of lungi and kurta, fixed myself a drink and settled down to watch some television.

There was a knock on the door and on opening it I found the cheerful Room Boy enquiring if I needed any other service. I thanked him and said no and said that I would order for food from Room Service and shut the door on him.

Fifteen minutes later, the same thing happened and this time he was more specific and asked me if I wanted a bottle of booze using sign language. I said no and sent him off once more.

Fifteen minutes later he was back again and I could sense that it was him again and was a bit annoyed when I opened the door and told him clearly that I did not want any liquor and that I did not want to be disturbed again. He cheerfully said, that he understood but whether I would be interested in “any other service” winking and making it obvious as to what was on offer. I lost my cool and told him that if he disturbed me again, I would kick his backside all the way to the staircase and decided to give him a demonstration for his troubles.

I came to after a few seconds. I was flat on my back on the floor, having tripped over by the kick not finding its target but my lungi. I lay there petrified for some time hoping that I had not damaged my artificial hip joint. I made tentative movements and having satisfied myself that I had not, I slowly got up and shut the door that was still open with no sign of the Room boy. I sat down on the sofa and telephoned my local contact to fetch me take me to an orthopedist after taking an X-ray. That was duly done and it was midnight before I came back to sleep.

I never stayed in that hotel again. And I never kicked anything or anybody again when wearing a lungi.

PS. Thanks Mitch.

Hospital Diversion.

My readers will recall that I underwent surgery to replace a prosthesis in my hip.

The evening before the surgery, I was subject to a pre surgery interview by an intern. To conclude the interview she asked if I had any medical problems not listed by her and I promptly said that it may not be relevant but I suffered from arthritis of the brain. The intense thing took it down and that resulted in the hospital’s physician ringing my surgeon up to ask what the matter was!

My surgeon, incidentally a good friend, assured them that he would take care of my brain and not to worry.

Post surgery, the Physician, now well informed about the cranky old patient and the Intern came for another interview and I told them that the surgeon replaced not only my hip but also my brain. I profusely thanked the Intern for the interview without which I could not have got two replacements for the price of one.

One of my little diversions during the stay at the hospital. Wouldn’t you like to have been that Intern?

Someone Needs To Work On Me.

Ursula, in her comments on my blog Balding And Spam, had this interesting thought at the end. “On a side note: Someone needs to start working on you, Ramana.”

In my book, a good thought deserves careful consideration and in this case a responsible response as well. So, here is my response after careful deliberation.

There are two types of work that needs to be done on me. Let me get the easier one out of the way first, work on my body.

I have had teams of surgeons, anesthetists, interns, nurses, and other specialists, work on two vital pieces of my body, my hips, on four occasions. On the last, they almost bid me final good bye, and I think that it was meant to be that I have a long distance betrothal in the future, that I did not oblige them.

Subsequently, I had an Orthopedist and and a Neurosurgeon work on my ulnar palsy for three months, just earlier this year.

On all five occasions, their efforts were supplemented by teams of physiotherapists who took perverse delight in working on me by putting me through impossible exercises. That they were inevitably very attractive young ladies, made the experience somewhat tolerable. My bald head did not influence their insistence on my following their orders.

Now, my GP is working on my weight reduction program with a vengeance.

Apart from all these worthies, I also have a choice to make from three excellent masseurs to work on my body every fortnight or so and that I survive them, is a measure of my body’s resilience.

To top it all, whenever my brain gets fried, I also regularly take what is known here as head massage from my barber on call at short notice.

So, a lot of people have worked on my body before and some continue to do so at regular intervals Ursula.

Let me now come to the second aspect of working on me. Parents, many teachers, my late mother in law, many well meaning friends and relatives, two spiritual teachers and most importantly, many bosses while I was in employment, have all tried very hard to work on my brain, without any success whatsoever.

Ursula, if you want to try, you will have to get into a very long queue of such well wishers. None of them are willing to give up despite my assuring them, that there is no brain to work on. Quite why they are not willing to believe me is beyond me.

Do you think that it could be my bald head?

The Scars.

I was badly in need of a massage after a recent 300 km round trip to Navi Mumbai. For those who do not know where that is, it is Marathi for New Bombay. A sprawling collection of towns on the mainland across from the island of Mumbai. I had to go there on a family matter.

I had been recommended an Ayurvedic Massage by a friend. For information on Ayurveda, please visit this site.


There is one attached to a popular local hospital and I fixed an appointment with the masseur and with great excitement, landed up there.

The massage was all that it was hyped up to be and the trained masseur knew his trade well. I came out feeling completely relaxed and refreshed and will indeed go back often.

This post however is not about the massage. It is about the masseur asking me during the massage about my two scars on both upper thighs. They are the left over signs of four surgeries for hip joint replacement and revisions. I don’t even notice them, but for the masseur this must have been a frightening experience! He needed to know so that he would not do any harm while massaging me around that area. I explained the background and asked him to proceed.

He did. After a few minutes however, he sort of hemmed and hawed and asked me why I had to get my hips replaced. I said that I had fractured them. Further discussions went on like this, in Malayalam, a South Indian language:

Masseur: How did you fracture them? Car accident?

I: No, you do not want to know.

M: No, no, I do want to know. I am very curious. I have never seen such big surgical scars before.

I: Forget it. Just leave it alone.

M: No sir, please sir, I am very curious.

I: Okay, since you are so persistent, I jumped out of a second floor apartment.

M: Aiyyayyo! (That is an exclamation in Malayalam, somewhat like Dear! Dear!!) Why did you do that? Fire?

I: No, but again, I do not want to talk about it.

M: Please sir, don’t stop now. I am itching to know the reason.

I: Okay, you asked for it. Because the husband came.

Pin drop silence, no massaging and just the gentle noise of the fan above.

I: Go on, why have you stopped the massage.

Massage starts. No further discussions.

After the massage, the bath, steam etc, I came out feeling like a Million Rupees, to find our man waiting for me near the door.

M: Sir, seriously, did that happen?

I: But of course. I told you not to persist, but you did and now you do not believe me.

M: Sir, I believe you but, I just want to tell you that when you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. I hope that now you do not do bad things.

I: No, I do not do any bad things. I just find them on the ground floor.

I walked out.

I wonder what direction the discussion will take when I go back again for a massage.

For those of you skeptics, please find a Malayali anywhere and ask if such a discussion can take place between two Malayalam speaking people. I would appreciate any Malayalam reader of this blog vouching for the authenticity of that possibility.