Thursday, January 29, 2009

Implicit faith

At 7 pm one evening many years ago, I got a panic stricken call from a nearby chemist. He said some of my patients were creating a ruckus in front of his shop. I asked him why. He said, ‘sir, the medicine prescribed by you is not available and they do not believe me and are shouting that you have told them it is available’. I wanted to know the name of the patient who is causing this trouble. He came back after ascertaining the name and said the chief trouble maker’s name was Kishenchand.

This Kishenchand is part of a group of carpenters from Rajasthan who have made Bangalore their home. The building boom here has attracted all sorts of artisans and being very hard working they are assured of regular work. They are a hardy and simple lot with ready contented smiles and are usually docile but volatile when provoked [evidenced by the frequent brawls amongst them on weekends]. For them I am the last word in medicine. I am a mister cure all and there is no disease on earth which I cannot cure. This kind of blind faith is quite frightening to say the least. Often I have tried telling them facts to the contrary only to be told that I am being too modest!

Living in groups, often on the construction site, eating and drinking by the wayside they are very prone to illnesses and Kishenchand had come that morning with fever of three days duration and I remember prescribing some paracetamol [acetaminophen] tablets. As was his habit he had asked me before leaving with the prescription, ‘Saab [sir], I hope this is easily available’. I had guaranteed that it is easily available. Now here is a chemist who says this commonplace drug is not available. I asked the chemist how is that he doesnot stock paracetamol?
He said.' Sir, the medicine you have prescribed is PUO – three days. We don’t have this drug, I have even searched the drug directory and it is not mentioned even in that’.

I told him to dispense paracetamol and tell Kishenchand to see me later with the medication. After getting their medicine the group went without causing any physical harm to the chemist.

PUO is the short form for pyrexia of unknown origin or [I don’t know what is causing this fever]. Normally that is what I write in my notes. What must have happened is that instead of writing this in the case notes I had written it on the prescription to the chemist. The Hindi speaking simple Rajasthani who thinks his doctor is one who commits no error and the chemist who was puzzled at the strange name, were thus at loggerheads.

When I tried explaining to the simple carpenter what had transpired, he would still not blame me but kept telling that the chemist is insolent and instead of telling that the drug was not available, he should have checked with me first, instead of getting into a needless argument with him and his friends.

I kept quiet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Coronation second time!

Just to see that my wishes for a simple swearing in ceremony fulfilled, Barak Obama was sworn in again and this time there were only eight persons to witness. Even to the likes of me, the ceremony was too simple!

John Mortimer

It is with sorrow I read the news of passing away of John Mortimer, the author of many popular books of fiction. But what I remember most about him, is for the creation of the characters, Horace Rumpole and his wife, She who must be obeyed. Rumpole of the old Baily is a wayward genius of a lawyer, fond of cheap wine and cigars, who firmly believes in defending the petty criminals and keeping them out of jail. This he does, as he believes, by doing so, he is preventing them becoming major criminals. That his wife doesn’t share his views and how they manage to get along is another interesting part of these stories.
Over the years I have read and reread these stories and continue to enjoy reading them. Mortimer has written many books and plays but I found his Rumpole books are the best of his works.

He came to see me after ten years. These ten years he has been seeking help with some one else. I have stopped worrying about those who leave me for better medical pastures but I still am curious to know why they did leave me in the first place and more so why did they come back. I get some interesting answers, but what this man said took the cake. He said,’ an old enemy is better than a new friend!’

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Muniappa makes the cut

Muniappa, our club's caddie turned pro [read post: Muniappa and Madiah, modern day ekalayas Sept 07], who plays the Indian tour and ranked under the top 15 for the past five years, has now made the cut at the qualifying event recently held at Bankok, Thailand.He finshed 30th among the more than 400 who vied for a place.The first 40 were selected.
He can now play in the asian circuit.

Obama's coronation

I watched with fascination, yesterday night, the swearing in ceremony of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the U.S.A. Fascination because what I thought would never happen in the US, that a Black man would become president, happened. Fascination because of the distinct class differences that was obvious even in a staunch democracy like the US. The proletariat was effectively penned in a vast enclosure and their numbers exceeded one million! The bourgeoisie were kept separate and were provide with separate enclosure with adequate seating and were regally and ceremoniously escorted. Spending millions of dollars on a swearing in ceremony appeared too much even if it is swearing in of a favorite like Obama. They could have done with a simpler, more elegant ceremony was my final impression of the whole show.

Ramana's English

Ramana became my patient because my name suggested that I, like him has had my origin in Telugu land. When he came to know that I am not a Telugu he was deeply disappointed. Though I could understand what he said in that language, my knowledge was not enough to carry on a meaningful conversation. The only other language in which we could communicate, I thought was Hindi which I was pretty good at and he being from Hyderabad knew Urdu which till then I thought was Hindi’s first cousin. Few sentences from Ramana’s Hyderabadi Urdu made me realize that these two were entirely different languages. The only way we could communicate was through English. Looking at my worried expression, Ramana said,
‘Saar[sir], don’t you worries, I speaks English,’ but saar, Telugu is a beautiful language and saar must learn it’ He said this with such a depth of feeling, that he made me feel by not speaking that language I have missed something very valuable in life. I agreed and said I will make the effort now he has told me the beauty of the language.
With this introduction completed, I asked him, ‘what can I do for you?’
‘My chests, saar, he fines’ [my chest pains]
He had this habit of pluralizing every word and also using gender indiscriminately. Nevertheless even with his bad English he was able to make me understand unlike his Urdu.
So Ramana had chest pain.
Since when are you having chest pain? I asked
‘Wanse [once] fifteen years’
He had chest pain once fifteen years ago, I could surmise. But I wanted to know since when he has had the present chest pain. I asked him
‘Oho, this wans, three days’ he said.
‘Do you have fever? I asked.
‘No fevers, only fines’ he said
I examined him. Didn’t find anything seriously wrong with him. After reassuring him, I gave him a prescription.
‘Thank you; you are very kinds’ Ramana said before taking his leave.

Another time he came with his four year old son.
‘Saar, this is my babies, he saar, has good fevers and coughs’
Here, good in his language means high.
The boy with good fever caused no problems while getting examined and I complimented Ramana for having such a smart son.
‘Yes saar, he is very goods’ he agreed.
I wrote out a prescription and sent him. Five minutes later he was back.
I asked him why was he back.
‘Saar, I forgets, this here medicine how many times per days?
I explained that the medicine is to be given three times in a day.
He stood there scratching his head.
I asked him, ‘what is bugging you now’
‘Excuse the trouble saar, but you don’t tell after meals or before meals’
I told him that too.
He still won’t go.
I gave him a questioning look
‘Saar wans more things?’
What is this one more thing? I asked him with some irritation in my voice.
Saar what meals [food] to give my babies?
I explained even that.
Now he had no more questions but he was not sure. With great reluctance he took my leave.
I waited for some time with mounting anxietyexpecting him to come back. Thankfully he did not.

In the course of time I came to know him well and found him to be quite entertaining and the dread of his visits got gradually replaced by one of expectancy, as when he came I could be certain of some fun.
So Ramana and I took to talking matters other than illness during his visits. He took care to see that there were no patients when he indulged in this kind of gossip. Once when we were talking, the discussion was on over population and the problem the country is facing. Ramana said by the way of explanation,’ Saar, everybody wants boy childrens only’ so they try, try and try till get boy children, so population grows and grows and grows’ I agreed but said one should not worry about the sex of children but limit the number to two either way.
‘Childerns very goods saar, but too many childerns not very goods saar’ he said.
I agreed.
‘How many childrens saar have saar?’ He asked.
I told him about my two daughters.
‘Both daughters saar?’ He said this with extreme compassion.
Seeing me quiet and thus encouraged, he continued, ‘Saar, no mistakes me, you must haves sons saar’
He must have felt sorry for the poor doctor saddled with two daughters.
I wanted to have some fun.
I asked him, ‘when you said, I must have sons you meant how many?
‘Saar you are very funny mans saar’, he said.
But I insisted. He said, ‘wone but two even better saar’
I asked him how many he has. He said, ‘three Saar,’ gleefully lifting three fingers.
I congratulated him on this extraordinary achievement.
‘You must be very lucky; you are going to get lots of dowry when you marry your sons’ I said
‘Yes, yes, what you say corrects saar, but wonly when they become doctor engineer’
I said, don’t you or your wife feels like having a daughter?
‘Feelings yes saar, but womans childs in our community born means mothers fathers finish saar’
‘What is your problem, you have three boys and you can afford to have a girl and spend some of the money you get when you marry your sons’. I said.
‘Saar, you are making funs saar, how I knows my sons become doctors engineers now only? You tell me’.
He had me there.
He spent another ten minutes trying to motivate me to beget a male child and went.

Another time Ramana came with his wife’s brother Rajagopal to see me.
‘Saar, this is brother in laws. His names Rajagopal. He is mad mans saar’
A strange way of introducing one’s brother in law. But the brother in law did not seem to mind this introduction in the least.
I felt bad; I told Ramana that this is no way of introducing his brother in law.
‘Saar, you don’t knows. He really mads’
I told him. ‘He looks ok to me’
‘Yes Saar he looks ok but he mads’. Ramana insisted.
‘In what way? I asked Ramana
Saar he tells robbers comes and he sees them but I don’t see, wife don’t see robbers. Tells clothes catch fires but I see no fires catches clothes.
I talked to Rajagopal. He did have visual hallucinations and needed expert Psychiatric help. I told Ramana to take him to a friend of mine who is a good Psychiatrist. Before he went I warned him not to keep calling his relative mad man. Instead tell that he is mentally ill.
‘Waat saar, you tell mental ills, I tell madness, both same same, waat difference?
I had to agree to this logic.

So they went and met my Psychiatrist friend and returned after two days.
There was a note for me. My friend while thanking me for sending the patient had also thanked me for sending an interesting attendant. The interesting attendant was Ramana.
I asked Ramana about the meeting with the psychiatrist.
He said, ‘saar your mad mans doctor friend, he saar very goods and also very funny mans saar’
I knew that my friend had a sense of humour and loved a good laugh. Still, I asked Ramana, ‘why did you find him funny?’
‘Saar, he make me laughs too much saar, he talks with brother in law like children saar. Also waat you know saar, he records my voice on tape recorder saar’ he said with obvious excitement.
This was news to me. I asked him why did he do it.
‘Saar he says, patients’ histories important records’.

I met my friend after a couple of days and asked him about this tape recording.
He said,’ I do occasionally record the patient’s history, But in Ramana’s case the way he talked was exceptionally funny and I did not want to miss it. The record when played back is good for a hearty laugh’

Ramana came to see me the other day. He looked sad. I asked him what the matter was. ‘Saar they have transfers me to Hyderabad’ he said this in an accusing tone. ‘I feels very sads saar’
I said, ‘Why are you feeling sad? Hyderabad is your home town; you should be happy and not sad’
‘No saars, I stays Hyderabad, too many relatives comes and big troubles for wife saar, just I liking Bangalore, they transfer me saars, this is very bads saar’. When he was saying this his eyes were wet.

I also felt bad to lose a nice good man who provided me with some free entertainment each time he came.
Thus went Ramana to Hyderabad and I lost track of him,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fun reading

This correspondence is fun reading and I thought it nice to share with you all. Babu [of Pythakaran fame] is moving lock stock and barrel to his ancestral village, come February. His village is in the state of Kerala which is ruled by the communist party. Babu is trying to get his house renovated and the process is on since a year! People build mansions in a year but not in Kerala. The workman in this state thinks and behaves like the boss and the less work he does and gets more pay he feels he deserves it. Malayalam is the name of the language spoken by people of Kerala and Babu is one of them. Coconut tree is widely grown in Kerala and easily available to those who wish to commit suicide by hanging! You should read Babu’s [albeit imaginary] suicide note in this context.

His house, here in Bangalore, where I too live, was burgled recently when he was away in Kerala trying to get that house done and the correspondence refers to this episode. Reddis are a community of rich landlords and business men who form a large percentage of people who reside in this area. MF Hussain is a well known, high selling, Indian painter, easily identified because of his flowing hair, whiskers and moustache.
From: Babu []
Sent: 16 January 2009 5:28 AM
To: Dr. B.C.Rao
Subject: Re: Real Story: A Violinist in the Metro
Subject: Fwd: Real Story: A Violinist in the Metro

Must Read!!!
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that a few thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician
playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the tin and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was
late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on. In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence
took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100. This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive
beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

2009/1/15 Dr. B.C.Rao :
You know Babu, this is true of many life situations. Hussain, if he were to paint [after shaving of his trademark beard and whiskers] at the road side he won't sell a single piece!

Original Message: From: Babu [] Sent: 15 January 2009 4:49 AM

BC, since I am in the communist territory, I follow the Old Russian Gregorian Calendar. Like them, for me, The New Year is cerebrated in the 14th of Jan. So I hope that it is not too late for me to wish you, vasantha and the children a very peaceful healthy New Year.
We are fine here. Children came here for the New Year. Was very enjoyable. The house work, if I can maintain this pace will be completed by Feb. Either the house or I will be finished by Feb.
So look into the obituary columns, preferably in some Malayalam News paper, (Palghat edition) and if you find something reading like this, "a retired person trying to build a house Kerala commits suicide out of frustration, by hanging from a coconut tree " you know who it is going to

Thanks for making me A GLOBAL CITIZEN through your know BC, when I told a few people, about the theft in my Bangalore house, and the fact that I didn't lose any cash or jewelry, I didn’t realize that my status in the local circle will go down so very drastically. Why they thought, should they spend their time with this man who has no jewellery and cash. The result is that invitations to weddings have stopped, and fewer people visit us now.

So I have modified my statements about the theft. I tell all that we lost a couple Jani's diamond necklaces, 12 diamond bangles, two kilos of gold jewelry, my stone studded wedding ring ( purely due to my association with The Reddis from Indiranagar Club) and gold watches , about 6 lakhs of cash, and that too with a smile without batting an eye lid. My standing in the society will, I hope improve, and the wedding invitations will start arriving once again. BC, keep a few days free in March for your visit to our den. I think that you will enjoy it.

Keep in touch.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A consultant is one who knows more and more about less and less, so goes the pun. It is true that they often create more problems than they solve.
There was a village infested with cats. Where ever one went one saw them. They were perched on tree tops, roofs, compound walls, porches and one could not even walk freely without a cat coming between ones legs, not to speak of the din and the dirt.
Things came to such a head that the village council met to discuss ways to tackle this menace. After prolonged palaver it was decided to seek help from a Mr. Rattan Singh, the famous cat expert, who lived in a town nearby.
A delegation of villagers led by the headman went to see this worthy.
First sight of Mr. Singh, they were suitably impressed. His was an imposing figure and his office had various traps, nettings and the other paraphernalia required to carry out his job. Rattan Singh agreed to do the job for a fee.
On the appointed day, Rattan Singh, the cat catcher, arrived at the village and he was warmly received by the harassed villagers. Rattan went around the village on a recce and found sitting on a lamp post a huge maroon coloured tom cat. Instantly the cat expert knew this feller was the problem for the cat population bloom.
He caught the tom cat and sterilized him. He assured the villagers that the problem is now over and they can all sleep peacefully hence forth.
Six months passed. The cat population instead of becoming less grew even more.
The delegation went to Rattan Singh and complained.
The surprised expert visited the village to find out.
What the villagers said was true. He sought out the tom cat. He found him perched regally on the lamp post preening himself. Rattan Singh asked him in the language of the cats. ‘How is it that your population has increased?’
‘I have now become a consultant’, the tom cat replied.

Superstition and belief

I had an occasion to visit the house of an acquaintance of mine some time ago. I had been to that house some years ago and thought it would be easy to find the place. I went to the same street and cross but couldn’t locate the house. Unlike the other up market areas of this city the area in question had not changed much and I could easily locate several other landmarks. But whatever has happened to my friend’s house? Seeing me walking around, apparently lost, a kindly resident asked me whose house was I looking for? I told the name. He laughed and showed me the house. I was standing right in front! What had happened since my last visit was that my friend had completely redone the house. What to my eyes was a beautiful little cottage with an inviting garden in front has now turned into a concrete monstrosity with no front porch and door! The entrance to the house was in the rear where it faced the back wall of the neighbor’s home. The front garden was built up. I couldn’t help asking my fiend what made him do these hideous alterations to his once beautiful home. He did not take kindly to my comments. It may appear like that to your eyes but it is vastu compliant now and my asthma has since gone and there is improvement in my business.

Those of you who are ignorant of what Vastu is here is a very brief introduction. The construction of a dwelling is based on vasthu shastra, ancient principles in the Indian tradition. The house entrance must face the east and the water source [even if it is piped water supply from the municipality] must enter the house from the east. The pooja room should be located away from where the kitchen is which should be located south. The bedroom should be similarly located at a particular place and direction. If one follows all these principles, then, peace, health [disappearance of asthma in my friend’s case] and prosperity are guaranteed, if not, you will be visited by demons and your life in that house would be hell. There are vasthu experts who advise builders and many architects and engineers have some basic knowledge of vasthu. What my friend had done was to completely ruin his house to suit these basics of vasthu and appeared happy that he had done it.

Seeing the disbelieving cynical expression [I seem to be blessed with this expression] he went on. ‘You don’t know how great we were thousands of years ago; we were the originators of today’s mathematics, science, technology, medicine and surgery. See our temples, they are built on sound vastu principles and they have stood the test of time, our ancients knew how to fly aero planes’. I kept a discreet silence, knowing full well it is futile to argue with a believer. His belief has no logic or rationality. The whole issue of religion has many irrational elements and the avid practitioners, some of them are otherwise very rational implicitly believe in these. My friend is one such and his argument is that today’s rationality is tomorrow’s madness. There is some truth in this statement. Yesterdays rationalist is today’s believer and vice versa. What to my eyes hideous is to my friend’s eyes beautiful. I dread to think that I would be so brain washed one day that I would become like him!

Another irrational nonsensical belief is in good and bad time in the course of the day. The good time, as far as I Know has no name. So I presume what is not bad time is good time. The bad time is calculated based on astral position of planets and is called Rahukala.There are almanacs prepared and printed by expert astrologers which give the precise extent of Rahurkala every day. It might surprise you to know that I have known surgeons who will not operate at these hours. Many believers don’t even step out of their homes in these times let alone undertake any work. Now you have another reason why we are so unproductive! There is a gentleman who told me that all the problems that his son is having in his marriage is because he went to see the girl at Rahulkala, against his advice!

This brings me to another irrational practice [according to me].This is, matching horoscopes. A horoscope is an astral chart at the time of one’s birth. This horoscope is for many the most important single document. This is frequently referred to when one is launching a venture. As marriage is a very important venture, we Indians take recourse to matching horoscopes to decide who should marry whom. The logic is, you any way will get to know your partner after the marriage and if the horoscopes don’t match and you marry, then, disaster is guaranteed. I have had many who have attributed their misfortunes to mismatched horoscopes. I gave an example of one my cousins who married after all the matching done, only to lose her husband to a heart attack a few years later. The person to whom I said this replied that he was sure that the person who read the horoscopes was not an expert or the horoscopes were not properly cast. The horoscope is in itself is not to blame. I gave him many examples of successful marriages with no horoscope matching. He smiled and said.’ had the horoscopes been matched, you would have found that they were perfect.

You can never shake a believer.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


It was more than ten years since I saw Leslie and naturally I was pleased. Many times I am unaware of the reason why my patients stay away from me for such long periods of time. Especially persons like Leslie who needs to see a doctor periodically to check his blood pressure. It has been my practice not to ask why they have not seen me, as long as they are getting adequate attention. What disturbs me however is when this does not happen and often they simply quit and continue taking medications prescribed at the time they had last seen me. This often has unpleasant and some times, disastrous consequences.

Leslie must have been pushing 70 when this incident occurred. During his younger days he was a university level athlete and a good hockey player. After spending several years abroad he returned to India and settled in Bangalore. He would periodically visit Mangalore to spend time with his old parents. I had even on occasion, seen them when they visited him here. Leslie enjoyed life and whenever he came he somehow managed to make me laugh. His conversation was peppered with frequent use of four letter swear words and he used them liberally to make his point and even when he came to get himself examined this was true.

So naturally I was happy to see him return. I asked him how he has been.

He said,’ doc, I am now in Mangalore at my ancestral home, I sold my house here and moved there. I am sorry I could not meet with you before I went there’

I refrained from asking him how his wife and two sons are doing. They must be well into their late thirties now. I as a policy don’t make this natural enquiry because I don’t know what can of worms I would open by doing so. Often during the intervening period things would have happened which are unpleasant and the person would not want to be reminded. If the happenings are pleasant they will tell me on their own. So I kept quiet.

But this doesn’t prevent my patients from asking me. Leslie too was no exception. He asked me.’ how is your family doing?
I narrated what all that has happened to my family in the intervening period. He said, 'doc, you look bloody good’.
I said thanks.
Are not you going to ask about my f……..g family? He asked.
I kept quiet.’ So, you know about them, Leslie said.

I told him I haven’t a clue to what has happened to him and his family since I last met with him which was more than ten years ago. He then proceeded to tell me the sad story of the misfortune he has suffered mainly due to his f…….g sons and his bl…….y wife supporting them. In short they have done very badly in life and are an economic burden on him in his old age. I really did not want to know the details.

I asked him why he has come to see me. He said, ‘You know me very well. I cannot sleep, I am always worried and my doctor there gives me sleeping pills which do me no bl...dy good and all the time I am thinking of my two f……g sons who have become experts in converting food into shit. You want to know something more, 'they have, between them, b…… me so hard and for so long that I can’t even fart without pain’.

Typical of Leslie, even in his misery he makes others laugh.

He had depression which I was able to treat and now he is managing fairly well despite the continuing problems.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Paad Pooja

In vernacular, heavily influenced by Sanskrit, this means feet worship when literally translated. Paad means feet and pooja means worship. We Indians especially Hindus see the presence of divine in everything around us and worship trees, sun, rain, birds, animals, idols and going by the newspaper reports even cinema stars. So worshipping the feet should be no surprise to those who know our ways! Still one is at liberty to wonder whose feet or we worshipping?

It is a common custom to show our respect to our elders, close friends, relatives, those who know more than we do, and those who are in power [e.g. politicians], by folding our hands. In extreme cases this respect takes the form of bending low and touching the feet. Occasionally it will be go even further when the exhibitor of the respect will fall flat on the ground and touch or hold on to the feet of the receiver of the respect [ temple deities, swamijis and gurujis fall in this category].

I routinely touch the feet of my patients. This is part of my examination routine. I look at the colour, texture, feel the pulses, and look for presence or absence of infection and sensations. I get a wealth of information by this close inspection. I spend some times more time looking at their feet than their faces. Many of my patients often the ones whom I see for the first time are uncomfortable and feel that I, [according to them] more educated and informed, should not be touching their feet. They show their discomfort by a quick withdrawal of the feet away from my probing hands. I had to, on occasions, use gentle force to keep their feet under my control. One elderly gentleman had tears in his eyes and expressed that what I did was very wrong. The conversation went as follows.

‘Doctor, you should not be touching my feet’
I asked, ‘why not?’
‘It is wrong, that is why’ he said.
‘Don’t you visit temples?’ I asked him.
He said yes he did go to the temples.
‘Don’t you bend down and touch the feet of the deity?’
He said, yes, when permitted he does.
This established, I asked him,
‘Don’t you give me my fee before you go?’
He said yes and I could see some confusion on his face.

Then I explained to him what all information I get when I touch his feet.

So by touching his feet, I said, I get knowledge and also money. In a way it is better than going to a temple and worshipping a deity and not be sure of getting what you desire.
He was quiet for a while and the truth of what I said finally sank in.

But the tears kept flowing.