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Seventy and to hell with it!


Here is a note that was lying in my draft for more than a week now. It decides to come out of draft and stand up today. 😊

Photo taken on my phone @ Sooda's dental clinic, with doc, assistant and patient at work

We live in a society which carries a thought that the best age to live life the way we want is between 20 and 45, and that, life is over once we hit 50. Every time I come across people at older age with right attitude; my thought gets stronger that it’s not in the number but in the attitude one carries. My weekend was one such encounter. I was with dad at a place which is around 16 -17 Kms from Udupi. On the way lies Manipal. We planned a visit to a medical store in Manipal, followed by a lunch at Udupi and then finally beach, our favourite place. We were driving to Udupi when dad insisted, we drop beach idea and visit dentist since he had intermittent pain in his upper and lower molars. I immediately agreed. I was happy he asked me to take him to the dentist; he would otherwise never insist on going to the doctor.

We stopped at Manipal. We had a very tough time finding the parking. Of course its a happening place, but non-stop rain had added to the difficulty of car parking. We found our specific stuff, the quadripod walking stick, in a particular medical at Manipal after looking for it in several places. Then we moved on to Udupi to visit the dentist. First floor, The Sooda’s dental clinic it was. It looked small from outside but was quite big inside. After a 5-minute wait we were let in from reception place to dentist room. There were 3 dentists. 2 of them already attending the patients. The other was Mr. Sooda himself. He was waiting for my dad to take his seat.

They were an instant hit with each other. Their conversation went on like this.

Dad: Namaste

Doctor: Namaste. What happened?

Dad: I have pain in my upper and lower molars. Not always. Intermittently.

Doctor: Let me check it.(After a through check)Yes, the lower molar is eaten up. Needs filling.

Dad: No filling, please take it off. There is pain in upper molar as well.

Doctor: The upper molar is all good. The pain is only in the lower one. We can retain it with filling.

Dad: Why retain and all? I am already 70. Please knock it off.

Doctor: So, what? I am 78. It’s not in the number. It’s in the mind.

I looked at him with wide open eyes. He did not look 78. At least I did not feel so. I observed him carefully now, but for a hearing aid in his ears, he looked fit and fine. My ears and eyes opened up wider now.

Dad: No no, no filling. I can’t keep coming every now and then for the fills. Just extract it. 78 and still working like this?

Doctor: Ok. I will extract it. Yes, work keeps me occupied and active. I have 3 daughters. The other 2 there looking into patients are my daughters. The 3rd one inside is looking into prescription, precautions and diet advises.

I turned around to look at the other 2 doctors. The very thought of father guiding all the daughters in their profession and working in the same work place was still sinking in.

Doctor: I will give you a local anesthesia and extract your tooth. I will have to inject you for that. Do not bite, you will not have sensations after 10 mins.

He injects the anesthesia locally and during the waiting time he continues.

Doctor: I engage myself with Upanishads, Geeta readings and also work here in the clinic. However, I have hearing problem.

Dad: That’s good right? If you can’t hear, there is no quarrels.

All of us laughed. There was truth behind the laugh though. Then they continued with their discussions on Upanishads, Geeta and Puranas. Doctor told about his Guru, X-principal of MGM college. The way his Guru used to teach Upanishads every Sunday for 13 years. He mentioned about the ‘Bhagavat Geeta’ by Shankaracharya as one of the best books on Geeta. He reasoned out, the Geeta by Shankaracharya, has actual meaning of the slokas and no author's idea/perception indulged  in it. Their talks on spiritual stuffs were endless and awareness arising.

Doctor: Let me pluck your tooth now. (He plucks the tooth in no time.)

Dad: That was easy one. Experienced hands make things pain free.

Doctor: (Laughing) It was anesthesia at work. I have instructed my daughter, talk to her and take the prescription. It was really nice having you here. I used to bore people with Upanishads and stuffs earlier, then I had stopped it. It does not go well with everyone, you see. After a long time, I spoke to someone about Upanishads. Good to see someone sharing same interests. If you visit Udupi again, do come and meet me. I would be happy to see you again.

Dad: Sure. I was eating this tooth pain for so long. If I knew you would make it so easy, I would have made it here earlier.

After taking the prescription and diet advises from his daughter in the other room, we walked out. It was their first meet and it was deep indeed. They had so much more to share with each other.

The visit to dentist had replaced our lunch plan with ice-cream treat. It was joy to watch my father gulp up the ice-cream one after the other like a child. Later, he picked up “Bhagavat Geeta” by Bananje Govindacharya for his next read. My Saturday indeed went well.

There is so much that we can add to life, even at 70 I thought. Shoba De rightly hells with the number 70 in her book “70 and to hell with it.”

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