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Fraternity of the Diseased

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Have you guys noticed how people tend to bond over diseases and ailments? It’s almost like a social convo savior. Like the moody weather or the bad traffic. In fact I think people find it far more exciting. Suddenly there is something concrete and interesting and serious to talk about. Just think about it. I am sure a lot of us have been in situations where medical ailments have been hearty topics of discussions. But only after some awkward pause where nobody knew what to talk about. Then somebody suddenly mentioned a disease and everyone latched on to that lifeboat. Hang on hang on tight everyone or you'll surely drown in the turgid sea that is this gathering! And once that happens, it’s the survival of the fittest. Each one has to try and up the other over either who has the more severe symptoms OR who knows more about this illness. Out come all the numbers, the advice, the dos and the don’ts, the tablets, the clinics, the hospitals, the doctors in California who recommended the strained juice of grapes grown in horse manure, the latest research, the drugs on trial, the homeopathic doctors with miracle cures, herbs found in the remote swamps of Kerala brought to your city by the trading Seths and which can only be acquired via the sister of the husband of the neighbour’s sister-in-law’s sister.
You think that’s too much? Did you forget the severe symptoms battle?

...it’s getting so bad, I have to get up twice in the night to pee.

“That’s nothing, I get up every two hours. It’s really tiring.”

I know, the other day I woke up such terrible cramps in my legs I had  to wake my son and he quickly ran and heated up some water and then gave me fermentation, and….

“Yea, it happens to me all the time – “

and he made me some milk and was like mom, are you okay, are you okay ……

That’s nothing, you are lucky. Once I had this sudden attack during a wedding, and my Goddd, I thought I would faint. Everyone around me was looking at my face and asking me what’s wrong, what’s wrong, and I was in sooo much pain, I couldn’t move my lips – ”

….I was like don’t worry it’s okay beta, just get me some eurobinflux tablets and only after that I was able to sleep for a little while…

And so on and so forth. And so on an so forth. Eventually, one or the other abandons ship. Or somebody else who’s had enough pushes them both out. The boat gets lighter. And people keep jumping or getting pushed out until all common diseases have been crossed off. Usually the last man remaining is the one who’s dealt with all those ailments, and found it pointless to discuss any of it. He would be the dude who just sits there sagaciously waiting for the newbies to tire themselves. Secretly in his head, he is the Rupa Frontline man. Just wanting to whip it all out and go Whatchyou got that I ain’t got. Dhang. Dhang Dhang. And he probably has a partner. And between the both of them – they probably have every ailment in the book. And eventually, the sages just roll up their sleeves,  stretch their legs, sip on their Saki and sail away into the sunset. While the rest just watch as they lie freezing in the turgid sea that is the gathering.


So the next time somebody walks into a gathering all super-confident and with this pompous smile on their face, you can be pretty sure it’s one of these two. a) They have secretly milked their company of millions and will be taking off to timbaktoo that night. OR b) They have just finished reading through The Idiot’s Guide to Glamorous Indian Diseases. The aforesaid being:

1. Diabetes
2. Almost diabetes and high cholesterol
2. Bypass of the heart
3. Something to do with the heart
4. Cancer of almost any kind
5. Computer related injuries

If you are past 40 – probably you have it. If you are inching to 40 – your parents or your uncle or your aunt or your cousin or your cousin’s wife or your cousin’s wife’s brother-in-law has it. ‘It’ being one of the above. And it’s like a badge to wear in today’s world.

Gone are the days of yore – when you established your social standing by boasting about which important person you have association with. Now it’s which disease. In fact I think it’s almost fashionable to have these diseases. Particularly heart-related stuff. Having a bypass is the ‘in’ thing. I mean it’s not like it’s been qualified as in. But people suddenly start sounding ‘important’ when they declare “My dad is having a bypass”. And you – the listener will not offer sympathy – you start acting all important and gyani as well. It begins with “Oh really? How many blocks?”.
Three”.
“Minor or major?”
Two major. One minor”.
Oh don’t worry. That’s pretty standard. He’ll be in and out before you know it. And won’t take more than three months to be up and about”.

In and out before you know it?? Big mistake. Not because you didn’t offer sympathy. Because you acted too casual about this thing that suddenly gave your friend that certain feeling of seriousness, responsibility, and importance. Next time go with “Oh no! such terrible news, you must be overwhelmed!”


When we were growing up, our grandparents and older relatives had two standard ailments – Blood Pressure and Arthritis. Cancer almost always killed, so let’s not go there. But now BP and Arthritis are kind of passé right? Mostly to do with realllllly old people who are in an out of the ICU with the frequency with which the yuppie generation takes off for weekend breaks.

But times have changed. Move over Amjad Khan, it’s time for Mallika Sherawat to be the bad one we all love. Mallika Sherawat urf Diabetes. People are injecting insulin these days the way once upon a time you would pop paan after a hearty meal. Detrimental. But totally cool. It’s the disease equivalent of acquiring an iPhone. It seems so hard to acquire it. But somehow everyone has it. And they act like they are a cut above us lesser mortals. I do have some news for everyone out there. Everyone has diabetes these days. Well not everyone – but most people past the age of 45. Diabetes is the new BP. So get off the horse and stop acting like a crumbling cookie. You will do just fine. And that goes for all those who find themselves bonding over it:

“My dad’s diabetic”
Hey, my dad’s diabetic too, and my mom as well!!
And so is your aunt, your other aunt, your uncle, your other uncle, his wife, his two older children, their parents, and their brothers, and their sisters .....


Now, I think it’s unfair to keep dumping off all the diseases on the middle-aged. Sorry uncle, sorry aunty. Didn’t mean to. I admit, my fellow yuppies are not unailing themselves.

I think we all drank too much 7Up in our younger days. Cause somehow Fido Dido is out to get us. Attacking every bone and joint in our body. And then on the other end is Obelix. Bringing out all the fats and sugars in storage. We the yuppies bond over two main things:

1. Bone and joint-related ailments induced by our ‘sedantry’ lifestyles. Like back and neck compressions. Fibromyalgia. Carpel-tunnels and the what nots.
2. Other food and lifestyle related ailments like pre-diabetes, cholestrol deposits, IBS, ulcers, hormonal imbalances and some other things I can’t mention here.

Hands up those who have one of the above. Ah. Too many to count :). Look around to see who didn’t lift their hands. Liars. Creaking fat liars. Or they have it and don’t just know it yet. When you acquire something new, my advice is not not panic or feel depressed. Just check around and you’ll realize that you are not alone.

And I’d like to offer comfort to the most diseased of all. The dieters. You are not alone. Everyone else is dieting and not losing weight too. Sacchi. Promise.

Losing weight. Yes that is yet another social convo lifeboat.

But that has got to be another blog entry altogether.


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