Different Strokes, Similar People

Two feedback emails last week. Coincidentally both from the same institution, that too a medical one. One, a teacher, the other a student. Two different perspectives, both very interesting.
Nithya, the teacher.
A couple of days back, my husband and I decided to catch the last (night) show of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Jaideep, my husband dropped me off at the gate and went to park the car. As I reached the ticket window, someone suddenly clutched my arm and said in thickly accented Hindi “Can I see the movie with you?” I turned to see an overweight middle-aged woman looking at me with large pleading eyes. I ignored her and went back to booking my tickets. She didn’t let go of my hand. She asked again “Can I, please”. By this time Jaideep had reached the ticket window. She smiled at him and repeated, “Can I sit with you please…I have come from Kolkata and I am alone and I need to see this movie”.
The amused ticket clerk said “Theater khali hai. Saath me ticket they deta hoon. Pagal lagti hai. Sarak lena. Saath baith ne ki zaroorat nahi hai”. And so three tickets were issued. She paid for her ticket. We entered together and sat together. She enjoyed herself. I glanced at her intermittently to see her alternately smiling, giggling, laughing and crying. During the intermission, she clutched my hand again and said thank you. I smiled. She then suddenly said “I was in Tata cancer all of today. Finished the paper work. Have my chemotherapy tomorrow”. As I stared at her in shock, she pulled out a small piece of paper and asked “Can I get a cab after the movie to this hotel?”. I managed to mumble a yes.
The movie got over and we left together. She held my hand and thanked me again. I saw her leaving towards the cabs lined up outside the theater. She suddenly turned around and said, “Thank you so much…Kya pata…zindagi na milegi dobara”. And as a physician, I learn yet again.

And this is a lesson that though relevant to doctors is important for all of us as well. We tend to compartmentalize people at first glance. And ever so often we can be completely wrong.
Rahul, a second year student.
He described his experience at Jogeshwari station, when the train he was in, stopped for some time. Then the lights went out and people started jumping out of the train, because there was a bomb scare.
While we were trying to find our way out of the station, I saw that people were totally cool about the entire incident. (Though) it is essential to keep our cool in panicky situations, this was something pathological!! Some people were just smiling. It seemed that these people were fine with the entire incident as if it was a daily thing for them. At one point of time, I felt like a fool, the only person who seemed to be worked up about the entire incident. The article you wrote titled “Comfortably Numb” following the bomb blasts incident seems to bear a resemblance to the incident that I faced today. What has happened to us?
And it is so true. I received feedback after feedback following that piece commenting on how we all seem to have become comfortably numb or as someone remarked, “uncomfortably numb”.
Keep the feedback coming. It makes a difference.

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