Return to Chennai

Soon it was time to leave England and return to Madras now known as Chennai a seaport on the eastern coramandel coast of southern India and the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. A Madras that no longer had my Mum and Dad. Rekha and Anish came back from boarding at the Mount Hermon School in Darjeeling to  Madras and started school at the JK Krishnamurthy School, the KFI in Besant Nagar. We were all together again as a family.

Sam and I converted my Dad’s house in St. Thomas Mount into a Nursing Home. This was not a smart move, as neither of us had the skills to run a nursing home. We were not savvy nor were we street wise.  We lacked entrepreneurial skills to run a business. If we had been a surgeon and anaesthetist couple we could have run it with our eyes closed. Since we were not, we were totally dependent on visiting consultants who worked in ten other nursing homes with busy schedules of their own. I used to perforate several ulcers waiting for the anaesthetist to arrive while I sat with a foetal distress. I could not practice the Gynae side of my DGO, as I was not able to sleep after doing abortions.

Sam would battle with bills from employees of corporate companies who would harangue him for inflated bills. We felt like medical touts soliciting patients for other doctors who waltzed in and waltzed out leaving us holding the baby. Literally. It was extremely depressing and a financial nightmare trying to run the place and pay the salaries of the staff.  Definitely the worst patch of our lives.

Sam eventually got a break when the TN MGR  Medical University advertised for a person to start the Department of Experimental Medicine. It was tailor-made for Sam with his qualifications and training. To his enormous , he returned to academics and research. We sold the Nursing Home to Dr. Bhat and moved on and out without a backward glance, grateful that we did not have to perforate ulcers while running a Nursing Home.

I freelanced as a dermatologist at the Chennai Kaliappa Hospital in RA Puram, the Willingdon Hospital in Nungambakkam and the AO Clinic in Adayar ,with long spells driving a canvas top red Gypsy on the road, struggling with the traffic from one place to another and home. I seemed to be tearing around apparently busy , doing a lot with nothing much to show for it except fatigue. Sometimes I would wonder what I was doing, as it seemed like an out of body experience, watching the days pass into months and the months into years.

I am not really living am I? I would ask myself.
I am just existing
I am not really living

Some days I would wonder if we had really worked in places like Bhutan and Nepal with Leprosy patients who had so little, but gave us so much. I missed all the maggot filled leg ulcers that I had dressed and treated in all the leprosy hospitals that I had worked in.

London and St. John’s seemed like a faraway dream.



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