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mardi 9 février 2010

To Learn Humility from Unselfish Malayalees ...

My friends at TouristLand travel agency tucked into a building near the Ernakulam Junction Railway Station were happy to see me, they knew I was coming and had booked a room at the Metropolitan Hotel near there.
I jokingly address then in the Indian endearing fashion, Uncle, and they also address me as such, as a joke. The agency is owned by Uncle S1 who is very entrepreneurial and increasing his operations comfortably over the years. Uncle S2 who manages the business, is a kind man from Quilon, where his family home is, 12 km distant from the centre of Quilon. There is always a shadow of worry in his face and no sooner had i sat down, he said: Dr, I dont know whether you will have time, but my sister and my neice both have thyroid problems and they would like your help. then he called them at their home outside Quilon and gave me some results, patchwork of blood tests which were not making any sense to me. Would I consider going there, Uncle S 2 asked, tomorrow evening we could take the train, just two and half hours to Quilon and then one hour to my house..and we can come back the day after, early in the morning so that you can catch your train to Bangalore in the evening.. I had planned my 48 hours in Cochin rather tightly, wanting to see some people in the Jewish Community, wanted to spend some time with the erudite Mr R... Let me think about it, I said. On the way back over to the hotel, I thought to myself, this requires a bit of sacrifice but just imagine the gift of medical help and advice that I can give which no other doctor in that region would have the expertise or time to give. I can postpone my other activities as I was planning to return to Cochin/KL in August.
The evening was spent in the company of Mr R at the Lotus Club. Indians seems to attach importance to Club Memberships but I can see the greatest advantage is that there is space and no crowds. He made me current on what is happening in Kerala. I was astounded by this man's devotion to his family,to his country and he is truly happy to be living in Cochin.
The next morning was a busy one, visiting EJ, the last of the Cochin Jews. His lamentations continued and I have to compile them for posterity, since an important part of the history of Cochin Jews would disappear with him.
The Lunch was at Metropolitan hotel, a lovely Kerala Lunch of fish curries and a varieties of vegetables and beef and chicken curries. A sumptuous feast indeed. I was in the company of S1 the owner and S2 the manager of the Travel Agency. After they had paid for the lunch, S1 announced that he could hire a car to take me and S2 to Quilon that very same afternoon and as an added gesture, he would come with us also. This is a generous gift of time and money and effort and every one was happy. 4 1/2 later as the darkness had fallen over this village, 8 pm to be exact, we arrived at the house, now lit up, with all the children well scrubbed and eager eyes peering into the darkness for our arrival.
For the next 1 1/2 hours, until 9 30pm, i spent solving the problem of Thyroid disease in the daughter and the mother and was able to offer some sound advice. As we were leaving, heading back north for the 4 hour drive back at night, the little girl came out of the house to say Good Bye, she took my hand and said, Thank You very much. I was touched and I hugged her and said, please study hard and make sure that you go to university, and who knows you could become a doctor in the future and do what i am doing.. she smiled broadly. Apart from solving the mystery of her thyroid illness, I had taken pains to counsel them and tell them that she is not abnormal in any fashion and that appropriate treatment would take care of the problem.
We left at 9 30 pm and the traffic had somewhat died down. The sense of relief was palpable, of the family, of S2 and it was as if we all had participated in a good deed. My respect for S1 and S2 increased tremendously. Unselfish and helpful.
I had dozed off in the front seat of the car, and was woken up when the car parked at the gate of a new hotel somewhere in the darkness of Kerala. The manager comes out and invites us for a drink. It did feel good. For unknown reasons, my laptop could detect a wireless signal and for the first time since arriving in Cochin, I could read and send emails with large hearts waiting and saying good byes in other shores.
I was very tired, but the lessons of Yoga was ringing in my ears. Rabbi Hillel's words came rushing up to the conscious.. If not now, when? When do we do good things, if not now...