It was a long overdue visit to the temple in my ancestral village. It is about a five hours drive from Bangalore. The exact location is “F3QQ+433, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu 606803”. We decided to take it easy and made it a weekend getaway, rather than a day outing. Booking a cab was a pain in the neck. After many attempts, I chanced upon The operator took less than 200 seconds to collect the details and confirmed the booking. The overall experience of booking the cab with them was very professional indeed.

On D-Day, the plan was to start at about eight in the morning. The driver was ahead of time and the car was absolutely neat and clean. The traffic though was not forgiving. When we were close to Electronic City, my elder daughter started complaining of stomach pain. In quick time, she was almost in tears and said that the pain was unbearable. She is a smart lass and does not get stressed out quickly, since she has this habit of passing on all her stress to everyone around her. Even though she could not share her tummy pain with the rest of us, her expressions and tears were sufficient to get us perturbed. I requested the driver to stop the car for some time. Incidentally he stopped just outside a hospital at the outskirts of Bangalore. I played it safe and decided to consult the general physician at the hospital.

To protect the identity of the doctor, I will call him Dr AR. My daughter and I went to the consultation room. The door was ajar. Inside there was a human form seated on the chair. It had slumped its head on its arms. There was no white coat or stethoscope or anything to indicate a medical profession. I hesitantly knocked on the door. The human form looked up. Eyes red, dark circles, ruffled hair, no footwear… the guy looked stoned. Upon seeing us he quickly found his pen, notebook and footwear and asked us to come inside the consultation room.

“Never judge a book by its cover” reminded me not to judge him and as we went into the consultation room. This is what transpired thereafter:

Dr AR: [Looks at me] Hmm… what happened?

Me: She is complaining of stomach pain

Dr AR: [Looks at my daughter] Pain… where is it paining?

My Daughter: [Totally confused] My stomach

Dr AR: Which part of the stomach?

My Daughter: [Even more confused] All over my stomach

At this point Dr AR closed his eyes and covered them with both his palms. He reclined in his chair and started murmuring something to himself. He again sat up and resumed the conversation

Dr AR: Since when is it paining?

My Daughter: For 1 hour now

Dr AR: Is it menstrual…

My Daughter: [She did not let him finish] I know menstrual pain, but this is not that.

Dr AR again closed his eyes and resumed his murmuring. My daughter and I exchanged glances. There was anguish and confusion.

Dr AR: Does it pain when you go to the washroom?

My Daughter: I did not go to the washroom

Dr AR: Was it paining last night?

My Daughter: No

Dr AR: Since when is it paining?

My Daughter: For 1 hour now

Dr AR now started nodding his head to and fro and was saying something to himself. I suspect he was repeating his diagnosis to himself. At one point he was staring at the ceiling. I hope it was not for some divine intervention. After what looked like an eternal wait, he firmly shook his head and resumed the conversation.

Dr AR: It looks like stomach cramps. Can I give her an injection?

My Daughter & I in perfect synchronization: NNNOOO

Me: No injections doctor. Can you give her some pills instead?

He agreed and wrote down a prescription and explained the dosage. He asked my kiddo to have only curd rice for 3 days. I looked at the prescription. I could not make out anything of what he had written. This was an indicator that he was some kind of a doctor. But his behaviour and antics left a lot to be thought about. We thanked him and exited the room. He asked us to visit in the evening, if the pain had not subsided. Phew!!! Again in the evening? I could not imagine meeting him again. The person at the pharmacy gave us the pills and confirmed that they are pain killers and anti-something. Dr Google also gave the same opinion. I took a leap of faith with these medicines and asked my daughter to take them. In quick time, we were back in the car heading towards our destination. After all this, the only request from my daughter, pain or not, was to allow her to eat at Murugan Idli. This is something she has directly inherited from me and me alone!

We were almost at the end of the year and as is normal at this of the year, Bangalore weather was its best. However once we entered Tamil Nadu, the change in weather could not be missed. It was warm and sunny and steamy to say the least. We indulged in plenty of fruit juices, tender coconut, lassi and buttermilk along the way. Like I usually do on such long drives, I started observing the people and the surroundings. All the villages and towns had decent houses, good roads, electricity, dish TV connections, and many such indications of progress. I could not miss the trademark attire of men in this part of the country. The famous lungi. Almost every man was sporting this. I think it must be a convenient attire in such weather… fully air-conditioned, adjustable length, economical, suits all ages, shapes and sizes, can be re-used for other purposes after it wears off, … and so goes the list of benefits. What also struck me was that the lungi was blue in colour more often than not. There were very few exceptions of green, red and even orange. But it was blue and blue all along. I checked with the driver if he was aware why most of them wore blue lungis. He just laughed at my observation and said that is what most shops sell. Obviously!

Another interesting experience was that I never had to pay by cash throughout the weekend. Not many of them accepted credit cards. And so it was the ubiquitous QR code that was present everywhere. Even the “Hundi” at the temple had a QR code pasted on it! There was this man looking like a sage begging for alms. Lo behold, he extended a plate requesting for money which had a QR code pasted on it!

We had an uneventful yet, serene, experience at the temples at Thiruvanamalai and in our ancestral village. On our way back we sacrificed our lunch so that we can binge at Murugan Idli at Krishnagiri. We reached the restaurant late in the afternoon. The idlis and dosas quoted with their trademark podi were worth the wait indeed. How could we miss the “Jigarthanda”? The name of this cold beverage literally translates to “Liver Cold”. I do not know if it cools the liver. All I know is that it satiates the sweet tooth in me. With this we completed all the activities that we had planned during this weekend getaway. Thanks to the Sunday traffic, it took a painful few hours to get back home before we hit the sack.