I have just spent the better part of the day on a chair in a passage outside the Operation Theatre Suites and the Perioperative/Day-care Room at the Lilavati Hospital. No, nothing serious, HRH the Queen of Kutch had to undergo a very minor surgery. Everything is fine, I survived, she survived. I did however observe a lot during these hours spent on the bench.
The bench is located just outside the Shanti Sthal. This is a Jain Temple. Leelavati is owned by Jains, so, theoretically, nothing wrong in having a Temple with a statue of Mahavir. However, Leelavati admits patients of all religions, quite unlike Bombay builders and many Bombay Housing Societies who do not allow Muslims into the buildings.The Dalai Lama is treated at Lilavati and, if memory serves me correctly, so is Yusuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar. I am sure lots of Christians, Sardars, and Parsees also get treated at this Hospital. Assuming of course that you believe in God, where do these other communities get to pray if their kith and kin are in Lilavati? The Christians have lots of Churches in the vicinity of the Hospital, Maharashtrians will perhaps find a Sai Baba Mandir illegally constructed under a tree on the pavement close by, but Gurudwara and Fire Temple? None nearby, unfortunately. Would not a multi-faith prayer room or meditation room have been a better way of going about it?
The behaviour of people passing the Shanti Sthal was amusing and surprising. Many who walked past wearing their shoes/footwear and speaking on their mobile phones, paused mid conversation and mid stride and acknowledged/bowed/`gave respect’ to the statue of Mahavir inside. Whether these people were Jains I do not know. Is not wearing shoes/footwear when praying somehow bad or unholy or disrespectful?
Another category of people were a bit more serious in their devotion. This came in two sub categories. Category `A’ stopped outside the Shanti Sthal, stepped out of their footwear, joined hands and, I guess, prayed. 10 seconds later they went on with life, I presume having been appropriately blessed. Category `B’ did all this without removing their footwear. Did they get a blessing as well as a minor reprimand? I don’t know, but I think they certainly deserved one for not taking their shoes off.
Doctors were a class apart. Doctors strut about in Hospitals with huge power, they can open doors that none of us can. The power to do so does not flow from the barrel of a gun as famously quoted by Mao Tse Tung, but from the stethoscope that is so casually draped around the neck. Doctors clearly fell into category `B’ as I have described in the preceding paragraph. No time to take off footwear.
While watching all this I could not help think, how much of a waste of time this is. If your Doctor is going to pray, presumably that he does his job correctly, then why does the patients kith and kin need to pray too? Don't two positives make a negative? I think that you should have a KYC or rather KYD [Know Your Doctor] process when you select a Doctor so as to ensure the best possible Divine Interventions.