I had to go see the doctor the other day, and I did these thumbnails in the waiting room. I'm revamping my illustration portfolio on Maysun In C, and these are going to be the additions in the Animals and Birds section.

Visiting the doctor, never the most joyous of occasions, has turned into a conveyor belt experience. First, you wait in the waiting room and when the receptionist has the time she will summon you to get your weight taken on a very ancient weighing machine that I've never quite got the hang of - you stand on it and the receptionist pushes the weighs around and announces her finding in a loud voice so everyone in the reception area knows how much you weigh. Once she made a mistake when weighing me and announced a figure that was twice the correct one and everyone in the room exclaimed, "It can't be! She looks far too skinny!"

After you've been weighed, you go back to waiting until the receptionist says it's your turn to go down to the basement. You go down and wait until the assistant doctor is ready to check your blood-pressure, pulse and temperature. Then you wait some more, exchanging sympathetic looks with the other patients and trying not to get sucked into an exchange of ailment details, and then finally the doctor will see you.

He is a very nice man though. Worth all the waiting. Have known him for ages.

Speaking of doctors, I remember the one I visited when I was an art student in Bombay. I had an ear-ache and my land-lady in Dadar suggested a neighborhood doctor. He's brilliant, she said, I always take my kid there. So I followed directions to his clinic and found the front door bedecked with mango leaves and marigolds. There was a quite a crowd inside in the waiting room. Quite a festive atmosphere.

I sat down and wondered if it was some sort of celebration. You never know in India. There's something to celebrate practically every day. I asked the fellow next to me and he shrugged and said he didn't know. Then a man looked out from the doorway to the inner room and beckoned and said, "Alright, everyone, come inside."

And everyone rose and went into the inner room. Soon I was the only one left outside. So I got up and went in too. They were all standing in a semi-circle around the doctor's desk, and he was asking each person in turn, "What's wrong with you? And you? And you?"

As I happened to be the nearest to him in the semi-circle, my turn came almost immediately. I told him about my ear. He had a look and said, "Hmmm!" and sent me out to the compounder.

The compounder was in a small cubicle, with two large glass beakers in front of him, one containing a red liquid and the other containing a yellow liquid. He was page deep in a film magazine and not pleased to be disturbed.

"Alright," he said in a bored, irritable voice. "So where's the bottle?"

I said, "What bottle?"

He made an annoyed sound and said, as if talking to a half-wit, "Don't you know anything? You need to bring a bottle along when you visit the doctor. I'll give you one now, but don't forget the next time."

With an eloquent sigh - oh, the fools I have to put up with! - he rose and extracted an amber-colored bottle from a bottom shelf. Then he scooped out a measure each of the red and yellow liquids from the beakers before him and poured them, one after the other, into the bottle. He screwed on the cap and thrust the bottle at me.

"Here!" he snapped. "Put it inside thrice a day!"

"Put it inside? I put this in my ear?"

"For crying out loud! In your mouth!"

As I went away I saw he was ladling the same liquid in the same proportion to the next patient as well.

When I got back to my lodging, the land-lady said, "Yes, he always gives my kid that liquid too. Sorry I forgot to tell you to take a bottle with you."

I said, "How can he give everyone the same medicine?"

"It must work," she said. "Everyone keeps going back to him."

After she went away, I poured the liquid down the drain. I recovered the next day.