3 Dec 2009

Mind Mysteries: Part 1

Everyone around these days want to tell their stories; the milkman about how his cow milks him less, the Dhobi about how his donkey refuses to carry an extra baggage, the Kaamwaali about how she spends all on her drunkard husband. They believe narration would instill some sense of comfort, like what puking does for a “Hangover” after a terrific cocktail party.

But certain stories are not told. They are best when you witness them. That’s the real fun; for who are not part of that story. But for we the characters, trust me it’s no fun at all.

Hey, I am Manasa, 28, single, and not ready to mingle. Softness of Earthworm, Jingles of Police Boots, Colors of Chameleon and Complexities of Dreams all fascinate me. I was always the weird kid in the block. Things that I was interested in were the least priority, rather a big no for my gang of 8.

They went on to become doctors, engineers, fashion designers, architects, home makers according to what the parents wanted. But what I am now is completely my pick. My choice of profession has a story to be told. In my early childhood I loved to dream. I also loved listening to various dreams people had. Some dreamt about their better halves, some about their childhood sweethearts, some about money but for many the dreams were weird. Their dreams were a mix-up, had strangers, risky tantrums, more like nightmares. That’s when I started to analyze dreams; of it's colors, objects that appear in them, situations occurred and stuff like that.

My passion to dreams was appreciated by dad. On my first teen birthday I received “The Interpretation Of Dreams”, a book by Sigmund Freud. Every page I read, every word I understood arouse the intention of becoming a psychoanalyst. Yes that’s what I am. A doctor, a psychoanalyst at MIND.

MIND is a hospital for the care and treatment of patients affected with acute or chronic mental illness. It provides health care facility for inpatient and outpatient therapeutic services to clients with behavioral or emotional illnesses.

My day at MIND starts with a warm salute by the watchman at the gate around 8ish. The big brown painted gate opens to a huge parking space. There is a dedicated lot just for us the doctors in the parking arena. I have my own space; not that I own it but generally no one chooses to park their car just next to the wall. Whoever said Bangalore is not hot hasn’t really been here. It’s hot like hell when you are not surrounded by boxes that blow cold air into the buildings. Around 11am when the sun starts to shift positions, the wall lets out its shadow into our hospital campus. From then till 4pm, the shade of the wall falls on my car keeping it warm if not cold.

One has to walk to the reception for a small distance amidst small plants which refuse to grow further due to the bad gardening the hospital does. The reception has 2 glass doors with a brain image imprinted on them. As you approach the doors, they open up, magically, that’s what my 6yr old patient ‘Nilima’ tells me. It gives you a feel of entering a brain, yours or may be other’s. Entering one’s mind, I think is very different and difficult from entering one’s heart.
I am greeted by Marylyn. She appears very sophisticated, society friendly lady. I sometime back tried analyzing her; & the end results were shocking. It appeared that she suffered from ‘Agoraphobia’ few years back. The sufferers of agoraphobia avoid public and/or unfamiliar places, especially large, open, spaces where there are few 'places to hide'. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this "safe place."

She also confided to me that after multiple sessions with the doctor she was able to get over with it. Her doctor asked her to choose a career that would never allow the illness back. There she was, Receptionist of MIND. She is equipped with a system and 2 phones, one of which is used as intercom. She takes appointments, attends the guests and transfers calls to respective cabins.

My cabin is on the first floor. Exit from the lift, take a left, a 100m from there you can see “Dr.Manasa” written on the door. I chose it because it far of all the hustle bustles of the visitors and the Director’s cabin. This cabin of the director, you can’t actually call it a cabin coz it’s not just a 4 walled room. It stretches into a visitors lounge initially, where his P.A. has his own desk. Preetham handles appointments, schedules meetings, and reminds of functions to be attended by the director. The door adjacent to his desk gives an entry to the director’s private space. A huge table has about 2-3 landlines, a flat screen monitor which is never turned on coz he doesn’t know to operate it. A picture of his family, some files of the complicated patients which need his observations and some books related to his interests, all lie on scattered. He is not an organized man. The LCD TV is mounted to the wall. He is Mr.Padmanabhan or rather Dr.Padmanabhan, director of MIND.

My cabin is plain, with white color on the walls. The diagnosis area has a comfortable sofa where the patients lie down to convey the problems they are facing. My cabin is strictly no for visitors or the people along with the patients. I feel it kind of loses the rapport with the patients as they feel secure with the accompanied company and not of mine. Next to the sofa is a chair, for me. My table is not that big. There is no much work on the table; all of my work happens near the sofa/chair area. I always have a notepad along with a pen hung to the chair. To take down the notes while the patients address their complexities with me.

I call up Marylyn to get check on today's appointments.

‘There is a new guy who wants to talk to you. He says he won’t even tell his name’ said Marylyn.

‘Send him in’ I said.

The day has started.

Will be continued