Sunday, March 28, 2010


S., my household help. is worried these days. Participating in her life is so educative, sometimes I feel I should do a separate blog on her.

You see, she has two married sons, and one of them has 2 kids. The other one has been now married for 4 years, and no kids yet. There appear to be some gynaec issues. His wife's parents are near Pune, and there is apparently a well known doctor in that area, with presumably a great success rate, and her mother wanted them to go have a consultation there. S, has very cordial relations with her son's in laws, accepts that everyone has the couple's welfare at heart, and immediately agreed.

Every month , the young couple goes down to see the doctor. There are at least 100 people in the queue to see him, and so they call a day earlier to a pharmacy fellow nearby, who gets them a consultation token number for the doctor's consultation the next day, and they avoid being at the end of the queue. There are several such folks like the Pharmacy fellow making a quick buck there, and I am sure the doctor there is aware of this. Unlike some cases I know , even amongst the so called educated, S.'s son understands that he is part of the system, and is open to undergoing whatever tests he is asked to do.

I can always tell when S. has some misgivings about something. She will bring me a nice cup of tea, kind of hang around, and then bombard me with questions, to which she is convinced I know the answers. Most of the time I know someone very good and reliable who can give her sensible excellent advice.

"Ata bagha(=..See...)", she said, folding some kitchen cloths on the side, "every few months, when they go for a consultation, he will examine them, look at some papers, write down some stuff on a paper for them, and say ,'according to me, I see a possibility this time'. My children come back, looking forward to things, only to have their hopes dashed in a fortnight or less. "

She had a suspicious , troubled look on her face.

"This has happened several times. Not just once. And that's why I am worried. Her monthly cycle is not regular, and that's another thing. Can I bring and show you the papers ?"

(This is when I don't know what to say. I am interested in the subject, but I am not a gynaec doctor. I am aware of the types of problems, and treatments, and how very complicated, detailed and personalised they can be, simply because I have friends who involved me in their quests for solutions at times. And one of my very good friends, is a very wise gynaec.)

One of the things that incenses me is their doctor saying, "according to me, i see a possibility this time".....

I ask her if he conducts a urine pregnancy test. The answer is NO. How does he see a "possibility" ? Does he "see" some magic "partial" pregnancy that will reach a "full blown 100% " on some magic day ? Does the couple look different suddenly ?

She brings some papers and reports to show me. I promise to get her an appointment to see my friend. The reports are from a year ago. She shows me the meds . One is progesterone, one is vitamin E with Primrose Oil, and one is an antacid to control acid reflux. The man has been glancing at these year old reports and making his so called predictions and announcements.

Then she asks me something.

" These days they don't clean the 'bag' , is it ?" She means a D and C.

S. with her powers of observation, discussions with other mothers, and women she works for, has decided that one of the first logical things to do is to "clean the bag".

" The well will hold water only when its base and walls are pucca and strong. This doctor didn't ask us to do that..." and she looks at me questioningly.

S. herself had 4 children, took no special meds in any pregnancy, delivered all at home, and shortly got back to field work at her in laws. She understands that today's environment is different, foods contain additives, eating habits have deteriorated, and so things are not likely to be for her daughter-in-law , like they were for her. But she understands the basics.

I call my friend, the wise gynaec. She is amused at my outrageous reactions to the other doctor. She hears these things all the time. She will have a look at the papers and counsel and advise the couple, and suggest a proper course of action and treatment.

Its time for S. to go on to her next household help job. Like at my place, she has worked with them too, for 20-22 years.

She washes her hands, takes a quick drink of water from the flowing tap, and moves towards the door. Then stops.

"You now, I wanted to go see the other doctor earlier, because I kept feeling something was not quite right. But then there were two things. One, the son's mother-in-law was looking after things at that end, and it shouldn't look like I doubted her.

The other thing, is, that some gadiwali (=with cars) ladies are coming daily at 4 pm weekdays and holding a adult literacy class at the Balwadi (reserved children's play area) in our locality. I thought that I should at least learn to read and write my name , and so I attend this class. Enough of giving the thumb print everywhere. I need to learn to read numbers. And my biggest supporter is my eldest grandson, in first grade, who accompanies me there, because, he says, I accompanied him to school in kindergaarten."

This is so impressive. Here is a lady, who is so well educated by life but theoretically illiterate. She is the respected head of her own household. Very aware of modern winds blowing through the current generation, she conducts a veritable circus ensuring that the small house is peaceful, privacy of sorts is respected, and no opinions are forced on anyone in her family.

I suspect she wants to help her grandkids with their lessons . She will be getting on in years, and her children and daughters-in-law will be working . Once she stops working houses, she needs to be useful.....

I just wonder how many of us plan like this . And how we take reading and writing ability for granted. And how, S., with her complete inability to read/write and understand documents, was able to explain the crux of her doubts and problems in this case.

Learning to read and write may brand her as a literate. But as far as I am concerned , she's been there, done that, and imbibed the best from what life has had to offer her.

Like a Ph. D (Life).....


  1. Education is nothing but a sharp and an open mind that would soak up all thats there in the world to see !

    Such people offer so much hope and makes one wonder about the hype around 'education' ! There is also some sadness...about what would have happened if only she was educated as well.

    There are people who go through a motion called education, and there are the others who stand tall through the power of being !

    Lovely post. As usual.

  2. Quite an interesting blog. I also came across your comments on another Panshet Flood related article on the web.

    Was wondering if you remember the Panshet Flood first hand.

    Was researching some information about it.


  3. S is not only a Ph.D., she is a manager too.
    Running her household with all her wisdom yet not running the family memebers' lives.
    What a beautiful post. We are glad that you have such a good observation and thru your observation,S and her wisdom reaches us.

  4. she's been with u for 20+ yrs?! she's family! wish i had some1 like her

  5. I have read about her earlier too... she is truly wise and educated and literacy will be a blessing now! Love her attitude. I hope her son and daughter in law find some solution.

  6. You don't have to be literate to be educated...S is really wise, wiser than many PhDs...

  7. Lovely post! S is certainly wise beyond her circumstances and formal education.

    I hope her son and daughter-in-law get the help they require.

  8. Amit ParanjapeI must have commented about the Panshet stuff ages ago. I am actually Pune person myself, and till recently had family in Pune. I was in class 8 when the Panshet stuff happened. I dont know what kind of info you are looking for about the Panshet floods, but do let me know , and I will be happy to help.

    P. S. Are you related to Vijay and Anjali Paranjape ?

  9. Hi - Sorry, I forgot to mention my email address! I am at: /

    Can you please send me your email id?

    Will send you a list of few queries we had.


  10. I think I know 1 Vijay Paranjape (quite a common name... just as I know 2 diff Anil Paranjape and 3 diff Amit Paranjape) :)


  11. She is already worldly wise. A little of theory and she will win the world.

  12. That's terrible, what that doctor is doing, hoodwinking poor people like this. And it's heartening to read about your helper. Feels enlightening to read about these positive stories of women's education and emancipation. She is indeed a PhD in Life!

  13. The education we get just by living is often more valuable than schooling.

    Her comment of 'cleaning the bag' reminded me of an incident when I was pregnant with my daughter. My son was ten years old then. One night I was very nauseated and my son looked at me with sympathy and said, "Mama, you shouldn't 'borned' any more children. Maybe you should get your sack lowered, or whatever it is they do."

  14. S seems like such a sensible person ... who clearly understands family dynamics. I hope her efforts to help her son and DIL are successful.

  15. That doctor's license should be revoked. For one year he is doing nothing but extracting more money from them.

    There should be so many better infertility clinics in Mumbai iteslf. Its was a good decision by S to intervene.

  16. Fantastic, S is superbly sharp abt things around her, which an educated soul might miss !!!

    And her grandson's words are so touching. May God bless their family with children, they are waiting for.

  17. Salute to the lady... she seems so rational and at the same time taking care not to hurt others in hurry. Great sharing.

  18. The experience from life has taught her much more than what a degree can offer!

  19. What a wonderful and wise woman she is!

  20. kavi I would love to see her reactions to organized education, if she ever gets a chance. But she certainly knows that her family must go through it....

    kirti ...."Running her household with all her wisdom yet not running the family members' lives."..... so true !

    Arundhati Actually 25 years !and running....

    IHM We were able to get a good gynaec to give a second opinion on the treatment and meds. Hopefully things should work out.

    Bones So true !

    manju That's native intelligence !

    nsiyer I think she probably knows the theory....:-)

    starry That she has the guts to question , is a plus. So many worry about someone laughing at them and keep quiet. But she has some good medical advice now...

    Darlene LOL "Lowering the sack".....that's an original !

    CA I hope so too. She is already seeing a reliable doctor now...

    Enchanted Actually, there is hardly an infertility problem, but the girl is being advised along the wrong track. I think things will improve since S. has taken charge....

    Umsreflection Yes, her grandson is a lovely child. I've met him and he is very intelligent. I will convey your blessings to them...

    aativas I join you in the salute...

    Radha Experience often does, but we hardly look ! She does....

    Dipali I absolutely agree !