In the hospital in England where I was working, a new casualty officer from Iran was appointed. For every small case that came to the Casualty Department, the sister would call the anaesthetist on duty to give anaesthesia for stitching of the wounds, drainage of abscess, removal of foreign bodies etc. This was cause for endless surprise to the Iranian doctor. There were not many trained anaesthetists from where he came and he felt that we were doing too many cases under general anaesthesia when they could easily have been done under local. I went to Casualty for one such case. My friend from Iran said to me quite seriously: "Dr Gupte, these people resort to general anaesthesia for all and sundry operations when back home we do many major cases under local. I have a feeling that if this goes on for another ten years, there will come a time when an English lad would call for general anaesthesia before kissing his girl friend!"

I remember another instance when I was called to anaesthetise a lady needing a Caesarian section in a case of foetal distress. We took her in the anaesthesia room and, I told her that I will give her an injection and put her to sleep. As I proceeded to give her the injection she held my arm and said: "What lovely hairy hands you have!" I must say I was quite embarrassed and taken aback at this remark and pretended not to take notice of it. I attributed this to the frankness of western people. But she would not leave my hand and was holding it and gently stroking it tellig me that it really tickled her!

There she was about to have a Caesarian to save her first baby whose life was in jeopardy and all that she seemed concerned about was my hairy arm! I can't believe that I would have had this experience with an Indian patient under such circumstances. It takes all sorts to make this world.

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar