Then there is the strange case of Dr N. Iyer and his son.

DrNarasimhaIyer of Madras had been a co-examiner with the M.S. degree. I had once refused to pass his son much to the disappointment. But the next year the young man got through brilliantly.

I had been to Madras again as an examiner and met DrIyer. DrIyer told me that he was not going to accept another examinership in Bombay any more, because he was not happy at home. He said: "My son wants marry out of caste, a Christian girl. We are brahmins”. I told him the must all move with the times but he said no matter, his mind would not be in his work. So I told him, "What will you do here? At least come with me to Bombay”.

He came and I had him over to dinner. He was sitting at the table and dinner was being served when he dropped the spoon from his hand Just like that. I got up and checked his pulse. There was no pulse shouted to my wife: "Champi, there is no pulse. Make him lie down”.

We helped him to the floor. I looked at my watch. It was 9 pm However, his collapse was momentary and he soon recovered from the frightening episode. Exactly at the time, that is 9 p.m., I learnt later, his son committed suicide in MADRAS!

Should doctors be superstitious?

Let me recount an incident here. I knew Sir Homi Mehta very well. He met me at the Willingdon Club just one day before his departure to the United States. I too was due to go, but on a different flight. Sir Homi asked me to accompany him on a Pan Am flight and said he had a sleeping berth and he would give it to my wife so the two of us could chat along merrily.

I told my wife that we could catch the Pan Am flight from Karachi. But she refused, saying that under no circumstances should we travel on that day, it being 'amavasya' (New Moon)-an inauspicious time. She further told me to call up Sir Homi to advise him not to take that flight. Known for his short temper, Sir Homi flared up when I told him what my wife had said. "What nonsense!” he said, "nothing is going to happen!" He went as scheduled and his plane crashed at Shannon in Ireland and he died! But let me balance this with another story. When Homi Bhabha was going abroad, his mother told him not to travel on 'amavasya' day. Sodutifully Homi Bhabha changed his plans and travelled the next day. Yet Air India plane crashed on Mount Blanc in Switzerland, killing him.

I have never believed in superstition but no doubt they have their own significance.