India's various chambers of commerce call "healthcare" as one of the fastest growing industries in the country. This is economic-speak for "a lot of private 5 star hospitals which barely 5% of the country's population can afford are being built on prime land so that we have shiny brochures to hand out at the next edition of Davos". Because like with everything else, liberalization also meant greater commoditization of human life - and when you're a billion strong, a couple of people here and there don't really matter. Or at least that's what these hospitals make it feel like.
Why else would cafeterias serve delicacies like Choley Bhature and Paneer Butter Masala? Are they looking to create a pipeline of future customers for their cardio vascular units as part of some frequent crasher programme? Or set up book shops prominently displaying titles around faith and self healing? It's convenient isn't it? Justifying it under the guise of helping people cope when all it is really about is the cash register? And Agatha Christies? Really? Because when we're on edge, what we really need is some light reading about murders and poison.
It's also nice that they provide prayer rooms for people of all faiths. At least they set the expectation right telling us god is our only chance in hell. As it is, the chances of seeing Jesus or Nanak are more than a doctor on one of their rounds. So many patients, such little time to cater to those from overseas on a medical tourism package paying in dollars. But what I really love is how they prey on people's fear. Prescribing every test under the sun whether it's needed or not justified by the need to be doubly sure and a hidden fear of being sued for medical malpractice. But hey, at least it's better than government hospitals where you come out with the same disease you go to get yourself checked with, even if you don't have it.
One small thing though - does my money include a Malayalam translator? I want to understand what the nurse says.
Gursimran Khamba is a pissed off writer, stand up comic, podcaster, social media junkie and lover of all fried foods. Except bananas. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/gkhamba