The most frequent question people ask me when they first meet me is “ which college are you in? “ Actually, I’m lucky if they ask me which college because some people have even asked me what class are you in….like I’m 15! I almost scream out that I’m 24! When I say I’m doing my post-grad in medicine, they look amazed and even ask stupidly…’that means, you are done with your MBBS, is it??’ The worst part is I’m a doctor and even my patients don’t take me seriously. They think even the intern posted in the ward under me is senior to me. Incidentally, the intern is a tall balding guy with a thick mustache and even a few grey strands at the sides. ( I think the bald patch is what that works in his favour. People automatically seem to think he is very wise!) And before you can ask, I’ll tell you… NO, I DO NOT use santoor soap. No, Not even godrej hair dye. I’m so fed up with this nonsense that I asked my friends for advice on how to look older. One friend gave me a once-over look and declared “its your hair-style!” I looked at her quizzically… she said , “your hair-style is too…uh..er…how to put it…too glamorous.”: I was infact flattered. Glamorous! Not bad. But then, that was the idea, because, afterall I had paid 250 bucks for it! But she said it with such distaste that I realized it wasn’t meant as a compliment. But I thought looking glamorous was ‘in’ these days, wasn’t it?. But she clarifies soon enough saying… “ glamour and hospital do not go hand in hand. Patients won’t respect you ! ” Oh…dear! Another colleague said, “Maybe you should go in for specs. Glasses will make any person look older.” So, I go specs shopping and have a nice time trying out the different types that they have. Finally I buy a black-rimmed one hoping to look like Preity Zinta in kal-ho-na-ho…serious and all… And the next day I wear it to the hospital. One colleague says… ‘oh..you look sooo cute…!!!” well, ‘cute’ was exactly NOT the look I was hoping to achieve. Another flirtatious colleague said I looked like the ‘private secy’ in some remix video he watched recently and winked! Ahemm…!!! and, that was the last time my specs ever saw day-light. Then another colleague suggested that I wear a saree to work. But I vetoed that idea immediately. Because I couldn’t imagine getting up an hour early to drape the saree and then travel on a two-wheeler all the while praying that it doesn’t cum off. As it is I’m quite clumsy, dint want to add on to it by seeming uncomfortable and awkward in a saree. But I must admit, secretly, I did consider that option too. But the only saree I possessed happened to be quite similar to the hospital sweepers’ uniform , that I dint want to take the risk of being mistaken for a sweeper. Then a senior colleague took pity on me and said…”what if you don’t look the part, just act the part.” and even gave me a few ‘tips’ that were guaranteed to command respect from patients. These are the tactics that he uses, itseems. keep the talk to a minimum. Stick to grunts and groans as much as possible. If extreeemely unavoidable u may speak in mono-syllables. ( so…that explains why he looked as though it pained him to even speak!) look and feel important all the time. ( thats the secret behind his swollen head! we always thought, with the force of gravity acting, it was a wonder he dint walk upside down!) snap at interns. order your sub-ordinates around if necessary to establish authority. ( how mean!) if anyone has a query, you should always remove your specs thoughtfully and keep the answer as short as possible…preferably, just one sentence. ( ah.. so that’s where the specs come into the picture! That one I have seen in movies too.) just look like you know what you are doing even if you haven’t got a clue. ( keeping your fingers crossed helps too!) While, I profusely thanked him for his pearls of wisdom, I don’t think I am upto any of the things he mentioned. I’m just not wired like that. So, I’m left with just one other option…which is , to let my work speak for itself, for now.. J Someday I will look the part of a ‘doctor-amma’ too. But when?? is the question.