Saturday, 9 May 2015

My Alma mater- Lady Hardinge Medical College!

Lady Hardinge Medical College is celebrating 100 years of existence.  Year end is also our 25th year reunion. Such events tend to evoke nostalgia and good old college spirit!

I have fond memories of being a medical student in an all girls college, situated in Connaught Place, in the heart of New Delhi.

Ragging was harmless fun. All girls college meant we felt safe and secure and there was a laid back comfort level with the seniors. I was caught, so to say in the canteen by a boisterous good natured senior who usually had a gang trailing after her. There were a few of us who were asked to alternate between being Bikram and Betal, therefore carrying each other on piggy back or becoming the flag who the other had to hoist by climbing tables and chairs on tables or become a singing group or start swimming on the floor. It was all in good fun with loads of laughter and ending in friendship. I thought that was the point of ragging, to get to know each other. It did not have any obscenity or undermining. One of the seniors did ask me to copy a whole notebook of notes but I managed to get out of it.

I learnt to swim in the Lady Hardinge pool. That was an experience too. Feeling horrendously self conscious in a swimming costume and running to jump into the pool when the all pervading restraining self conscious feeling strangely vanished into the rippling cool water, exactly as predicted by veterans at the sport. The pool was frequented by other staff and needless to say there were young men in toned torsos to be ogled at. This was a privilege not available to the short sighted girls who wore glasses outside the pool. Alas, they couldn't be part of our heated discussions about the blue trunks who so and so banged into...One could then see them making amends by waiting to go into the pool near twilight and sneakily putting on their spectacles to steal a look!

There were some age old traditions of Lady Hardinge Medical College. One of them was the Staff Social when the faculty went up on stage to entertain the students. It was a laughter riot usually with Male professors in shorts and the usually sari clad female professors in skirts or dresses. There was usually a modern Ramayana or some such mythological  epic when Lakshman would be looking in the mike or under the carpet for Sita.

Another tradition was bunking the first term exams on the commencement of the so called "honey moon year" the third year. The year after we said bye bye to the torturous volumes of anatomy and the year when we started visiting the wards. We, as a giggling group of aspiring doctors had to be taught ward and clinic etiquette often. We were taught not to gasp at the sight of an unsightly scar, not to screw up our noses at vomit and blood, we were taught to look and behave like doctors. But those days patients would still be subjected to a group scrutiny, with or without consent, of their bodies and ailments. Young men suffering from lumps and bumps in the private areas were threatened with no treatment to get them to disrobe in front of a group of suppressed giggles, which sometimes resulted in embarrassing and unwanted reactions from the men's organs. Patients however were very helpful in exams when some experienced ones would tell you the diagnosis and the findings like heart murmurs, which I still can't figure out for myself. But thanks to technological advancement, one is not required to do.

Our batch saw the auditorium come up and we, as third years organised our first festival, Splash! LH, LH,LH! That you can guess was the refrain used during festivals, to cheer our teams on. It used to be customary for the crowd to ask to have an audience with the prettiest girl in the fashion show, at the end. On one such occasion the tall long legged beauty from LHMC was asked by the anchor- "If a gunda (rogue) was coming towards you and on one side was a guy from Maulana Azad and another side a guy from University College of Medical Sciences, who would you turn to?"

The girl said- "I will run to the gunda"

I am still not sure who we preferred. MAMC being the top choice at the Delhi Pre Medical Test Entrance, we always found them a bit full of themselves while UCMS were the nice guys, the ones who staged leftist street plays and gave us a lot of "bhav" (attention), or may be that was just my opinion!

Auditorium steps were witness to rock shows, late night dances and meets during Splash and was the general meeting place all around the year at all times for friends and batchmates. The white marble was witness to many a Adam teasing which involuntarily was a sport all of us tended to engage in. My lasting memory is of dozens of girls basking in the sun on the auditorium steps on any normal day and one male PG (doctors pursuing post graduation- that was not restricted to girls only) trying to cross the road opposite the auditorium steps to go to the canteen or another department.

He would have his head down as he was conscious of the fact that all these girls would be watching him, which they would. It must have been because they were in such scarce numbers as compared to us or for whatever reason they attracted a lot of attention. So there would be groups of jean clad girls hanging out with arms around each other's shoulders debating the origin of the rare species- "Is he in Ophthalmology?" "No I think he is ENT." "He is always hanging out with so and so" "Who are you talking about?" "Not bad looking, is he?" "Looks like a Tam Brahm" "Yes he came through All India PG" and so on the conversation would flow until everyone had looked up from their book or food and turned around to identify this poor PG who was glad he had reached the end of the road.

I loved being in Lady Hardinge, gave me the confidence of a martyr when dealing with DTC bus hooligans, when bargaining in Palika Bazar or when the nine of us cornered the tour operator in Nainital to arrange a taxi for us because the bus had broken down. Our cohesiveness though was soon ripped apart by the Senior resident, who was listening to our tale of food poisoning to explain our absence. "You forget that we have done it all before you" he told a miserable looking group of us faced with the threat of having to repeat our internship even though we had not utilised our leave.

Life was good in spite of the relentless spate of tests, demonstrations, vivas and examinations. Bag of bones next to our seat helped us keep perverts at bay in the DTC bus. Groups of us in white coats trying to get back to Hardinge from Ram Manohar Lohia or Wellington hospital would be helped by DTC bus conductors asking people to make way for the doctors and also by private cars who we dared to thumb a ride in.

Internship also saw us in rural posting at Najafgarh centre, full of roaming peacocks at the time. Bushy tailed mums trailed by chicks and preening cocks with long flowing tails. The bus rides were fun with stoppages for sugarcane to be chewed on the way back or for lemonade drinks but the stay was the most adventurous as we were left to our devices until we could convince the medical officer to attend a call out of hours, which rarely happened.

We turned out ok or so I would like to believe! Thanks to our Alma Mater.

Now the meeting place instead of auditorium steps is Whattsapp, where we find out what is cooking in each other's lives while we wait for the daal to cook!

1 comment:

Dr.Suma said...

Amazing recollection of anecdotes from LH and well written...made good reading !!