Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Journalist's lament from an ambulance

Spent 20 minutes sitting in an ambulance today (yes, yes) with an unctuous small-time doctor who was under the impression that I was keen to do a comprehensive story on the little nursing home he was affiliated with. In truth, I was making a feeble final attempt to make something out of this non-story I’ve been pursuing for the last few days. It’s a non-story on ambulance services -- the various types there are in the city, the companies that provide them, the number of vehicles and the facilities they offer, and so on.

Well, between yesterday and today I’ve been to the Apollo, Escorts and Batra hospitals, endured long waiting periods in those unendurable disinfectant-soaked hospital rooms, interviewed doctors and ambulance-in-charges, and thus far all I’ve gathered is: yes, there are indeed ambulances in the city; they are large, white, four-wheeled vehicles that transport the ailing hither and thither. And that’s it. Oh yes, they are driven by drivers and they have sirens atop them.

In part at least this indicates I’m a bad/indifferent journalist. But no crime warrants the kind of punishment I had to take this morning. I had planned to spend no more than five minutes tops with this doc, but he kept me in his office for half an hour, and then, just as I was making to flee, he insisted that we must go and sit in the ambulance for a while. The logic was, how can you have a useful discussion about ambulances unless you’re sitting in one? "Let us move to the scene of the crime, ha, ha, ha," were his exact, alarming words.

After 20 minutes in the aforementioned vehicle, listening to him blabbering senselessly about how he was the only doctor with a conscience in the entire country, a terrible ringing commenced in my ears; it felt like many demons of hell were frying my brain with their steaming pitchforks. I was tempted to lie down on the stretcher that was appealingly placed just a couple of feet away from where we sat; but gathering my last reserves of energy I jumped up suddenly and told my tormentor I was late for another appointment and besides I had all the information I needed. He cautioned me to use his new address "in the article", not the one on his visiting card. I promised him I would and bid him farewell. Like I said before, I’m not doing the story, and I hope he doesn’t somehow get hold of my mobile number.

GSB, you’re out of it now, lucky lucky lucky girl. I wish I were too.

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