Thursday, February 01, 2001

A Buddha in our midst

One of the nicest and most interesting couple we have met in Kats are Buddha ( Basnayt ) and his wife Geeta. Both are medicos, Geeta - an alumni of Lady Hardinge's Medical College, Delhi - is the Head of the Radiology Department at the Military Hospital, while Buddha is a GP practicing Travel Medicine, specialising in High-altitude sickness. They have 3 grown up kids and are very much family persons. It's fun to see Buddha playing Basketball with his boy and the girls at the Bhat-bhateni Club on a day of "Bandh" ( as Gita - who works with the Army - has to report for Duty. She
is the main 'bread-earner' of the family he would say jokingly ). He works at the Patan Hospital of the United Missionaries and runs a clinic for foreign tourists - mostly trekkers. Geeta is quiet, shy - very much a typical Nepali housewife. It's difficult to make out that she holds such an important position ( and at times is called upon to perform a sonography or MRI / CT Scan on the King himself and other members of the Royal family). Buddha is much more boisterous and for a doctor has an amazing
array of varied interests. He is unusually tall for a Nepali ( over 6 ft, I should think ), and remarkably handsome in an 'Arianic' sense - large eyes, sharp features, a dark complexion and the built of a Punjabi ( the only link he claims to have to that region is that he went to study medicine in Patiala ) - a clear 'TDH', he is the kind of guy to give others a complex. A smart talker with a large stock of stories - he is an easy hit at parties. We met him first at the Mitchell's - but took a real liking for him, after we went to their home for a quiet - no frills dinner one evening again with Mitchells and another Doctor couple. Buddha was the seniormost intern at Patan Hospital and refused to leave the place long after his official internship period was over - since "I was learning so much there". Then, if only to get him out of the place, they got him a fellowship to Calgary, Canada. But , he soon returned again to the Patan Hospital - though this time as a full-fledged Doctor - on completion of his course and taking another degree from the US. Each year he makes it a point to accompany at least one group of tourists, as a team-leader, for a
high-altitude trek. Apart from the clinical knowledge he gathers on these trips by observing people in real high-altitude situations, he is also enriched by a wealth of human experiences. Therefor, I was not in the least surprised when Shanta and Milan ( Dixits ) called him to deliver a lecture to the kids of Rato-Bangla ( the school ). Last evening, he was regaling us with many of his stories and telling us how people who feel miserable throughout a trek - often wondering, why the hell did they come for it - return ineveitably with selective amnesia remembering only the joys and thrills, forgetting all the unpleasant and difficult moments. The tremendous 'highs' (bliss ansd serenity) experienced on a trek easily wipe out the memories of hardship and tough times one encounters on the trail. He says, he regularly has patients, who were suffering from all kinds of ailments before a trek, come back feeling absolutely great. Tearful and highly emotional farewells are a common site on weekend nights at many a restaurant in Thamel, like the Kilroys, where groups of trekkers come for their parting dinners. A trek is a cathartic experience - no wonder some equate it with a Meditation retreat. Hope we will be able to go on one before we leave Nepal.