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It was Quarter to twelve when my flight landed at Frankfurt. With just forty minutes left for boarding the next flight, I had to cross the passport control, security checks and find the gates. Completing all the processes in a hurry, I noticed that it was already late. Moving closer to the gate, I was relieved to see the long queue which was all set for boarding. A lady who stood ahead of me warmly smiled at me. With a smile in return, I looked at my watch and the board to see the note that said "The flight would be delayed by 20 minutes".
As I entered the flight, I looked for my seat. The lady who stood in the queue ahead of me was seated next to my assigned seat. She smiled at me yet again and said "After being queue neighbors, we are now going to be neighbors for the next nine hours! Welcome". I smiled and said "Thank you!". Although I am talkative in nature, it is seldom that I talk to someone during a travel. As usual, I indulged myself to read some articles.
After a while, the flight attendant asked "Madam, what would you like to drink?" and I said "Still water please". The lady next to me asked, "Do you have Masala tea?". The flight attendant offered her some tea and left. The lady looked at me and asked "Are you from India?" and I said "Yes". "Masala tea is famous in India. Isn't it?" she asked and I nodded with a smile. "My name is Lisa, I am from Sweden", she continued, "I am going to India for the first time and I am excited. Do you live in Germany?". I said "No. I came on a Business trip and going back home now. My name is Subha". "That's nice to hear. I am traveling to India on Business purpose too. I am a Doctor by profession from Stockholm, Sweden. I work with a Humanitarian society. I am in a year long project in Africa. I am visiting India to collaborate with the best medicos in India and learn their methods of treatment. Have you heard of the congenital eye diseases and blindness rates in children in Africa?" she asked. I said "No".
She continued, "It's really disheartening to see infants and young children blind. Severe visual impairment is seen in Africa. Vision loss could happen both in prenatal and post natal stages too. Non surgical therapies do not help often. Hereditary vision impairment is hard to be understood. There is very little that could be done about that. Poverty is high too that people cannot afford paid treatment. We'd like to do something to add light to their lives and are working on this project", I could notice her teary eyes when she was explaining the situation. With a smile she continued, "But interestingly I worked with an organization that also dealt with the same problem. They directed me to a hospital in India. The surgeries they perform in India and the methods they use are great and in fact I am going to learn some techniques from them. They have accepted our request and here I come on an assignment to work with the best medicos. Do you know the city of Madurai? That's where I am heading unto."
I could say nothing but only get goosebumps. Now that was getting interesting to me as that is where I hail from - Southern Tamil Nadu. With a smile and excitement I said "Yes, that's closer to my granny's place. She lives about 60 kms away from Madurai. May I ask you if you are going to Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai?" She got excited as well. "Oh that's great! Have you had experiences with this hospital? Trust me, I was truly amazed talking to them over a few workshops that we had. The techniques and methods they use are quite advanced and they do wonders in this field! Pediatric ophthalmology is something miraculous they do! I am super excited and hope I can take away some good knowledge after working with them. I just wonder if we could help the children in Africa. Being a Doctor for 30 years, I still feel I need to help many more children. I was working as a chief Doctor for an Oil Industry in Sweden before I joined this Humanitarian society. The happiness that I get here is incomparable. I hope to bring back some light to Africa. Blindness needs an end".
"I also like their treatment cost model. They charge from the people who can afford it and provide treatment for free or subsidized rates for those who can't afford. We are as well planning to look at this model in detail and do a study on how could we adopt a similar pattern".
I was totally moved by her words. What a relentless passion she holds on her role as a Doctor towards the society! I always had great respect for Doctors in my life. I have faced crisis many a times and there was always a healing hand that offered help. There are quite a number of Doctors in my family who are of great mental support in tough times. Why should a Doctor give his heart and soul to a dying patient? Why should he take all tension and strain to cure someone? Sadly many a times I have heard people commenting "It's all for money!". But its not true. Personally I have seen situations where a Doctor's face literally turns worrisome when there is no progress in his patient. The same doctor's face turns brighter after a success. Where is the need of emotions if he was just doing it for money? This is such a noble profession and we need to agree to it! It is corporates making use of this field turning them into Business.
After a short pause, she continued asking me questions about the Indian culture, the festivals, Madurai Meenakshi amman temple and so on. She even showed the ebook on Madurai that she was reading. "I'm excited to see how the festival of lights look like. How nice would it be if every person is able to see it". I understood that her thoughts were running behind the poor children.
As usual, I was reflecting on every single thought that crossed my mind! We live in a country that has a bunch of talents in different fields. We have heard of our ancient medicine methods that dates to the Iron age - Atharvaveda! We have also heard about Sushrutha, "The father of surgery" who described over 300 surgeries in his writings that dates to 600 BCE. Shouldn't we be proud of this! Our newer generation medicos are indeed keeping up our ancestral name and fame! Here we see someone traveling from Sweden to Madurai, over 7000 kms to learn our methods and take back something to another society which is still 7000 kms away (Sweden to Kenya). The world is really small if we want to help each other! Where does the word "Racism" come into picture when a person has humanly thoughts! Still a lot more thoughts was wandering within my head!
"We're now landing in Bangalore. The temperature is 34 degrees..." The announcement stated! "It was nice talking to you Subha. Here is my card. Do visit the Scandinavian region and I'd be glad to host you! Bye" she smiled. I bid her goodbye with thousand thoughts in my mind!