Cafe coughy day

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on February 21, 2020 Published on February 21, 2020

Bins and I have both been struggling with monster coughs for several weeks now. It’s not the same cough: We know because we went to the same doctor, had our blood and sputum analysed by the same clinic but when we got the results, woowoo! Different bugs!

“How nice,” I say, “one thing for which you can’t blame me!” Bins attempts a high-minded expression, but it’s difficult to maintain because his nose needs blowing every half hour, as regular as a clock. There’s nothing dignified about blowing one’s nose. There are no sculptures of famous monarchs, goddesses or even goatherds and barmaids parping their schnozzes. Nose-blowing is simply not the sort of achievement that humankind has felt the need to memorialise. Perhaps the rhinovirus was unknown to the ancient world?

Bins is undeterred. He believes his performance is remarkable. “Observe,” he says, in his exaggerated French accent, “it’s not even my whole nose! Just the right nostril!” “Ha!” I say. “A clear sign of imbalance!” “A rare accomplishment,” he insists. “No doubt you are jealous? As the possessor of a mundane, run-of-the-mill double-nostril apparatus?”

Mundane or not, we’re both tired of the whole cough-y flavoured existence that we’ve been living for the past several weeks. We have a great doctor and he’s saved us from drowning in our own secretions by administering the right combinations of antibiotics and antihistamines. But now, as we approach full recovery, the time has come for something gentler: Homoeopathy. “I have a friend,” says Bins, looking at his phone, “who swears by something called...” Then he stops and goes red in the face.

“What’s the matter?” I ask. “Can’t pronounce the name?” Instead of answering, he hands me his phone and says, “There. That’s the name. You say it.” I look at the phone, puzzled. “I don’t understand! It’s quite straightforward...” Then I say the name out loud and immediately feel very silly indeed. Bins is grinning happily. “Okay, okay,” I say, “but where can we buy it?” We go to a couple of local pharmacies but they don’t stock homoeopathic meds.

Then Bins remembers a tiny shop, tucked away in the depths of Lajpat Nagar’s Pushpa Market. This is an area that I never go to because I don’t like narrow crowded streets. “Here’s the address,” says Bins. “I Googled ‘homoeopathy, Lajpat Nagar’ and it came up.” So we go there, first by taxi then on foot. Unlike me, Bins enjoys the medieval atmosphere, the gutters, the glittering zari, the garbage. He consults his GPS every 10 feet, switching spectacles each time. Deeper and deeper we go. The shops get tinier, the lanes grow narrower, the smell grows smellier, until suddenly! There it is: Ghai’s Homoeo Clinic & Pharmacy.

A tiny, tidy shop. The lady at the counter looks up with a calm, all-knowing expression. “Cough syrup?” we ask. “Yes,” she nods, “Alpha-Coff.” We buy two bottles, thank her and saunter out of there. Grinning like hyenas.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on February 21, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor