Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Encounters with Freedom of Speech !

One of my most enduring fears has been of speeches; the long winded speeches. Right from the school days, I have suffered speeches and outlived them only because of my ability to switch off when I wanted to. On Independence day, on Republic day, on Annual Day, on Gandhi Jayanthi and then on any day when someone important kicked the bucket, we had buckets full of talk. And I used to wonder, "Are we born to suffer this ?"

One of the earliest speeches I remember was when I was in first standard. We didn't have kindergarten in those days and we were educated in vernacular medium. The Head Master made the presidential address on the Independence day and told us all about how India became Independent thanks to the freedom struggle and the sacrifices of Gandhiji and others. I realized then and there the meaning of "Freedom of Speech" ! 

Ever since I have heard the same speech from different people over the years in different places in different languages with only the number changing. It was 29th Independence day during the first speech and it was 66th when we celebrated in our hospital on 15 August 2012.

Not all of them were insufferable and some of them have been utterly hilarious, albeit unintentionally. There are many of those speeches and lectures I have already shared on this blog and on Facebook. I am not planning to repeat them like the Independence day speeches.

During one of the many functions 'celebrated' in our hospital, we had our Secretary making a 'grand' speech as was his wont. Talking about a senior Physician working with our hospital for over 25 years, he said, "Dr. P has been hardly working in our hospital for 28 years". I could see the smirk on the face of those who understood the gaffe. Knowing his not so warm equation with the Physician, some of them wondered, if he really meant what he said !

Thinking in own language and translating it to English can cause hilarious situations. Especially so when one has a limited command over English. A small part of a businessman's speech went like this: "We all today here added sitting to our President Sir's untimely death condemn. He was 88 years old but sudden died. I last week him saw and I think not look like dead. My hearty condoles to his  family, wife, childrens, grand childrens and all family members. He was a great man. He for many many people work doing. All workers his children like..."

An old story goes like this. Field Marshal Kariyappa was fond of speaking in Hindi but his command over the language was at best inadequate. He was once proceeding to address an Independence day gathering somewhere in Hindi heartland. He asked his Hindi speaking friend, "What is the word you use for Free in Hindi ?". Without realizing the context, the friend said, "Muft". And lo, the General's [at that time] speech went thus, "Gandhiji aur Nehruji ke tyaag ke kaaran aaj hum sab MUFT ho gaye" !

I too have given some speeches. Though I too have "Freedom of Speech", I was forced to exercise it on most occasions. My first speech was while I was in seventh standard. It was for the Republic day celebrations at school. Even in those days, I always believed mugging up was a girly thing and hated preparing written speeches and delivering them and always depended on extempore speaking. It seldom won me prizes or awards but I never changed and remain the same clumsy and unorganized speaker to date.

A few years ago, our hospital all of a sudden decided to celebrate New Year and a circular was sent to all Doctors and staff to attend the function. The problem is all the Management people belong to the business class. They arrange functions late in the evening and enjoy celebrating their "Freedom of speech" at our cost. This is a form of recreation and thrill for them. But for those who live every day of their life in the hospital, we just want to get out of the place once the duty hours are over. 

We had a long session with everyone lecturing us about how we should work to take the fame of the hospital to another level in the new year. Finally some people wanted 'me' to talk too. Over two hours past my regular time, I was tired, hungry and seething. I really needed to punch !

I went on stage and said, "Honestly I feel nothing changed from yesterday to today except the calender. We are the same old people one day older; some wise and some otherwise. Off late, I believe we are having a lot of new celebrations, which were not even heard of a few years ago. All these are a fad promoted by gifts and cards manufacturers and nothing more than that. I sincerely hope we will not be celebrating Valentine's day next month. I would rather continue to work than waste time on more and more such functions. But anyway, since I have to say this, Happy New Year to everyone. Thanks !". Nobody ever has invited me to talk !

But that was an inside matter of our hospital. People outside didn't know my dislike for speeches. One organization invited me as a chief guest for a function because they thought I must be a popular figure. They perhaps arrived at this conclusion by looking at my friends list on Facebook. Once there, I told the organizers, "Don't even bother to invite me to speak. I will inaugurate the function and then will sit in a corner". 

I lit the lamp with the other guests and took a corner seat on the dais. All went on fine till the 'dignitaries on the dais' took over with the hammering business. It was a marathon 155 minutes before the half a dozen wise men finished. It was almost 1:45 PM and I was almost fainting. Then someone announced in Malayalam, "Now we invite today's Chief guest Dr. Govind Raj Shenoy to come and and say two words. He doesn't like to talk much but we sincerely request Dr. Shenoy to say just two words".

I had no choice now. I almost swaggered to the mike and stood before the crowd of mostly young, bored, tired, hungry and angry people. I could see the horror on their faces as I adjusted the mike to my height because my predecessor was almost 7 feet tall. 

And then I said those 'two words': "ഊണ് കഴിക്കാം" which means "Let's Eat" [Lunch] and walked back to my seat. I have no idea how the organizers must have felt but I could hear the entire crowd burst out in laughter and applause. That to date is the greatest applause I have received !

Dr. Punned-it


  1. That wsd great just those two powerful words

    1. Yes Sir, very powerful indeed; often very powerful sleep inducers :-)


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