We are a pair-o’-docs


The day I defended my PhD, my friend Diane told me that Dr. K and I will be a pair-o’-docs. A pair: we are, and docs: we are. But let the reader beware that we are very different kind of docs. Dr. K is the kind of doctor that deals at the micro level, one person at a time, and largely on a little part of the human body. I am the type that deals with the grand scheme of things including the world order, revolutions, development and questions such as how to regulate medical doctors. We are very different people indeed.

Questions about our diverse backgrounds are set to intensify now that we have decided to get married. It is a curious fact of life that those who ponder about unions are really interested in intersections: ‘oh, what do you both have in common? Does she like Indian food? What do you both enjoy doing, et cetera, et cetera. With the union approaching, I too have been thinking about what I have in common with the beautiful-talented-lanky-sweet-smart-blond-girl. I recently learned of the most striking similarity: for a long time Dr. K was determined to remain single for life. I too was convinced of that option for the longest time, and now the two of us have decided to get married. Let’s call it a pair-o’-docs paradox.

Of course, we have a few other things in common. For example, we are both concerned with oil consumption. There is the little difference that I look at it mainly as a public transport problem whereas she tends to look at it as a food choice issue. We are both non-religious in general but create a tremendous religious fervour in each other’s company. Meet us together, and you will not fail to hear invocations such as “oh lord” “Jesus Christ” and “OH MY GOD”. There are even points of commonality in matters of fashion: We often say “wow” at the same time upon seeing dresses. I go, “wow, who would wear that”, and she “wow, that’s so pretty”. As you well understand, what is of critical importance is that we both say “wow”.

As you would have noticed, it is much easier to write about the differences in us. We basically have a different approach to life on all kinds of issues including towels, sports, salt, politics, microwave, and even the conception of time. She lives her life by clocks and calendars whereas I have multiple standards of time. When it comes to eating, I follow the TST i.e. the Tummy Standard Time: It growls and I eat. I have my moods when I have to write, watch TV, read, cook, clean or hang out with friends. Her time seems a lot more amenable to her plans. I can go on about the differences, but the strangest difference is in an aspect in which we are both rather similar: we are both organisers.

We both like to think ahead, make lists and try and ensure that everything that is needed is addressed. The little difference is that she follows it up with incessant discipline, and she has a compulsive need to do everything at least a week before I would have done it. Take the case of a two day trip:

Did you pack your stuff?

No, it’s too early.

She walks off and returns uneasily in ten minutes. At least tell me what you want to carry.

It’s too early to think about it.

Come on!

Honey, there is no way that I can think of what I will take for a short trip one week ahead.

Twenty minutes later…

Ok, I packed two t-shirts, your jeans, the brown pant, one pair of night clothes, a toilet kit and some medicines I think you should have. Did I miss anything?

Honey, it’s still one week to go, and I don’t think I can think about it.

That is how the im-patient-doctor goes about her work, leading to a creeping disability in me. For someone who has been fiercely independent to the point that I could not choose a discipline even for my PhD, the relationship with such an all planning force of love has been an interesting experience. Now-a-days there are times when I completely disregard planning and move on with the religious-like optimism that things would be taken care of. I am glad to say that I have not been disappointed as yet.

I have received much affection in life from family, friends, teachers, and of course, many a random stranger. I used to think that such a life would prepare me for love, and I was wrong. Love, it turns out, has taken the form of incessant attention to my needs, desires, fears, thoughts and moods. Given that the attention is given by someone multi-talented and action-oriented, the attention generally turns to action. It feels great, and it feels scary to be pampered as much. I do try to reciprocate in my own little ways, slipping behind all the time.

I guess that settles the debate of why I am settling for this union without much intersection. I trust she has things that she likes in this relationship, but it is not fair to write on her behalf, even though she has been eloquent on this subject in person. The debate about the union is settled and the debates have started. For one, I suggested to her that I will be the master of the house. “Oh no. Perhaps, you can be the master of the patio, or better the master of the mailbox”, she suggested. That debate, among a thousand others, are yet to be settled…and they perhaps will never be.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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