Pain, Marma, and a Funny Doctor

Thank God all ancient wisdom is not lost

Created by Anu Anniah

I’ve been grappling with back pain off and on for a couple of years now. Each time, I’ve tried different ways to rid myself of the pain — physiotherapy, acupuncture, yoga, lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling, and so on. All of them work for a bit and then the pain nudges its way back in.

One such ‘episode’ occurred two weeks ago. This time someone pointed me to a pain clinic close by. I had the location and the name of the doctor and no other information. Google and Uber did the rest of the leg work and helped me find the non-descript clinic.

Day 1

I did not know what to expect. The clinic did not have a name board. I got out of the Uber autorickshaw and asked someone if this was indeed the pain clinic. The person said yes and ushered me into a chair. There were exactly 4 chairs in one narrow space. Immediately beyond that was a tiny room where the doctor was talking to a patient.

Before I could look around and gather my bearings, I heard a loud NEEEEXT! That was me. I found myself in the tiny room and seated on a wooden stool before I could say, “Wha?”

An intimidating-looking man asked me what problem I had. I found my voice and pointed to the spot on my back where I had pain. He asked me to put my foot on the stool in front of me. What? He asked me to fold my trouser up. WHAT? Till the knee, he said.

He caught hold of a point on my leg and held it for a few seconds. He seemed deep in thought. Oh, wait! He was watching a screen in front of him that was displaying everything in the 4-chair area outside. Beats me why he wanted to watch that. And why have a video camera? What was anyone going to steal? Even the chairs were bolted to the floor!

He released his hold on my leg and asked me to check the pain. I moved a bit, wiggled my back, and…dear me, I could not locate the painful spot at all. What just happened?

He looked smug. He asked me to get up and walk. I did and felt absolutely back to normal. Why had I come here? Who was this guy?

I was back on the stool with my foot up. Two of his assistants rushed forward and stuck some sticky bandage-like tapes at 2–3 points on my leg.

Two pats on my leg and I was dismissed.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“You want more?” he asked.

I laughed and ran out. His assistant told me I had to visit three more times. He asked me to remove the plasters at 6 pm. Okay!

Day 2

The pain that had disappeared in the clinic crept back by the time I got home. But it was less than before.

Back at the clinic. Same routine. I had barely made contact with the chair outside when I heard NEEEEXT! I rushed in, sat on the stool, and hitched my trousers up. I was afraid I’d be scolded if I was slow. The overall atmosphere screamed speed. The place was like an assembly line.

If you have ever been to the great temple at Tirupati, you will know how we are shepherded at top speed in front of Lord Ventakeshwara. This felt somewhat similar.

This time I had to put both my legs up on the stool and plasters were applied at various points on both legs. I had no time to think, let alone ask any questions.

But he had a question for me this time.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I sit in front of the computer the whole day,” I said by way of explaining why I might have a backache.

“Sit behind it then,” he said. It was unexpected and utterly funny given the circumstance. I laughed.

Pat, pat. Dismissed.

Day 3

Enter. Sit on the stool. Hitch up trousers. I knew the routine now. I learn fast.

After the business with the leg was done, I used the chance to hold out my right wrist. It had been hurting too. He held it, thought for a moment, and rapped my wrist a couple of times.

“Check now,” he said.

Obviously, there was no pain. I was ecstatic.

“Want me to do that again?” he asked.

I was addicted to this pain-freeness. I nodded excitedly.

It was his turn to laugh. He had just been teasing me. Sadist!

Day 4

Enter. Sit on the stool. Hitch up trousers.

He caught hold of some marma points on the leg and his assistant applied the plaster.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“I am ok, but it hurt a bit when I was doing yoga yesterday.”

“What were you doing? Shavasana?” he asked deadpan.

I almost fell off the stool laughing. He is such a straight-faced comedian.

Pat, pat. Dismissed.

What is this magic healing?

This doctor is an expert at an ancient Ayurvedic healing technique called marma vaidya which is based on 107 marma points all over the body.

I had heard vague references to ‘marma’ but this was my first experience in this healing technique. It was fascinating, to say the least. No medication. No exercise. No invasive techniques. Each visit did not last more than 2 minutes.

Something I will explore again for sure. The sit-down comedian doctor makes it worth the visit in more ways than one!

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