“These doctors just keeping fleecing patients!” This was said by two middle-aged men walking briskly past me, animatedly talking to each during their evening walk. I was there for a stroll with my kids in the perfectly manicured verdant garden across my home. The warmth of the setting sun made way for a gentle cool breeze that whispered to looming trees lining the walking path.

“…and then there was one complication after another, and he charged them for every visit!” I overheard as they whisked past me in their next round, while I was bending down collecting snails with my children. I tried to analyse in my head what this case could have possibly been about but realized it was pointless; I had no context, no background, and even if I did, it would still be unfair to pass judgment.

“I’m able to get you an authentic Black Label at 50% discount if you order in bulk,” said another walker to his counterpart, where the conversation in each round contained passionate mentions of one banned substance after another. An elderly Jain couple sat on the brass benches that adorned the walk way, listening to soft bhajans. Who are we to decide what gives joy and happiness to others, I thought, as so many familiar faces entered and exited from the park.

“How do people recognize you with your mask on?” one of my girls innocently asked me, as acquaintances made courtesy waves and head nods to me in each round. “His ears are big enough for him to be recognized from anywhere!” said a charming aunty behind us, eavesdropping on the question as she walked hard, no doubt to maintain her yesteryear figure as she’d done over decades of walking.

“I don’t know why they won’t allow navjotes of children where a Parsi girl has an interfaith marriage!” said one of three ladies who had settled onto another bench, eating grapes from a box after their evening jaunt. I slowed down a bit to catch the reply but without appearing to listen in. “Everyone has their own agenda. What is right and wrong is simply a matter of perspective,” reasoned the one in the middle. I guess each one is entitled to their opinion.

On the next bench was a middle-aged couple turned sideways to face each other; the man gently running his fingers over her hand, professing his love for her in a language that I couldn’t understand. But then, as the cliché goes, love has no language. She dropped her gaze and whispered something after making sure I was at a distance; after all, all I was doing while on my walk was collecting fodder for my next article.

“Awakening cannot satisfy you; it frees you from the need to be satisfied,” came a slightly deep voice from behind me. I tried not to turn my head to such profoundness, thereby allowing the speaker, one of two young girls – iPhone strapped onto an arm, hair tied in a bun, running shorts, and a spring in their stride – to energetically zip past me. I wondered if my daughters would resemble these women two decades later; in the present moment, they were busy navigating cobblestones on one leg, tugging at my T-shirt if they felt like they would topple. The generation after us is so much more evolved than what we were at that age; for me, awakening simply meant getting out of bed and making it to school in time.

There is a jovial Sardarji with a huge paunch who walks at breakneck speed every evening in the garden. At 68, he’s trying to learn English, and every time he sees me, he shares a phrase he’s learnt recently, breaking his walk and allowing for his drenched vest to cool off a little. Today, it was “Childhood is real bachpan,” imparting that wisdom as he watched my girls getting wet at the edge of a sprinkler nourishing the grass and then creating art in the wet mud. I agreed completely, not knowing exactly what it meant but admiring his determination to learn. He could have been paraphrasing a famous Picasso quote: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

“I’m rich but I’m always alone,” lamented an elderly lady in her sixties as she spoke to someone on the cell phone while sauntering through her walk, her only companion her oblique shadow walking tangentially beside her, and that too only when she crossed one of the floodlights that brightened up the park after dark. The weight on her legs seemed infinitely larger than what her physical body was carrying. I wondered what must be transpiring in her life but concluded that wealthy people have just as many problems as the poor do; there is only so much money can do.

As the moon came up, the watchman blew his whistle signalling that it was time for the gates to close. On that pleasant November evening, I realized how enriching eavesdropping could be. I ended up wanting to change the negative opinions people have about doctors and hospitals in our country, I hoped that the guys smoking and drinking would derive their pleasure from fitter sources, I wished the Parsis would find more amicable solutions on the issues that plagued the community, wanted to shout out that no one was ever lonely, even if they were alone.

“Your girls are going to become surgeons like you,” said one of the aunties on our way out, probably once again having listened in on some interesting fact about the brain that I was trying to impart to my daughters.

“What would you like to be when you grow up?” I asked my kids as we made our way home. “I definitely don’t want to become a doctor,” the younger one said. Surprised, I asked why. “I can’t answer so many phone calls, it’s just too exhausting!” she said, lugging her entire body on my arm from the weight of that sentence . “What would you like us to be?” the elder one retorted, tired of reiterating that she wanted to be a dancing chef.

“You need to choose what makes you happy, and this decision might not be the easiest, but it’s definitely the right one,” I told my girls, quoting a line from one of their own story books that I read to them each night.

24 Comments on “Eavesdropping
  • Mahashweta Biswas says:

    😂😂😂very interesting article Mazda. They say ‘Evesdroppers never hear good of themselves’ very well written

  • Sunaina N Saraf says:

    Good morning sir

    Wow An amazing evening walk u had 😉
    So true do what makes u happy & smile

    Mrs sunaina saraf

  • Chanda says:

    Truly down to earth, forthright, what every jogger/walker goes through in their daily life ONLY penned down with a lots of humor and honesty.
    Only you could have glaringly portrayed every walker in your inimitable style. Such a delight to read on a Sunday morning! Thank you Doc.

  • Nel says:

    I enjoy reading Mazda every Sunday. Light, breezy and always interesting!

  • Navzer Irani says:

    Now I understand Picasso better….. but I marvel at its prices. Lovely observations and guotes.

  • Avinash Karnik says:

    After reading this article, I wondered whether you learn a bit from every brain you observe while operating. Otherwise it’s not easy to pen a few lines on so many subjects. You have a great uncanny art of stitching any subject into an article that ends up in a very interesting reading for most of us. Well written my friend

  • Jyoti says:

    Doc you most certainly have the gift of writing on myriad subjects, love reading your articles

  • Chandan Sanjana says:

    Mazda you made my day start on a very cheerful and happy note. 👍🏼🤣🤣. What an interesting couple of hours in the garden that gathered so much of info in your eavesdropping from time to time. But took the cake for me was your little one saying that she would never be a doctor as she would not like to answer so many phone calls. That is a very interesting observation the little one made in the mind. Cutie. Loved this light hearted article.

  • Pouruchisti Anosh Ukaji says:

    It’s always so interesting to read your articles Mazda!!

  • Dr. Rajesh Parikh says:

    Coming from an eminent doctor, very interesting round the n the garden.
    Ready to go through some more writing

  • Anuradha karnik says:

    A delightful article delving into the interesting and varied tidbits one gathers while eavesdropping. Your casual style not to be missed! Carry on doc!

  • Maya Ballani says:

    Your article on Eavesdopping made interesting reading.Your analysis of casual conversation of each passerby makes it entertaining

  • Vipul Shah says:

    Dearest Mazda Sir…..

    First of all Thanks for a break from Regular Surgical Series …….
    It was a welcome change from Operation Theater to Open Garden ….
    As usual you find interesting Topics from daily Routine Life so profoundly that all your Articles are Superbly exploring any Subject you touch…

    The eavesdropping is as good as Gossip which every one wants to Share & enjoy ….

    Keep on enlighten us with your variety SIR

  • Gool Kotwal says:

    It’s a delight to read your articles on varied subjects, your observations on things we pass by in our daily lives & take them for granted. Your style of writing is a unique gift for which you should be thankful.
    Keep at it, don’t let life’s burdens lose your charm

  • Avan D. says:

    What a lovely piece of writing! This article certainly brought a smile on my lips. Reading about your jaunt to the garden with your little girls, brought a nostalgic twinkle in my eye. Perhaps you can’t change what the world thinks or says, but I bet you have given precious lifelong memories of bonding to your kids. And that is what all kids desperately need today. Next time, incase, you walk past me in the garden, you might evesdrop, “I think more dads should take their kids to the garden … best way to teach life lessons .” Cheers to the ‘Dancing Chef’ and ‘Too exhausting to answer so many phone calls’ ! And more cheers to the ‘Writing Doctor’!

  • Anjali Patki says:

    Great observations dr mazda, such a spectrum of small talk all woven together to make it interesting and witty. Enjoyed the article as always.

  • Cara M Lalwani says:

    Ready for a walk round the garden…
    Every character touches your brain stem
    Thanks doctor

    MRS Lalwani

  • Bikram Shakya says:

    Nice timeout with daughters…👨‍👩‍👧‍👧
    Wishing u more time with family along with ur clinical activities 🙏

  • Burzin Panthaki says:

    A delightful piece on a lovely Sunday morning by the one and only Dr.Mazda.
    It is a joy reading your articles.
    Some day hope to see a book from you sir.

  • Zendaya B Tata says:

    Your article… a blast of fresh air
    One for the ages
    Thanks dr


  • George Koshy says:

    Totally different from what u usually write..u r definitely a very keen listener & observer..

  • Rita singh says:

    Evesdropping can b really interesting .I have myself overheard conversations in parks or trains that reveal people’s views quite different from our usual perspective.This was different and very interesting piece.Thank u.

  • Bubbly G Chablani says:

    Definitely read a Louvre masterpiece
    Much to listen to…
    But then to serve is the troth of a dr

    Ms Chablani

  • Marzian Mowji says:

    What a refreshing change from your medical articles. This one brought a smile to my face as I am also an evesdropper. I travel by the local BEST buses and the things you hear sometimes makes you laugh and sometimes scares you enough to get goose flesh. Keep writing. You are a natural. Someday I hope you put all these articles in chronolgical order and print them in book form.


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