My right middle finger was hurting for more than a month and I decided to see the doctor. Usually, whenever I fix up an appointment with the doctor, my wife googles the symptoms and collects information, sufficient enough, either to declare the doctor a “quack” or to prove that my disability to communicate properly with the doctor is congenital. This time, I decided to pre-empt her moves. As I have the habit of checking mails before doing anything, I checked and, to my surprise, my friend had forwarded me a mail on the same subject. It was a providential coincidence. The mail narrated in detail how not taking enough water at the right timings can lead to pain in the joints and with water how you can cure a variety of diseases from blood cancer to the common cold.

Tears filled my eyes with gratitude for that noble mail, which came with nothing more than a rider that it be forwarded to 101 people. I was ashamed that in the past, I had been arrogant and ignored my social commitment by trashing scores of such mails without ever opening them. I decided to dig out my trash and pacify my pricking conscience.

The first one talked about how milk products exported to Australia from Japan by a Chinese company shortly after the tsunami were rejected as they contained radioactive traces and were being diverted to India for major international brands. The stern advice was to avoid milk chocolates and biscuits for the next six months.

The next one vividly narrated how a popular soft drink would be a cheap replacement for toilet cleaner and the readers are given the freedom to imagine what it will do to the stomach of their children.

Another one linked the shapes of vegetables with our inner organs and how by choosing the right vegetable alone you can cure any part of the body of any disease. The most useful one narrated how a simple preparation with ladies' finger cures chronic diabetes in a few weeks. When I forwarded that particular mail to all diabetic and non-diabetic friends, I could visualise the big diabetic specialty hospital in our area closing down for want of patients and the doctor opening vegetable shops to make a living!

Then came another one which gave horrific details of the toxic content in the vegetables we consume owing to indiscriminate use of pesticides. I was shocked to know from another article that grape seeds are kept soaked in pesticides for days together. I was alarmed when I knew that taking too much of water leads to kidney failure and that I should take water only when I feel like doing so.

The most acceptable one was goggling oil for a few minutes in the morning until it cannot obviously do me any harm and everyone in the family also liked it since I could not talk at least when I was at it! And the one that could not even be dreamt of emulation is on sleeping positions and hours. In fact, I lost many hours of sleep, planning to sleep in the position that was claimed to be the best for my heart. It was a revelation to know that vegetable soups have the potential to put all pharmaceutical companies out of business.

Having received, read and forwarded all these mail chains and having discharged my social obligations, my confusion was indeed greater than that of Arjuna, who asked Lord Krishna to illustrate the marks of the “man of steady wisdom” with the questions — what does he speak, how does he sit and walk? I asked myself: who is a healthy person, what does he eat, how does he sleep, when and what does he drink? Fortunately, unlike Lord Krishna who needed eighteen slokas to explain the attributes of sthitaprajna, my answer is simple and straight forward: “A healthy man does not have an Internet connection.”

(soundararajan.r@ licindia.com)

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