Frankly Fishy

When I first joined as a psychiatry resident, I was told to meet all the professors. I went to the first one I found in his room and introduced myself. His first question to me was – “Have you bought fish?”

I have never been more taken aback in my life. The professor was not even a north Indian (he was Oriya) making jokes about me being bengali fish eater. I stammered “How do you mean sir?”

He said “Fish, Fish! You have to buy Fish and all the other books but Psychopathology is most important.”

I was thinking whether i should be diagnosing a professor on my first day at the program. It’s a relief that in my confusion I didn’t burst out laughing, nor crying. It was later explained to me that he was talking about Frank Fish’s book ‘Clinical Psychopathology’ which is considered the indispensable Bible of psychopathology for all Psychiatry residents.

Things had gotten only worse when I reached second professor. Outside her room I had found someone loitering. This someone was dressed in somewhat shabby unironed salwar kameez and I presumed that she must be class 4 worker who knows about the department. I asked “Is he available, Dr Mittal”
She said no, he’s left the country.

More confusion. I remember distinctly being told that Dr Mittal is someone I absolutely have to meet. I tried to update this person that as per my information, the professor has been spotted recently in the premises.
Suddenly, this person got aggressive, and she yelled “Dr Mittal has left, do you think you know BETTER THAN ME??”

Alarming indeed it was, I was wondering if I should start running backward towards the staircase and make a dash for the exit when this person, sat down on the professor’s seat and started tinkering with his computer.
The seniors sitting there were finding the episode very funny. They later told me that this was Dr Mrs Mittal, wife of Dr Mr Mittal, who were both working in the department but Mr left for better prospects in another country. So Dr Suresh Mittal’s room was allotted to his wife Dr Mona Mittal, and she is the woman who screamed at me.

Great Expectations Miss Havisham was playing out in the psychiatry department, the wife having not allowed anyone to change the nameplate outside her room in all the years that she worked there.

The final frontier was the Head of Department. No one in his right mind would say this chap looks ordinary. He had long white hair, sometimes sported bangs. He stared at me without a smile or a nod and asked “What do you want from me?”
That’s actually a profound question, I later figured out. I told him I’ve been asked to introduce myself. So he said

That’s actually a profound question, I later figured out. I told him I’ve been asked to introduce myself. So he said OKAY and went back to his work.
In the past few years, I have adopted this style of communication in real life. Most strangers I encounter at social events/parties etc, I ask “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?”
It’s an awesome way to rid yourself of people and small talk and men and mediocrity.


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