Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Touching raw nerves


I have spent the better part of the past two weeks in the company of a dentist in a hard hat who has been boring deep inside my oral cavity with a pneumatic drill to reach the bedrock so that he can construct a root canal with approximately the dimensions of the Suez Passage in my jaw bone. Here is a blow-by-blow account of my ordeal:

Day One:
Today, while lying fully reclined on Dr Frankenstein's chair with the footrest in an upright position, I had ample time to reconstruct in my mind the entire family tree of the Romanovs. This is getting to be almost as bloody as the Russian Revolution, but Czars had it relatively painless in comparison.

Day Three:
I ruminate that if I somehow don't make it through this one, I would like to be reincarnated as a dental surgeon in my next life. Not only do you get an inside look at the nooks and crannies of a cross section of Nepali society, you can also carry out archaeological digs to excavate fossilised remains of a family barbecue which, after carbon dating, are found to be the relics of an ex-goat from the winter of the year 1977 AD.

Day Four:
No pain, no gain. That is my philosophy. Dentistry is one of the few professions ever invented in recent human history where one is actually paid handsomely to inflict pain on other human beings. The only other profession is, of course, that of a Thai-style boxer masquerading as a masseur who can dislocate every ball-and-socket joint in one's skeletal system at a highly discounted off-season rate right there on the beach at Koh Samet.

Day Five:
Today I got my first bill. The doc said I can pay in installments. Maybe I need a bank loan. There seems to be a direct correlation between the degree of pain and the size of the bill. I have come to know that dentists take a mandatory semester in medical school in which they practice extracting tusks from unanaesthetised African bull elephants before they are allowed to use the same techniques on hominoid patients.

Day Ten:
At the risk of touching a raw nerve here among those who don't see the humour in having their precious ivories plundered by bounty hunters disguised as dentists, let me recount a professional trade joke told to me by my dentist. It comes from the horse's mouth.

Q: What is the difference between a dentist and a New York Yankee baseball fan?
A: One yanks for the roots, and other roots for the yanks.
Since laughing gas is not used anymore as anaesthesia, dentists sometimes tell their patients jokes like the aforementioned witticism in order to kill the pain. "Harharharharhar. Didn't feel a thing, doc. Tell me another one."
Dentist: Open wide.
Patient: My mouth or my wallet?
"Hohohohoho. Good one. Hey, doc, did you just pull out my lower number six molar? Ha!Ha!Ha!"

Day 15:
As the days go by, there is less and less to laugh at as one by one I lose my incisors, my canines, my felines and finally my wisdoms. At this rate, pretty soon, I will only be able to gnash my gums while worrying about the state of the nation.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)