A rendezvous with Dr. Suchitra Mankar, general physician.
A veteran of medicine, general physician Dr. Suchitra Mankar studied at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. I spoke to her last evening about her work and life. She told me that she worked for the Indian Air Force as a doctor for 30 years. Her stint in the Air Force allowed her to experience many interesting events. In fact, she has been invited by the Rotary Club to talk on ‘Anecdote of my Life in Air Force’ on January 17, 2014. So I felt lucky to have found her for this interview and talk about her life back in the days. When she talks about those days, her voice is filled with both – emotion and power. The enthusiasm with which she narrates a few of her experiences makes one feel like it’s so fresh that it just happened.
So here’s what we spoke about.
Can you narrate one incidence from your Air Force days?
There was a major air crash we were informed about. Two planes crashing in the air. And we had to go by an open helicopter over the sea. And, oh my, those days we used to wear sarees! (laughs) And I remember my saree was billowing like a parachute. We landed on a marsh just next to the sea. We somehow managed and rescued them. Many years later, I met one of the pilots and he asked me, “Madam, were you in Jamnagar?” So, I said, yes. And the pilot instantly replied, “So you’re the one who rescued me.” That was a great feeling.
And snakes! I can’t recall how many snake bites we have handled. Doctors cannot go on the warfront. So the armed forces used to call us over the phone. “Madam, snake bite!” and we would do the diagnosis over the phone. There have been so many crazy and funny incidences.
You have been practicing since 1982 in Pune. In those days, there was no Google and people didn’t know where and how to find a reliable doctor. Today, people can Google the symptoms they are facing etc. Their approach must be certainly different. How is it different from 1980’s and 90’s?
Yes, the approach of patients has definitely changed. They are well-informed now. And they take the responsibility of information. In 1980s, people didn’t have any choice but to believe in what’s being said about a doctor. Today, you can verify from various sources of information. So, there’s a lot of choice and numerous sources of information.
Your clinic is located in Pimple Nilakh where majority of people work in IT companies. Do you have many patients from the IT sector?
Oh yeah! A lot of my patients are from the IT sector.
So, tell us about the most frequent health problems they face.
Well, ah…Many of them complain of stress-related problems. Back and body aches because of bad posture, and upper respiratory disorders to name a few. And yes, sitting in an air-conditioned space is one common complaint most of them share.
What do you do to keep yourself fit?
I just follow a busy lifestyle. I wake up at 5 am and sleep before 11 pm. I usually take the stairs and keep my diet balanced.
One golden health tip you’d like to give
Get up and start moving. People have stopped using their bodies. They need to start using their body as it was meant to be used. So, exercising keeps you fit, increases immunity and keeps infections at bay.
Okay, that’s something we all must note. Now on a candid note, what’s your favourite food?
Curd. I love curd ‘cause it’s so good for your body. It is rich in protein and calcium. It’s easily digestible, easy to make, easy to eat. Palatable…it has everything in it.
(Dr. Suchitra Mankar is an MBBS, MD, AFIH and her clinic Doorstep Services Pvt. Ltd. is located in Pimple Nilakh.)