Psssst!

Recently when we drove to Delhi on the Gwalior-Delhi highway, I saw the name of this Dr. Sheikh splashed on all the walls by the highway as far as eye could see. He belonged to Mathura and the ads started almost as soon as we left Gwalior. He obviously worked in tandem or in partnership with another doctor, whose name I don’t recollect.

Being a great hoarding buff, I read all the ads that I come across, including the cement and steel ads that one can see in the wilderness of India. So there is no way I would have missed these gems!

Anyone who travels by train or road to and from Delhi, would have seen them — the huge ads on the walls. They span all the walls that run parallel to the tracks and highways – giving the name of the ‘doctors’ who treat ‘gupt rog’ (sexual disorders and diseases), bavasir (piles) and kamzori (impotence). There was this guy in Regarpura, a crowded part of central Delhi whose ads started at the New Delhi railway station  and went on up to maybe Bhopal or Jhansi or did it end at Delhi, having started at the last mentioned stations?!!  I don’t remember this particular doctor’s name, but one name has stuck with me all these years: Dr.Karwal; only, I don’t remember the city!

I have often wondered why these ‘doctors’ only advertise on the walls or in the classified section of the newspapers. Sometimes the ads carry photos which resemble magicians, headgear and all! It is almost clandestine, despite the huge wall ads, if you know what I mean. In this day and age when even such diseases as TB and HIV have come out of the closet and people talk about the most intimate and personal things openly and in a matter-of-fact way, what is the need to advertise their ‘expertise’ through the medium of walls? And most of all, which person in his or her right mind would confidently go to someone who did this? I mean, any educated and intelligent person would rather go to a hospital or clinic with certified doctors to get treated for their intimate problems, wouldn’t he?

And why advertise on the walls leading into and out of a city, for heaven’s sake?

I have this funny image of individuals travelling into these cities anxiously scanning the walls trying to find a ‘doctor’ who would treat their shameful disorders, away from the prying eyes of their own city and its inhabitants, who might recognise them and broadcast to the world how so-and-so had been spotted at the clinic for ‘gupt rog’! Isn’t it safer then to go to a different city, consult a ‘doctor’ there and then slink away quietly before anyone they know sees them?

What stumps me though is, why go to some ‘doctor’ who might well be a quack for all you know, and trust him with his ‘secret’ problems? And that too in a different city, assuming my observations in the above paragraph are correct? 😀 I am also curious to know how they would have follow ups? Would they drive down all the way there or take a train ride to the secret destination, giving their families some weird alibi for their trip?

If these doctors indeed are doing a service to the public, why only ‘secret’ diseases? Why not a dental, eye, chest or some other part of the body? I think it is illegal to advertise medical services. If so, do these disciplines advertised by these so-called doctors not fall under the category of medical services? Mind you, they do not proclaim to offer alternative therapies or even advertise their cures as desi or ayurvedic, which means that they are treating patients with allopathic drugs, right? Wonder why the IMC is turning a blind eye to this obviously lucrative business.

I have been intrigued by this wall ad phenomenon for years. Have you guys come across similar ads in and around your city? I am curious to know!

25 comments

  1. LOL… I have loved riding bicycles but was not allowed to after 14 yrs of age …. somehow lost touch with it but enjoyed it again on my US trip. BTW I learned swimming at the age of 42 and it was a funny experience

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    1. Welcome here Farila! That’s the best thing about riding a bicycle and driving. You never forget it once you have learnt them. Good for you to have learnt swimming in your 40s! That’s another skill one lives with all one’s life! Would love to read about the funny experience! Are you going to write? Do visit again!

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  2. O yes the names stay .. Mil to le Dr. Arora se. I have seen many such ads during my road trips to uttaranchal and during train journeys . There needs to be a campaign against such advts. Most of them are fake and lure people landing them in total chaos and disappointment. Most of them are quacks and need to be penalized for such advts. I think there ia an awareness ad on TV these days telling people to beware of these fake docs.
    Good post

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    1. Yes, Tikuli. While other claims like the solutions advised by the Babas and Fakirs as grond has pointed out just deplete your pocket, these quacks can actually harm your health with their ‘medicines’. It is about time for the government to crack down on them. And oh yes, i forgot the name of the ubiquitous Dr. Arora! 🙂

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  3. Hi, no wonder its marketing, aggressive marketing as sex, food items and liquor can be sold even without advertising and these folks advertise coz they get their customers and clients all across the country such campaigns. If you go to Punjab, you get so many salesman, vouching for the trustworthiness of a medicine by even quoting XYG and people buy it. “Dant ke bimari ho, jodon ka dard ho, lotion lagao tussi change ho jaoge”.

    Its about the integrity of government and our system which controls everything bad in the society. Have you spotted any government initiative to control them- the only thing you can see is the medical council of India or similar body would advertise in a national newspaper. They cant enforce anything to catch hold of these guys because then they themselves are dependent on police and administrative systems of Indian government (which are still the same which used to be years back). Have they ever tried to catch these guys and put them behind the bars. No, because the ‘Sarkari babu’ get his share as bribe from these guys to protect them directly or indirectly. The public is a ‘herd’ of poor people who are looted by such crooks. If I am given a chance, I would arrest all of them, seize their properties and put them behind the bars. But look into your society; to get your passport, you pay bribe, to get a job, u pay bribe and so on. Most of our so called beurocrats are corrupt and they help corruption, directly or indirectly.

    God bless my india!!!

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    1. Welcome here Bob! You are so right about corruption being the bane of the country. And I agree about the ‘hand-washing’ by the government after giving a cursory ad in the papers! But I still have hopes for our country, call me an eternal optimist if you will! 🙂

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  4. Whoa! dats a brave one! U picked a very corny topic!
    I still remember wen we used to travel we used to read them, it was always funny!. People read it, cause it’s indeed still a taboo!. This is pure advertising, they want clients , they dnt care they can treat them or not, but they want clients and money.
    M sure people who really have any of these problems , fall pray to them. It could be both educated and uneducated. I still remember a couple who wanted a baby, tried doctors , tried new medicines, saved the no. mentioned on these walls , maybe cause they thought it might help somehow. I dnt know the end result.
    A person who is working on a domestic scale , small scale, has no money to advertise, what else will dat person do?. Advertise on walls.
    We see soo many things in this world, we see many of them, but pick few, it’s the same case. U want it pick it, it’s for those who need it, Yes in a way it’s a trap!. But it’s our choice to fall for it or not!.
    I guess the who economy works like dat!

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    1. You too Ridhima! These people can advertise and everyone can read, but talking about it is taboo? That’s what I call double standards. 😛 You are right, these are poor ‘doctors’ who albeit have great business sense and are raking in money by the shovelfuls for sure at little or no cost of advertising!

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      1. Hey ZM, wats d next topic u are picking! m eager this time???!

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        1. Wait and see! 🙂

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  5. The most popular two in my awareness are some Jain and M Shakib… and yes I have retuned today from a wedding via road so its are fresh in mind 😛

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    1. Welcome here Utkarsh! The names stay with you somehow, don’t they?

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  6. Oh boy.

    Well, to say that I have been invisible would be a fact, as I was reading all the posts, just found nothing worth commenting upon.

    Have you ever traveled, as in regularly, commuted, even, on Mumbai’s local trains? If you have spent time in Mumbai, I guess you might have. Anyone who spends more than a week in the Mumbai locals will not find it surprising to see ads or banners of ANYTHING. I repeat, anything.

    Anything advertisable for selling is advertised. Even, you guessed it, doctors, quacks, rather, for the secret diseases. These guys advertise it in references easy to catch on to… I guess its the mindset that has made it taboo to discuss sexual matters with anyone that we use oblique references instead of direct inputs. About 10 years ago, a condom company had even taken over Dadar station and plastered all the hoardings with pictures of a horse on its hind legs, the very picture of virility, so to speak.

    But then again, this is India. Everything happens. Even a discussion over the internet about quacks treating STDs between a blogger and her son’s batchmate.

    Regards,
    Grond.

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    1. Wow, Grond, that was a big big dig all right!! when ads on walls and in public transport are such great influence, it is more reason for the government to take steps.

      btw, one of my blogger friends had mentioned the advantages of being incognito in cyberspace. Look at me now! 😦

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      1. Grond · · Reply

        Being incognito became useless the moment your son plastered his posts with links to your blog…

        Anyways, I agree that these quacks need to be regulated and thrown out. There are too many gullible people in India who these guys fleece. I remember a sting op conducted by a journalist some time back, on these quacks… It seems one of them promised he’ll cure his patients of AIDS even!

        The latest rage where I come from (Mumbai locals, that is) is of ‘Baba’s… quack fakirs rather, promising solutions to any problems that you have… lemme recollect, if I can, from the massive number of problems they seem to solve: Marriage issues, having progeny, getting rid of mistresses, debt recovery, film roles, job issues, foreign travel, someone throwing a black eye on you, someone having fed you something that is not agreeing with you, etcetera etcetera etcetera…

        And did I mention that these ‘Baba’s (Baba blahblah Bangali, Baba Somethingsomething Sheikh, Baba abracadabra Malik, et al) promise a guarantee card with 100% results? And that your life will change within the next 48 hours to within the next 7 hours!

        There was a sting op on them last week… Obviously, none of these gents met the journos running the sting, neither did they give their location. The only contact detail these guys leave is their cell phone number… You call them and then they get back to you…

        Man… India’s really a gullible country, right?

        Regards,
        Grond

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        1. Yeah, life would certainly change for them wouldn’t it, if they were to be made poorer by a fortune by these charlatans? 🙂

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    2. I am wondering how you say that you have read all blog posts, where there were specific posts about Mumbai locals. 🙂

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  7. hi, nice post.

    i have seen these ads many times travelling through Delhi, UP, Hariyana.

    My friends who live on those parts of the country tell me that most of these doctors or quacks practice in the country side and as you guessed, they do not cater to the city bred people. The second reason for such widespread advertising as my friends tell me is that “virility” or lack of it is a big issue with men in the northern part of India. (is it not an issue with men all over any way?) So the “gupt rog’ that are advertised on the walls don’t only deal with STD but also with whether a man can or can not!

    these are issues not too many people are comfortable with and hence it perhaps makes sense to go to someone local rather than a big hospital or a clinic.

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    1. Yes, Sharbori, you are right about these issues being the concern of men all over. I only pity them for being taken in by quacks who must be fleecing them to line their own coffers. if this is such a big issue, the government should take action to curb these so-called clinics, shouldn’t it?

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  8. I’ve seen a couple of these too. I guess they must be aiming at the lesser educated people who easily fall prey to such ads. They are naive and the sphere of their thinking is limited to such things as these, not realising that these very things might get them into a lifetime of misery if and when they rebound.
    I doubt anyone of them is qualified to be a doctor, or else they’d try to earn more moolah by setting up proper clinics.

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    1. Yes, it is all about advertising and damned be the consequences. They must be aimed at the lesser educated of the populace and play upon the fears of societal disapproval.

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  9. I’ve never heard of that. Intriguing. I guess we’re lucky in the UK in that we have a national health service that treats everything.

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    1. We have any number of good private and government hospitals in India too, but these are sort of parallel medical system obviously aimed at the gullible and playing upon social stigma and taboo of these problems.

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  10. Oh the same questions run through my mind too..when I see these ads. Most times I feel these ads are aimed at the drivers of lorries and trucks who ferry things on the highway.

    Also, we have a Chinese herbal store here in the small town of Lancaster which promises to cure you of impotence, stress and other stuff.

    Maybe these are actual clinics and government recognised too..who knows..it might be so much fun to actually ring the number and find out 😛

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    1. yes, LP, these could be aimed at truckers and other wayfarers, and maybe too they are approved (?) by the government, but they are an eyesore all right! Your idea of ringing them sounds too bold though 🙂

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