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The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut

Well it's been some time. While my reading has been erratic (but adequate), my blogging has been reduced to a once-in-a-month do. But then who am I kidding ?! This isn't my first AWOL situation !

First things first. In the nooks and crannies of my choc-a-bloc weekdays and stuffed weekends, I managed to finish The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut. It's a short book and the economy of words justifies the taut story-telling of Galgut. Meaning, it should not have taken me a month to digest the book, but sadly, it did.
The Good Doctor is based in a lawless hinterland of South Africa where apathy is the best way to survive. In a slightly uncomfortable realisation, it becomes evident that indifference is not always the worst thing around. The incumbent doctor Frank Eloff and a handful of other doctors man a derelict hospital. Frank is already too careworn to bother about anything by the time he took position at the hospital, which is suddenly ruffled by the arrival of a young, boy-scout of a doctor - Lawrence Waters, brimming with unripe ideals and an unquenchable eagerness to do good. Waters is everything that Frank isn't and is ashamed of for not being, and the two strike an unlikely friendship.

But life isn't so black and white. Frank takes off for a few days, only to return to a changed order. He is not very sure if this change - a direct outcome of the zealousness of Waters - bodes well. And soon enough, the uncomfortable alien situation spirals discretely into a calamity. Like a storm, it leaves in its wake the tangled  debris of stunted lives and chaos, and the promise of the old apathy. The definition of good seems incomplete.

It does sound all depressing and doomed and all that, but the book does not always resonate that helplessness (otherwise I would have dropped it midway). I guess the trick was to keep everything so factual, that like living our own lives, the emotional impact of everyday unfairness becomes blunted.

I am not depressed. I assure you !

Anyway, besides reading, I went on a camping trip to Bhandardara. This was a first for me and boy, was it awesome ! The highlight of the trip was lying on our backs, a little way up the shores of the crystal clear lake that reflected the moonlight, and gazing up at the millions of stars ! Everyone says I'm bluffing but true to God, I saw three shooting stars too !


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