'Good timing.' she remarked. 'Have you got your flu vaccinations?' Being a doctor, that's her area of interest.
'Oh yes,' said Vijay. 'Only...perhaps not quite the right one.'
'What do you mean?' she said.
I jumped in to explain. 'Yesterday.' I shot a withering look at Vijay. 'Vijay decided to go to some Jeewan Clinic. I was with him, and we were supposed to go to Artemis but he said that was closer, so we might as well go there.'
'Okayyy' said the sister-in-law.
'That wasn't the problem, though.' I continued 'The problem was that when we landed there, there were already four patients before us and the doctor had still not landed up. No problem, Vijay said...we already know we want the Vaxigrip vaccination, that's what our Jijaji (also a doctor) had recommended. So why should we wait for a doctor, he asked. Can't some pappu over here actually just administer the vaccine?
No sir, they told him politely at the reception. We have to get a consultation with the doctor first and then he will only tell...
What nonsense, said Vijay. This is just a way to make money. I don't need a consultation. I just need the Vaxigrip. Bring on the Pappu.
He was so convincing, I told the bemused sister-in-law, that they finally agreed to let Pappu bring out the vaccination. I watched as Vijay rolled up his sleeve and got the vaccination. Just a quick jab in the shoulder.
He then called out to me as I sat at the reception area 'hey, why don't you also get the Flu vaccination? It'll help you also.'
Without thinking too much about it, I said 'okay.' I'm always up for a little extra cover, if you know what I mean. He beckoned to me, clearly afraid that either I or Pappu would change our minds, and then before I knew it, I too was being jabbed in the shoulder.
'You're joking' gasped the Sister-in-law. 'You randomly got the vaccination too?'
Indeed I had. I was still rubbing my shoulder when Vijay said to the person at billing 'We'll take another vaccine, so that makes three of them' He confided in me 'Jiyaji was saying he's also looking for this vaccine for Munmun ( his son). It's nowhere to be found in Delhi. Might as well pick it up for him.'
I looked at the vaccine in its box and read 'Influ...'...Wait a minute. This is supposed to be Vaxigrip, right?'
'Oh' said Vijay carelessly 'Pappu over there said they don't have Vaxigrip, but this is the same thing.'
He forked over the money, and only when we were in the car did he call Jiyaji to inform him proudly about what we had done.
'What?' he said into the phone and I knew we had a problem. 'Oh. But I've already bought an extra one for you...' I waited while he finished listening to Jiyaji and then asked 'So can I get the Vaxigrip now? No?...'
Yes, I told the sister-in-law, who by now was in the throes of laughter as if this was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Indeed we had got the wrong vaccine. Pappu had misled us with his supposed knowledge of the world of medicine. Apparently this one was for the Swine Flu and didn't have the same wide coverage as the one we were supposed to get.
That wasn't the worst part, I told her. Jiyaji told Vijay categorically that he did not want this particular vaccine for Munmun, and asked him to return it. Vijay didn't feel like turning around and going back though, and so he spent the rest of the car ride trying to convince our Driver, Kamal that he should get vaccinated with this imposter-vaccine that we had purchased.
'Kamal, tumne Swine Flu suna hai?'
'Haan, sir...aaj kal kaafi chal raha hai.'
'Exactly!' he looked triumphantly at me 'That's why we should get Kamal this vaccination. At least he won't get swine flu. It'll make sure he doesn't have to take unnecessary sick leave...'
'You're ridiculous.' I burst out and didn't talk to him all the way home.
The Sister-in-law paused with the laughing long enough to say that if we had indeed gone ahead and bought the vaccine, she might as well administer it to our poor hapless driver -she is herself a doctor, after all. 'Show me the vaccine?'
I went over to my bookshelf and picked it up to bring it to her.
'What?' She was shocked. 'You kept it at ambient temperature? I'm sure it's to be refrigerated...these things usually are...'
'Is it?' Vijay was surprised 'But I'm sure they didn't tell us anything of the sort.And I'm pretty sure ours were also at ambient temperature...they didn't take it out of the fridge or anything...'
She looked at the box and in about two seconds, found the clear bold instructions that read 'Keep stored under refrigeration only.'
'This' she informed us, the laughter returning 'Is now deactivated. I can't say about the ones they give you, but I can tell you for sure...there is no point in jabbing Kamal with this, it will not protect him at all.'
'But' I protested wildly, in a final attempt to make use of our purchase 'We should still do it, because it will psychologically impact him...the Placebo effect.'
Sister-in-law clutched her sides with laughter and said 'I've never heard of people getting vaccinated like this...Please,' she begged me 'you must blog about this.'
Fine, I told her sulkily. Fine. I will.