Tuesday, May 3, 2011


All my life I have dreaded going to the dentist. In fact, I dread it so much that it is almost never as bad in reality as it has been in my imagination. Growing up, we went to Dr. Bechtel in Goshen, whom my mother knew from school. He was very nice but I almost always had to have a filling each time I had a checkup. Now those old fillings, many of which have been replaced, are resulting in a need for crowns; there's not enough tooth left to fill. My first crown was done here in Mussoorie around 1978 by Dr. Gandhi. It is gold, which wasn't so outrageously expensive then. At my last checkup my Goshen dentist (Dr. Bechtel is long gone) advised me to get a crown on a rear upper molar. Since I was ready to leave for India, I thought I would look into getting it done here. Dr. Gandhi's practice was taken over 30 years ago by Dr. Thakral. Many of the people at the school go to him and recommended him highly. So I made an appointment. It took three visits -- one to check it out, one to drill and put on a temporary, and the last (yesterday) to put in the permanent composite crown. And all of this was at 1/10 the cost of the same procedures in the U.S.

Dr. Thakral's office is right at Windy Corner at the top of the Kulri Hill. These signs are on the outside and above the entrance. It was nice to know that I was going to a resort for this work. The office is up one flight inside the entrance. (I never saw or heard of Dr. (Mrs.) Thakral.)

At the top of the stairs there is a small waiting room. Magazines help to pass the time, just like we expect in the U.S.

The door to the surgery is closed. Dr. Thakral's assistant comes out every now and then and takes the appointment card so they will know who is waiting. It is very quiet; the assistant doesn't speak, he just reaches out his hand and you are supposed to know to give him the card. (I didn't realize this the first visit and didn't have it with me.)

Inside, the dentist's small desk area is surrounded with awards, degrees and citations. Every surface in the surgery is covered with small tchotchkes. The assistant tried to step out of this picture, but I asked him to stay.

The main surgery (there is a second, but I never was in it) has the usual instruments you would expect. Unlike our U.S. dentist, they still use a spit sink. The drill was a modern high-speed one (thank goodness!). Notice there is a large window with a small veranda.

Once you are lying in the dental chair, you see this angled mirror mounted on the ceiling. It looks out onto the hillside below the office. Although everything in the mirror is upside-down and backwards, it gives a wonderful view of the villages and fields. This view combined with listening to music on my iPod helped me get through the less-pleasant parts of the experience.

The top center of this picture is the back side of the office/veranda seen from the road below. It gives you some of the effect of the building in this steep town -- the office is up only one flight from the street above, but about four flights from this road.

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