The Indian X-Ray Experience

April 2008

The next step was to get our marriage officially registered, which turned out to be pretty much of a mission. The only identification Baba had was a Sadhu I.D. Card from the main Ashram of the Nath Sampardaya in Haridwar. We would not get very far with that document.

Our funny lawyer promised to figure out what to do and decided that the first thing to be done was to get a medical age certificate for Baba, which would be done by taking X-rays of his skull.

Of course, the whole story again seemed more than weird to me. But as there are actually only few things that do not seem strange to a westerner in India, I limited myself to shrug my shoulders and let things happen. If all of it was bullocks, I would at least have another colorful story to add to my India diary.

So, all three of us walked into a governmental hospital in Haridwar. The lawyer left us sitting on a hard wooden bench and disappeared. From time to time we saw him from a distance hopping after some doctors.

…waiting, waiting and more waiting…

Eventually the lawyer came back and brought us to the X-Ray department, where we sat on another bench to wait again. At least we were lucky enough to get a seat, as the hallway was full with people standing.

India turns you into a specialist in waiting, especially when you already have gained some train experience and in occasions have been waiting for your delayed train for about five hours. At least waiting in this country is a bit like watching T.V.; there is always something entertaining and interesting happening around you, which makes time pass by a bit quicker.

Buy popcorn and watch the show, it’s for free!

Finally the lawyer gave a sign to call us into the X-Ray room. I wondered if this really was the right place. The door stood wide open and people came in and out like at the entrance of a supermarket. The examination table with the X-Ray machine stood in the middle of the big room.

I did not get X-rayed too many times in my life, but I remember clearly that I had to wear a lead apron and that it had happened in a small, well isolated chamber, which the nurse would leave locking the door behind her before starting the machine.


In this hospital, people were X-rayed merrily one after another, like in a push button factory. The patients who were waiting for their turn sat on benches inside of that same room or stood curiously around the examination table to get a closer look on how others were getting X-rayed.

It was the first time that Baba was as a “patient” in a hospital. He was clearly feeling creepy and observed the whole scene with big eyes. The doctor instructed him to lay down on the table and not to move. The radiography took only a second and the doctor left the room. Baba apparently had not understood that the procedure was already over and was still lying there like a dead animal.

The lawyer, who was of course supervising the examination, turned towards me and said:

“Now you Madame”

“Me? Why? I’ve got a passport, I already know how old I am”

“Anyways, you also have to take the examination”

“My Passport is from Germany, it is a REAL one! It has a chip and everything”

 “Madam, please! You have to do it!”

In the end I gave in and underwent the procedure to the amusement of the whole ward. A Western woman getting an X-ray was the highlight of today’s hospital show!

We had to wait AGAIN, this time for the results. After another couple of hours the Doctor came with the documents over and said solemnly:

“Sir, you are 30 years old. Madame, your age is 28”

“Oh, how nice! On my Passport it says that I am 30”

“No, Madame! Your age is 28!!!”