September 2014








Earful of wax

I had to visit a medical laboratory to carry out certain tests on the advice of my doctor.

The laboratory collected the necessary samples, and I was asked to come back either after a few hours for the report, or come back the next day. The laboratory was far away, and I had taken the day off from office; it would not have been feasible to come back the next day. I decided to wait.

The waiting room was almost full, and, anyway, hospitals and medical laboratories are not cheerful places where you can spend a few hours. There was a municipal garden nearby, and the idea of spending the time sitting on a bench under a tree was more pleasant.

Finding myself a cosy corner in the garden, I prepared for a nice session of daydreaming. The nice dreams had not yet started appearing when an ear cleaner came up to me and peered into my ears as though they were wonderful specimens to be preserved in a laboratory jar.

He shook his head disapprovingly. "Your ears are stuffed with wax, you must have them removed," he said.

Although hesitating to have my ears cleaned by a roadside cleaner, the thought of carrying on with life with wax-laden ears was an unwelcome one.

We settled on the fee. I had to pay him ten rupees for every chunk of wax that he drew out. I gave him my ears.

The man pulled out a metal pick from his bag, and into my ears it went. He drew out a tiny ball of wax. I do not know why wax inside the ears come out as tiny balls; perhaps it is the circular motion of the pick which causes the wax to develop the spherical shape. Anyway, out came a tiny ball of wax - the perfect football for ants to play with.

I dug into my pockets, removed a ten-rupee note, and gave it to the man.

"There is more," he said.

I had to extend my ear once again, and once again out came a ball. Once again a ten-rupee note changed hands.

"Don't you ever clean your ears?" the man asked. The well-intentioned rebuke caused me to squirm in shame. "There is more," he said. Chastened by the rebuke I meekly submitted my ears to him.

Out came a third ball, and I bid adieu to a third ten-rupee note.

Quite sure that my ears were clean now, I prepared to resume my daydreaming session.

But the man wouldn't go. "There is more," he repeated his favourite expression.

He scooped out a fourth ball, and then a fifth, a sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth.

I had never imagined my ears could hold so much debris. After the tenth tiny ball came out and the tenth ten-rupee note changed hands I realized this was going to be an endless cleansing process. My resources were fast dwindling; I was already poorer by 100 rupees, and, from the way things were progressing, it appeared my ears would remain as unclean as ever even after I had completely emptied my pockets.

My sunny disposition gave way to a surly one. "There's .....," the man began.

But I cut him short. "...... no more," I completed the sentence for him.

The man realized I had reached the end of my patience. No amount of coaxing could now budge me to lend my ears to him.

He picked up his tool bag with a mournful look as though he was unhappy to leave a task unfinished. But the moment his back was turned to me, I heard a faint chuckle ..... a chuckle so faint that I doubt I would have heard it had my ears not been relieved of those ten tiny balls of wax!



Some useful links for
your career:


  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

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