Dr Bharat Inder Singh, who passed away yesterday night was one of the most warm and jovial person I ever met. He was always laughing, mostly at himself or while cracking hilarious sardarji jokes. I had met Bharat for the first time a little over 17 years ago at our office (Max Healthcare, Okhla). He had recently joined the Max Medcentre Panchsheel Park as the centre head and he was going through his induction. I was the young and somewhat brash brand manager of the company.
In our very first meeting Bharat told me that he never understood why the organisation needed a brand manager. He explained that he had been practicing medicine for the last two decades and in his experience the only marketing he had ever needed was a board bearing his name outside his clinic. Lest, I become uncomfortable, he quickly added that things are changing now and maybe he needs to learn a few things from me.
Bharat had a unique way with his patients. He would connect with them in an instant, make them comfortable with humorous asides or simply laugh away their concerns about their illnesses, reassuring them that all will be well soon. He had a particular charm, which worked so well with the ladies, particularly elderly ladies, who were mostly his patients. He would always listen to them with great attention (or at least pretend to be listening), talk about their grand-children or dogs or husbands and be ready with his prescriptions. Bharat, always had time for his patients and he was never in a hurry for anything.
While, Bharat was a very good physician, he made no bones about the fact that he knew nothing of managing a facility. Thus, while Max Medcentre in Panchsheel Park was his responsibility, he had happily delegated the running of the centre to Dr Dilpreet Brar. He would often laugh at himself at his lack of ability as well as interest in anything, which required meetings, excel sheets or power-point presentations. He would show up at the last minute for reviews, quickly understand the drift of what was being presented and wink his way through it all. He made hilarious gaffes and we would all be hard pressed to keep straight faces, it really didn’t matter much to him.
Bharat was passionate about Squash. He was supremely fit and even coached youngsters in the game. I recall that once we had participated in a corporate Squash tournament. Our team comprised of Bharat and Dr Nitiraj Oberoi, an Orthopaedic surgeon who also worked at Max Medcentre in Panchsheel Park. Bharat and Nitiraj made their way to the finals without difficulty and invited Pallavi Das (who headed Corporate Sales at Max Healthcare) and me to watch them win the tournament. Pallavi and I drove across Delhi to Gurgaon to watch the match. The other finalists were two youngsters representing Amex. They were on the court, warming up, shadow practicing their shots and had quite a lot of supporters who had come to watch the match. They looked young, confident and were a bit cocky, prancing around the court. Bharat and Nitiraj were no where to be seen and I told Pallavi that these youngsters will probably whip Bharat and Nitiraj.
Our team showed up at the last minute, Bharat in his graying beard and Nitiraj too looking much older than the competition. I went and wished our team luck and also mentioned that these youngsters appear to be quite a handful. Bharat, looked at me scornfully and said ”watch the fun begin”.
Bharat and Nitiraj made the Amex team run around the court with such great ease that by the end of the first set itself the youngsters were sprawled flat on the court and Bharat had hardly broken into a sweat!!! That day, I learnt never ever to look at men with gray beards as old.
I last met Bharat two months ago. My mother had an appointment with her cardiologist at Max Medcentre, and while I waited with her for him to arrive, I noticed Bharat’s familiar name-plate outside his clinic at the centre. I learnt that he was in and relatively free. We chatted about old times for close to half an hour. He did appear a little frail and I did know about his illness, yet he looked in good spirits and was doing what he loved most, seeing patients. He joked with me about my paunch and advised me a diet and walking regimen that should help me reduce weight. We never spoke about his own health.
Rest in peace, Dr Bharat.