By John B Monteiro
Mangaluru, Oct 5: This week I had two golden landmarks related to Father Muller Hospital. To start with the second, I was diagnosed Covid-19 positive 2 days ago, almost 50 years after the first landmark. While that is not a thing to shout from the rooftop about, what I saw while giving my RT-PCR test at the Father Muller’s test complex reinforced my admiration for their “Heal and Comfort” conglomerate. What used to be a premier car park near the entrance, is now a highly streamlined test complex. More than the physical infrastructure, what impressed me were the staff who manage the rush of patients and their escorts, who, in many cases, are dealing with such a setup for the first time. They are soon put in a soothing mood, with the staff going out of their way to greet them with cheerful smiles and guide them through the various service points. This is a subject worth writing chapters about.
More than my pleasant health-related brushes with Father Muller, my most creative and lasting experience has been the projection of Father Muller in the media and in its own publications, the most important of which being the Souvenir of its Post-Centenary Silver Jubilee in 2005 (its cover is featured alongside). For the souvenir, I worked with the late Monsignor Dr Alexander D’Souza, an ex-director of the Hospital and a great Konkani writer. Rev Dr Baptist Menezes, the then director, provided me ample space and resources, including the assistance of one of his secretaries. Going even further down memory lane, the first typed draft of the institution’s history was written by me as I came back from Bombay to be with my mother, who was slowly sinking at the Hospital. The then director, F Peter Noronha, gave me an ante room next to my mother’s, and the then administrator, Fr Lawrence D’Souza arranged to supply documentary sources.
Finally, I revert to the first golden jubilee, the birth of my first born, duly named Primrose. The maternity home at that time was a one-storey building, resembling the chieftain’s house displayed at Pilikula. It was a single edifice with a vast stretch of rough ground surrounding it. Today, it is a car park.
Even if her birthplace has vanished, Primrose (or Prima, as she is more popularly known) has since blazed new paths professionally. She has been managing editor of Femina magazine, and is now editor of Lonely Planet India magazine, the Indian edition of the famous travel and tourism magazine and a joint venture between the BBC and the Times of India Group. She celebrates her 50th birthday on October 5.