Prama and Ranji kindly sent their driver to New Delhi airport to pick up Dominika and I upon our arrival in India. It is a very gentle way to land. The cooks, servants and Kaiser, their gentle Afghani dog, take great of us. The day after my arrival, I paid my annual visit to Dr. Sharma, the dentist of Prama and Ranji, for a check up. I first visited him four years ago.
In November 2004, I had made an appointment with the dentist in Totnes. The Totnes dentist examined my teeth. He told me I needed three fillings. He advised me to have gold crowns that would last for at least 20 years. He said the cost would be £350 per tooth. Total cost, including examination and x-rays, would be around £1150 (€1700 or $2100) for all three teeth. I said “thank you”, e-mailed Prama, and asked her to book me an appointment with her dentist in Delhi.
In January 2005, Dr. Sharma, her dentist, took an x-ray of my teeth. He told me that I only needed one crown. He gave me a temporary filling as I had to leave Delhi the next day for Bodh Gaya and he completed the dental work when I got back to Delhi a month later. Total cost for examination, x-ray, teeth cleaning and crown came to £90 (€140, $180). I had saved myself more than £1000 (€1500, $1900).
When I returned home, I wrote to the Rt. Hon. Anthony Steen, my Member for Parliament for Totnes. I told him that he should advise his constituents to fly to India to get their teeth fixed. Parallel to my situation, it would mean a person requiring dental treatment could fly to New Delhi, spend a couple of weeks visiting Varanasi, the Taj Mahal, Sarnath, the Rajasthan desert, attend a yoga and meditation course in Rishikesh, discover the importance of spirituality, get their teeth fixed, fly back to England – and still have money left in their pocket. Mr. Steen did not reply to my letter. The thought arose that it was a toothless response. He is usually very good at responding to my letters.
Incidentally, the address of Dr. Sharma is A-10 Lower Ground Floor. Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. Tel. 2614 7645.
After I got back home, I read in the newspaper (so it must be true) that a private dentist in the United Kingdom can expect to be a millionaire within five years of starting his practice. My previous dentist retired in his mid 50s. He spends a lot of time on his yacht, friends tell me.