Dental Tourism

Upon arriving at the Dharamsala bus terminal yesterday after a 9-hour over night bus from Shimla, I was carted up a mountain by taxi.  A man drove me to the area known as McLeod Ganj.  I had him drop me at a hotel I’d found online the day before.  I didn’t book. I just showed up and negotiated a price.

After napping for a few hours and stepping outside, I noticed a dental office next door.

I immediately walked off the narrow road and onto a pathway.  Just a few meters along the footpath was the ‘Perfect 32 Dental Clinic’.  There were two rooms.  The dentist and her Tibetan assistant were attending to a patient.  The assistant stepped out and greeted me in the office.  There was a window separating the office and the dental setup.

Hi.  I was wondering.  How much for a cleaning?”

800 Rupees.”

Could I make an appointment for tomorrow?”


Sounds great.  See you then.  Thanks!”

Today I showed up at 3:30pm sharp.  The pleasant dentist, a native of this state of Himachal Pradesh, greeted me.

How long has it been since you had a cleaning?”

About two years.”

She was ready to go.

Could you take your shoes off please?”

She picked at my teeth for about a minute.

In a lucid, grammatically perfect English, intertwined with a British and Indian accent, she said:

You have three very small cavities.  If you keep taking good care of your teeth they might remain that small.  If there’s
no sensitivity then you’re OK for now.  But they won’t go away.”

I thought: This woman is being completely honest with me
while I’ve had dentists in the states blatantly lie for the sake of business. I wonder if mechanics in India are so honest?

She meticulously scraped and polished all my teeth.  At least 20 times she instructed me to:


There was clean water for me to rinse.

After a few minutes,  I decided to close my eyes as I needed to avoid looking straight into hers, which were exotic, deep and brown.  The only other option was to take in the ceiling lights and her standard, powerfully glaring dental light, which beat down on my eyes if I moved them away from hers.  I thought:  I’m already getting tinnitus from walking along these horn-happy streets.  I’d better close my eyes so as to not let them wear from all this light.  It was either that or roll them to my right, directly into hers.

I wasn’t given anything to shield my eyes.

Everything seemed very clean and organized.  She wore white gloves and a clean white coat.

After following her orders of rinsing with mouthwash, she handed me a mirror.  My teeth looked as good as they felt. I popped up and out of the chair, happy to have a
super-clean set of choppers.

You have good gums.  I just notice one spot here.  You should use a soft brush.  Do small, circular strokes, starting at the gums and working your way down.”

And I should spend more quality time with those motions.”


She laughed.

We sat down at her desk in the office.  On a piece of personalized letterhead, she wrote what she had done:


She also made some notes about the tiny cavities.

800 Rupees.”

I introspected for a second:  800 Rupees is $18.  I feel guilty.  How can a price like this enable her to pay for the expensive equipment?  I wanna give her more.  But then I’d be contributing to inflation, and victimizing the local population.  Paying her more than 800 would be adding to an ugly effect of tourism.

I gave her exacty 800 and said:

Can I have your card? I hope to spread the word about your great work.”

A huge, warm smile brightened her already cheery face.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

If you’re ever in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, I wholeheartedly recommend: 
Dr. Natasha Mehra, B.D.S.
Perfect 32 Dental Clinic, Jogibara Road, Mcleod Ganj

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

Unfortunately my Samsung camera does not take night or indoor photos anymore.  I’m limited to outdoor, day photos.  Otherwise I would have asked to take her photo.

When I get to a decent sized city, getting another point and click camera will be a priority. I’m thinking:  Is my camera messed up because I dropped it once?  Or is what the Japanese bicyclist at Palacios told me about the quality of Samsung:

“Samsung don’t make good camera.”

I kept thinking: Well, he’s Japanese, of course he’s gonna say that about a Korean brand.  Regardless, it really doesn’t matter how the camera’s flashing indoor night ability went down the wayside. The bottom line is that I must acquire a camera as soon as possible.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by alasitsindia on July 3, 2011 at 08:44

    Hi there, I’m in McLeod now too … I could recommend a place perhaps to at least look for a camera. There’s a shop on Temple Road as you’re going downhill, it’s on the left not too far after it splits from the main mall area (maybe 100 meters?) … it’s called Click Digital. We’ve used them for buying phone credit and an internet device; they’re very good … speak English very well too. I’ve seen some higher end cameras on their walls, so I assume they also have point-and-clicks too … not sure cuz I wasn’t shopping for cameras … but if you’re still in McLo, it’s worth a shot.


    • ALASITSINDIA: Thanks for thinking of me. Actually I only ended up spending three days in McLeod Ganj, very interesting place, so different from anywhere else, loved talking to the Tibetans. I’m in Delhi now and may try to hit the right area for a camera. There’s been some sun down here, great for day shots compared to the gray overcast skies…


  2. Really nice blog man! Have a nice time and keep on having fun!


    • RAY: Thanks! Hope you’re having a good experience up in Manali, and starting to write about the fascinating spirituality that encompasses India.


  3. I think she missed a spot.


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