Everything In Its Right Place

The streets of Delhi held many surprises when I moved from Bombay in late 2014. The bone-setters in particular stood out in the Capital's urban landscape.

Unconfirmed sources reveal Delhi to have the highest number of bone-setters in India. Operating from the medieval lanes of Old Delhi, to the grimy suburbs of East & West Delhi and close to the new, swanky airport terminal, these doctors have become the orthopaedics of choice for the man on the street. And despite their unofficial (and almost illegal) status as apothecaries, they are hugely popular among those who can only afford to pay around Rs. 20 ($0.308) for a sitting.

In a strict Orthopaedic sense, the main speciality of these wayside physicians lies in treating sprains, muscle-ligament tears and dislocations - not fractures. However, many pahalwans also extend their services to curing eczema, indigestion and sexual issues among others, employing mostly Ayurveda and also Unani techniques.

While qualified orthopaedics quickly dismiss them as roadside quacks, the surging masses who cannot afford private healthcare and line up at such clinics tell a different story.

Here's a look at some of the Capital's healers and the healed.

This series was commissioned and published by Motherland. Read more here.

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