Noisy buses and chaotic traffic has no affect on bone fixer Laxman Das as he treats broken bones and fractures of his patients on the road side of India’s capital.
Sitting on his raised bench Laxman, 62, consults his patients on the corner of a busy area in Shahdara, north-eastern Delhi, in northern India.
He’s not a doctor but he claims he can treat any kind of fracture or bone related problem by using traditional Ayurvedic methods of massage, medicines and bamboo wood as splints.
Without the use of any X-ray equipment, painkillers or casts, Laxman claims to be able to identify a fracture by just touching the area.
‘Whoever comes to me never leaves disappointed,’ he said. ‘I guarantee I can fix any bone problem. Anything from a stiff shoulder, fracture, bad knee, or a dislocated bone.’
‘I help my patients save money.’
Laxman, who once worked as a Wrestler, set up his roadside treatment corner 40 years ago. He dropped out of school at ten-years-old but joined a local wrestling club and over the years he learned how to fix injuries by his wrestling master, Mool Chand.
He said: ‘When people heard I could set bones people used to visit me in my house. But then I decided to set up a shop and made it my business. I’ve treated thousands of patients over the years. It’s cheaper and quicker to come to me than go to a hospital. And they’re satisfied.’
‘I do my job well.’
Laxman said he gets around twelve patients a day, and charges between Rs 50 (60p) and Rs 200 (£3) depending on the treatment. A broken arm will cost Rs 200 (£3) and a dislocated arm can be Rs 100 (£1.20), while at a local private hospital the cost could be anything up to Rs 30,000 (£360).
He can sometimes make up to Rs 40,000 a month (£490) which is a reasonably good salary compared to many in India.
He uses different Ayurvedic oils and herbal ointments for the pain, which he buys from his village, in Haryana, just outside the capital. But with a broken bone or fracture he uses small bamboo sticks as splints in place of a professional cast.
Many former wrestlers in India have become road side bone fixers as they become too old for their profession. Fixing broken bones and fractures had been such a regular problem in their sport that they go on to make a living off it and help their community. And as India has a poor health regulating system there’s no one to stop them.
Laxman added: ‘This practice is popular all over India. People believe in the natural way of treatment. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years now and people always come back. Many people can’t afford hospital fees. We are simple people and if we can do something for a fraction of the cost then we will. People from outside Delhi even come to me…they know it works.’
Laxman is married to Neeru Bala, 50, and they have two children. His son Rahul, 25, assists on the stall and will one day take over the family business.
Rahul said: ‘I’ve learnt a lot from my father but I’ve got more to learn before I can take over. I accompany my father every day and I watch him treating his patients. He has so much experience and he’s respected in this area. I hope I can make him proud and carry on the family business as well as he has.’