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A reassuring voice in the cloistered world of sexology: Dr Mahinder Watsa passes away at 96

It is intriguing that a nation that boasts of Kamasutra and Khajuraho can be so priggish when it comes to a candid discussion on sex, sexuality and sexual health. Yet, there have been the likes of the late Dr Mahinder Watsa — he passed away at the age of 96 on Monday — who ended the cloistered misery of a thousands of people by enabling them to open up in his column ‘Ask the Sexpert.’

The late Dr Watsa was a doyen in this hush-hush world of sexual counselling. Yours truly would begin his day with a glance at his column in the Pune and Mumbai Mirror, with which he was associated since their inception. Even before that, he had been contributing to women’s magazines, helping readers to come to terms with their sexuality.

“Dad was a man of many dimensions. He lived a glorious life and on own his terms,” read a statement by his children. In a country where a discussion on sex is still a taboo for many, Watsa, the son of a military doctor, had a sort of cult following. Be it erectile dysfunction or middle-aged pregnancy, no query was off limits for this ‘sexpert’.

Unlike in the West, there is no such subject as sexology that is part of the curriculum in Indian medical colleges. In these rather discouraging circumstances, Dr Watsa’s foray into this field was indeed commendable.

A suave and humane doctor, he never let down his readers and patients. Though he was witty, he was by no means sarcastic or scathing. It simply brought much cheer. Sample this:

Q: I have heard that any kind of acidic substance can prevent pregnancy. Can I pour some drops of lemon or orange juice in my girlfriend’s vagina after the intercourse? Will it harm her?

A: Are you a bhel puri [snack] vendor? Where did you get this weird idea from? There are many other safe and easy methods of birth control. You can consider using a condom.

Years ago, an editor objected to his column because of the nature of questions posed by readers. Yet, the mild-mannered Dr Watsa didn’t mind or get into an unnecessary confrontation with that editor. That was his hallmark. He was always non-controversial to a fault.

He once said, ‘ F***, Fun and Frolic go hand in hand. Take life lightly. Your sexual life will also be smooth.’ He had a non-serious and uncluttered approach to sex. He once asked in his column; it was a counter question: Young man, why should you need a Viagra? For a young man, his beautiful partner is the most potent Viagra or an aphrodisiac. So very true.

Despite being an allopath, he was open to suggesting Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs; no one knew better than him that all aphrodisiacs have a placebo effect; yet he never misled any of his readers and patients.

He even corrected misspelt words like a fastidious teacher, the most popular being his encounter with a young reader from Satara in Maharashtra who wanted an insight into mastoorbotion!

Likewise, he admirably dealt with sexual issues that had moral overtones. A sexologist must be a brilliant psychologist or a psychiatrist. In Europe and America, all sexologists are psychiatrists as well. Mind plays a vital role in sex. So, both medication and counselling are needed.

Dr Wats was an amazing practitioner of human psychology. That’s why, he was so successful. His advice were never outrageous or titillating. To him, sagacity was the essence of sexology. He showed utmost patience with his numerous patients. The good old doctor had a humane touch and an unfailing sense of (re)assurance. He’ll be sorely missed. Adieu, Dr Wats.

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