On the kerb and under the shade of a sprawling tree near Panagal Park, T. Nagar, you are greeted by a strange sight. A few folding chairs are spread, occupied by patients waiting for their doctor to administer homeopathic medicine, to alleviate their pain. Yes, it is a clinic without walls and the purpose of the clinic is singularly, Service.
Dr. Gopalakrishna, even at his advanced age, is a determined man who, for more than two decades, has been coming daily, come rain or shine, to his “Clinic” to serve his dear patients. Due to old age, he now advises his disciple and successor Ms. Rita, on treatment specifics, by gestures, which can be deciphered only by her.
His patients range from the very poor to the very rich. No fee is demanded of any patient. And any fee, however little, offered by a patient is welcome, to enable the doctor to plough it back into buying medicines, (which again are distributed to many patients, who are very poor and cannot afford even a small fee).
Dr Gopalakrishna is an interesting, multifaceted personality. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, he came to Chennai in 1963. About 25 years ago, he resided with the famous Koochipoodi dance exponent and guru Vempati Chinna Satyam (whose Koochipoodi Dance Academy was situated on Prakasam Road).
During visits he used to prescribe and distribute homeopathic medicines to students and friends of Vempati Chinna Satyam. However, when the academy had to vacate and move to its own premises, Dr Gopalakrishna decided to continue his service, sitting on the pavement, so that his patients could always find him. Thus started the unique open-air clinic. Today, the chairs that line the “clinic” are believed to have been donated by some patients.
The success and recognition of being a unique doctor has only accentuated his desire to serve and continue to serve, without expecting any monetary benefit.