Dr Mukesh Batra: ‘Hobbies make you more sensitive’

Dr Mukesh Batra: ‘Hobbies make you more sensitive’

He speaks about the importance of having hobbies, his passion for singing and photography, and pursuing your pastime

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 10:23 PM IST
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Dr Mukesh Batra |

The name Dr Mukesh Batra is synonymous with homeopathy. He is the founder of Dr Batra’s group of companies, a chain of homeopathy clinics in six countries and an FMCG brand. A lover of singing and photography, he believes that hobbies are essential for a healthy life. Dr Batra speaks about the importance of hobbies, his passions and inculcating them organically.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why do you say hobbies keep you alive?

It’s important to have an interest outside your profession as it widens your horizon. This helps you be more creative. Having hobbies, like collecting stamps, singing, taking photos, or writing, can be a way... It could be anything, even trekking. It’s this interest that keeps one excited and motivated. This passion gives you a reason to keep going and adds more joy to your life. It also keeps you busy, because you spend a lot of time enjoying and getting better at your hobby. This keeps you happily occupied, aside from your job or business.

You have often heard, ‘It gets lonely at the top’...It does. Believe me. And that’s precisely the reason I promote the cultivation of a hobby. Hobby keeps you 'alive’ despite being alone... otherwise, you merely exist. Hobby keeps you sane amidst the lonely chaos at the top.

How did you develop singing and photography as hobbies?

They happened accidentally and over time. I always enjoyed taking pictures of my family during holidays. One day, my family noticed that I took good pictures and suggested that I take them more seriously. They encouraged me to buy a professional camera. This was back when there were no mobile phones, no internet, and no Instagram. So, I upgraded my camera and started doing photography. What motivated me more was a trip to Kufri. We were stuck at the Oberoi hotel due to heavy snow fall, and we couldn’t go anywhere. I decided to make the most of it, put on my snow boots and warm clothes, and started taking pictures around the hotel. It was an exciting and chilling experience, though a bit challenging. The pictures turned out to be beautiful. One of our patients, who was also a friend of my son and the head of Citibank at the time, saw the pictures. He thought they were good and suggested having an exhibition. I hesitated, saying my pictures weren’t for exhibitions. However, he offered to host it at the bank’s gold lounge at Nariman Point and Khar after banking hours. That was my first exhibition, around

15 years ago. Since then, I have had 52 exhibitions, and that encouragement marked the beginning of my photography journey.

And singing?

Dr Mukesh Batra during a musical event

Dr Mukesh Batra during a musical event |

I always wanted to learn to sing as I loved listening to good music and I have friends who sing well. Louisa, a friend, helped me find a teacher and connected me with Kamleshji, who had been an assistant to Kalyanji-Anandji for a long time. I’m passionate about singing; it’s like meditation for me. When I come home after a tough day, singing makes me feel blessed and calm. Singing has a soothing, spiritual effect on me. If you think about our religious places, they all involve singing. Singing creates vibrations and heals you. That’s why prayers in churches are hymns sung with an organ, and in temples, there are beautiful bhajans sung by local people with local instruments. All of this helps us remember and connect with God. Similarly, in masjids, there are qawwalis. No matter your religion, singing brings a sense of sukoon.

My passions are singing and photography, and I connect them to a purpose. Through photography, I raise money in exhibitions for the visually challenged. I believe that even though they can’t see this beautiful world, we can add quality to their lives by donating and making their lives a little richer with whatever we can give. It’s a wonderful way to make a positive impact. Similarly, the money collected from my singing supports an old age home for the past 45 years. We even invite them to my event Yadoon Ki Bahar. It makes me happy to see them excited and dancing at the age of 80 or more. They show such enthusiasm for life, teaching us valuable lessons about happiness and contentment, even when they don’t have much in their lives to look forward to.

Would you, as a medical man, term hobbies as therapy?

Yes, hobbies have a healing effect. There’s already a lot of research, like exploring the word ‘OM’, which has vibrations. Singing, with its vibrations, heals not just your body but also your inner soul.

Hobbies provide a physical, emotional, and spiritual connection. Any hobby can be therapeutic, especially singing and music. When you’re involved in something you’re passionate about, something that you genuinely love from your heart, it initiates healing. Love, in any form, is healing, while hate is destructive to the human body. That’s why we emphasise positive health and positive emotions. Engaging in hobbies brings positive emotions because you are doing something you love.

How does a hobby help as you grow?

Hobbies make you more sensitive. For instance, both my hobbies, photography and singing, have contributed to my improvement as a doctor. Photography teaches you to be in the moment because scenes can be lost in just a few moments. This skill of being alert and living in the moment that photography taught me has translated into my medical practice. It helps me make quick decisions, sharpen my reflexes, and prescribe treatments faster.

Singing, on the other hand, has helped me keep my sensitivity alive. I encourage the doctors at Dr Batra’s(R), which I founded, to engage in singing during our in-house events. This is because, in the medical profession, where doctors often witness pain and deaths, they can become insensitive over time.

A creative hobby, especially something like singing, helps us keep our sensitivity alive. Singing makes me more emotionally connected, involved, and sensitive to my patients, contributing to my overall growth.

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