Queens of the thrones (So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened)

I guess it was expected that Joey and I would eventually part our ways. We tried so hard to make it work but when both of you want two different things in life and in a couple; you are two individuals rather than a team there is only so much one could have pushed for. We were fundamentally very different people, I suppose we turned a blind eye to that fact, which now I realise is the main pillar for building any relationships. ‘Compatibility.’ Common interest, common theme to make it easy. Because there are going to be days when you won’t want to work so hard, it might be job/might be friends/ you just feel like not being 100% that day… but the moment you do so, the castle walls shake and they threaten to fall. Compatibility gives momentum, the inertia for a relationship to keep going.

It is hard to be a foreign graduate in training. I want to continue training in a place where I get good support throughout like I do now. I still have at least 5 or 6 years to come out of the other end. And by this point, I have put too much effort to even think about  jeopardizing my career. I agree, I am taking baby steps but I know the direction I am heading to and my end goal. The tortoise won the race, remember? Without right support, all these accomplishments I have achieved for these many years will be valueless. Instead of being stepping stones they’d start becoming just another point on my CV that the judge panel won’t even consider worth a second to cast an eye. 

I don’t want to do a long distance relationship  for that many years. If Joey feels secure and feels his life belongs there in the crib he grew up on, he is right to do so. We all know what the call of a home feels like. For me, it is too far away. The idea of spending my youth days in isolation eats me. I have been trying to push myself to go out and do more things these many years. I worry, if I move to a place to that distance from a phone signal from my friends and my family; sleeping on my anxiety on the days the internet connection has failed again, I will feel trapped. Especially because I don’t know how to drive yet. Don’t ask me why? I don’t know yet. I stress on the word ‘Yet’. I will fail to appreciate the comfort his house has to offer, the peace and the breath-taking view it is blessed with. Then what is the point? 

Still, I contemplated moving there with him after I became a consultant. I would have to look for a part time job near or on a driving distance from the area. Now its at least 3 hours driving one way on a good day. Maybe it will be easy, once I control the wheels. It’s not like I don’t love the place, I adore it. But, he didn’t give me any options. He was fixated on his decision of being there all his life. He showed no effort, to think of any other ways. All my life, I had been afraid to be a frog in a bucket. I didn’t know, some people choose to be that way. The comfort of it was too valuable to lose. I couldn’t offer him my long term plan. I didn’t say any word.

There is compromise and there is sacrifice. To those who don’t understand it, you have to know ‘it is a big difference’. On the surface, it sounds like I made a career choice which is partly true. I was going to be a middle aged woman living with a man in a pretty house underneath a green hill where his backyard extended to, with an abundance of space where horses could run and a firewood stove burning through the night not like what my mom used to have but like the houses in stories. Open sky, thousands of stars, skylight in the bedroom. Being chauffeured in a fancy car to the town. This was some girl’s fairy tale. That girl may have been me. But, I have come so far to settle at this stage of my life, to not be offered an option and to only be a companion to someone else’s loneliness. To be kept under oblivion about the future and to not receive back all the energy I have invested . My guts told me ‘not to’. If I did, I had nothing for me. I would have lost it all. 

We respect each other’s decision. I only regret one thing. Of never asking him on the first date ‘What was he looking for in a relationship? Did he want to be married in the future and have kids?  What was he willing to do for us?’.

I feel like he didn’t have a sense of us. It felt like this is your and it is mine’.  I vented to my friend after we broke up.

Exactly. I felt the same way’. She replied, having been in a relationship with an Englishman for 2 years and eventually broken up. 

Maybe there were cultural influences too, the subtle ones that were playing us in the background that we didn’t know of. 

Emotional growth and becoming emotionally an adult is eventually learning to face the hard truths and the hard realities, not running away from the inevitable undesired outcome and making the tough decisions even though it may hurt for a while. Having the courage to be emotionally mature hurts but not forever. It hurts only for some time and when you recover you would have become wiser, become more self aware about things you previously did not know about yourself, from lessons learnt from those experiences and you’ll grow emotionally.’ My other friend said, word for word. 

I have a group of such emotionally mature intelligent friends who are willing to understand, empathise and analyse both the sides of the story. Like me, they are respectful of his decision too. He had to stand up for what he wanted too. We have to be selfish, it is important to love yourself first to give love to the other. The decision was right. For him and for me. Now, I have more sky over my head to roam about than on the field where horses could run. 

Was this musing anywhere talking about women in career or decisions in relationships a modern woman today chooses? I don’t know. Standing up for job, personal and family life sounds like one. Doesn’t it? 16 years olds are getting married and settling down. Why can’t I? Why can’t we? Just get to agree, or agree with your partner right? Is it wrong to be not 18 or 20 anymore and be a passionate individual looking for a soul mate but wanting to lead an independent life with a uterus? 

The problems don’t  end there. My colleague tells me, at the airport she was stopped by the officials asking her to show the documents that her children were hers and she was not kidnapping them. ‘Because they have their father’s surname’, she said. ‘And it’s especially hard if it’s interracial children because I look very different to them’. 

What will you do?’ My friend queried me recently on a similar subject, ‘With your surname? Are you going to change it?’

I don’t want to’, was my reply. ‘I went through all that, through the medical school to put a Doctor on my title and my parents/ my family put up with me for all these years and now, when I am finally  established I have to give it away?’

You could use your family name to practice medicine  and adopt your husband’s on others? Double barrelled names are weird and too long. It’s a torture for kids. Unless your last name is Dick. Imagine being a urologist and the nurse announces Dr Dick will be here shortly to see you. Then you can change you last name as soon as you get married’.

‘Modern day women’ are difficult to keep up with. And we don’t deny that. We think of us, our future, our needs too in a relationship. If that is not acceptable and not something you thought you might have to compromise for, you ‘sir’ are not for us. Its easy to say, easy to promise, hard to action. Those 16 years old didn’t have much to consider at that age than what we have to consider now. 

I read a quote once on the internet.  ‘You can choose your husband. But your kids can’t choose their father’.

Our decisions are not from the heat of the moment but from intuition, premonition and thousands of years of natural evolution. They shaped from choosing the biggest and powerful alpha males of the clan with their sturdy appearance and ability to fight;  to also the artists, museums, philosophers and dancers with petite slender bones over time. Our needs of physical security evolved with less threats of the wild animals and the calamities to present day where emotional securities have become more important. It is grinded in us, in our chromosomes and in our instincts. And as simple as men may think it is, it actually is not.

And as much as it breaks heart, it is one life and a big decision, to not think objectively. Here is me being honest, if a woman left you for someone else despite saying she loves you, I don’t doubt it. I don’t doubt that she was honest. But she had to choose to make you a chapter and not a whole book. I don’t doubt it was a very difficult decision for her but ‘there is a difference between a compromise and a sacrifice’. A Queen only sacrifices her crown for a king. A vision for a vision, a devotion for a devotion. It’s all or none. Castles are filled with jokers. She knows, Jokers will come and go, what are you?  

So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened ( Only beginning)

Most of the trainees are 24/25yr old when they join their foundation year and start earning their own salary. Almost like a zebra in a herd of horses, it’s easy to  spot a year one especially in their first few days at job. They are chirpy with their eyes gleaming with enthusiasm, appear quite confused doing random things and of course are a little nervous. You can hear them sigh often, chuckle often, ask a number of questions and follow their senior house officers on every step they take  from the ward to the cafeteria. 

Soon after a few weeks,  they will learn how to get over their imposter syndrome or move along despite feeling one and be excellent and independent at their jobs. Until then, the nature of the job will beat aspirations, confidence and eagerness they came with out of their system. Some of them will return home in the first week following their oncall or ward cover, crying. And they won’t be the first ones.

Unfortunately no one is immune and sooner they realise that even a brilliant registrar had a story when she went back home, she broke down to tears after her night shift hearing her husband ask ‘do you want cereal or oatmeal?’

‘Too much decision to make!’. She exclaimed. There have been times when consultants have drowned in sobs with a never ending pile of pending reviews in middle of ward round. Deep breath *** It will be fine.

‘We are perfectionists working in the most imperfect environment’, as my senior said. The sooner they accept, the job is a continuum of 24/7 hours, you can only do the best of the hours you have, you have to handover and there will still be patients waiting to be seen when you come back to work tomorrow; the sooner the cogwheel will start running smoother. It’s a skill. A very difficult one to learn, that everyone of us is trying to master. 

No one works harder than the foundation year trainees in the hospital. Ward rounds/reviews, constant bleeps, discharge summaries, intravenous cannulation, taking bloods and dealing difficult patients. If you are in a medical school and thought school with constant exams and boring long lecture hours was difficult, buckle up kids, you are in for a shock. 

The day you receive your first check, you have to reward yourself. Better do. When you count it to hours pay, for the stress/ anxiety you experienced it equals to nothing. But nevertheless this will be your first check that you have received after years long of dedication to medical school, the times you had to stay in studying while your friends went out to party, when Davidson was your date for Valentine and you slept next to it with the smell of papers and highlighters. Oh the look of every word highlighted in the book. ‘How stupid was I?’ didn’t that nullified the whole purpose of highlighting?

Most of the foundation trainees are possibly the youngest in age among the lot of  doctors in the hospital. Freshly baked batch out of the uni. Some of them wouldn’t have held a job apart from a few shifts here and there for extra pocket money; have had no sense of self responsibility dawning upon them prior to this job and still were having maximum support from their parents. Yes, they are in their prime in their early 20s but technically were still a student. Praying everyday to pass the finals, not knowing after those last papers, the world completely changes. 

Extra bills, relationships, mortgages and personal ambitions on top of a medical life. The trajectory it takes from there will feel out of control for a while. In some of our cases, I suppose longer than ‘just a while’. Take a deep breath. Welcome to real life! Look at your rota and plan your days, save enough for a down payment on a mortgage and get your debits sorted. 

Luckily a medical life has a lot of advantages over other jobs. The cup is half full. You have colleagues of similar age. Going through the same problems you are. Potential friends, maybe a lifelong. You will help each other with the solutions, be a shoulder when the days are chaotic and on good days, to be out and have good laughs. They share your similar intellect. Advantage is, you never have to explain a situation twice, they might possibly be the only one who picks up on your jokes and there are good chances your hobbies are similar as well. You are ambition driven, you were trained for the past 4 or 5 years to be that way. There is a goal for every rotation for every year of your progression to achieve that you can timeline against to feel some degree of accomplishment. And there is a luxury of immediate confirmation for job well done. In the form of a patient’s thank you or a positive gesture. An instant gratification that I know people are dying for in so many other jobs. And if your career stops progressing at a consultant level, the job itself, whether in the form of stress, interesting cases, mini treats like that or the challenges it comes with; to be constantly striving to be better can keep you amused. 

However, while being in a pack with ambitious individuals and readers, it is important I feel, not to jump down that rabbit hole. Know what you want as an individual. Just because you are a doctor and achieved your goal of many years does not mean this has to be your only focus. Life doesn’t stop here. Why can’t you be a teacher, a painter or a comedian? You have only started earning your own name with your title, you still have years of life and possibilities before you. Stop being industrialised. Be an individual. You don’t have to run to be a consultant right away if you don’t want to. You will be doing this job for life long, you can’t do it, if you don’t love it. And if you want to change directions it is okay. I have seen consultants start again as a foundation trainee/ senior house officers because they wanted to change their specialities. I respect their decision and absolutely admire their bravery. It takes guts to start again from scratch, give away the power you were used to and rebuild again. 

I know I will learn more . It will all come to me. It is a skill and it is knowledge. Education only forms a small base of it. It’s years of practice, a number of cases, faces, diagnosis and commitment. ‘It will all come to you like muscle memories,’ like professors say.  

Life is only beginning here on your first day. ‘Welcome. And follow us on the ward round please.’

A COVID pledge? (So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened)

And Princess Margaret always had one in her fingers as well, all the time.’ Said my patient huffing as she made her way out of the building’s main door wheeling herself. Once she had parked her chair out in the open which seemed to be her usual spot, she started lighting a cigarette. I could really see how much she enjoyed puffing it. Igniting the lighter, curving her hand next to it so the wind won’t blow off the flame and taking a deep inhale; she was natural at it. Why wouldn’t she be? She had been smoking every day for past 50 years, had managed to knacker her lungs completely with it and now had a condition called COPD.  Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease which is an irreversible lung condition at her stage. She took a really long breath to suck the nicotine in. I didn’t think she still had it on her. I mean, the physical reserve to inflate her lung that much. She was in a state, where she needed oxygen permanently at home, for at least 18hours a day. She couldn’t move from room to room if she exerted herself because of breathlessness. And her face, mainly her lips and ends of her fingers were sort of discoloured blue, an unhealthy-looking tinge of colour one develops when their body has been deprived of oxygen for so long.

This is one of the very few things I can still enjoy in my life now’, she said.

‘If she hadn’t been smoking that long and was addicted to it, may be there would have been so many other things she could have still enjoyed.’ I thought to myself. Knowing ‘Love of her addiction’ is killing her and despite that, choosing to continue on it; it is hard for me to not wonder what is going in her mind.

She tells me, she started smoking very early at beginning of her teens. Now she is in her late sixties and in a nursing home almost wheel chair dependent in majority of her activities; the cocktail of nicotine, tar and the chemicals has managed to destroy her life. ‘At least I always had my cigarettes’, she remarked, taking a puff and blowing out the smoke very slowly in the air, amusing herself with the cloud of smoke it created. ‘It was a thing you know at that time. All of my friends use to smoke. Everyone had a pack with them, everyone was offered one wherever they went’.

I don’t like the cigarette smell. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried myself either. Like most children whose parents smoked, I was introduced to it quite young as well. My mom used to be an avid smoker. I guess she developed her habit by following a trend of accepting gifts and complimentary stashes distributed to soldiers very commonly at those times. Naturally the troops wives had access to what their husbands had. ‘Marlboro’ used to be her favourite. As children, when as we saw a cigarette box with bright red on a white colour, we knew it was ‘good stuff, had been imported and either dad or one of her family members who was in the army had sent it’.

There might have been many reasons why smoking became a trend and still is. ‘Advertisement’ comes in mind first. We all know how intrusive and invasive they can be in our everyday lives. An add everywhere in newspapers and billboards, add celebrities into the pictures with their fancy gowns and chic smiles; there you go a generation of brain washed teenagers and young adults who look up to their role models and are desperate to be a part of the rage. ‘To calm the nerves’ as was told to the soldiers, it was mainly sold as an anxiolytic. Papers and the studies preached its wonderful effects too, leading general public to believe ‘it was safe’. Following these slow movements into individual people’s hand, in the world wars the popularity peaked, in few weeks it became sensation. Then a social tradition. ‘To offer a cigarette to a guest or friend as a part of social courtesy’.

I came across a cigarette advertisement made in 1950’s in YouTube. It plays “Doctors in all branches of medicine, doctors in all parts of the country were asked ‘what cigarette do you smoke Doctor?’. Once again, the brand name most used was Camel. Yes. According to this repeated nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other Cigarette.”

Imagine the confidence of the company in using ‘Doctors’ as part of their lure to the public. It alone proves how accommodating we were as a profession of cigarettes in our lives then that it used to be acceptable for hospitals to allow smoking in bays and while on consultation with doctors.

It was only much later the long-term effects of smoking was discovered. Lung conditions like emphysema, bronchitis; cancers of various origins like lung cancers, oral cavities/nasal airways, bladder cancer and disease of blood vessels, heart etc.  Anti-smoking campaigns started more vigorously world-wide as result. Strict rules were then imposed and enforced on tobacco companies with heavy taxes, prohibition of smoking was announced on general public areas and now, even what used to be my Mom’s favourite at the time; Marlboro cigarette on its pack mentions ‘smoking seriously harms you and other around you’.

When she learnt passive smoking can be more dangerous than active smoking, my mom left her habit for good. She caught on time about its adverse effects from few minutes of government broadcasts that would often pop on news channel. We were then no longer asked to go and light the cigarette for her. Kind of missed not having to, for some reason it felt exciting thing to do at that age. Initially, it was hard for her to say ‘No’ when they continued to arrive in gift packs and in fancy boxes. But she pushed on her determination and helped some of her friends to quit smoking too. She hasn’t smoked for many years now.  

In Nepal, people mainly used to use firewood to cook. It still is the case in many places. Cities mostly use gas while the villages are still dependent on it. ‘Food tastes better even rice on it’ my mom used to say when she prepared it while blowing air on the stove through a long metal pipe, coughing constantly with irritation. When Joey uses the firewood stove at his place now, to keep the house warm, I remember myself constantly asking her to use gas or the petrol fuelled stove. Most people in the village suffer from COPD lungs in remote parts of Nepal. I am glad, my mom gave up both, smoking and cooking on smoke before damaging her lungs irreversibly. Cities aren’t exception now either with pollution from the vehicles.  If you haven’t been in the autopsy room studying lungs of a diseased Kathmandu resident, you would find it very hard to believe how much of smoke/pollution can affects lungs. Even the visible physical evidence is dramatic.

My patient can’t have oxygen at home because of the hazard risk with fire. Staffs are careful that she doesn’t sneak in any inside and would rather have her move about often as needed when she requests to. At this stage, our intervention is to only support her with oxygen. Cutting out on smoke now will not change her outcome. So, if she finds relief on smoking and feels this is one of the very few things she can now enjoy in life, she should be allowed to. And she is welcome to.

NHS offers ‘quit smoking programmes’ which we suggest to all of our smoking patients. Occasionally patients will spot doctors sneak out for ‘nebulisation’, a term we use to refer ‘smoking’. But knowing the adverse effects and impacts alone doesn’t always determine one’s choice. People choose what they choose for various reasons as long as it is an informed choice.

My friend once suggested ‘try smoking. I smoke now at least 3 times a day to lose weight’. I remember, the hype there was among the teen age girls then.

Who Health Organisation (WHO) on its website mentioned ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users saying they want to quit’, with World No Tobacoo Day 2021 pledge.

This is a good thing. All the best.

A dog story for a tradition (So you’re a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened’

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/49496172 podcast link

She is 10 years old. Such a shame. It will be one of my biggest regrets. She would have made an excellent therapy dog’. A patient said to me over the phone talking about his Labrador.

I was waiting in the hospital for my appointment, sat on a bench outside with her. When a young bloke sat next to me. He was shaking/shivering when he sat. And he asked me ‘Can I pat your dog?’. ‘Yes’ I replied, and after patting her for some minutes he completely stopped shaking and he looked like a different man. That day I thought, I must put her as a therapy dog. But with all this COVID such a same that she couldn’t.

Although the risk is very low, by now we know that COVID can infect our beloved pets in close contact and vice versa. The symptoms are very similar to us; fever, cough, cold symptoms, shortness of breath, lack of energy, diarrhoea, vomiting, flu like illness. On 10th November/2021 GOV.UK published on press release ‘COVID-19 confirmed in a pet dog in UK’. After the press release and even prior to the press release there has been various interesting studies done surrounding impacts of COVID on pets and their pet owners. Some of the conclusions suggest very positive impact for the owners in terms of having a psychological support in form of companionship during lockdown and on pets-with more pet time from their owners for training and activities. BBC news on 12th March/2021 posted ‘Households buy 3.2 million pets in lockdown‘, mentioning that the main driving factor for rise in the ownership was the ‘social isolation.’

Other studies shows, there may have been a handful of challenges to pet owners mostly in dogs in terms of coping with stress of behavioural problems with their pets, accessing pet services as needed and food supplies. While on the pets especially dogs; less out door exercise and play time. Overall, all these researches on pandemic has highlighted again, why our human kinds has always been very fond of acquiring and keeping pets since time unknown. And how these fury friends continue to help us in many ways and have won special places in our heart.

Joey parents have a cocker spaniel. He has a beautiful lavish fury golden coat. Just like fresh honey stolen out of a bee hive, but a little darker shade. Very handsome little thing. They absolutely adore him. One of the family member is always at home to make sure he is not left alone and on the days they are at work, he dropped at the care centre, where he apparently has made some friends. When he returns from the centre Joey is always super excited. The first thing he does when he wakes up on the weekends is watch out of window to see if his little furry friend that is barely a year old is out on the garden or not.

When we were growing up, we also had a dog. Dogs’ actually. One passed away at about 15 years old and other passed away quite young at about 2 years. We got the second one some time later after the first one passed away, the only male pup from a litter of puppies. He was a gift to us from our relative, who had promised us one when Dorje (my dog) ‘s mom was still pregnant. He had said ‘if only there are male pups’. Luck for us and he had 6 fingers on each legs on his paws!

My mom is very fond of dogs. I suppose I was at some point too. I love them, but not to an extent to emotionally invest on one. It is a big commitment so I try not to get sucked into their bewitching innocent eyes. Someday? Yes may be. But I would like to very much have a Himalayan dog again if I did. The one I had before on both occasions. But Joey tells me after some research, obtaining pet passports, health records, vaccination status and with flights it will cost me fortune. And also introducing a whole different breed of dog to the UK will be a lot cumbersome.

Himalayan dogs are amazing. We call them ‘bhote kukur’ in Nepali. They are generally big dogs, with big broad rectangular heads, black beady or brown eyes, furry, usually on heavy black coats or with brown patches on a black coat. My first dog was call ‘Bhalu’. Because he exactly looked like a black baby bear cub! When I first held him, I could barely lift him properly. Even for a few days old baby, he had massive big paws, very sharp nails. The second one ‘Dorje’ was a quite small compared to Bhalu, but he was also very handsome dog nonetheless. He had light brown/yellowish distinct patches on a black coat around his eyes, on his tail, on his chest and on his paws. It took me a while to like him, but how adorable were his 6 fingers on front paws! 22 total fingers! He was special.

My mom has her own story about her dog. And as I would pass along my little tale and description about the dogs I had, she passed me description and the tale about her dog. And in some ways, the day Bhalu passed away was the story of our start of tradition.

Her dog name was ‘Sindhuli’. She was a very massive black coated dog like Bhalu was, a very beloved family member and a hard working herding dog. Her job was to work with herdsman and guide the cattle up to the highlands called ‘bukhi’ in the winter for grazing and then bring them back down the village after the winter had passed, when some vegetations would have started sprouting back to life. Her job also involved making sure the sheep and the cows didn’t strand far along the route on the way or while they grazed and to protect them from the foxes, wolves and other predators. When the herdsmen made their way to village, mom says, she’d be the first one to appear in the village. With a big bell ringing as it dangled in her neck, everyone then would know the winter had passed, their men and the herd were coming back home.

She was obedient. She did her own thing. She knew what her job was. But, one day, she didn’t return back on time. Then the men came with their drums, beating on it to make an announcement for the village’.

The dog of the Oak family‘, they said ‘has become rabid. It is heading its way to the village now. All people are to stay clear of the dog. It is very dangerous’.

We were shocked. We heard, she had fought with some wolves while on high land and was now infected. When she arrived, she looked dirty, beaten with hunger and exhaustion, as though she was walking semi conscious. Saliva was trickling down her jaws, her tongue was out, her eyes were sticky with clumps of pus/discharge in corners. She recognised us. Would growl when she would come across any strangers but to us, she was docile. But we were scared to go near her. Rabid dogs are mad, they are dangerous and people die… She sat on our verandah and made growling noise every time she heard any noise, mainly water. She was scared of water’. At this point, my mom was crying, wailing like a child that was reliving her painful experience. And while wiping my own tears, missing my a friend of 15 years, I held her hands trying to calm her down.

The villagers were scared. They all gathered and came to us saying, the dog was dangerous and had to be put down. There was no option. A dog dies in 1o days with rabies but no one could wait. So my uncle said, ‘I raised this dog from the day it was born like my own child. I hand fed her, I took care of her. She is a family. So if it has to be done, it has to be me’.

We lured her gently with a meat loaf to a tree’. Mom started wheezing taking rapid shallow breath unable to complete her sentence. ‘Tied her on it with a rope and my uncle shot her in the head.’ She said, wiping her tears again.

And the look she gave to him and to us while she understood what we were about to do, I can never forget it. She was so shocked; from the pain, not from the bullet but from the treachery, from disbelief of watching her own master/ her family turn their backs and be ready to take her life. As the trigger went and we heard the loud noise, we saw her close her eyes in defeat. What must she have thought, after all these years of becoming loyal, my masters are killing me’.

She blew her blocked nose in a piece of tissue and put her hand across her chest trying to control her breath. By this point, I understood the trauma of her loss was much bigger than mine by many folds even after all these years. At least Bhalu passed away of age, it was inevitable. I had some time to say goodbye, I cannot imagine if I could have ever gathered enough strength to put him down.

Its a loss of friend after investing so many years of emotions even though they are ‘pets’. It hit me harder than losing a human friend. I didn’t know her that long as long as I had known my dog. So I completely understand the panic it must have created in pandemic with anxieties building up with lack of care facilities and delay in urgent services offered for pets. As far as I am told, most were classed as ‘non -essential’ travels/services. Studies have suggested, there aren’t any robust plans for situations like this COVID pandemic for our pets, who are now very integral part of our lives and societies. Shouldn’t we be working on one now?

I read some stories where people gave up their pets last minute because they were not able to take care of them. I hope they found right homes. Better to give in for adoption than to raise in abuse. I have regrets of my own not being able to give my dogs the right care, not being able to give enough space to stretch their legs in urban city. I could barely hold Bhalu when he ran, he was so powerful, he would drag me sliding from one end of the ground to the other. Eventually I’d have to let him go and return home with bruises in my elbows, legs and face. Then Mom had to go searching, before the whole neighbourhood started panicking seeing the giant running around chasing their little fufu and toy dogs. He was very troublesome. But I loved him, we loved him in our own way to pieces.

Impressions (So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/49494970– podcast link

 I’ve been living in this flat for about 2 and half years now. And the only times I’ve met my landlord was one when I first took over the key and signed the contract and the second, was a few months earlier at the end of last year when I had locked myself out of the apartment and I needed the master key from him to get in. My first impression of him was, he was a lovely person and quite specific to points he wanted to put across. The second impression was, well I am not so sure. Because he looked kind of grumpy. Understandably because he had to drive on a sunny Saturday afternoon to open the door for a tenant and also because was sat out ready to have lunch when I happened to call. We all know how ‘hangry’ feeling is. As soon as he saw me, he headed for the flat door, unlocked it, got back on his motorbike immediately and drove home without even saying proper hi or goodbye. 

At that time my thought was, ‘well I’ve been living here paying my monthly bills for 2 and half years now so at least you could do me one favour smiling.’

But, by a strange coincidence I met him a few days ago as a patient. And now my whole impression of him has changed. 

I really didn’t recognise him until I saw his name and queried ‘are you my landlord?’. To which he replied, ‘if you are the person on your tag then yes I am your landlord.’ 

The person I saw a couple of months ago and was intimidated with happened to be quite charismatic, polite, kind man in his 70s who had come a long way in his life. It feels as though now after spending an ample amount of time with him, I have now looked into him ‘inside and out’. Still battling through a lot of hardships and pain everyday with his medical condition, he impresses me with his strength of character.

I really wanted to help him that day. Make sure he got the medical attention he was seeking immediately. Basically whatever I can do from my end. 

Sat in the bed, looking at the creamy beige painted walls of his property that I had made home for past years; I can’t help thinking now how different our perceptions of people are in different settings. How our interactions of minutes can leave a lasting impression on individuals and how changeable we are with our presentations and our effects according to our circumstances. 

I suppose in a way that meeting with him came as some kind of unspoken lesson for me, to be mindful enough to not judge a person based on a few interactions. And to be open enough to accept that the best version I felt from him that day was perhaps the real version of him. This reflection also came with an implication in my professional life. My friends say, my expressions are like an open book. My emotions easily shows off in my frowns, in narrowing/lifting of my brows and in my eyes. Sometimes I am hurt, sometimes I am bitter, sometimes I am happy and sometimes tired and frustrated. These are the emotions one goes through when one deals with a number of people as  a job on a day to day basis. ‘People affect emotions’. They are variables you cannot change, unlike following a routine in an office cubicle where you might have some uniformity to anchor on. Sometimes a patient will make your day, you feel like finally you have made a small difference in a person’s life. We ‘medics’ are suckers for an ego boost, desperate to please in service. Other times you have to remind yourself you are professionally obligated to serve. Doesn’t matter why the inmate was in prison whether for a rape or a murder.  So, gauzing my expression when I interact and /or communicate to a patient is an important skill I need to work on.

Oooh you have a perky butt’, a patient in his late 80’s recently commented on me. I didn’t know if I was to laugh, tell him off politely or just walk away pretending I didn’t hear. I just walked off. I had a laugh on my own later thinking to myself,  ‘Oh aren’t we naïve? To feel so protective of the olds like new-born babies with their pearly eyes and lost expressions when we know they may not be as innocent as they seem. They might be entirely different person or live very different lives outside these gates. Some, maybe we approve of. And some, maybe we don’t’.

Professionally we shouldn’t and we cannot judge. And although by human nature, instinctively, first impressions are what we depend upon, to determine whether a person is friend or foe; in a medical world, you will learn to tone down that intuition. I learned it is a skill that you must acquire to be a part of this profession.

Occasionally I meet these amazing people that I love listening to. It may be just 5mins of the day but the interaction leaves a lasting impression. ‘Oh I travelled everywhere. You got to. I have no regrets‘. One of my elderly patient said to me. And immediately then I thought that should be my motto too. I should at least see a couple of wonderful places while I don’t have commitments with family of my own.

‘I haven’t talked to my brother for so many years. But what could I have done, we had to run away, she was the love of my life. She still is.’ Other patient narrated his tale the other day and the way he said it. It was sad yet I was very happy for him at the same time. Difficult to describe those emotions together. He too said, ‘You have a photographic face. Very expressive face.’

Life is happening in the world out there and I too want to be a part of it. Follow the light.

All aside from the point, like our patients we do leave a lasting impressions in 5 minutes allocated time we have to spare them in a list of 15- 20 reviews everyday. It is important to ensure that as professionals we hold our emotions to ground no matter what time it is or the situation is. Our actions should prove that we are there to serve in their best interest. Our goal is to win their confidence to ensure that they adhere to the advice and the treatment given. It is important to build a rapport because, as a patient to their doctor they are emotionally vulnerable to us. Their medical history, mental health history, social history, personal details everything is open to us in our records. Yes, it is like as if we have seen them ‘inside and out’. And that is a lot of trust to give to a stranger.

We aren’t cold hearted with faded, dull and detached personalities. We are very much receptive of our surroundings and very attuned to your needs, we are just better at camouflaging it, being a third party and being objective so we can treat you better. Trust me outside the hospital premises, we too have our whole other lives rolling out.

I was supposed to give a month’s notice before moving from my flat. I am looking to move to a cheaper place which will be costing me half my monthly bill that I am paying at present. I love my privacy and this little flat, however I think at present it is wiser for me to cut back on my expenses than take an extra shift. I am telling myself, if I want to stop dreaming and start making things happen ‘this is the way to go’. The room I will be moving into is quite small, it is a single room in shared accommodation. It is going to take a lot of effort for me to adjust there. But, like everything it is one of those decisions I have to take as a part of accepting my adult life. We all can’t have a house with open rooms and a lovely garden in the suburbs of our own, otherwise who is going to pay the rent/mortgage right?

I contemplated for a while thinking whether it is  appropriate for me to give my landlord a notification now that I know what his situation is. Especially when there is a financial security to think of. But, I did end up sending the notification later. With my training ending soon in a few months, I won’t have any job to rely on for continuous income and any savings on expenses I could cut is going to be a big help.

I have packed my bags today for a ‘girls night out’. 4 of us are meeting after 1 and half years. We are all doctors. It is very rare for all of us to be off work at the same time. So when we do get an opportunity, we make the best out of it. We will be staying in some fancy hotel and be up all night chattering about our lives. Lot to talk about. And there is a free pool! I guess that’s the joy of being working and/or middle class person, when you work so hard to earn you party hard on your spend!!

(Apologies earlier version of this post was rough draft 🙂 )

Finding inner peace (So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/49494665 podcast link

So Covid is a side story now. No longer a headline news which is probably for better because it means, now we are learning  to live with it. I remember the fear when it first swooped across the continents with red blotches appearing everywhere in the world map one by one, it was intense. There was a moment when each one of us thought humanity was heading towards our doomsday, steadily and there was nothing we could do about it. Now, on 2022  March, it has been completely legal for a Covid infected individual to walk about the streets and give COVID to anyone.

BBC news on 24/02/22 posted the headline ‘Covid: End of legal need to self isolate in England’. It wrote, ‘the changes are part of the prime minister’s Living with Covid plan to transition back to normality’ and summarized the key changes as,

As of 24th Feb:

-People who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self isolate but they will still be advised to stay at home for at least five full days. 

-Routine contact tracing will end, so fully-vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be legally required to test daily for 7 days. 

From 1st April:

-Free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end, and will instead be targeted towards the most vulnerable. 

-Government guidance on COVID passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS COVID pass. 

GOV.UK on its website on 14th March/2022 has now posted, ‘The government will remove the remaining COVID-19 international travel restrictions for all passengers from 4am friday 18th March’. Which means, no one entering the UK despite their Covid vaccination status will need to take Covid tests or fill passenger locator forms (PLF). And there will  no longer be hotel quarantine following arrivals from the end of March. 

It has quoted Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid stating ‘We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants and keep a reserve of measures that can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe. We can remove final restrictions thanks to the incredible success of our vaccination programme, which has seen 8 out of 10 adults across the UK boosted.’

Gov.uk has also quoted Tims Alderslade, Chief executive of Airline Uk saying, ‘We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions.’

But Daily mail UK on 16th March/22 on its headline wrote ‘UK’s Covid wave grows on all fronts as another 91,000 Brits test positive overnight: Daily cases rise by a third in a week, hospital admission spike 30% and deaths jump by a quarter.’

Seems like playing pingpong eh? Glad to hear the sky is all free to roam about now without restrictions, hurray! On the other hand, like the dailymail wrote, our bays that were closed to Covid have now started to open again. 

Let’s look back at the past 2 years. Look at all the discoveries we have made in the field of medicine. Of course there are the vaccines, the steroids, Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Sarilumab, monoclonal antibodies (Ronapreve-for non-omicron variant infections, sotrovimab- for Omicron variant infections ); I am sure there are still many more on various phases of trials. I understand it was and is still hard to stay positive, but a cup half empty is also half full. 

I have now finally managed to get time out of my training. I too have had a good 2 reflective years looking into many domains of my life that previously I had never given enough thought to. Schools, uni, medical school then job. Along the way; there were – Internal wars between Maoist & government, massive earthquake of 7.8 magnitude, COVID the pandemic and now the headlines are reading ‘Ukraine’s NATO concession as air strikes batter capital’. 

It is easier to destroy than to build. To wipe out entire cities of thousands of population in a minute than to help them settle and rebuild lives. All the technologies and science involved into nuclear energies, and we still haven’t found a cure for cancers. A pill a day everyday. Is it really all that can be done or instead of a shot of chemo dose, fuelling everyday chemo pills has better revenues? Personal interests everywhere are costing lives. Destructive forces are more in play than the constructive mentalities. Nuclear energies. I suppose are more lucrative to invest on. How long has the fear of nuclear attacks been haunting us? Iodine tablets are disappearing from markets now, bought in apprehension of inevitable. Everything around us is shuffling in chaos, it is becoming harder to find inner peace. 

So, it is about time I think, I pack my bags and leave for the forests and the hills. Remember, what life is one more time outside of routine, out of timed clock checking in and out and days & night that disappears into mundane with building anxieties. Out of the media, constant emails and the messages popping everyday, to begin again from the point where I started. Regain, re-control my life from dwindling fall. I can only help if I can help myself. I can only extend help if I have a strong hold. With so much that has happened in past few years, I feel like it is getting harder by the day to clutch the reins and control the ride.

30 years from today, if I make it, I hope I can say, ‘I lived my life and survived through it all. And I have no shed of tears or regret of things that I have not done. Yes. I have lived it.’

Inside the glasses (So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/49491473– podcast link

A couple of months ago, Joey and I went to Powis castle in Wales. Said to be built in the 13th century by a Welsh Prince, the castle was later bought by the Herbert family. Now under the care of national trust, it is open to the visitors as a museum showcasing various pieces of arts from different parts of the world mainly Europe and India exhibitioning impressive personal collections of the owners. 

Look at that tiger’ Joey remarked, pointing excitedly to a tiger skin rug with its head sticking out from the wall, baring it’s canines, frozen in a snarling expression. ‘That is a  tiger’, I replied having seen a few in the zoo myself in Nepal. ‘Have you seen one?’ I asked him. ‘Yeah’ he replied. ‘In the TV’. 

It must have been a spectacular sight those days, to witness the head of a beast never previously seen in this part of the world that is said to dwell in deep forests of India and is a man eater. So feared by local men, victory over this predator was a mark of bravery and status even among the Maharajas then. I can only imagine the admiration Clive must have gathered from his audience. 

There were paintings capturing snapshots of lives of people from different destinations. ‘Oh is this how they dress?’, must have been the first question to him. Remember, those were the days without the internet, when planes were not in the skies; Clive could have sold his guests any image out of his imagination or passed a non-existent description and no one would have second guessed.  The chambers, the study room,  the hallways; his collection spoke in volumes about his passion for art and his means of leap to his social status. 

What is it with your people Joey with fat little boys and their little willies out everywhere?’ I commented as I advanced along the long corridor next with beautiful sculptures. Having noticed it in the paintings on the roof of the main hall as well, I am getting a little curious about these common themes. ‘I don’t know!’ He replied staring closely at one and laughing. I suppose, naked little cherubs and naked women have always been the centre of the art world? My mom would have asked me to cover my eyes saying it is  unacceptable if she had seen these and wrinkled her nose with disgust at thought of open perpetuation of perversion; but when the graphic display of sexual poses are carved throughout the wooden pillars in some  temples of Nepal and the deity we go to worship once every year, standing for hours in a queue, to have less than a minute saying our prayers, is actually symbol of God’s penis on goddesses vagina, the boundaries have been crossed for me way way before. I’m staring at these arts of work here, not out of some weird philias but, to understand the connections/beliefs/thought processes that I am not aware of. I know nothing about the art world and I am still at ground level on understanding western religions/traditions and histories.

I must have been in my late teens when I first discovered it. What the statue w ‘shivalinga’ means. If I was to surrender my faith, I at least deserved to know what the belief was about and what the sculpture was right? Was it something to be shameful then? We worshipped an act of procreation. The union of  both god and goddess (a man and a woman), the balance of their masculine and feminine energies in pure forms. We accepted the cosmic truth of fertility, of existence of life, generation and regeneration, of all living organisms that dwelled in the universe. 

I, myself, have never been religious. But the essence of the statue remains divine for me. I see it as a symbol of love, of complete surrender, of unshakeable trust, of union of  spirits in their unblemished forms and of creation; from that merge of cosmic energies into a life that is sacred. So heading to Pashupati every year when I can with flowers in my hand, I don’t feel misguided as I was as a child. It might be too visual when you grasp the image, I’d say badass daring for a religion but it speaks the truth. A pilgrim of plain honesty.

It was lovely to walk in the castle’s garden on a warm sunny day amongst vibrant flowers and greens everywhere. The view from the garden of the castle above is amazing. I felt  like I was transported back to medieval times myself. It extends across acres of land. Not sure how much though. Like old people, Joey and I took our sweet time looking at the view from terraces and walking down the path slowly. There we settled down in a patch of garden quite close,  just enough to lock our scenery. After an hour or so made our way back huffing and puffing in the sun with Joey almost melting away by the time we reached for the car’s door. 

In the evening, we had an insightful conversation when we sat for dinner at Joey’s parents house. On the table, Joey talked about how much of the wealth the Clive’s family had accumulated over years working as a ranking official in the East India company. ‘All looted from those countries, ‘he said. ‘At Least still preserved. If he was one of our officials from Nepal they’d have broken it to pieces a long time ago and sold it. You’d never see them’. I remarked. He laughed. ‘Good thing. They are all show offs. They kept all of those to boast’. 

Everything displayed in the museum looked good, well preserved even after these many years. It felt good to have a chance to observe these arts as a commoner who’d perhaps never had a chance, had these remained locked inside the mansions of the rich for collections; although it is shocking indeed to witness the assembly of wealth these museums have. Those were the times when victors could claim anything they wanted. I suppose in all fairness, the loots were the awards of the victories. But as a person who knows the stories of the other side, it is impossible for me to look away unseeing the hidden chronicles behind the glasses. Do they even recognise these deities and what they stand for? Do they have same values here as they would have had where these were made, carved or forged? I am understanding of the other sides sentiments, of bitter feelings and hurt for what has been done already in the past. But is it really helpful?

Rather than relics of individual nations, we should see these as relics of human history as a collective. Rather than dwelling on the fact that the dead and buried did wrong swiping everything or not being able to defend their country’s jewel; I feel, we should see to it that this never happens again. There is so much to absorb from ours, from yours, from other people of the world’s beliefs, religious values and artistic expressions… The whole world is a learning place. Honestly, I feel, everything boils down to common theme of love, respect and peace. It is only and, only our greed and ego that is suffocating and dragging us down.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Gurkha)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/49464622 podcast

Laure dai le bida  liye sanu rel ma chadera

Kanchi nani runchin samjhana koseli diyera 

Bhagya bhaye vetaula bida ma arko sal

Navaye samjhana lai kusume rumal 

Kusume rumal, kusume rumal

Soldier brother bid his goodbye stepping on a small train 

Sweet girl cries giving him a remembrance parting gift 

If written in faith, we shall meet in holidays next year 

If not, for remembrance a silk handkerchief

A silk handkerchief, a silk handkerchief

Basa hai aama 

gaye hai baba

Lahure bhai aajako dina 

Farki aaula kunai dina

Be seated okay mom

I am leaving okay dad 

Becoming a soldier from today

I shall return someday

These are the lyrics of songs from the Nepalese movies about the life of a soldier and their loved ones. The theme of the song is  ‘goodbye’ on both.  These are two of my favourite songs. And perhaps, of those who were brought up in a similar environment like me. And heard it repeatedly while growing up, played by their moms or aunts everyday in the background while they carried on with their usual lives of household work.  

I have tried my best to translate it into an equivalent meaning in English, hoping you’d understand why they felt so relatable to these songs. And tearful often, because both the lyrics talked about the uncertainty of the soldier ever being together again with his loved ones. 

My father was recruited in Gurkha at 17, he thinks possibly younger. At those times, and in remote village settings like his, there was no official paperworks to establish or confirm his real birth date. Galla (a person who officially recruits) would visit villages of settlements from certain ethnic groups  like Gurung, Magar, Rai and limbus at those times. And would  amass a battalion of boys/young men by the end of a certain period in a year. Once recruited, they would be flown off or shipped off or transported on trains and buses beyond hills that they thought never ended, to a world beyond seas and vast oceans that they had heard of but never seen. They were told, this was time to establish the worthiness of their capabilities and strength to the community that had already proven their heroism in the battlefields, hung their medals out on their doors, and walked with pride with their crutches supporting an amputated leg in the rough roads of stone and rocks in hilly terrains. 

Some of them would go to India, some to the UK, some to Brunei and some to Singapore police’, my dad said. ‘I don’t know for others but training was very hard for us then.’ He added, looking in disbelief that my brother has got himself recruited too. ‘Our commanders would ask us to make a human bridge and walk on our bare backs, back and forth with their boots on. We would be left in the middle of Brunei forest with a bag of ration and water just enough to survive a week which we had to be very careful with, because we never knew if we had to survive on it for months. On the back pack we’d be carrying our pantries, sleeping bag, ropes, survival kits, jack-knife, shocks, tapes and a lot of things; and in that heat and humidity of Brunei forest with a heavy rifle on our shoulder, people would collapse. Then there are the mosquitoes. Sometimes when we’d finally remove our clothes, we’d see nasty abrasions at the site of bergen straps on our shoulders. There would be rashes everywhere in the skin especially on the groins where sweat trickles. Feet inside those thick shocks and heavy boots itched, cracked and sometimes peeled off painfully if you were not careful with it. If you can’t walk at that time, who’d carry your ration and supplies? Everyone is in a state. I remember while I was resting, I would be popping out my abscesses in the skin, some kind of insect bites; if you don’t do that it would spread with infection.’

The training has become very soft now’, my uncle remarked  in our family gatherings last occasion. ‘They have started mixing our boys with white boys’, he laughed jokingly, ‘look at our sons! They are not tough.’ As far as I know from my families, all first generation from our dads and uncles have now recruited themselves. Not necessarily in infantry division the frontiers but as a part of service in various skill sets. 

My mother often remarks bitterly, again, during these conversations, ‘these Ranas and the bahuns set the recruits aiming at us, so that they can get rid of us. Taking away our boys and the men.’ 

There has always been a social clash from generations between certain caste and ethnicities in Nepal. Although it is not obvious now, as it did in previous times, people still often think twice before they mingle. Marrying from another caste will still be frowned upon in some families. And there are of course horrible hierarchy systems with words such as ‘untouchables’ being used. 

They now steal our surnames to get recruited. Look how times have turned.’ She added. Everyone agreed, 4 pairs of adult individuals in the rooms, who had served their time in military life. She makes it sound like an attempt to genocide by the rulers, the Ranas back then. It makes me sad to think it that way, who knows. This was never mentioned in my history lesson. `We did what we had to, what we were asked to do. It all turned out for the better’. My uncle answered.

Watch that movie’, my mom remarked, suggesting to me a movie that was supposedly based on our ethnic history many years ago.  ‘That is how they took away our kingdom’. There is still some degree of lingering anger I can sense on her. As for me, I was taught in my school that the kingdoms were overthrown to make a country ‘Nepal’, and it was all for a good cause. 

Luckily for my father and uncles, who were prepared for the war, did not experience the world wars themselves. But as a dedicated wife to Gurkha, my mom had made a point to closely follow Gurkha organizations based in Nepal and commit to it as much as she could. As a child I remember sometimes going to these gatherings, and dozing half the time in my seat. Speaker after speaker took their turns on the mic. I don’t think I registered anything from those events, except a statement made by an old Gurkha VC that ‘human flesh tastes rubbery’. The thought of cannibalism was in some ways, a little traumatic at that time. 

Recruitment under Gurkha regiment is now a goal with promise of a good life among young boys and men in Nepal. Certainly  a getaway ticket from the country that is politically very unstable with an uncertain future. There is now a regional selection held every year  in Nepal, which is recognised to be one of  the toughest selection processes in the world. Unlike our grandfathers or fathers era who were most likely to be handpicked by Gallas, then asked to prove their physical strength; these men will have to compete for very limited 100 -200 spots that opens every year with thousands of contenders, in many levels. Medical assessment, education and physical assessments.  It seems in 2017, for 230 posts there were 25,000 applicants. Now imagine securing that spot from all those competitors; Gurkha soldiers are very popular among the ladies.

In Nepal, you’d have to think 10 times before you reject their approach as eligible bachelors. These guy are mentally driven, smart, physically fit, have a decent job with a good reputation and you get to travel/live in different parts of the world as their partner! My mom approached me quite early in medical school too with a suitable prospect from a Gurkha soldier. There is this strange automatic transfer of trust and faith from one soldier to another, when it comes to personal relationships. It’s like all their lives they have latched themselves inside the doors and when they hear it’s a Gurkha on their doorstep, boom! They come out flying outside the house.  

If the girl agrees, of course’, was my parents’ response. It was a moment of pride for them, to learn that a Gurkha soldier is a suitor. 

Times were different back then.

Our history has come a long way since 1814. Freedom had a price. With garlands of fresh plucked out marigolds and khatas in their necks, these brave soldiers departed their homelands and warm embraces with puffed out chests and pride, to the war zones; carrying in their shoulders  so many lives that they were leaving behind to blossom and to live. Tearing with sincere gratitude, with good wishes and love from their families and communities, knowing in their hearts that they may never come back and this was indeed their last goodbyes. Smiling blissfully but painfully as they waved their hands across from the trains and busses to the children, to the women and to the old; with grey skies raining of marigolds and the flowers along their paths. Patting on each others back, of brothers they had never known before, repressing their own incessant sobs; reminding themselves before marching ahead and strapping on to the rifles on a foreign soil that, ‘this was not a moment to be weak, but to be glorious. A gurkey doesnot return a drawn khukuri without blood on its blade’.

Handpicked for a garland from a garden of peace, a battalion of selfless souls sewn together for a ritual sacrifice; soon these men became the most revered, the most feared.

No matter what people say, the books write and the world wants to believe in; this is the history I was a part of. No family of Gurkha should ever have to bow their heads in shame of their origins. We hold our heads and we held them high.

We are but the branches and leaves of the same root.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Protect them)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/48921404 podcast link

I don’t know where to start when I want to talk about Joey. Simply put, I would describe him as an ‘amazing person’. There are many instances, many memories  I have of us at this point to justify that description. But if I was ever asked to narrow it down all to one word, I would say, it’s his ‘patience’. Joey is the most patient guy I know. And he has this great ability to transfer that calmness to me when I’m feeling a bit edgy for any reason. 

I have been open about my hoarding behavior in my past posts. I’m still trying to get over it but since it is difficult for me to get rid of my belongings that I seem to be very attached to, it has proven harder than I had imagined. I don’t know, I am still trying to find the explanation/logic behind my triggers. May be I just need a bigger house!! Hahaha. Good news is, at least I have managed to control my online shopping. If I’m not buying anything, I won’t be keeping anything. Right?

There is still no space in the sitting hall to stand. A while ago, Joey came down to visit me, during which I was preparing for my exam.  It was a membership exam, cost me about 500 quid, and was 6 hours long.  I absolutely couldn’t fail because I had no energy to prepare again with my full time work, go through hassles of requesting arrangements for my study leave for the day and needless to say I  didn’t want to lose the money. I had just come off the long day shift on Sunday that evening, finished late at 09:00pm, ate some dinner  and went off straight to bed. My notes were all over the place, the sink had dirty dishes from 3 days and the sitting hall; I still couldn’t open its door. He was down there in my flat to support me, just in case there were any technical issues with my online exam. 

While I sat the whole day on Monday locked in my room, going through the preparation materials, he took the sitting hall to use as his office. There was absolutely no space. The sofa was drowned with clothes I was trying to sort out, he literally had to move them all on one side and had to find just enough area to sit in one corner. No. He didn’t complain the whole time, not at least till my exam was over because he didn’t want to stress me out. And trust me, he is a very neat person. Every time I am at his house, all things are in their right places where they belong, the decor of his rooms are very spacious etc etc. So you can only imagine the level of  patience it takes to spend whole days in my living room. 

There have been occasions when we had disputes and I would be fuming with anger. I am the kind of person who really doesn’t get mad, but if I do it is hard for me to amend easily. At these times I have been loud, quite vocal, but Joey, he has never really raised his voice at me. When we have disputes, he goes away to another room to give me my peace and approaches me later, himself again when I have calmed down. I find this behaviour quite weird. Intellectually it makes sense, it is an adult thing to do, we are trying to go through our emotions rationally; but emotionally, it feels as though I’m waiting for him to shout at me or say something bitter. Only that way, I would probably really know we had a fight and now we need to sort things out. Usually ‘sorting things out’, in my mind set, is not talking for days till one of us gives up their ego and admits he/she is wrong. But we don’t go through that process in our relationship. He comes back to me after a few hours and suddenly it’s all mended and we are back to being in terms again. 

And now, I go to him first, when we have disputes. Because I want to be a bigger person too.

You know, he was just raised right, when you see how he carries out himself under situations like this. I am not implying my own brothers were not. I am their sister, I know they turned out to be fine men. I still call them when I get lost in London and they are ready 24/7 to give me directions. I still call them when I lock myself out of my apartment, cause I’m scared of my landlord, to ask for help! Hahaha. But one of them will spend 2 hours traveling to me, to get me that spare key. I just meant, he would never raise his voice at women. Or me, in that sense. The amount of patience this man has is amazing. 

When we first started talking, I recall one day I was stranded in a town and was waiting for a taxi. But for some reason, my taxi kept leaving without seeing me. I had just arrived from London at 11pm by train with a lot of train delays and 2 hr later, I was still there alone in a station at 01:00am. I happened to randomly text him at that point, and he was very helpful. He was with me on the phone till I got into the taxi and reached home. He made me feel safe. Like with my brothers or my family members you know. You don’t have to hit someone, fight some one to show how much of a man you are. Its things like this. It was quite relieving to know, I now knew someone I could trust in some ways and depend upon. 

Good things are hard to come by. So, when they do, I know, we have to hold them. Of Course sometimes we need to fight for it. But I suppose that makes the win even sweeter. He is interesting. In a sense that, I am aware how educated he is about the world, yet very unacquainted, unfamiliar at the same time. We came from very different parts of the universe. And there is an element of innocence on him, that I feel should be protected at all cost. 

Joey is anxious nowadays with what is going on about Ukraine and Russia. Russia has launched a full scale invasion on Ukraine now, on 24th February/ 2022. ON 01st/March, it is day 6 today. Constantly looking into the news. The idea of world war breaking is silently tormenting his head. Like COVID that was once beyond borders. He feels the war might soon come breaking inside our doors. 

The world is always going to be in chaos. I wish, it wasn’t. But there will always be dictators and their greed for power and control. There are always going to be walking dead men in the war zones fighting with pride and valour, never understanding what lead to this, that they are being slaughtered like cattle at the command of one man. They had life, they had dreams. For those who grew up amidst these, with bullets and gun news everyday fearing for everyday safety, I suppose it is not new. I have few memories of my own. Humanity is sinking, suffocating at their hands, from these leaders, that we so blindly trust on; while a child’s innocence is being wiped away face by face.  A few weeks ago, countries from the Middle East were all over the papers.

There is an element of innocence that I feel should be protected, an innocence in a grown man. There is patience and an infinite capacity to accept people, love and forgive them. These are not the hands that can carry a gun. These are not the eyes that can rest for a day seeing the horrors of the war or cruelties of mankind. He was not raised to be a soldier. They were not raised to be soldiers. It is sad, that children will grow again in this nestling fear that history will repeat again.  2 years ago, we were all united to fight against COVID and now we are dividing again.

The world will never be the same, if we don’t protect these boys, protect these men at all cost. We should. Because, if we, on rise of the next leader, we all shall too follow his virtues of patience, kindness and acceptance. There will never be walking dead men again, taken away from mother’s love or a lovers arm or be a child; growing up without a security and an assurance of a bother or a father. Everyone will be safe in that world. Everyone will be happy. Protect them.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Finding Mr Right/ Miss Right)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/48920528 podcast link

Save that photo and the details I gave you just in case the guy I am seeing turns out to be a creep’. 

Okay’ I texted back my friend, holding on to a picture of a stranger on my mobile phone who she is about to meet for a date. Over the past few years I have accumulated a couple of these random people that I have never met, and possibly never will. Of course I delete them over time, once we have established they are indeed who they are and are reasonably mentally stable to accept that ‘the date didn’t go that well’. 

If you go over my phone now, chances are you may still find a collection of random blokes.  Thank God Joey respects personal privacy and doesn’t fiddle around my phone much. And aIso, I do usually tend to show him the random guys that are whatsapped to me.

Why is it that 4 of my most eligible friends are still single? 

When you are used to being self-sufficient by yourself, unless that other person is really worth it, there is no point losing sleep on it. I am looking for a serious relationship’, said one. ‘ I don’t know, there doesn’t seem to be a guy around catching my interest’, said the other. ‘The guy has to be smart to be able to have a conversation on an intellectual level’, said the third. To all the statements above, each one of us nodded our heads synchronously. 

Theme is, all these ladies and colleagues I know that are single, are all looking for someone they are compatible with, can share their views with and have cerebral stimulation of some kind. These are smart ladies, competition is already narrowed. And with each check on the list, the stairs get steeper. 

But here is the catch, as much as intimidating it sounds, these ladies are very open and understanding. They are very emotionally mature and not necessarily tied to the set criterias as everyone assumes. One of my dear friend is muslim and is open to bisexuality, one of the others doesn’t mind travelling through the borders in quest of love, another is willing to invest time as much as it takes to find the right one. 

When I, myself, started first on online dating, I took a different name and put a different profession. HCA or a nurse occasionally, something medical so if conversation ever came about professional status, I could make relatable comments. The idea of mentioning a doctor in the employment category for some reason made me think, whether I would appear intimidating to others. Which I didn’t want. And as I mentioned before, I wanted to know a person, without putting my everyday history taking skills to use. Of Course alcohol, smoking, drug and family history were going to pop out eventually in the conversation but I didn’t want to know it all in the first 10 mins. There is no need to find a medical condition, label it and prescribe a pill here. I was here to get to know a person, make friends and maybe something more. Conversation had to be both ways. 

It was interesting how my friends reported they felt the same. For various reasons, we were hiding our professional status. Which meant, all of us were not set on dating just doctors or lawyers. Anyone really, who related to our thinking, was understanding that we were independent women, had odd working hours and  needed our own headspace.

It was also quite fascinating that some of my friends thought, putting a doctor as professional status would deter  people as they would assume us to be too high maintenance or rob them of opportunities to show their masculinity. I guess, we don’t really portray the ‘damsel in distress’ look for that. 

We love paying our own bills. Our partners don’t have the financial stress of putting food on the table. We like being hands on, taking part in decisions; that way when things go downhill, we are both to be blamed. We don’t want hierarchy in relationships. Yes, we love being in the kitchen but only as much as our partner would love to. And of course we realize, men and women are different, and each one’s individual role has to be respected. 

Occasionally, there comes an amazing person and one’s heart is set  to it. He  accepts that you have a busy life, you have a career, you have a life outside your relationship and your fundamental views also match; but things don’t work out. Because he is in a different phase in life than you, or it is getting progressively difficult to come to terms with your lifestyle-constantly missing out on family pictures and/or most importantly, you are not part of their life as much as is of yours.

‘I don’t know, I don’t think I want to date. I am not ever planning to have kids. I think it’s obstetric rotation that has put me off,’ one of my colleagues spoke in her view about relationships.   

`We both just wanted to settle and get our careers out of the way first then try for pregnancy but it didn’t happen. Took us 10 years with IVF to get pregnant ’, the other reported, sharing her problem, stating having a right partner is not necessarily the end of the problem. 

Decisions are coming. We are all in that phase of life, where we are hyper aware that our biological clock is ticking.. We are all responsible adults. Can’t help wondering though whether we are taking this responsibility burden too seriously. 

Idea of having an IVF baby from a sperm donor is on hot discussion these days. None of us are against the idea of adopting and raising children ourselves  together. A while ago, I was doing internet research on freezing my eggs, luckily there are those options available now. But not with a robust guarantee. So none of us are confident with letting go of our fertility window stringing to the odd chances. 

Answer is, ‘definitely yes’, all of us are looking for commitment. But readiness to commit is still a bigger agenda. The clock plays a part in decision making, but is not necessarily the only decisive tool. The fertility rate across the developed countries are dramatically falling. I guess the problems we are facing, is what women in careers all over the world are facing now. ‘Is it really the right time to have family? And is it really the right person to bear child with?’. Lack of child care provision makes it even tougher in industrialised nation like UK.

So, I don’t question at all, when I get random strangers popping in my message box from my friend’s number. There is an ongoing hunt for Mr Right and Miss Right. It’s a crazy run in a crazy world with crazy crazy people. ‘Oh boy, oh boy’ am I going to be glad when I finally meet the person in real!! Hahahaha

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Dating today)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/48920216 podcast link

All the nice guys are taken, married /engaged or gays or just not around us’. My friend complained handing me over her phone.

Here, that’s the app’ she said, showing me letters ‘OKC’ on a bright pink background on her screen. I squeezed my eyes a little. It was middle of night and we were hanging out in the sitting room with a dim light on.

‘So how do you start?’

You just find someone you like, if they like you back, you start chatting‘. She said.

Okay. How safe is it though?’

I haven’t had problem. You just have to be careful about who you talk to. If you decide to meet, meet people in open space or public area and do not give them your number if you are not interested.’

So, I started uploading my pictures in the app the same night. Met a couple of matches quickly and began talking.

My friend is beautiful. Also smart. Very grounded and knows exactly what she is looking for. Me? I had an idea but at the time it was not set in the stone.

The first question I was asked was, ‘why is a doctor in a dating app? what is wrong with you?’

Surely enough I had to move on from that conversation. A person who asks, what is wrong with me on a dating app must be here if there was something wrong with him right?

You choose and skip a lot of potential partners with silly questions and answers like that. Although I suppose in a way, it was a good question only the approach was very direct.

‘What do you think?’, I asked my friend and she commented, ‘of course you need to think if something is wrong with them. You meet people and partners through friends, schools, colleges and work space. And if they he haven’t met anyone by now, something must be wrong with them right?’

‘What about us then ?’I queried.

Our situation is different. We had to move in to a different place. We are trying to start from the start here’.

Anyone would have raised their brows if they found out a couple had met in a dating app, in Nepal. Assumption is ‘desperate’, ‘wasn’t able to find a good guy or a girl here’ etc etc. Honestly, I don’t think situation is any different in the UK. Have a feeling, assumption is, online dating apps equates to casual hook-ups in most people’s minds.

Am I suppose to think that, my person, has to be one of 10-15 people I see everyday locally? That something must be wrong with me because I don’t find them emotionally or physically attractive? 7.5 billion people in the world and love of my life is supposed to be the man next door? I won’t find the person if I sit and wait on my fat arse all day hanging out on same corner, going to same work everyday, and talking to same people.

We all live busy lives, sometimes we barely have time to cook a decent meal. Life is stressful as it is. We don’t have time for our friends, where is time for us to make new friends or meet a new acquaintance? If opportunities come, that could give you a chance to meet someone you are compatible with, I think everyone should take it. Dating apps are great in that sense. Its a win win, even if you do not think you are for each other, you get to learn about other individual’s life, hobbies and interests.

I met Joey too in a dating app. I suppose we locked each other right away. Gone are the days of meeting people in the pubs. If you ask me, for me that’d be a warning sign Haha. And gone are the days like my parents, when they would meet up in festivals, sing and dance all day, catch each other’s attention and elope. Too cheeky. I’d be stupid to sneak off with anyone at this age. Why would I? I probably earn more than the guy and treated myself better. It is not the time for blind faith anymore. Who knows what the charming psychopath has on mind?

Most single friends I have are on the apps now. Of course online dating comes with some disadvantages of its own. And all of my friends have a story or two to share. There are inclusive sites as well if one knows the exact description of partner they are looking for according to the profession, race and nationalities. Foreign faces like mine were more into these inclusive dating apps.

You can order a bride on a mail nowadays. Hopefully you don’t have to go too far like that, but if you find happiness and your person one click away of a finger, ‘why not’ right?

COVID dating was difficult‘, my friend said. ‘It was difficult to meet up first, a lot of back and forth messages while there was lock down and social distancing rules. When you did get to meet up, there was face masks, you couldn’t really study a person when they were saying something. You could never get a booking in a decent restaurant. Even if you did, booths were barred with glasses and plastics. It was all weird’.

For me, it was important to know what their vaccination status was’, the other said. ‘I’m reasonable person. I will listen to reasons if they can defend their beliefs. But unvaccinated? People who don’t believe in medicine or science are; no, no. Not for me’.

Seems like some decisions were straightforward easier in COVID times. I don’t know if these apps did include ‘vaccination status’ in their profile. But I think if they did, it would have been quite reasonable.

Anyways those who met in COVID and are still together, I am keen to hear about your story of ‘love in COVID’. Share with us, will you?

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Isolation -2)

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/48906953 podcast link

After day 6, my sore throat started settling. My sleep started getting better which in turn helped my headache and muscle aches. I started moving around the flat, trying to get my legs moving. At back of my mind, I had considered myself to be high risk for blood clots. By this time, it has been established COVID infection did result in clotting abnormalities. So, it was important to keep circulation flowing from calves.

I was nauseous. We know, one of the primary symptoms of COVID was anosmia- loss of smell and ageusia- loss of taste. I remember one of my colleague saying, she couldn’t smell a thing when she got COVID and it took at least a good couple of weeks for her to get it fully back. Another colleague had complained, ‘Prosecco tastes like rotten egg. And I used to love prosecco’. I had heard patients complain distortion of taste and smell to some extent and read others experience about it. Naturally, I was quite curious.

I don’t quite know how to describe my experience of distorted smell/taste perception. It started after my nasal congestion had started settling. For me, I could still smell perfume, candles, foods; my smell hadn’t really gone. It just felt heightened like all these smell I used to like had an off distinct sharp twang that I didn’t like now at all and to top it, all of them had a coated layer of metallic smell / or a smell of mouldy bread. I looked around the room, the flat I live in is quite cold. Most days, I yank up all my heaters to warm it a bit, it drives my electric bill through the roof but after 5-10 mins of switching my radiators off, the flat is still cold again. I saw, they had started developing moulds in corner. So, I took a dry towel and started cleaning. After working for some hours, I was pleased with my hard work. But the smell was still there.

The nausea did not go away. I vomited a couple of times. My appetite had gone. No surprise there. Scientists have claimed, as high as 80% of our taste are the result of our olfactory function. I am a foodie. I love food. Any kind. Having an off taste in food was not helping my situation.

‘Early return to work’ I received an email on my phone. It read, if I am asymptomatic on day 6 I could discuss with my line manager about early release from isolation. The email advised, LFT to be done on day 7 and day 8, if negative I could re-join work on 14th. On another email I was suggested to have step down PCR on day 9 since I was working on a high risk area. It was confusing. Still is. All these protocols. While I read it over, the message popped in my phone again from test and trace, ‘It is a legal duty to stay at home and self-isolate. You could be fined if you do not’. It read. I switched off my phone. Was nice to be away from all those bling bling noises of wattsapp and red streaks on my emails. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it too. Trust me, half of time, our anxiety is all because of our phones.

‘I only want to focus in getting better, in one piece at present.’

I like peace and quietness around me. Watching london so full of life last weekend, might be changing my mind. I wanted to disappear in it like a rat in one of its drains that day. ‘There is so much to do, places to hang out, people to meet, you never feel alone there’.

‘We could make a list of all good restaurants we go to. Taste all the cuisines of different parts of the world. I could meet the right guy here’. My friend had said, trying to persuade me to move in into London as well.

‘Agreed’ I laughed. ‘We’ll tap on the shoulder of next handsome looking guy sitting next to us, ask him if he is single and get his number. It will be a fun for us and hey if it works out, it does and if it doesn’t well we all have something to laugh about’.

‘Yeah. Lets do that. Lets do that!’. We all agreed on it.

London is busy and overcrowded. Streets are narrow. It is no where in comparison to flashy towers I keep seeing of New York city in the TV or the movies. Or Hongkong. Or Singapore. Some people frown asking ‘what is there to see?’. Some are annoyed at the thought of the traffic in narrow roads with big red double decker buses. Joey hates it. Hates the idea of ever finding himself in one of the streets of London. ‘Too many things happening all around’ he says. ‘But I can come there if you want me to, to visit’.

I think, those who love the city, love it for many reasons. Of course there is art, there is history. For me, I feel, there is a comfort in it. A sense of cosiness and a welcome vibe. I see so many people like me, like Joey, people from all over the world with all their uniqueness and talents come together. People I have never met but I’ll some day. Its a hub, a pulse of the thriving lives that holds so many dreams and connects so many stories. Look deeper, the city just reels you in. Like my friend says ‘you are never really alone.’ Feeling lonely however is a different thing.

Isolation, my friend, is necessary sometimes. If you haven’t learnt to be alone with yourself, you haven’t really learnt anything about yourself. Every people we meet and interact with on day to day is changing us in numerous subtle ways. It is important that we know, who we are on our own when we are stripped of all these connections. So isolation sometimes us good, almost like a meditation. But other times, it is missing out on an opportunity to make an amazing memory. And without our memories, who are we?

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