So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Anti-Vaxxers)

I was watching the news today. On the same show, the news anchor reported ‘about the hostile situation in Afghanistan with a graphic display of thousands of people outside the airports/ embassy trying to escape the country that is now taken over by Taliban following withdrawal of US troops’ and ‘anti-vaxers protest in France with people quoting they were standing up for their deprivation of liberty’.

Only this morning, I saw an insta-viral video where a woman in her desperation was passing her baby, possibly just a few months old, to a US soldier across a wired fence. ‘Why?’, my mom questioned. ‘It’s your baby. If you are dying, you die with it. Who gives away a baby like that?’. A part of me thinks, the mother may have thought, if she didn’t make out of the situation alive, at least her baby will see the end of the day and if lucky may end up even being adopted in a good family, a life without fears that has ruled her all her life. People feel for babies. Her baby ‘alone’ has more chances of making it out of the country than ‘baby with her’. At the same time, like my mom, my maternal instincts deeply question her sanity.

Naturally, after seeing footage like that, watching some random anti-vaxxer talking about ‘being evaded of human rights’ by just being asked to ‘wear masks’ or ‘to be vaccinated’ feels like being punched in the gut with a sharp blow. When the government is investing millions, scientists are in their labs night after night, and two of my friends were forced to take 2-3 months out of their training because of work burnout and its impact on their mental health; woman, you really are tickling our bones.

If you don’t want to be vaccinated or wear masks. It is on you. As an adult human, one is allowed to make choices and decisions, even if it is an unconventional one as long as it is an informed decision.  But please don’t go harassing people who are wearing them, leave your opinion to yourself and don’t say ‘it’s the church!’. I’m not christian. But I don’t think anywhere in the holy books says, ‘don’t get vaccinated’, ‘don’t wear masks’.

Many anti-maskers are anti-vaxxers but not the other way around, it seems.

It’s sad when you see the impact of these few people on the ‘knock on’ effect on family/society. My colleague said he had reviewed a patient a couple of nights ago who was really ill with covid and was requesting to be jabbed in the last minute. He said, he was heartbroken to reply ‘unfortunately it is too late’  and even more so when he heard, it was not entirely her decision. Her daughter was an anti-vaxxer and had an overwhelming influence on her.  ‘I think she feels guilty for putting her mother in a situation like that…’ He sighed.  ‘God, I hope so. How do you live with yourself when things go wrong because of your one decision?’

I don’t know if vaccination does prevent you from reaching this stage. Only 3 days ago, we admitted a young individual with COVID to ITU with high oxygen requirements who had been doubly jabbed and who prior to this, had been quite fit and well. But from experience of working this long with covid, I think, I speak for everyone of my colleagues, ‘we  definitely believe the vaccination gives some degree of protection. Clinically we are seeing fewer people becoming really unwell with it and lesser in-hospital deaths compared to the first wave’.

Is there a reason why you didn’t have a vaccination?’ It is one of the routine questions we ask now, with a purpose especially to educate about it, if someone is only waiting to seek more information before booking an appointment. ‘Well I was told, I am medically exempt from wearing masks. So I thought, I must be immune to disease for some reason and I did not require vaccination either’.  How plausible do you think her explanation is? 

Sadly a patient of ours who had a renal transplant and was on a lot of immunosuppressive medications and who was doubly vaccinated, caught COVID after attending Wembley football euro venue and has recently passed away. All those things he went through, shielding, precautions, medications,convincing the transplant team that he is a right candidate at mid-70’s and patience…  Wrong decisions are costing lives. And sadly people are still not  understanding the ramifications of it. 

I don’t know why the media find it surprising when a doctor from Alabama refused to treat patients who had opted out for vaccination. The Independent on 21/08/21 wrote, ‘Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in America, with just 36% of its patients inoculated’. All health professionals are getting frustrated with people’s ignorance. We, like everyone, are desperate for the world to return to normal days without COVID. And for that, majority of us needs to be on board.

I still advise you to take precautions. Maintaining a little hygiene with sanitisers and hand washing saves you, not only from COVID but also a lot of other germs. I mean, it is a part of general cleanliness, isn’t it? I also recommend people to still use masks especially on big gatherings and closed spaces with other people.

We use masks at work. Honestly I feel so much safer with it near patients. Unlike the public, who have a choice to work from home, or a safer environment where one can limit one’s exposure, we cannot. We are repeatedly exposed to the virus everyday, every minute, from bay to bay, one patient to another.

While COVID is the fear we are living  in privileged blessed countries. In Afghanistan, people are facing more imminent threats; gun &physical violence, sexual violence, starvation and death. So if I’m switching my channel today from listening to individuals from anti-vaxx movement preaching random words like ‘human rights’  to the actual humanitarian crisis that  afghans are now facing. Have no doubts, I am actively doing so. 

Podcasts series (21-25)

Listen to me ramble what I write on my podcasts 🙂

Forgive my accent.

I swear it sounds different in my head when I’m writing the words. When I read though, my voice doesn’t even sound like mine hahaha.

Trial in Spotify and in Spreaker

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46484834

21 – Failsafe plan

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46484909

22 – The right time

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46485576

23 – Falling or rising

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46486658

24 – Safety profile

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46486953

25. Be in charge

Podcasts series (16-20)

Listen to me ramble what I write on my podcasts 🙂

Forgive my accent.

I swear it sounds different in my head when I’m writing the words. When I read though, my voice doesn’t even sound like mine hahaha.

Trial in Spotify and in Spreaker

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46479871

16. A second chance

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46480021

17 – A right choice

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46480138

18. Stay away

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46484372

19. A Journey

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46484698

20. I promise you

Podcasts series (11-15)

Listen to me ramble what I write on my podcasts 🙂

Forgive my accent.

I swear it sounds different in my head when I’m writing the words. When I read though, my voice doesn’t even sound like mine hahaha.

Trial in Spotify and in Spreaker

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46478297

11. Work. Work. Work

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46478894

12. Failing words

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46479306

13. Unfamiliar faces

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46479450

14 – Misfits

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46479543

15 . Free Birds

podcast series (6-10)

Listen to me ramble what I write on my podcasts 🙂

Forgive my accent.

I swear it sounds different in my head when I’m writing the words. When I read though, my voice doesn’t even sound like mine hahaha.

Trial in Spotify and in Spreaker

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477751

6. Back to the roots

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477812

7. Don’t be lured

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477862

8. A monsoon rain

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477971

9. Thank you!

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46478179

10. My safe space

Podcasts series (1-5)

Listen to me ramble what I write on my podcasts 🙂

Forgive my accent.

I swear it sounds different in my head when I’m writing the words. When I read though, my voice doesn’t even sound like mine hahaha.

Trial in Spotify and in Spreaker

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477056

1. Rise of Pandemic

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477328

2. Missing number on stats

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477385

3. Broken Hearts

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477482

4. Grab a bouquet

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https://www.spreaker.com/episode/46477707

5. Please wear a mask

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

‘I had tested positive so had to isolate myself. But unlike others I never really felt unwell with it. Maybe it’s because I have taken multi vitamins regularly everyday since I turned 50, 2 years ago. And there have been studies I think, saying vitamins do help with COVID’.

After the 1st wave of pandemic, I discovered a lot of health workers I personally knew had been taking or started taking multivitamins religiously. The same tendency was seen in the general public as well, as reflected in its sales on the market that soared remarkably high compared to the pre-pandemic era.

Vitamins are important in the functioning of our immune system and there have been a number of researches done to look at their role in prevention of various diseases in the past. With the pandemic, the interest in their roles has spiked again, especially on vitamin D; that researchers believe has some anti-inflammatory action in the lung and boosts up the immunity against respiratory tract infections. An article on the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections’, in its discussion mentions ”Three of the reviews consistently showed benefit of vitamin D supplementation for prevention of RTI mainly in children younger than 16 years. Two of the reviews also reported that the protective effect is observed only when single daily doses are used but not when bolus doses are given. One review further showed that doses of 800 IU or less were protective of respiratory tract infections, but not higher doses.’

National Institutes of Health office of dietary supplements on it’s website comments ‘Data are insufficient to support recommendations for or against the use of any vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, fatty acid or other dietary supplement ingredient to prevent or treat COVID 19.

Publication on Medical Journal BMJ, ‘VItamin D and Sars-Cov-2- virus/ COVID 19 , June 2020 also discusses in length, direct correlation found between vitamin D deficiency states and respiratory illness. In conclusion, the paper suggests ‘lifestyle strategies for avoiding vitamin D deficiency and ensuring a healthy balanced diet at any time’. On its main messages, it has emphasized on being aware that, ‘vitamin D status may be exacerbated during COVID 19 crisis (eg due to living indoor hence reduced sun exposure), and anyone who is self isolating with limited access to sunlight is advised to take vitamin D supplement according to their government’s recommendations for the general population (ie, 400 IU/day for the UK and 600 IU/day for the USA (800 IU for >70 years)) and the European Union (EU).’

I found it quite educational to listen to Professor Roger Seheult’s 1 hour lecture on youtube, on ‘Vitamin D and COVID 19- The evidence for prevention and treatment of Coronavirus’. Not just because it mentions ‘Quadruple board certified in Internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care and sleep medicine’ and associate/ assistant professor in 2 different universities as his credentials but he talks a lot about evidence based science. As it mentions on BMJ article I previously quoted, ‘it is absolutely essential that advice given to the public is evidence-based, accurate and timely; anything less would mislead and has the potential to cause harm’.

I have been taking my vitamins. More so after reading views from great minds of the fields. Of Course there is no concrete evidence yet and studies are being done and I am hopeful soon, a more concrete proof will emerge.

As for in the hospital setup, we have COVID protocols. Oxygen therapy for those struggling to maintain their oxygen levels. Steroids (Dexamethasone) for patients requiring oxygen with no contraindication to steroids. Blood thinners, increased dosage for prevention of blood clots as COVID disease has been associated with increased incidences of DVTs and PEs. Antibiotics, if and only when there is suspicion of super-added bacterial infection. Remdesivir an ‘antiviral drug’ if patients are requiring oxygen, have presented less than 10 days of symptoms onset and have good liver and adequate kidney functions. Patients are also considered for ‘Tocolizumab’ in addition, if they are already on steroids, have evidence of inflammation and are at low risk of super-added infection. Multiple studies have shown, this immunosuppressant medication has benefits on survival and length of hospitalisation due to COVID. 

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (G.O.A.T)

You cannot talk about the Olympics and not mention Simone Biles. G.O.A.T. Greatest of all times, who has dominated the history of gymnastics with her extraordinary talents. This is a woman who has swiped  gold after gold, title after titles in the world championships, in the olympics and in fact every major tournaments she has ever competed in and, continues to defy the law of physics raising a  question, what is human body not able to achieve if one puts mind & determination to it? Now 24 year old, American gymnasium is a fierce competitor, not to anyone else but to herself, as she sets records again one after another, against her own old ones, that no one so far has dared to challenge her on. The gymnasium has  been honoured with moves named after her, like ‘the Biles Vault’, ‘Biles 2 floor exercise’, ‘Biles balance beam’ and many others, to acknowledge the level of complexity and artistic touch she brings on the floor, that will now be the highest limit of the showmanship for any of her competitors  and the next generation of gymnasiums to be measured against.

One can understand the struggles of the judges panel to give Simone a fair score to equate the value of amazing performance while trying to be considerate to others, who have put equal, if not, perhaps even more effort. Now knowing she is gifted, Simone could have easily  reigned her throne; as it might be a while even years before her competitors catch up, but she continues to work on herself and add an extra layer of challenge every time she appears, making it dangerous and almost humanly impossible to master. But knowing her as we do now, is it really?

To focus on my wellbeing. There is more to life than just gymnastics’.

When the 24 year old star stepped out of the arena in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, it shocked the world. We were all eagerly waiting for ‘Yurchenko double pike vault’ to be executed flawlessly and gracefully, the second time after the US classic.

It surfaced on  the news & reports again, the stories of 150 women who came forward on the  trial of Larry Nassar, to put him behind the bars, for ‘upto 175 years’ and for good. Larry Nassar, a vicious sexual predator, who abused girls as old as 7 year old, a Michigan University state and USA team gymnastics doctor, and for years. I couldn’t believe the horrors that  kept unfolding as I followed tales after tales of his victims. How can something like this, the Olympians, for God sake, who are constantly around the cameras and public eyes are living in abuse like that? How can nation’s heroes be treated in shame and indignity like that? And above all in the USA? 150 women and possibly hundreds more including the gold medalist Aly Raisman?

The Guardian writes, ‘Jennifer Sey 1986 US national champion said, she was aware of sexual abuse in the sport when she was training in 80’s and a team member of hers was abused sexually for many years.‘ It also writes, ‘complaints were made to Michigan state University about Nassar as far back as 1998, but no one did anything’.
‘Since the trial, the president of Michigan state university has resigned under pressure and multiple officials have resigned from USA gymnastics’. Is that suppose to bring back all the years of lives they lived in trauma and depression and make it all go?

Where in the world can children and can daughters be ever safe?

I grew up next to a lovely girl, 4-5 years older than me. Every instance I would be alone at home, I would jump the low height bars at her house to ask her to come and play. She would, with her 2 little white dogs named ‘Tommy’ and ‘sweetie’. We loved those dogs. They were fury and bright white, little and very playful. One morning, I saw her mom walking around the whole neighbourhood with black ashes painted on her face and a garland of shoelaces around her neck with a herd of people walking behind and next to her.  ‘Justice, Justice‘, they chanted. ‘Justice for our wives, sisters and daughters who were sold to prostitution’.

Her mother was a sex trafficker, that obviously came as a big shock to me as well as everyone in the locality. From what I heard from people and the news, she was caught red handed while trying to smuggle her son’s girlfriend across the border to India.

I was about 9/10 year old then. I didn’t really understand much, apart from remembering what my mom said, that ‘my friend’s mom was selling girls out of the country’. The first thing I thought was about her, my friend, ‘I hope she is okay’ and prayed ‘she didn’t know’. Now I wonder if she was ever safe herself. Many times I thank god for my luck, especially for my little brother and sister, that I would sneak out with me to play in her house or on the ground across from hers. I don’t think my mom ever got through that image of shoe garlands and guilt of knowing how wrong our situation would have been herself. Because, she continued to lock our main gate door for a long long time, imprisoning us on our no-school days inside and later the flat door with big locks when we moved upstairs. She didn’t allow us to visit any friends house. There were never any sleep overs.

I can see how easy it is to get away being a perpetrator in a silent neighbourhood, in a country like Nepal when countries like the US have their Olympians abused by people they hired to take care of them. By people of social standing, classes and power in the system. And a doctor? Nassar has brought shame to medical profession.

I applaud Simone’s courage to come forward and stand up together with other victims against the abuse she has faced. By standing up, they all have spoken up against the abuse and the mentality to run it under the carpets, happening all over the world today. They should be proud. Because they have saved new generations of adults growing up in abuse and mental illnesses.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Playing catch Olympics 2020)

After the success of  Euro Cup 2020, Tokyo Olympics 2020 was also met with much enthusiasm as people all over the world came together one more time, to support their national teams and to participate in their wins & losses in the spirit of healthy sportsmanship. Inauguration day for the olympics was on 23rd july/2021, almost a year later resulting from postponement  due to pandemic, similar to the Euro Cup.

Like my friend says ‘2 years of our life has vanished into nowhere’, and while the whole world is still trying to catch up with it’s pre-COVID pace, time has left us fast forward. Tragedy of our lives . Geoffrey Chaucer’s quote ‘Time and tide waits for none’, at this point feels very relatable.

‘I feel incredibly proud to say I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion‘. Metro news had posted an interview with Tom Daley, gold medalist on 10m dive, who shared the victory  with 23yr old Matty Lee. His tearful eyes with a mask covered face were printed on the front cover, and I couldn’t think of anything else but the pride he felt in himself for the effort and hard work he had put into this, having  read that this was his 4th attempt. And using his success platform to inspire LGBT community was another act that was very commendable. Observing from the eye of a commoner, I will tell you, the duo were flawless. The dive was executed brilliantly and from the camera’s  angle view  that we were broadcasted, they were like mirrored images. Just amazing.

13 year old ‘Sky Brown’ had a page dedicated to her entirely on ‘The Times’ as well. Winning  a Bronze medal in skateboarding, she became GB’s  youngest athlete to bring home an olympic medal. I was quite impressed and intrigued reading her success story too.  At such a young age, Miss Brown already knows the ultimate mantra to be a winner. ‘Hard work, drive and constant effort.’ I can’t believe despite suffering a skull fracture, arm fracture and lacerations to lung & heart the previous year, she was still brave enough to commit to her profession. Incredible. Feeling equally proud of 12 year old Kokona Hiraki for bagging the silver olympic medal at that age!

News after news. Morning papers, for once, are filled  with happy success stories of athletes. Adam Peaty, Tom Pidcock, Alex Yee.. Just on time for break, distraction and inspiration  we needed to ride the 3rd wave and relieve ourselves from the burnout  COVID has left us with. I wish the media did that more often, inject us with positivity and motivational thoughts. Mornings would have been so better and the breakfast more digestible.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Fashions of COVID era)

There was a big demand for face masks during the COVID, especially during the first wave. Single use surgical masks alone cost up to 10£ in local stores, it was ridiculous. And even if you did agree to pay, there wasn’t a guarantee it was available. No surprise, people started inventing their own. Most of them were great, some people even managed to do local business with it.  They were homemade, great quality, reusable and at the same price of a tenner.  Others, not so much. But did manage to give us a good laugh and turn our head around at least once. ‘Desperate times called for desperate measures, we do understand. ‘

‘Karen, Karen , Karen. Please wear a mask, you big dumbass’. Everytime I come across that comedy video on the internet,  it makes me crack into laughter. It has a catchy tune and a great punch line. You should hear it. ‘Only in countries like the UK and America…‘, my mom commented disapprovingly when she watched anti masker’s protest rallies on youtube with slogans saying ‘Don’t mask my freedom’, ‘My body my choice’… ‘It doesn’t happen in Nepal. People are fighting to get paper masks and will possibly even kill each other to be the first one  to be vaccinated there’.

Are anti maskers also anti vaxers? I’m not sure how much they overlap. But I do have a feeling, these must be people who possibly haven’t faced personal loss with COVID.

Anyways, for those who tried to adhere with advice of hand hygiene, masks and social distancing. Their efforts were really commendable. It took a lot of patience and discipline, didn’t it?

Third wave of COVID is already here in the UK. Had a phone conversation with a friend who is a doctor in Nepal and she informed, they are anticipating a lockdown soon in Nepal in preparation. And she is expecting panic hoarding and panic buying to start again.  Thank God the third wave in the UK has been more peaceful, with less panic, less lives lost and blissful summer.

While we are at this discussion of the masks. Lets not forget to appreciate the divas who will forever be mortal on the internet for generations to come for their unique and interesting fashion statements with masks. There were halloween costume themed ones with witches, chucky, aliens, killer from scream; disney characters like mickey and a pink dinosaur character  I don’t recognise. Plastic themed ones, with people making extravagant dresses out of garbage bags, or just taping themselves all around with it, wearing containers over their head or cutting out DIY masks from jumbo coke bottles and milk bottles with filters. I even stumbled across channels that teach you how to make these on youtube! Obviously, there were undergarment themed ones with bras and panties/thongs being used too and like I commented ‘desperate times calls for desperate measure’, even the skin of the vegetables like melons, papaya, pumpkins were being used. I think, using veggies was probably a cry for desperate attention. I don’t know. My favorite still was a scuba suit and sanitary pads sewn with elastics for ears. Was there some kind of game being played in public  that we were not aware of. Like   ‘Make a mask of the first thing you see in your house. Winner will get 10,000 &/£. Ready set go!!’

It is still mandatory for us to wear surgical masks in hospitals which we are very happy to comply with. We’d rather have some degree of  protection than none. FFP masks are only reserved for aerosol generating procedures, otherwise we stick with normal surgical masks even if we are working in Covid bays.  We are trying to make the best of our resources as well.

A research by Duke University in effectiveness of these masks suggests that N95 mask is best since it prevents transmission from both bigger droplet particles and smaller aerosol particles of virus in air. These are the FFP3  masks available  in the hospital for procedures that I mentioned before. Surgical masks were second effective and following it was cotton based double layered masks. Interestingly an expert I was following in YouTube commented, sanitary pads can actually be beneficial to some extent on prevention than having nothing or instead of some of these out-of-the-world designer masks we are seeing.

The experts said ‘No,No’ to bandanas. So it is about time all the pretty boys and girls leave their bandanas and search for safer alternatives to prevent and protect themselves from infection. The trend of absurdity has now vanished. What a shame! Haha. But I’m sure something will come along the way.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (‘Hello’ and ‘Namaste’)

I am always excited to meet people of different nationalities. There are so many customs, cultures, values and beliefs that I find weird & wonderful about them. I hope it is the same other way around too. I certainly am even more interested when we have more similarities, because then we can co-relate, understand what we are talking about and expand on our existing knowledge.

I often tell my friends if they ever visit Nepal, please remember saying ‘Namaste’ is not like saying ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’. I lived next door to a foreigner who used to pass by me everyday on my way to college, and used to greet me very briefly saying ‘Namaste’. I know he meant it in a friendly way, but it always sounded like a very rushed ‘Hey’, and perhaps someone else in my shoes would have even found it rather rude. ‘Namaste’ is a pleasant expression, a greeting done vocalising the word while joining one’s palms & fingers and bowing head lower to show respect. It’s not just a word, it is an act with the word.

On a similar note, also a reminder, one has to be very careful when one hugs anyone in Nepal, especially a woman as a guy. It took me quite a while to get used to this healthy way of expressing affection among friends in the UK. I can possibly count the number of times I have been hugged until then. In Nepal ‘hugs’ can be deemed inappropriate in many settings and in many societies. A kiss on the cheek goes way overboard.

My colleague once told me how she missed ‘hugs’ due to existing social distancing rules and it really took a toll on her mental health. ‘We come from a family of big huggers’, she reported sadly. When the lock down lifted, she did finally manage to see them and receive a heartwarming hug from her mom. ‘But a voice in my head kept asking, is it safe for her?‘ she confided.

When I saw my parents, I greeted them with ‘Namaste’, our own traditional way. No person- person touch was involved. You can imagine now why this method of greeting has become florid now. ‘Say Namaste. Keep social distance. No more handshakes’. You can see these slogans everywhere today printed in t-shirts, cups, posters, the newspapers… And ever since Prince Charles opted for it instead of a handshake, this method of greeting has become a lot fancier too.

Namaste is traditionally observed in countries like Nepal, India, Bangladesh and some parts of south-east Asia. I imagined we would also be practising it in the hospital more often when Prince Charles promoted it as an option but the public decided to be more creative in their own ways. We were bumping our elbows with our colleagues, waving hands, doing handshake motions in the air but without hands, some patients showed peace signs as they left the wards etc.

Handshakes are important in our profession. The first thing they taught me, when I took classes for clinical exams to practice in the UK, was ‘doing a confident handshake’. ‘That’s the first step to starting a rapport with your patient’, our tutor told us. ‘A firm handshake shows confidence, builds trust and it goes a long way’.

It took me quite a while to learn it properly, as culturally I was not brought up in this method of greeting. It also felt rather strange to do so because of sanitary reasons. Honestly, I was a little surprised that the ‘Microbiology society’ of the UK of all countries, did not flag that up a long time ago.

Because all the way through medical school and clinical practice, we were taught to hand wash at all times. When you see hundreds of microbes in your hands still thriving, wriggling around in your palms even after you have given your hands a good scrub and proper wash, it can really drive people nuts. Not surprisingly, OCD is very common among medical students and doctors. So when you see your GP next time and notice that she has rough, scaly hands with patches of inflamed red areas or thickened skin with fissures and skin breaks; please do not be alarmed. She is not contagious, she has ‘hand dermatitis’ and possibly will need some form of counselling and therapy soon.

Can you blame her? Not everyone washes their hands before they come to see their doctor. God knows where people’s hands have been. Right? I read in an article from Harvard medical school, that there are about 5 million bacteria in each hand of a Health Care Worker. And that’s just bacteria. What about viruses, fungus, spores? I can tell you where my hands might have been. Beside a patient’s bed kept in isolation for c-difficile infection having diarrhoea maybe 10 times a day. Taking blood for a COVID -19 patient. Putting a catheter in for a male patient with urine retention. Performing per rectal examination in a 70 yr old who has presented with gastrointestinal bleed. So, we are definitely more at risk of transmitting infections to our patients than getting from them. And hospitals acquired are more dangerous in a sense that they can be very resistant organisms. So why would you shake hands with me?

Failure to perform appropriate hand hygiene is considered to be the leading cause of Healthcare Associated Infections and the spread of multi-resistant organisms, and has been recognised as a significant contributor to the outbreak’, according to WHO guideline hand hygiene summary 2009.

And although COVID has kicked that obsession-compulsion pattern in all of us ‘the health professionals’ again, I feel it has also made us ponder whether this obligatory social custom of hand shaking to develop rapport with patients in hospital settings is doing more harm than good.

I’m practising a nod to go along with my ‘Good Morning/ afternoon’ in hospital settings. I feel it is a both formal and respectable alternative to previous custom. I am also very happy to stick with my traditional greeting of ‘Namaste’ in my social circle. I gave you all the reasons. So why not, right? 

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (A different experience-2)

Next station was a Photoshoot. My photographer was from Poland as well. Great guy. Had been in the business for 20 years and was freelancing for the day . For the session, he guided us downstairs to a dimly lit room with a massive white roller blind that was to be used as a backdrop with lights placed all around it to create adequate reflection for the shots.

He had previously been a photographer for the Gurkha platoon therefore had a lot of interesting experiences to share, which made it quite easy for me to bond with him. As we were talking and laughing, I noticed the flash of the camera often go off or make a sound. ‘Oh no, did he just take my picture? I was not ready’. When I pose for my friends, I usually stay still for at least a minute and it is granted that I’l make a fuss about one thing or another. It could be about hair, angles, background etc. But standing in front of a professional and supposedly posing to be a professional model; I felt pasty, with my face plastered on a cakey foundation and feeling over cautious about the fat pad under my chin that had never previously bothered me that much. Don’t even get me started with my hair? ‘What had she done?’. I mean, the style itself was great but it didn’t suit me. ‘I looked ten times better in just mascara, a simple lipstick and my normal hair’. Suju looked at me disapprovingly too. ‘I don’t like your makeup,’ she commented.

Relax. These are professionals. They know what they are doing. Just enjoy the experience’, I took a deep breather and reminded myself. ‘Beside the woman was super friendly, why did you not comment how you would like to be made?’

Overall It was a good experience. I wish I had stuck with only that idea, that it was a ‘good experience’. Because later, when ‘the consultant of the day’, for the studio painted me a picture of this ‘other life’ I could live, where I could have so much fun being just me, do it as part time job, meet new people and also earn a little bit cash on the side; I took the ‘gold upgrade’ deal. Ended up signing the contract, paying 750 upfront and 700 remaining on debit due for next month.

I know! What was I thinking?

‘I am 5’2. I have not got that brilliant flawless skin they show on the tvs either’. I had horrible eczema attacks when I was young, later ended up having dangerous breakouts and now I am ever so conscious of all the scar marks and pores I have in my face.

‘I am average looking’. You know how I know how people in the UK appreciate diversity and people’s uniqueness. Because I have been told by random people on many occasions how pretty they thought I was. Like when I was walking on a train station or walking back home from shopping. I was complimented for my skin or shape of my eyes or my dark hair often. And trust me, when I say ‘average’; I am really only ‘average looking’ in my country. The standards of beauty there is; fair skin, silk black lustful hair and depending on the ethnicity, bigger or smaller eyes. My mom shaved my hair twice when I was a kid, because it was rough brown and curly; basically undesirable. I lost an opportunity to appear on tv when I was grade 5, because I was a shade/two bit darker than the other 2 girls. ‘Next time, black beauty’, my principal said.

I guess it all came flashing back to me, when I started looking back at the times I felt rejected. Especially when I broke up with Joey. I just wanted to hook out everything that was wrong with me.

It’s strange, when I had shaved my head off and kept only 5-6 cm of length and walked about the town dressed up as tomboy; I felt most free, I was most confident, I was most accepted and I was definitely more popular. I got proposed to by a girl for the first time.

And while I was there, the realisation hit me. Of Course I am pretty. I had always known I was. I love my brown skin. I freaking glow in the sunshine. Girls in the UK tan their skin 24/7 to have my shade of skin. I freaking have gorgeous hair. I have seen so many girls and women buy those outrageously expensive wigs. And you know what, I even manage to donate my hair to charities. I have an amazing body. I’m a flat screen tv on the chest but hey, so is for my stomach. I eat 6 times a day and everything and anything I want, without getting to a sumo size. I don’t have to go to the gym day in and day out just to maintain myself.

Chances are ‘I am never going to make it to the commercial modeling world’. I am not a standard size or a standard rule in a book. When I first saw the ad that said ‘any age, any size’ can apply. I was impressed. The idea of beauty not defined by constraints was in itself beautiful.

I would indeed love to see more like me, my colour, my race, represent fashion and beauty. That if someone walked by a poster or even a simple add on an app, that it subconsciously left an image and a security to that person that there is someone out there like him/her. That you are not odd. You are just a  zebra in a field of horses. You are a beautiful thing and the maker carved you, coloured you and  made you to look that way. 

I have learnt another lesson too. That I have a problem, which I am desperately trying to find an escape from. And I should try working on it, rather than directly diverting my attention to obvious physical things. Of Course, this experience adds another fun story to tell my grandchildren when I grow old. I can already imagine my sister and suju adding annoying bits of their own roles in my play but they do deserve a cut. After all they did warn me, this was not going to work out. Hahaha.

I am hoping they’ll cancel the contract and I won’t lose my other 700£. If that happens, I swear, first thing I’ll do is set it aside to book  myself a great vacation and get myself all the pamper I deserve. *Fingers crossed*