So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened. (Why the beginning? )

Hey doctor, did you forget to change your face mask?’ Our nurse in charge stopped me before hopping from one cubicle to another cubicle to see COVID patients. ‘Oh, sorry’, I replied immediately, laughing at my forgetfulness. Remembering the time, in the midst of a pandemic when I splashed water in my face without realising I had a mask on.

It is February 28th/2023 today and ‘No, COVID hasn’t gone away yet’. But as I have claimed before, it isn’t as intimidating as it used to be. Juggling your memory again, ‘remember that time? December 2019? When city of Wuhan in China first went into lock down to control the deadly virus from spreading elsewhere.’

I started writing amidst of pandemic waves. Overtime I have talked about lots of things. The beginning of all these parrot tale was a silly story which I have mentioned before. Basically I had a dream. I don’t remember the details of it now, but I do recall ‘sort of being instructed to write’ and ‘sort of being introduced to this title’ and, ‘feeling good about scribbling something in my dream that I have no clue what it was.’ The memory of it is all vague, it has been more than a year. But I do remember mentioning to my ex saying, ‘I feel like I need to write about this, about this pandemic’, that morning. I don’t know if he has any recollection of it. People have all sort of dreams. My friend mentioned once she had a dream where she was a flying ninja fighting crime in the city. Like who sees that? Is that normal? Something about this one though, it planted a sincere and undying motivation, almost like a promise to myself, to sit in front of laptop and start hitting the keys every chance I get, no matter how tired or lazy I felt. I didn’t know where to start but I had to. Am I religious? I don’t know. Is there God? I believe there is. In that case, do I think it’s God’s message then? Certainly not, I wouldn’t go that far. Bonkers! Experts believe, ‘dreams are revelations of your subconscious minds.’ Maybe, somehow I found a way to tap into mine that night.

It was a work at first. I didn’t want to jot the bleak situation of hospital capacities, circumstances of deaths with the virus infection, forlorn eyes of mourning individuals, resentful words of grief stricken families, hateful comments with racial slurs, fears for own health & families safety and physical/emotional burnouts; but those were the realities. Re-living the emotional experience whilst writing when I could push it and shove it down, like an adult, never to be spoken about; may have been an option but I chose not to do so. 12- 13 posts down the line, writing became more easier, sort of a way of venting to express myself and I suppose at that point, it started becoming a selfish endeavour to save myself.

My intention in some ways was also to give ‘the readers’, a peek of life of a medic. A glimpse away to lives inside hospital walls, the ups and downs we face in our career living up to our responsibilities and in our personal lives; in a hope that you see these individuals not just as a professionals but also as a son or a daughter, your friend or your colleague, your uncles or aunts or your father or mother. That you are kind to them. ‘Yes every profession deserves a kindness’, I am not here requesting any more ‘just at a level you would give any individual at your standing.’ The world seems to have forgotten that as a medic in our profession, ‘we deserve some humility and respect too’.

No, it is not right that you curse the nurse in front of zillion other patients when she is not answering your call. She is looking after 9 more patients on her own and, is currently on a drug round. ‘

‘Yes, he does have right to not forgive you after the temper tantrum you have shown for your quote *had a bad sleep*’.

‘We do have every right to refuse to treat you as a doctor as you have a right to be refused being treated by us’.

‘Please cover yourself. It is basic human decency. Not to flash your breasts or penises when we are specifically not examining those parts’.

‘We will attend you, however there are long list of patients waiting before you, unless it is a life threatening emergency. We need not tolerate emotional or physical intimidation because you want to jump the queue’.

And most importantly. ‘No you do not get any excuse to rain down on another individual just because you are sad, lonely, angry or in pain.‘ Would you have tolerated it, if it happened to you in your profession? Why are we any different?

I ask you, would you kindly see me or my colleagues beyond our stethescope on our necks and our badges reading ‘doctors’ and accept us like any other individuals in society with running clocks of our own private lives? Just as you? We are men and women in careers, each one of us with our own personalities and a background of running commentary. Would you see us as humans too? Yes we have certainly adapted to restraining our emotions but we still feel. Your expressions whether its happiness or anger, affects our days. At the end of the day, we do take a lot of emotions back to our homes. We do need a period to switch off, unwind, hit the power button and recaliberate ourselves. It is not fair to be expected to be available 24/7 like movie industries portrays our commitment to profession should be like. It is not fashionable, as it seems. Please don’t expect us to stay another hour individually for your service especially to vent about receiving minimal service and threatening to leave.

The number of hospital admission have sky rocketed compared to 10 years ago in the NHS, I am sure so is the case all around the world. Quality of life has improved on various domains of people’s lives including work environment but I am not sure if that has been the case in our profession. My seniors could argue ‘our lives is much better now’ but, that would be like me arguing ‘quality of children’s lives is much better now’. Children now don’t even know if they are humans or goats. And schools are entertaining drag shows to kindergartners. Look where we are standing in human history.

On 13th March, Doctors in England are doing a 72 hour mass walk out as an industrial action for pay restoration. In the past, I had commented in my post that doctors and nurses were being paid less in significant percentage than they were being paid in these profession, years prior. My phone is blinking continuously now from constant messages posted on junior doctor’s forums, mainly sharing information from different trusts that are releasing intimidating messages to their employees suggesting their will be consequences for their actions. Disciplinary actions, loss of pays. So, everyone including me who has just joined a new hospital in a new rotation are basically sitting on hot seats now.

I came across a very interesting post on tiktok. (Oh yes, since I have returned from Nepal. Now I have started using tiktok. hahahaha). The post (Huw Corness) on 02/Jan 2023 reads ‘When I qualified as a nurse in 2010 my basic hourly wage was £10.83 and freddos were 10p so I was paid 108 freddos an hour. The nurses who qualify now start on £13.84 an hour and freddos are 25p so they are paid 55 freddos an hour’. I hope this gives you some idea of why it is necessary to stand in unity for support. Not to forget, our profession undoubtedly is a big chunk where tax revenue comes from.

You don’t have to necessarily support the cause. I will agree there are plenty jobs which deserves more limelight than us. That I have utmost respect for. But I hope, you will keep in mind when you enter the hospital premises next time that these are the professionals that are trying their best to their jobs, to provide you with help that you came seeking for, at their doors. You are not a prisoner unless of course you were brought in handcuffs by the police. As much as we treat you individually and with respect, please’ remember to reciprocate.

So you are a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened (Pill Popping generation)

27 -Pill popping generation

We are the pill popping generation.

We love our pills- tablets, capsules, powder, injections. Legal, illegal. Doctors love to prescribe and patients love it when we do. Often before they leave, our patients ask, ‘Are you going to prescribe me any medications?’. Whatever the reason it maybe. It is engrained in us by the media, by advertisement companies to our brains that ‘pill is good’. Have your vitamins, your zinc, your minerals… God the number of it. Do we even need all of them? Do we?

Polypharmacy is a major problem of the modern health system. Ever since the development of the wonder drug/ antibiotic ‘penicillin’ that saved millions of lives around the world from infections culminating in sepsis, we have been on the run for finding the next marvel drug. In the process we have stumbled across thousands. Each one unique in its action, it’s efficacy, it’s method of clearance, duration of action etc. For almost every pathology out there now, behold! We have a pill now. Low sugar? Here is some dextrose infusion. High sugar? Here is some insulin. Too thin? Here are some hormone supplements. Care for some anti depressants to improve your appetite? Too fat? No problem. How about orlistat? Diarrhoea? Could prescribe some Loperamide. Constipation? You can have some Laxatives.

It is not uncommon now for a patient over 80 to be on at least 6-7 different drugs on minimum. With old age comes our ageing related diseases like degenerative bones and dementia. Hypertension as a natural process of thickening of our blood vessels wall, heart problems/stroke secondary to hypertension & build up atherosclerotic plaques and there is worsening of any chronic/long standing diseases such as Diabetes we already have with advancing age because of its evolving complications. Some patients have a handful of pills to have at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It won’t be a new thing if one of our patients report they feel full on the medications alone.

It is frustrating as a junior doctor when you are asked to prescribe medications for a patient who clearly has a lot of comorbidities therefore presumably is on a lot of pills but has no information on him/her. Often GP access that we are provided for a particular catchment area of the hospital is useful, because then we can pull out the drug history records of the patient including exact allergy status, medication name, it’s indication, route and it’s timings. When both of those are not available, unfortunately patients will end up missing their tablets because we need more information so that we can prescribe it safely. Depending on the nature of medication, missing these tablets a day can be life threatening. Eg People with epilepsy need their regular anti epileptic drug to prevent and control seizures. Patients with Diabetes need to know their correct dose of insulin, to avoid high dosing therefore a dangerous hypoglycemia. We do review these medications daily while patients are in the hospital with us and hopefully will cut out the unnecessary ones but unfortunately for some, more pills are the only way out.

Having a number of medications has a lot of drawbacks. They all come in with their own side effects and many among these will have interactions and/or increase the unwanted effect of others. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise if we expect you to be aware what medication you are taking if it is a long term one, why you are taking it and what common interaction it may have with your other medications, food or drinks. Which in the UK, fortunately most patients do. ‘If in doubt ask a patient, they are a living book’. OTHERWISE, well there is always a bnf, seniors around and a pharmacist I suppose.

I have met some patients who want to avoid medications at all cost . Just recently we had a chappie in mid 40’s with sky high blood pressure who refused to take a prescription after he was told he would need to take his anti hypertensive tablet for life. ‘If I take it now, I will always have to take life long. So, I would rather not start. I hate taking pills’, he said. ‘Let’s just put it this way, if you don’t take it with high blood pressure like that one of these days you will have a stroke- a bleed in brain, your kidneys will also be soon affected and you may even end up being blind’. He didn’t need further explanation. Took his prescription after groaning for a long long one minute. Well as clinicians we have done our part, we leave it upto him to decide what he thinks is best.

It’s a different situation in Nepal. People are not usually on that many drugs. Perhaps those that should be are not alive or can’t afford to come to hospital or buy any of those tablets. That is a major drawback of the private health care system, it might just be a few days worth of antibiotics that your life is really depending upon. People don’t have 30 rupees to buy 5 days worth of amoxicillin which is equal to 1/5th value of a pound! When you pay for every single tablet, well you limit the amount only to ones you desperately need. Polypharmacy may be a problem there some day, but that will be way way ahead in future. I don’t see drug companies buying any billboards and creeping invasively to Nepalese lifestyle any time soon.

Of course antibiotic resistance is a big problem when you have to choose between buying antibiotics from a local pharmacy or putting the same money on an OPD ticket/ ER ticket. Often you have to wager, is the pill really worth selling your plot of land in exchange of a few days of life. My uncle asked me this question. He was fighting with lung cancer at that time. Answer, ‘I didn’t know’. Now that I work in a respiratory department, where I see lung cancer patients coming in and out of hospital who have managed to be in remissions for so long here in the UK, I think ‘perhaps maybe it would have been worth it but there was just too much to lose for him’. Sold a plot of his land, and wanted to sell other parts of inheritance for a few more rounds of chemo, hoping for the best… Died, leaving behind a lot of commotion over property among his 6 children. Some of my cousins don’t even speak to me.

I saw a video yesterday, where a 102 year old named Julia Hawkins ran a 60meter dash in 24.79 seconds in USA Track and Field Masters Indoor championships on 2018, setting a world record in the age group of 100 plus. My heart just jumped out. I didn’t imagine living till 100 myself, let alone running on a championship at 100s? We have surpassed our older generations with what we can achieve with our health, physical stamina and technologies. Of Course a lot of it is to do with prevention, education, lifestyle and diet. But I feel, a lot of it is also to do with these magical pills we have been popping. ‘Pharmaceuticals’ is a multi-billion industry today. As much as I hate them, I also love them.

I just hope our generation continues to learn where the balance is before it is unjustly tilted. That the health of millions of us, does not entirely rely on how much more money we are going to dump on the pockets of the wealthy holding these billion dollar business.


So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (Work. Work.Work.)

11. Work. Work. Work

I had COVID antibody test positive back in july2020.

Positive antibody test indicates you’ve had a virus at some point whether you developed symptoms with it or not. I recall a particular incident that happened about 2 months prior to the test, that prompted me to request it. I was doing my night shift that day, the last one on a row of 3. I was explaining to my patient, why avoiding an overnight admission for a symptomatic control of chronic pain was a better option for her, when suddenly my voice started cracking and sounding hoarse.  ‘What is happening to your voice?’ she asked me alarmed.

I called the hospital ‘covid staff line’ morning after and explained my symptoms. I did have a dry cough, but this was usually associated with season change, and did not in anyways affect my health. The staff member advised me booking for a test. She informed me it was not done at my hospital site so my options were either to drive to the test centre or if I could not because I didn’t drive; to isolate myself for presumptive suspicion of COVID for 10 days. My situation was, I lived alone so had no one to take me there. And understandably I could not take public transport.

We had staffing issues. NHS is already struggling with their workforce; employees working over their limits because vacancies are not filled and  vacancies not being filled because employees are made to overwork. And now the Pandemic, has  put the whole system to overdrive.

You cannot imagine the sense of guilt it puts on you when you take ‘off sick days’. Because you know, this means your colleague is working the shift compensating for both of you. And you feel that pain, because you too at some point had been compensating for your colleague when they were off sick. Of Course the hospital says, we have advertised locums(shifts at increased pay rate). But either the locum rate is not attractive enough to bring staffs into the hospital in covid situation or the policy is not clear of the support hospital can give should they need an overnight stay/other help or…  they are simply not taking it; which is conceivable because we do have families and children to look after and protect too.

I requested the staff member to arrange the test for me at the hospital I work at. If the test was  negative, I didn’t need  to be off because other than a hoarse voice I was not unwell unwell. I do know, ‘I didn’t need to be a hero if it meant I was putting hundreds of my colleagues and staff at risk’. She understood my dilemma and instructed me to speak with one of AE consultants to make an exception for test.

I got the swab. When the result was not back for 3 days, I called the COVID line. They apologised for delay in reporting saying they had documented my phone number wrong. It was negative. The same morning I received  a whatsapp call and text messages from a colleague querying when my result was due and that he felt, it had taken too long. I relayed the information the staff from COVID line had informed me but he sounded crossed at the phone and requested me to come to work right away. 

I was sad at the response. 

At my best I had tried to avoid the loss of my work days but here he was, my colleague being judgemental and difficult. He was apologetic to me later, when I confronted him saying ‘I didn’t wish it for me, I didn’t want to miss work but that was what I was advised’. He explained that he was stressed and felt swamped with work, had multiple nights in a row and the frustrations got the best of him.

I knew him. And I fully accepted his apology. Who could have better understood  than me, at that point what physical and emotional stress can do to a person.

A report by British Medical Association ‘Caring for mental health of the medical workforce’ 2019, states that ‘Previous research has found doctors and medical students are hesitant to disclose a mental health condition and reluctant to seek help’.   Why?

‘Doctor’ is one of the elite professions in the world that has a good  social recognition. On day 1 of medical school you will be told ‘It will be a difficult journey, toughen up!’. From then, your life will  be all about surviving exams, going through the courses, getting involved in projects, doing presentations, participating in leadership management, volunteering and  looking out for the opportunities; to get that one extra credential to make sure your application stands up against thousand others who have the same CV. Then you get a job. Maximum chances are, you will be placed at a hospital that wasn’t your first priority. So now you have to move away from your families or relocate them too to a place, where you will have to start from scratch both to adjust in society and in professional life.  Alright, finally feeling settled? Hold on a minute. Your colleagues have already passed their mrcs/mrcp exams. ‘When are you sitting for one?’ Your supervisor questions, every 4 month in a rotation. ‘This year you have to do 4 ACTs, 4 MCR, a MSF, minimum 3 CBD/minicex, 50hrs of teaching…..’  

Wait, can you please ask how am I doing first?

It’s competitive, like we are always on the run. We are conditioned to.  ‘Everyone seems to be fine, so I should be to.’ Till we realise we have a burnt out, and now it has caused a set back. One that will take again a long time to recover.

My friends are seeing therapists, one of my closest- had to go out of training recently after having had a breakdown. The stories are same with different hospitals and is not new. Part time training applications have definitely made it easier but they are only just starting and not every region are readily accepting it.  Non trainees suffer the worst because they don’t anyone to advocate for them directly. And on top of that, now COVID.

One of  my friends just came out of ITU having been ventilated for a week. I was oncall that day, when he first presented he was sweaty and short of breath. He had just mentioned to me a few days ago, how he had to come for a night shift after having given an exam in the morning. A paper of 5 hours. Is it really fair? Is it not a hospital’s responsibility to arrange a staff for a cover on important day like that?

It is ridiculous to even begin to speak how much we have to cope and expected to do so, without complaining. 

I have severe sore throat now with cough and hoarseness of voice. Did a covid test day before, which came out negative. My GP thinks it’s acute laryngitis with chest infection. So I had to call off today, because I can barely speak. It’s my first day ‘sick leave’ after 10months. I feel guilty, because?? Because of the mindset we have  at the hospital now is ‘If you have not tested positive , you are fit to work’. 

But I cannot. Because one, I need a voice rest. My job involves me talking throughout the day. Two, I am unwell. Three, I don’t want to be an ‘asian stereotype’ of corona coughing in the halls,  that now the world so readily places me in. 

Had I not been unwell, I had so many things I had to catch up on this week. Like a supervisor meeting I finally got  arranged. My consultant came back last week, after a long recovery period from severe COVID infection himself. I had a training day from ITU booked for tomorrow. Lord knows the number of emails I had to send just to get it sorted. I had to start an audit project with my data collection…

So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (My safe space)

10. My safe space

I met my bf on summer of 2019, that year of Corona. And although distance and emotional turbulence rocked the boats of many relationships, we feel it has strengthened us.

He has been comfort pillow for me throughout the endeavours and although he had his own host of situations like being without a job for a length of time, he has never let the situation get the better of us.

We are close now. To the extent that our conversation once went like this, word for word
Babe I was so constipated this morning. But I knew if I take this dump it will most certainly obliterate my a-hole completely so I didn’t think it was worth it…

As a medical personnel, we are used to asking funny questions. One time I asked my patient, who had a major bowel surgery 3 days ago whether she had passed any wind from bottom yet. She replied ‘oh that’s an awkard question isn’t it? But if it pleases you to know, I did have a little whiff this morning’. And as you can imagine, we are used to funny answers. I had to explain to her, ‘farting’ basically meant her bowel has started to work, is propelling the gas down the colon therefore is a good news to us. But, trust me it doesn’t mean we are readily ready for conversations like ‘a dump obliterating a-hole’ always.

He is my support bubble. Having atleast one individual to hug sometimes in this mayhem really does miracles. ‘Come here to your safe space’ he said to me yesterday hugging me tightly, seeing me distressed reading a comment from a man whose mixed race daughter, had to cover her face everytime they went for a walk in the neighbourhood. ‘You know, I have some colleagues and friends who are mixed race with half an asian heritage.’ I said. ‘And physically they look more asian. May be more fair skin tone, lighter hair, lighter/different colour of eyes but still with dominantly asian features. I fear our children will be same, half English-half Nepalaese; and with all this happening. I’m worried about even bringing them to this world’. He sighed. ‘I’m sorry baby’ he said. ‘We just have to believe it’ll be a better world then.’

It was not his fault. He didn’t need to apologise. But that is the man, he is. It makes me appreciate and admire him more. He has always treated me with so much respect, attention and affection. When I am too tired to take the trains or can’t find one on my off dates, he drives all the way through the Wales and to the cities, almost 2 hr long car journey to reach me. And that’s just 1 way. And everytime we drive across the Severn bridge to come back to my place, back to my work, my heart dims a little, missing a sense of familiarity that was almost as cozy as home I grew in.

We learn everyday of our differences. And although by human nature, people do tend to look for similarities in their partners in terms of looks, socioeconomic/racial background we feel in these dissimilarities we have, we are building a strong foundation.

I wanted to see his family this Christmas for holiday celebrations. We decided it was best not to. I’m a high risk to them, because of my hospital working environment. And I wouldn’t want to be a cause of an illness. I haven’t even seen my parents for ages.

I have dated women from more than 19 countries’ stated a charming young man I went on a date at the start of that year. I remember feeling like a checklist of a world’s country map when he said that. ‘Unique’ he described me, trying to reeling me in with his  blue eyes. Curling my hair, I sat in front of my mirror for a long hour that day storming in my head whether I should be going on this different date… Surely I didn’t want to be with someone who had been collecting stamps from the globe. ‘Take a chance’ Said my friend, ‘you never really know’.

And I did. Showing up an hour and half late on a date, waving my hand across the road to a 6’2 feet tall man with a set of pearly eyes, curly hair and an infectious grin that extended up all the way near to both his ears…
I have never looked back again.

So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (Thank you)

9. Thank you!

Lockdown has made me fat. 

I have put on 4 kgs since the beginning of Corona. But that’s not the issue. Issue is my jeans don’t fit and I have a pear shaped body! Should I blame this to ‘Indoor gyms and sports facilities being closed?’ , ‘stress eating’ Or the ‘provision of one free meal per day’ given by the hospital, which I did really appreciate. Because, at the time of first wave, it was scary how shelves in the supermarkets were all empty. By the time I reached the store, people had swiped away all the breads, canned foods, eggs and even toilet papers; trying to stock as much as they can and prepare themselves for the worst. I thought I’d starve. 

This habit of rationing is not unknown to me. I have grown up in a country where political situation was never stable. You didnot know where and when there’d be gunfire’s between the government and the Maoist. The year was 2000. 6 years of constant bombardments on news of people dying, government announcing people to stay safe, parents reminding children everyday never to pick any random toys on the road and army men walking around local areas for community checks…

That too was a period of starvation and shortage of supply. Mainly of salt, sugar and oil; which Nepal depends on the imports. A pack of salt at the time cost us 50 rupees which otherwise would have been just 10.

My uncle used to say, ‘If only Nepalese brains were not constantly thinking about, what is load shedding schedule today, which pump station is giving out petrol, when is the next lock down happening, where do I get my ration for rice, when is Melamchi’s drinking water getting to our households? Etc. We’d be a whole new breed of people with innovative ideas.’ I think it is true. 

UK relies heavily on EU and overseas for import of fresh food. 

It is inevitable if the lockdown continues ‘panic buying’ will toss again the fine balance of demand versus supply in the  local supermarkets. Our farmers will not be able to supply for  66.8 million  population. Lets just hope the Government is smart enough to pick on that and take urgent actions.

BY now, you’ve probably guessed, my diet is mainly rice and noodle based. Naturally they were the first things to disappear being categorised as ‘long term storage foods’. So you can only imagine the happiness I felt, when a packet of 10kg appeared on my doorstep. Maybe someday it won’t make any sense, why in the world was I almost crying to receive it? For now, it absolutely does. After a long day of stress and emotional rollercoaster at work, all I ask for is  proper home meal. ‘Rice and Curry’, that’s it.

Funny thing is, that bag of rice was also ‘a clear message of genuine kindness and declaration of affection from my boyfriend’, in so many ways. Call me weird,  I regard it as the best showcase of romantic gesture I have ever received or will ever receive from anybody. 

Anyways  back to the story. During the first wave, we were working more and erratic shifts. Changing continuously between the days and the nights. We still do. But it is more friendly hours now. Those more and erratic shifts meant, we didn’t have time to stand in a long queue outside a supermarket and even if we did manage to have, we were too tired to make the effort. Thankfully, at the right time,a lot of superstores reached out to us and gave us priority slots. Tesco- had dedicated an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. Sainsbury’s between 7:30 and 8 am Monday to Saturday. And so did others.

It helped a lot. 

Especially those of us, who didn’t drive and had a lot of other commitments to spare a travelling time to gather food.  We are thankful whole heartedly to people and to those organisations and companies for taking care of us in times of need.

So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (Don’t be lured)

7. Don’t be lured

I have been buying lottery tickets. I have somehow managed to get my boyfriend to play ‘spin the wheel’ and ‘the slot machine’ in the internet. The max I’m betting is 50p at the time for a chance but I’m very well aware it might escalate to a few tenors a day. It’s not much. People bet thousands and millions of pounds in a day. I don’t have that money, neither a gambler’s heart.

Above everyone else, I should know what gambling does to you. As a child I remember, my dad would show up after many months; sometimes a couple of years from service in our home. After being with us a day or two, he would then disappear again with his friends. My Mum would go searching for him in the early hours of morning or sometimes send out a ‘search party’ to bring him back. But he never gave up on that habit of his, of ‘playing cards’. It didn’t matter how much mum threw tantrums or locked him out at night to sleep on cold floor. In the morning, he would get up and go  looking for his gambling partners. ‘An addiction is difficult to give up’.

Don’t you ever put your money on gambling’.
I recall him say to me one day.
It was during a festival in Nepal called ‘Tihar’ when people sit down with friends/ families once a year and play cards to celebrate. ‘I had bet all my savings despite not having a winning hand, desperate to push my luck’. One on one, with my dad, while my siblings called off their cards nervously.

This was years after, my parents had thrown away all their life savings and put our only home in the bank for a loan. More like laundered the money, and could not claim it back because it was illegal. My dad went back to the service that year very stressed, knowing it could be years before he could pay off the bank. Leaving my mum with four children at private schools and at mercy of loansharks. All these years of life have went by and I still haven’t forgotten that ominous day, when I found her unconscious slumped outside our gate. I thought she had died that day. We were only 8/9. 

I feel, I have inherited the addiction. Being on internet 24/7 outside work has not helped my situation. I have a strange delusion, I guess more like a feeling, that someday I will land with this big bag of money out of nowhere. All for me to claim, for whatever I wish to do with…

BBC News posted a headline in April 28 2020, ‘coronavirus pandemic ‘a disaster’ for gambling addicts.’

Of course it comes with disaster. The lure of money is dark. They call it black money for a reason. It comes to you with sweat, with tears, with bloods of millions. It has travelled the world in hands of rich, of poor, of good, of evil; through unsanitary crotches of a men smuggling it through the borders, through sweaty cracks between breasts. From places to the places we cannot even begin to imagine. Of course, the pandemic made it worse. 

Be wary what you are willing to risk…

I pray, may you survive this and come out of thlockdown ‘a free man, with no loan on your head and with your lovely family still on your side’.

So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (A monsoon rain)

8. A monsoon rain

What do you do when you are at home 24/7 and don’t need to go to work, are not allowed to visit your friends or families, all the non-essential retails are closed and National/international travelling is banned? Just you and your support bubble.

BBC article on third of December 2020 writes ‘ ‘Pandemic has resulted in a lot of break ups and divorces’, which is very believable. Because I cannot imagine waking up and sleeping to same face and having to see it again every hour of everyday for a uncertain length of time. It is bound to peel off some scabs of old ones, to bring conversations that you always wanted to avoid or make you notice that one flaw in your partner that you wish you never had known about in the first place. Maybe it’s healthy for a relationship to have some distance between eh?

I’m sure lockdown has led to spikes in the number of conceptions in the world despite that. If you don’t have readily available contraceptions in the market and have more leisure time… But again, who knows maybe I’m wrong. May be it’ll go opposite way. Because of distance, lack of social bonding, financial stresses and etc etc. Baby boom or a baby bust? Personally my money is on the ‘boom’.

We all know pandemic has drowned many mutimillionaire businessess along with lot of locals. Especially restaurants if they are not doing takeaways, pubs & bars and entertainment venues. But, some have done exceptionally well. One of them is ‘porn industry’.

People are looking for an outlet.  Whether it’s for a sexual pleasure or for an emotional companionship. Some are even considering this period as an oppurtunity to be more adventurous. How do I know? Well, we certainly are seeing more cases of stuffed bottoms and vaginas in A&E. Hey, no judgement. So people like some excitement, it’s their life. But maybe, one should reconsider some of those plays if it’s causing them to have severe whole bowel inflammation or a major haemorrhage and days of hospital admissions?

It’s obvious. Gaming industry has profited. What about Amazon? Skyrocketed on its sales. Do you know, number of chocolates I have ordered and send them across to my colleagues and families? And the amount of money I have spent on DIY crap in there? What about Netflix? On my off days, all I do is sit on my lazy ass and watch Netflix till I feel like my eyes will pop out soon. My friends report they are doing the same. And think about Facebook, Wattsapp, Instagram. I have never used these as much as I’m using now. Every second I’m free, oh I am on it! Microsoft? All the hospitals and the companies are using teams.

Glad to see some local businesses thriving too. Those takeaway shops I had always liked. Local printing houses. People posting fliers and posters everywhere requesting ‘stay 2 meters apart’. And of course those selling face masks. ‘Mask is the new fashion’. Funnily, I even saw an electronic shop displaying some vegetables outside in open just to keep its business going… 

Maybe the empty roads  and the closed shutters are not just the sign of disaster; may be  like a monsoon rain that can flood a village, yet at the same time  soak the soil and be a blessing to farmers, there are also positives too. We just need to keep looking for that…

So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (Back to the roots)

6. Back to the roots

As the fear of Corona started to creep up so did the tension and commotion surrounding it. There were so many questions and very little answers. What are the symptoms? How is it getting transmitted? Who were getting affected the most?And how can you contain it?

‘All we knew was as of yet, no cure has been found. The best minds in the world are working on the solution’. Researchers, scientists, health professionals, the government bodies,  international organisations; all exhausting every resources they have, to come up with an answer.

Fear affects even the best of us.

It is at these times we divide. When frustrations cannot be vented, it results in hate crimes. Number of racial attacks against people of Asian descent has started to surge since pandemic. Be it in the form of physical attacks, derogatory language, verbal abuse or bullying. Instead of supporting the victims, Public figures commenting on the disease and referring to it as a ‘chinese virus’ has fuelled more injustice. Social media platforms has boomed with xenophobic bullies. Once again, swamped on hate for my asian heritage, I have found my faith in ‘humanity’ on a standstill.

They called me all sorts of words and shouted, I should go back to the country I came from’, My father tells me. ‘I noticed, people were staying 2-3 feets away from me, even in a packed bus. This was before social distancing and facemask came  into application’.

I worried for him.

For my mum, for my sister and for my brothers. 

I asked him not to go to work after that. He didn’t need to. We had enough to support him and my mum. But Dad likes his independence, says his work gives him enough exercise to keep going. I’m thankful, he is a patient person and does not respond to comments like that. Had it been my younger brother,  I imagine things would have escalated very quickly. One shouldn’t push ones luck in times like this.

It’s easy to support something for the sake of supporting. It counts when you support,  when people actually need you. It’s easy to be brave when no one is watching, hard to be brave when everyone’s eyes on you. Violence begets violence. Blood seeks blood. Have we not learnt anything from our ancestors?

All my life I’ve watched my dad and my uncles be very proud of being a Gurkha. I always hated that feeling, that unnecessary pride they carried around when they have lost so much in their personal lives. I watched as I grew,  how they expanded  and lifted their chest when they introduced themselves and the society nod in their recognition… In this pandemic, I witnessed a lot of that pride being belittled, a sense of belonging ripped off along with their badges from the uniform.

Remember where we come from, remember your heritage’. I recall my uncle’s words. ‘We are but the leaves and branches of the same roots’ I recall my aunt’s words. ‘Remember we have come from a land of adversity to a land of plentiful. We have given you opportunities, sacrificed so much for this. Never let us down’. I recall their words. Spoken in a  language I only half understand, in a tone that is half drunk, pouring away in bottles of beers/scotch and whiskies.

But it isn’t just a land of opportunity for me. I came here when I was 17. All my parts and the years of my life had been interlaced with this land even before I came here. Moving from barracks to barracks be it as a toddler, or school to school as a teenager,  no matter where I was, my life revolved around here. As did many of my friends. With their missing fathers, missing mothers, with their drug addiction issues and their mental health problems.

I have every right to stand up against hate and racist comments they make. We have every right to stand up against their racist harrassments. We were in service; we pledged to serve the queen and the land. We didnot agree to be torned off of our pride and our heritage.

I had always disliked my dad’s and my uncle’s vanity. Always wanted a life, away from a family of soldiers. Always ran away from social functions. Hated their life of rules and monotony. But, watching their head stoop low and smiles straightened out. I feel a flame firing up in my heart now. ‘I am but the branch and a leaf of the same root’. Maybe this recognition and acceptance  is what pandemic is  giving me.


So a Doc, a foreign cuisine and Corona happened? (Please wear a mask)

5. Please wear a mask

My dad works about an hour away by bus. My mum tells me he still wakes up at 4 am in the morning to get to work because he wants to take an empty bus, when he’s meant to start at work at about 6. He’s worried that he might catch Covid if comes in contact with more people. Can I blame him?

It’s annoying. Even though the TFL services are fully vigilant and are trying their best  to impose strict punishments  to enforce rules -for people to wear masks, people are still not complying. Be it a stupid teenager who wants to look cool and play daredevil, a 30 yr old princess who thinks her makeup is too good to stay hidden or a 55 yr old educated man with a suitcase- singing slogans about violation of human rights…

There is a limit to how dumb one can be.It is just simply impossible for those of us with normal intellect and a normal brain to comprehend that level of ignorance. It is at these times I think we should feel blessed to know that we are not  the ones dragging the human race down. Evolution left some of us way way behind.

My brother works in a warehouse. He tells me once upon a time, before Covid happened, it was bustling with people. Even on nightshifts, he used to have company of the security guards and and colleagues that would make work fun in some ways. But now, being there alone with other mate posted meters away to opposite end of the building, makes him feel dreary. When I hear him describe his work place, my hyperactive imagination places him as a lone guy on an empty city, cropped out from a movie scene about a zombie apocalypse! God am I glad, my 5’2 inch body is atleast sorrunded by people, has adequate lightening and a constant access to refreshments.

Some of them got forloughed’, he says, ‘Some of them left their job’, ‘a few I know passed away’. ‘It’s sad’. ‘There were some who we hired to work but soon there was outbreak amongst the workers so did more harm than good’. ‘People are desperate. Especially non-essential workers who lost their job. They have family who need to be fed. It wouldn’t surprise me if they hid the fact that they had been infected with Corona’.

He understands it.
I understand it.

The struggles of minimum wage workers, employed in UK at rate per hour. When he came here my older brother was 18, employed as a labourer himself in a minimum wage. He did a lot of jobs, any that the agent could manage to find for him at that time. Of course it was hourly and depended on day-to-day on what kind of job it was. And out of that, the agent took off 2% hourly rate. Of all the work he did manage to do, he describes ‘Job as a loader’, picking up waste for disposal and recycling as the hardest. He comments it being very physically strenuous. ‘I had to run, grab the bins and dispose the contents within given time.’ And they did that one stop after another. By the end of the day he recalls, being very tired, sweaty and painful with blisters on his feet from the ill fitting boots they had provided.

I sat in the shower for a long timeI really enjoyed the long shower that day but while I was in the shower, I had completely forgotten to close the door behind and our aunt accidentally walked in. That was one of the most embarrassing moment of my life’. He still laughs almost tearful recalling the incident. But my tears are not stopping every time he talks about it, because I can’t imagine a fat boy who never lifted a thing on his life, who cried and got himself kicked out from private karate classes and who never had to worry about money/responsibility his whole life had to do all that.

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