Jun 13

Cold beers and interviews

For my 2nd night in Kathmandu I shared a few cold beers with some locals and tourists at the Shisha terrace bar. A live Nepali band covered some old school rock classics, including Black Sabbath and The Clash! They were actually fantastic and the vocals were spot on!

That night I met a Canadian medical student, called Rachel who had been observing down at a leprosy clinic about an hour south of Kathmandu. A girl after my own heart, we chatted for hours about global health and development and our career aspirations in this field. We shared a sense of moral imperative that we did not always find in sone of our more status and financially driven medical colleagues. She wasn’t able to get very involved in the clinic where she was currently based and didn’t feel she was learning much, so I suggested she might join me in Bajhang. We became excited at the prospect and talked about all experiences we could share and what I could teach her if she was able to shadow me. Quickly a sense of camaraderie grew and we became fast friends. We stayed up late, sharing stories and singing songs with a couple other travellers, Kev the ex-British army born again Buddhist who lived his life off the grid, and Sanjeev a 40 year old Indian party lover living in Kathmandu working for one of the INGOs in sone capacity or other.

So the next morning we set off to meet my contact Marianne, from Rural Assistance Nepal & to have my interview at the Nepalese Medical Council.

Turns out that I would be the first volunteer Marianne was sending to Bajhang so she didn’t think that it would be suitable for Rachel to join me. She did however arrange for Rachel to visit Gulmi Hospital, where she had sent volunteers before. Sad to lose a friend, but pleased she would hopefully find the experience she was looking for, we said our goodbyes.

Having parted ways with Rachel I sat awaiting my medical council interview. Eventually I was called up to the interview room, which was actually a large meeting chamber, with a long oak table and many chairs. At the far end sat 3 older Nepali gentleman and I gestured to see if I should seat myself in the chair nearest where they sat.

Without introducing themselves the interview began, firstly by clarifying the prnouncistion of my name. Clara? Because Clara they knew was a name from Europe, but Claire was unusual for them.

What was my background in medicine? what was my speciality? Why had I come to Nepal? Had I been before? For how long would I stay? What did I know about the hospital I would be working in?

I answer dutifully and comprehensively. I was in My third year post-graduation and had completed rotations in emergency, surgery, cardiology, paediatrics and genealogy practice. I had taken this year away from full time training to complete my diploma I tropical medicine and hygiene and was now hoping to put this to good use in Nepal. I was here to learn from my Nepali colleagues and wherever possible contribute both clinically and in the field of public health.

Towards the end of the interview one if the more senior gentleman made a sudden impassioned statement. The topic of diarrhoea diseases had arisen and a painful expression came across his face.

“we have many problems with diarrhoeal diseases here in Nepal. The government has string policies in place for managing them, but either we lack the resources or the patients come too late. Lack of education and understanding leads to many deaths….”

He dropped his voice

“it is very hard for us to see this unnecessary loss”

And so the interview came to an end, somewhat abruptly but with the poignant statement ringing in my ears.

Next stop…the bus station for the first leg of our journey to Bajhang.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.clairemariethomas.com/2011/06/cold-beers-and-interviews/

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