Saturday, March 31, 2012

Locum duty at Zalm: The next two days

In Saudi Arabia and most other Arab countries, Thursday and Friday, as you are well aware, dear readers, are equivalent to Saturday and Sunday of the non-Arab world. On these two days, the specialist doctors are generally free to relax in their homes or do whatever they please to do, unless they are on call, in which case, they have to remain in the town. If not on call, one can also leave the town and go anywhere else in the country.

Most of you must not be aware that Zalm was the original town they were planning to send me to when I passed the interview for selection last year. In fact, when I called up the Department of Medical Recruitment in New Delhi (I got their number by searching Just Dial, an amazing service), I was told that Zalm was the place they had selected for me to go to once my travel was confirmed. In fact, my printed contract mentions Zalm, not Al Muweh. So, what made them change their decision?

Two things: One, I was considerably delayed in coming to Saudi Arabia (nearly 7 months, since I gave the interviews in late April, and eventually came in mid-November). In the interim, they appointed other doctors in Zalm, and my position was no longer available, In fact, the pediatricians now working in Zalm include the Egyptian Dr. Hani, whose locum I had gone to serve, and one Dr. Rajkumar, a Haryanvi Indian. Both have joined last year much after April. The second reason was the untimely exit of the Egyptian pediatrician in Al Muweh, a giant of a doctor by the unusual name of Dr. Bakry. His departure in October created a vacancy, which I was then asked to fill. I thought of sharing this with you since the news is relevant to my current post.

Back to the diary then. My weekend was spent in Zalm. I had a total of seven calls during these two days. Of these, five were sore throat, and the remaining two were cases of lower respiratory infection (similar to but not the same as bronchitis in adults). In addition, I had a delivery room call to attend the birth of an essentially normal newborn.

On 'Thursday evening, one of the Pakistani resident doctors (Dr. Inam Bari) and I went to have dinner at a local restaurant run by three Pakistani brothers. The restaurant is called the "Punjab Hotel" and serves excellent food. We had minced meat (kheema), chana dal, peas-potato curry (alu mutter) and rotis, followed by tea. Enjoyed this very much. On Friday, I got some of the food back to my room where I had it in the company of Dr. Prakasan (though he did not touch the kheema, being a patient of peptic ulcer disease.)

1 comment:

Holly Jahangiri said...

Well, it seems that whatever is going around in Zalm has reached Houston. :P

How is Zalm compared to Al Muweh? Do you think you'd have enjoyed living there? Sometimes, I'm convinced that everything really does happen for a reason. Maybe you ended up where you were meant to be, and would not have been as happy at Zalm. Hard to know - at least the food was good, eh?