Recharging the batteries

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1644
  1. Kieran Murphy
  1. University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109–0031 Keiran Murphy, radiologist.

    Parachuting into someone else's life for a few days does not, on the whole, yield anything very deep in the way of experience. But it offers glimpses, hints, possibilities. The turned door handle admits a crack of light, and you can always return later to open it wide, step inside, and take up serious residence in the room you spotted on that flying visit.

    JONATHAN RABAN in For Love and Money1

    Thousands of British doctors spent electives in underprivileged countries, and some may be asked about their experience at interviews many years later. I say this because every job interview I have had since 1986 has been defined by questions about Tibetan Buddhism. This stems partly from an article that I wrote in 1985 about my two months in a Tibetan refugee camp on southern India.2

    It became a merit badge and a career asset. It gave me an edge, and perhaps allowed the transfer of attributes to me that I knew I no longer deserved. To redress this imbalance my wife, a paediatric nephrologist, and 1, an interventional neuroradiologist, took our year's vacation and returned to the monastery.

    In a world filled with refugees it is fortunate for the Tibetans that they are a marketable minority. Tibet has always been intriguing with its Buddhist philosophy that enchants with the hope of enlightenment and calm. Austine Waddell, a Buddhist scholar and member of a British expedition to Tibet in 1910, wrote in his book, Lhasa and its Mysteries: “Wreathed in the romance of centuries the secret citadel of the “undying” Grand Lama has stood shrouded in impenetrable mystery on the roof of the world, alluring yet defying our most adventurous travellers to enter her closed gates with all the fascination of an unsolved enigma, the mysterious city has held the imagination captive, as one of the …

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