This means, one should not be put off saying that he or she has not done the task before. We hear people telling to those who are reluctant to do something hazardous or tedious that, for everything there is a first time. This is an assurance that subsequent doing,  the task will be easier. People recollect the first time experience throughout their life. I shall look into my various first time experiences in varied circumstances. Since I had rather an Asian way of living, I cannot entertain readers with my ‘first crush’ , ’first kiss’ or ‘first dating’.

 Looking back at my childhood, I must confess how frightened I was when my mother dragged me to school first time. I also recall when my first lower incisor was removed when I was seven years old whilst living at Cochin. When we moved to Thrichur, I fancied learning to ride a bicycle when I was 12 years old.  Our domestic helper, Velayudhan hired a bike and he held on to the seat when I learned to balance it.  After a week or so I learned and started riding the bike on busy streets. A few months later I met with an accident and sustained Colles fracture of left wrist. That was the first time I had general anaesthesia for the reduction of the fracture. During that time general anaesthesia was given  by spraying  chloroform on a cotton mask. I still think back, counting numbers as I was told to do so until I passed out.

 I was about 13 years old when I started travelling by bus alone. This was essential for our family set up, as I was supposed to attend weddings and funerals of our immediate relatives. To help me to be on time to catch buses, my dad presented me with a Favre-Leuba wrist watch. During the same year, first time I was asked to take a large sum from South Indian bank, Thrissur to my father’s business at Cochin. Then I had to change train and boat to get there. For the wedding arrangements of my eldest sister I was all in all and the day after I had to settle the bills of caterers and marquee installers. My dad was working away those days and he was not comfortable dealing with labourers. I was then only sixteen years old. The next day I was showered with praise for organising the reception so successfully.

 When I was seventeen years old, I left my family to study medicine at Davangere, about 400 miles away from home. Getting into my room, I felt I was away from my comfort zone and had to do everything myself. While unpacking I reflected on my mother’s anxiety about me. That was the first time I stayed away from my home for months. Unlike now there was no good telecommunication, however I wrote a letter to her and posted on the same day. After becoming a doctor, I recollect seeing my first patient at Jubilee Mission Hospital and managed his condition as if I had been a doctor for many years!  I handed over my first salary  Indian Rupees 150 to my father in May 1974. I noticed his eyes  filled with tears of joy on my first pay packet.

 As a learner driver for the very first time, I felt overwhelmed with all the rules that I  had to remember. Driving my cousin’s lorry was not that difficult, as I was well versed with the principles of driving a  motor vehicle. While studying medicine, one of my friends, Surendran gave  his Java motor bike to me to learn to ride. Unlike  driving cars, the controls of motor bikes are different and also one needs to get to use to its balance. I had explained my hunting experience in my earlier blog. A couple of years ago whilst in the US I had my first experience in firing a gun. Whilst in Nigeria, I  learned to swim. Although I could swim, I had not acquired the right techniques in effortless swimming.

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I had discussed about my first  sea voyage in my earlier blog. In 1976, I had my first flight in Fokker-Friendship aircraft from Cochin to Bombay on my journey to Nigeria. It was a unique experience to undergo security check up, boarding the aircraft, fastening seat belt, feeling the thrust of lifting from ground and landing at Bombay airport. For the international flight, first time I  tendered my Indian passport to immigration counter and customs officials for stamping. I set foot in Kenya in 1976, being  the first country I visited outside India. In 2007, while staying with my daughter in New York, I had a taste of a helicopter ride. When it was hovering around Manhattan I had a memorable glimpse of the city through its glass floor.


 I also vividly remember the first day in anatomy theatre with formalin stench in 1968, and got to know about the norms in dissecting a cadaver. Although I had noticed delivering corpses to the post mortem block in District Hospital, Thrissur, India, only in my third year of Forensic medicine I witnessed step by step autopsy procedure. Every one will remember this sort of  traumatic experiences which can linger in one’s mind for ever. Giving a  graphic description is beyond the scope of this subject. Whilst working in accident and emergency, I remember my first involvement  in a major road traffic accident in which there were a lot of casualties.

 In buying my first car in 1977, I was perturbed by the fact that I needed to give the whole cash to a seller about whom I had little knowledge. Unlike today, it was considered uncivilised to ask for identity or documents of ownership of the vehicle. In one of my earlier blogs, I had described the long drawn tedious process of buying my first property in India in 1980s. In my subsequent purchases, especially properties abroad, I found it more secured and transparent. My first selling of a property was in London, which had some hitches but went through in the end.

 Let me bring back a few of my first time experiences in my professional life. Scrubbing  and putting surgical gowns to assist  first operation were tedious chores.In Jubilee Mission Hospital, I performed my first Caesarean section and hysterectomy (removal of uterus) in1975.  In 1984, assisting hip replacement wearing Charnleys space suit was an ordeal whilst working in Fazakerly Hospital, Liverpool. This enclosed airway system claimed to have reduced post operative infection significantly. Subsequently I performed central venous line, spinal puncture, rigid bronchoscopy and various endoscopies first time. Surgical procedure are like a carpenter’s work, once the technique is learned, it can be repeated without effort.

 They say, first impression is the lasting impression. Although like everyone else I have done so many things first time in life,  only such tasks or experiences leaving indelible mark will stand out in memory. One should  not put off or delay trying something new as it may change the course of one’s life.

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This blog is about my experience as a doctor working in various countries in different clinical set up. This experience spans through 45 years, in which I acquired a lot of favourable contacts and unfavourable encounters. I shall dig deep into them and make it interesting to the readers. Unlike others in the profession, I worked as a community medical officer in a remote areas, prison medical officer, benefit service medical officer, in cardiac surgery in prestigious institutions and as a private doctor. I was managing my own businesses, and real estate in three continents. I hope the information I impart will be valuable to the like minded readers.

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