A Quest for the Realisation of Dreams
In conversation with Sararswati Hosdurga
Paediatrician, Dancer, Musician and Filmmaker
On a Wednesday evening, as I sat down to interview my guest for the day, I wondered what she would be like? Would she come across as cold and strict? Or would it be a professional chat keeping humour and emotions completely off-limits? Or maybe it would just be a monologue where I listen passively making notes, unable to get a personal angle of their story? It turned out that my guest for the day was a complete paradox of what I was expecting.
If you could personify the word “gentle” and “affectionate” that would be Dr. Saraswati Hosdurga—my guest for the day. Her self-effacing, mild mannered persona hides her relentless contribution to the health of children and young people. Her natural attributes for nurturing and caring is not only showered on her young patients, but also extends wholly to the wellbeing of her co-professionals.
“The reason I became a doctor is because of my early childhood experiences,” she said with an air of nostalgia looming over her.
“Going back to when I was a kid, we were four sisters and a brother, and my father wanted to make sure that I would become we all became diligent professionals.
Why medicine? I saw that my village back in India was devoid of healthcare facilities in those days, and this inspired me to take this path for my future.”
“My school bus would take the route of the Hubli Medical College, and as a kid, I would stare out in wonderment, frequently lost in daydreaming of life as a healer. Often I would be wishing, ‘Oh, how wondrous would it be, if I could study here and become a doctor’, she gleamed. This revealed to me how passionate she was from an early age to take up this noble profession and her dedication to service.
From her teenage days, she reminisces of how tough life was in villages, when she would visit her father's ancestral home. Getting around was a challenge as there were no buses and no toilets. But she didn’t let this deter her and instead enjoyed the idyllic, rustic upbringing. She has never lost that deep connection with nature, the rural way of life, the fond memories of frolicking in the village stream, watching the grazing cattle and the warm, lazy evenings after sunset.
“I got into engineering, but it didn’t click, my personality did not suit that of an engineer”. “I knew that my heart was in medicine and that’s where I wanted to be”, she narrates excitedly as she spoke of how she first got into engineering and then tried getting into teaching and ultimately went for medicine—her ultimate haven.
The compassion and reassurance from medical professionals, especially pediatricians is extremely important for concerned parents, and Dr. Hosdurga takes pride in providing that to her patients as they look up to her.
This summer Sarsawati is taking up a vital CCG role as a strategic lead for the health and welfare of children in care. She has been concerned about the steep rise in the number of children affected by the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and children affected by conflict. In her new role, she will be able to influence policies and make a positive difference to many children at risk, through social services.
Saraswati is an educational supervisor and a mentor for young professionals where she is responsible for teaching and training. Outside her work, she cherishes some alone time in self-reflection, mindfulness, especially with a frenzied house she now shares with a golden retriever pup.
“I love gardening, and I can stay amidst the plants and trees all day long, with my dog, it’s so calming. I get creative with my cooking! I like exploring South Indian dishes, and I mix different ingredients to get something novel—and find it super exciting”, she narrates with a lot of excitement.
Speaking of her homeland India, she misses the heat and dust, the mouthwatering food chaats, and the diversity of its colourful heritage. She ardently misses the love and care of her wider family who are in India.
India holds a very special place in her heart, reflecting on her early childhood experiences; her son too has a strong connection to the country.
“My son plays chess here in the UK at a national level. A skill he learnt from an early age while on holiday trips to India!” she gleefully exclaims, showing how close a bond she has with her family in India.
An ‘out-of-the-box thinker’ is how her childhood friends would describe her. She describes her relationships with her friends as one of mutual respect. And I am not surprised! Her pleasant personality and caring nature would make her a good friend, I am sure!
Another very interesting point she brought up is that, “A lot of our childhood experiences shape us for who we are today, and I feel that has helped me become a better and mindful person that I am today”. She spent most of her childhood out in fields, amidst bougainvillea plants and trees, which surely explains her love for gardening now!
She found it hard to blindly follow 'tradition' and unknowingly was making moves naturally towards social equality.
'I remember an incident at the village where during Dashara I touched the feet of an elder, which is a ritual after giving Bilva leaves. Immediately that person was taken aback, reacted strangely and moved away from me.'
Village elders who witnessed this event, scolded her for touching his feet, she clearly had no idea what she had done wrong. Later she learned that they belong to a lower caste. She couldn’t understand this unfair social division and this incident stayed with her. She is hopeful that social divisions appear to be changing in villages.
Speaking of archaic village customs, when she was 8 years old, she remembers being forced to give her clothes to a lady she had accidentally come in contact with during her play. This lady was having her periods, and therefore was considered unclean. Saraswati was having none of that, and ran away in protest, only to be admonished by her mother for disobeying traditional customs.
She continued to be a trail blazer in her college days. She was the sports captain while in school and later played at the national women’s hockey championship for her state team, traveling to distant Punjab, unknown to her parents.
She was an ardent member of the NCC (National Cadet Corps) being good at rifle shooting and running. She remembers that her height was a reason for her not given a chance to participate in the Republic Day parade in Delhi, the national capital.
'I failed the selection due to my height, as I am short! Yes, I was very disappointed and not able to understand why such discrimination still exists in the army.'
She reflects how early life experiences shape us to be what we are and how we think and act! Her favourite life quote is
"an optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, while a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity."
“I came to Bristol only for six months with my husband, but when I started exploring the place, I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenic beauty of the city and the neighbouring countryside. Look how those six months have turned into—23 years, we didn’t move out of Bristol! This is the love of nature!”
She has integrated her affectionate and care for nature and the people around her, with work. Her early life experiences, and rural upbringing has helped her to appreciate and value the simple joys of living. Dr. Hosdurga strives to make a difference in the lives of children and professionals working for sustainability, health and wellness as Chair of the BAPIO Wellness Forum. She has organised regular sessions of yoga, dance fitness and nutrition with her forum team.
She is also a filmmaker, working to improve awareness of neurodiversity through her affinity for the powerful mediums of dance, music and film. Her directorial debut film ‘Varnapatala’ released in the UK this summer.
Bridging the Gap
Tackling Differential Attainment in Medical Professions
Presentation of early findings
Alliance for Equality in Healthcare Professions, BAPIO Institute for Health Research
Lest their beds lie empty tonight
Hark! A ball of fire
a bullet or the sun?
Lest a bullet go astray
A hairs breath, in the blink of an eye
Propelled by the hubris of uniform,
And the colour of your skin.
Taser or gun?
A youngster in an alley,
A roadside grave.
A pyre of branches,
A shroud of crimson and cloud,
A dirge of birdsong.
Hug your boys tight
Lest their beds lie empty tonight.
Rest tonight and then rise, rise
To continue the good fight
To promote Equality, Diversity & Leadership in Healthcare and beyond.
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