Asad I. Mian

Asad I. Mian

The author is an ER physician and a writer/blogger/innovator whenever he's off. He is also an Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University. Other than the Biloongra series of bilingual books for children, he has written An Itinerant Observer, published in the US. He can be reached on Twitter @amian74 and his blog (anitinerantobserver.blogspot.com).

A timeless trip to the Mediterranean: How can an ocean have no memory?

“Tell you where I’d go. Ziahuatanejo… a little place right on the Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory…”  And so the protagonist, Andy (Tim Robbins), tells the narrator, Red (Morgan Freeman), in the movie Shawshank Redemption. Although I have seen the movie countless times since it came out in 1994, it was while I was a teenager in medical school that it charmed me completely. Perhaps it was the concept of freedom and justice that connected with my younger, socially-driven self. Later in life, the aforementioned conversation between Andy and Red, as well ...

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Harvey was the daddy of all hurricanes, but is climate change solely to blame?

Recently, I was asked, “Aren’t you glad that you left Houston when you did?” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, perhaps that was a valid question, not an insensitive one. However, on further introspection, I realised that I was neither glad that I had left Houston when I did, nor could I wish that I was still there. Au contraire, I was pensive about family, friends and former work colleagues having to deal with this newest water-related calamity of Houston. That Houston is flood prone is not news to me. During my 15-year-long ‘sojourn’ in Houston, I had to deal with several flash ...

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The shared experience of being tampered with as a child

Jack* did not have much of a childhood to write home about. That obviously did not hinder his meteoric rise, because as a young professional, he was already on top of his game. He was quite successful, with a six digit salary, vacations pre-planned for a year in advance, and stocks and bonds neatly sorted out. While he could hold onto investments with alacrity, what he couldn’t hold on to, for dear life, were relationships. Friends, men or women, would come and go from his life, with surprising frequency. To him, even his biological family, the little he had, felt like it was on borrowed time. I think the lack ...

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Refusing to treat sweepers in Ramazan only highlights our doctors’ unethical unprofessionalism

“Primum non nocere” is Latin for “first, do no harm”. Although not overtly found in the text of the original Hippocratic Oath, the message in that Latin phrase holds firm for students making the transition from medical apprenticeship to medical practice. Scholars have widely attributed the oath to Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. As their rite of passage, young doctors graduating from medical schools the world over take some modern version or another of the oath, several in their own languages. Medical schools in Pakistan follow suit in terms of the oath being taken by students prior to practicing as independent doctors, with valid medical licenses ...

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An open letter to the Karachiites painting the city red

Dear Karachi, Ptooey! Did you know that’s onomatopoeia? A written sound, in other words. Or more precisely, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “The naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss).” Ptooey! That’s the commonest written version of the sound that is presumably made when you spit. Why presumably, you ask. Well, because the esteemed composers of the dictionary obviously did not travel to our city prior to drafting that onomatopoeia. Why do I say that? Simple. Have you ever spat on a wall here? You don’t have to. You don’t need to. Simply look around and you will observe ...

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13 Reasons Why: Hannah lives and dies in all of us

The bathwater, initially clear blue, gradually takes on a pinkish hue. Like rose water, or fresh henna that’s come off of tattooed hands and feet immersed in a bath tub. The water overflows onto the pristine white tiled floor, making it blush. The changing colours mesmerise me. My mind unsuccessfully tries not to focus on the source of that colour. Blood. Blood that oozes out of deep slits in both forearms of a beautiful young girl. Hannah (Katherine Langford) sobs quietly and sighs deeply but refrains from screaming despite the pain from incised sinew, nerves, arteries and veins. Hannah’s muffled groans eventually ...

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As her doctor, could I have done more?

My ER shift started in chaos. “Does it have something to do with today being Friday the 13th?” I wondered, although not really being all that superstitious. I knew it was just a momentary thought. On bed 13 lay Aleya, a 13-year-old previously normal and healthy girl, and the youngest of 13 siblings. To add insult to injury, she got ‘tubed’ (intubated), unsurprisingly, at 1300 hours. But I get ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning. For the past 13 days, Aleya had been running a ‘very high’ fever, not confirmed by a thermometer.  “Jism bahut garam tha,” (The body was really hot) said her 18-year-old brother, ...

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He can’t say what it’s called because he’s already forgotten

Dad That fact that the protagonist of today’s narrative happens to be dad doesn’t really surprise me. You see, he’s been quite unwell recently. He’s elderly – almost eighty, I believe, if you go by the date of birth on his passport. “My date of birth is inaccurate on that passport”, dad told me several years ago, which basically meant that he didn’t know his exact birth year. Neither did others around him. “In those times, the exact date of birth was imprecisely documented”, the others said. Regardless of his actual age, and semantics aside, dad is whom you would call ‘geriatric’ – very elderly, in simple English. “But ...

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Ain’t no mountain high enough, except maybe Rakaposhi base camp!

Foreword: I am not a travel writer and neither do I intend on being one. This narrative is simply an attempt to articulate a once in a lifetime travel experience to the fabulously mountainous north of Pakistan. Day 1 of expedition: On which all, except me, start the ascent to Rakaposhi base camp. Day 1 of expedition: On which all, except me, start the ascent to Rakaposhi base camp. When I woke up the day our expedition was to start, I felt a bit odd. I couldn’t quite pin point the oddity. I ignored the intangible (not quite bordering ...

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Karachi might not be a safe place to live but neither is Houston

What is the chance of a bad outcome, like death, in Karachi? Based on anecdotes circulated on social media and what you read in the news, you might assume that chances for a series of unfortunate events remain high in this city. This conception prompted a friend to do some calculations to gauge the chance of an unexpected death in Karachi, compared to any major metropolitan city in the US. Assuming how the calculations were fairly accurate, the bottom line was intriguing. The likelihood of an untimely, unexpected death was similar in the two places. Comparing the death rates in Karachi with other cities and countries was perhaps meant to ...

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