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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

To be or not to be

Pallavi Singh , Hindustan Times   July 24, 2014
First Published: 11:51 IST(24/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:54 IST(24/7/2014)

We all have hopes and aspirations regarding what we want to be when we grow up. It may have something to do with our families, an occupation coming down for generations or we may nurse a burning desire from childhood to be a pilot, scientist, teacher or artist. Nowadays, there are as many career options as there are colleges and universities. From a curator to a forensic expert, masseur to a gemologist, event manager to a motivational speaker, we hear of and wonder at the bewildering gamut of choices available. I was pleasantly surprised to know that one can study to be a hacker for government agencies, a perfume mixologist or even a cheese taster!

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When I was in school, we were conditioned to think of becoming doctors or engineers or were persuaded to have a go at the civil services examinations. I had a decent hand for drawing and disliked numericals in any form so I conveniently opted for biology and botany and thus by default, decided that the medical profession was for me. My parents played along, gently warning me that it involved a lot of hard work and took up to eight gruelling years to become a full-fledged doctor. But there was no stopping my grand aspirations. I was convinced that the white coat, stern demeanor and stethoscope were made for me!

This was all till I ventured into the laboratory for experiments and dissection. The sight of myriad glass dispensers, capillary tubes, Bunsen burners and acid bottles sitting high up on the shelves was daunting to say the least. But what happened to me next was least expected and hilarious if not slightly frightening for my teachers. There were various sinister looking animal and human organs stuffed into formalin-filled bottles. The previous class had recently completed some dissections. The sight of the blood, the menacing, gleaming steel instruments and the all pervading smell of chloroform and spirit had its devastating effect on me. I went white in the face and quietly fainted! Chaos followed and with a gaggle of girls holding me, I was rushed off to the school hospital where I came to, feeling a complete fool. So ended my grandiose ambitions of joining the medical profession.

The other day, I came across the word syncope, which means fainting due to the sight of blood or sharp needles. So I realised that I was not an oddity, though to this day I am squeamish and easily upset if any family member or friend has to undergo a medical procedure and they know well enough not to take me along.

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