Friday, June 29, 2007

Death in slo-mo

What does one do with a degree in pharmacy?

The obvious answer would be, to wear a lab coat, stand behind a counter and dispense medicines that have unpronounceable names. And of course, being able to figure out a doctor’s scribble for the ‘words of wisdom’ they are supposed to be.

But let’s think out of the box, shall we? Is it absolutely necessary that a degree in pharmacy should logically lead to a job in a pharmacy? I mean, is it really a must? Why can’t there be an exception to this rule?

Why can’t a pharmacist do something else?

Why can’t he lift bricks at a construction site, do some masonry work on a villa, or generally help out in gardening, if possible? I mean, why limit one's options to just pharmacy...

There are, after all, wide choices available if one only decides to go ‘lateral’ with career progression. Take Rao (not his real name), for instance. A friend of a friend met him at a construction site last week, and saw how Rao managed to go lateral and proved to be an exception to this rule.

Rao had come to Bahrain as a qualified pharmacist but he came on a construction worker visa, and his sponsor refused to give him a release unless Rao pays him a huge amount for 'services rendered' or some such bull crap. Rao had taken huge loans to purchase this visa and as a result had no extra money for the 'release'... and so what does he do? What else? Keep his pharmaceutical dreams on hold, and ends up working as a mason even though his professional skills were meant for some other job.

It would be easy to blame the 'free-visa' and 'sponsorship' system for Rao's predicament, but I guess, the problem is a lot more complicated than that. Of course, it goes without saying that if Rao was not so dependent on his 'sponsor' and if he was not a victim of the insane 'free-visa' system, his professional life might have taken a different turn, and Bahrain wouldn't have lost a pharmacist to the construction industry. That's one way of looking at things.

But it still doesn't answer why a pharmacist - of all people - have to go and do construction work?! Why does he have to lift bricks instead of dealing with paracetomols and panadols? Why does he have to be in a position where any job will do to help provide for his family? Why does he have to live in near penury when he is well qualified not to be?

I suppose there aren't any easy answers, and the blame game - if one has to take that route - has to be distributed widely. I may not be an expert in coming up with brilliant answers to this query, but one thing I do understand is that Rao's story certainly places our own work related problems in a better perspective. I mean, after hearing of Rao's situation, it makes my office problems something of a damp squib in comparison.

But that still doesn't alter the slow-motion death of Rao's dreams and desires.

1 comment:

Minnie said...

Thats the worst that can happen....not to be able to practice your profession...well!! Manju