Dalrymple receives an application for a clinical attachment by an Indian doctor newly arrived in England, a country which, Dalrymple points out, is entirely parasitic on the rest of the world for its medical and nursing staff. The application is written, Dalrymple recounts,
in old-fashioned English, greatly the superior in charm to anything written by young British doctors. There is a touching naivety: despite all the applicant must have seen in his homeland, far grimmer physically than anything to be found in the UK, he is not street-smart in the modern sense, and is much the better for it. He sounds as if he has character rather than its debased and shallow modern equivalent, personality.
The applicant tells Dalrymple that
I have learnt from experience that honesty and diligence always pay off. Reliability, teamwork and love for my fellow beings has been my motto.
I doubt that this is boasting or mere vanity, of the kind that is now officially encouraged among, indeed required of, medical staff in compulsory self-appraisals, in the government’s plan to reduce the medical profession to its own ethical level.
The applicant writes:
Parents and teachers are my inspirers.
What young Briton would dare to write such a thing nowadays, even in the unlikely event that he felt it? Yet what civilisation can survive without such modest respect for elders and for the accumulated wisdom and experience of the past?
The applicant is
aware of my limitations but have a strong belief and faith in my capabilities.
That, says Dalrymple,
is just what one wants of a young doctor.
If this is naivety, says Dalrymple,
it is naivety that will lead in the end to far greater mental, cultural, emotional and spiritual sophistication than the trivial, smart-alec culture of modern Britain.
Indian doctors, says Dalrymple, have
- better manners than their young British counterparts
- a truer appreciation of life
- a subtler and deeper sense of humour
- an attractive sense of irony born of an instinctive understanding of the inherent limitations of human existence, which is now almost completely lost in the British population