The Reluctant Doctor

Stilettos to Stethoscope

by Chandra Sundeep
Cover picture of The Reluctant Doctor by Dr Balesh Jindal

The Reluctant Doctor, Stilettos to Stethoscope, is Dr. Balesh Jindal’s memoir. Through the 200-odd pages, the doctor shares her life journey, chronicling her experiences, the struggles she faced, and the joy and blessings she received.

Starting from her earliest days as a fresh graduate of Lady Hardinge Medical College, Dr. Jindal reflects upon her 38 years of practice. The newly married young doctor dreamt of being a famous paediatrician in London, but destiny had other plans. Instead of partying in London clubs, she dedicates her life to rural practice by setting up a clinic in Kapashera, a sleepy little village in Haryana.

This is the first time I have read a memoir written by a doctor, and I can honestly say it has been a memorable experience. She clearly highlights the rural-urban divide extensively, dwelling deeper than the economic disparity or the difference in infrastructure. She explores the psyche of the villagers, their thought processes, ritual, customs, and prejudices, and their reluctance to visit a female modern doctor instead of the quacks who dispense colourful pills for every illness.

Though it was disheartening to read about the abuse and trauma suffered by the women of the villages, my respect for the doctor grew multi folds knowing how many lives she had touched upon.

The writing is personal, though repetitive, and disjointed sometimes, yet it remains deeply emotional all throughout. Dr. Jindal candidly shares her confusion, regret over a life not lived in the UK, and loss of contact with friends and colleagues. But it is not all sad. She talks about the satisfaction she gained by making a difference in the life of others around her. The most important element that is felt throughout the narration is her love for her father, the joy at having fulfilled his dream, and how his spirit continues to guide her at every stage of life.

I liked the overall tone of the narration. It is honest and well-balanced, and though technical at places, I could navigate through them with ease despite lacking the knowledge.

The Reluctant Doctor is an insightful and intriguing read and I highly recommend it to readers who like memoirs or are interested in knowing more about a doctor’s real-life experiences.

I received a complimentary copy from the author. My views are honest and unaffected by the same.

Wordsopedia Rating 4.4/5

Title: The Reluctant Doctor Author: Balesh Jindal
Publisher: Vitasta Publishing Private Limited Publication date: 9 June 2022
Genre: Non-Fiction—Memoir Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-9390961740 No. of Pages: 288

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

A graduate from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Dr Balesh Jindal has practised medicine for the last thirty-eight years. She has been a pioneer in providing a one-stop health facility at low cost and single-handedly changing the mortality rates for the children in Kapashera. Her work in treating tuberculosis and HIV is well documented. She has been the recipient of the Award for Compassion by Stanford University’s Centre of Compassion. BBC has also featured her work, The Most Compassionate Day in the World. Jindal is also an accomplished artist, poet and badminton player.


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