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25/5/2020MONDAYIN CONVERSATION WITH HICHKI - Creative geniuses
From "The Gladiators" section:

Dr. Sharad Paul
Our featured gladiator
A doctor, skin surgeon, researcher, novelist, inventor, entrepreneur, lecturer, philanthropist... he has been called a “Renaissance Man” by
Canvas magazine and an “Energiser Bunny” by nurses in New Zealand.

Dr Sharad in conversation with Hichki:"I draw inspiration from small things, even nature – it was in thinking about how grass doesn’t grow under a pine tree did I come up with a new technique of skin grafting”. A virtue he also turns to for inspiration as an author “I am lucky that I still work in a suburban medical practice – I get the wonderful daily narrative from my patients – life stories, cutting remembrances, hope – in most cases the lesser-known people are those that inspire me.”

Especially humbling, when it comes from a genius who was awarded the New Zealand Medical Association's highest honour and was a New Zealander of the Year Finalist ,2012. NZMA Chair Dr. Paul Ockelford says of Dr. Sharad Paul: "His achievements are remarkable and remarkably varied. In addition to his medical roles, his Skin Surgery Clinic offers free skin cancer checks. He also invented a new skin graft technique, and he funds literacy programmes in low decile Auckland schools." Challenging the system is never easy. In
Dr. Sharad's own words, he often found himself an "irksome misfit in our compartmentalized medical system." However it has also meant that since 1996 he has examined more than 100,000 patients at no cost... more than the entire public system in Auckland. "In medicine today there are many good technicians but few real thinkers as our system stifles creativity and this is something I rail against", he shares with Hichki.

A published author of two literary fiction novels, Cool Cut (Picador 2007) and To Kill a Snow Dragonfly (4th Estate, Harper Collins 2012)and a non-fiction book, Skin - A Biography, we learn about his creative journey in his speech to the NZMA: "I find the art of medicine rather like story-telling. Eventually you find your original voice, even if you begin by trying to be like or copy others. After a while you keep working harder and harder because you know you are finally not only good, but are actually getting better".

And this is where the doctor and the lyrical writer collide. A few lines from "Skin" by Dr. Sharad Paul: "If you were to ask the skin to summarize thermoregulation, it would simply say two words: 'inner fire’. It would then explain that its warmth is connected to interior molecular states, defence mechanisms, emotional feelings and changes of environment. After all, a candle cannot burn without a fire. Such is the flicker of life.”

Born in 1966,in England, his doctor parents moved to India, where he did his medical training (n Madras) and came to his adopted country, New Zealand in 1991. Here he runs a busy medical practice specializing in skin cancer surgery, dividing his time between Australia and New Zealand, teaching at the universities of Queensland and Auckland. He also holds a Masters in Medical Law and Ethics from the University of Glasgow, serves on the National Commission of UNESCO, and teaches creative writing to disadvantaged children. As Director of the Baci Group including a bookstore/café and an innovative skin care company that funds his charity for literacy programmes, he says: "I have a dream that any child from the poor schools I visit can aspire to become a doctor like me – or follow their passion into science, the arts or computers."

His concern for the next generation: "I worry about their lack of freedoms – we are so monitored and always watched and this only gets worse with more technology. And we think we created computers so we can control them, but machines also evolve … as genetics and bionics move forward we will be really the last generation of completely natural human beings".

Dr. Sharad's inspiring thought for the world: "Whether we are in medicine or in other forms of public service – in the one life on earth we are given (I’ve often said all people can be classified into three types: Judaeo-Christian-Islamic with beliefs in heaven or hell, Eastern –Hindu-Buddhist with beliefs in reincarnation, or greenie-atheist who get recycled by earthworms) what we do in this life really matters. So – let’s make our actions count."

"Medicine needs reform and needs to be patient-centred and less in the capitalist business model as current costs (in all countries, especially OECD ones) are unsustainable and we are not making a huge difference to many populations" – "I am actually writing a book on this with some radical ideas, so hopefully a publisher will pick this up", concludes Dr. Sharad.

Gladiators / Geniuses and the mind / Creative geniuses / www.hichki.com

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