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Borat Week at Cambridge Medical School

NewaaronAaron Singh -- Jagshemash! For those of you who haven’t seen the cultural phenomenon that is the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, that’s what naïve Kazakhstani reporter Borat uses as a greeting. (It’s not really Kazakhstani, it’s Polish, as I found out when I gamely yelled it at two bemused young Kazakh girls who are now on my List of People Who Will Stare Intently At Their Own Navels When I Pass By. But that’s, um, a story for another day.)

Anyway, stay with me; I actually do have a point. What has Borat got to do with medical school, you ask? Am I, with my unique ability to utterly waste 10 minutes of my readers’ lives as they read the drivel I spew out, about to spout tasteless jokes about Kazakhstani doctors screwing up surgeries and accidentally murdering patients in the most comedic ways possible? (No, we’ve got the British health authorities for that. Bada-bing!)

Last week was christened Borat Week by Cambridge medical students doing Experimental Psychology. This is because, in addition to having weird senses of humour, we had lectures by the world-famous psychopathologist Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who in addition to being one of the world’s foremost experts on autism, is also the cousin of Sacha Baron-Cohen, the comedian behind Borat.

And so I stepped into the lecture with this great man with a sense of trepidation, partly expecting to see an insanely-grinning Kazakhstani reporter dressed in a white coat speaking in broken English and telling bad jokes about autistic children. But boy, was I surprised. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen turned out to be almost the polar opposite of his more famous cousin; he was quiet, articulate, and had the same soft-spokenness I’ve noticed in good doctors who work with children. What’s more, to receive a lecture on autism from the man who practically wrote the textbook was inspiring in a way I consider myself lucky to have experienced.

In my last post I talked about heroes. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is definitely one of them. Every year he is invited to give talks to the general student population, and they are always hugely popular. Students not doing Psychology sneak into his lectures just to hear him speak. Part of his appeal is of course his academic star quality, which he has achieved without any help from his cousin, but part of it is also that he is, very simply, a good teacher. He doesn’t have any airs and will readily answer any question, even from a starstruck medic who went up to him after the lecture and asked a random question simply to get near to him, and then started giggling like a schoolgirl when he replied. (Not that I’d know anything about that. Cough.)

I guess I’m lucky to be part of a profession where heroes are readily available and can be found on the frontlines, diligently working away for the betterment of humanity. Every university has its own academic stars; the ones who inspire you in the best way possible: through example. I’d love to hear about yours. I need all the inspiration I can get to resist the urge to go jump off the nearest bridge… OHMIGOSHEXAMSAREINTWODAYS!

May 25, 2007 | Permalink


My exams start in two days too! Arrrghh!

Posted by: John | May 25, 2007 7:26:44 PM

I can even stalk you here mwahahahah
Good luck with the exams mate.

Posted by: imamedicalstudentgetmeoutofhere | May 26, 2007 2:46:59 AM


Posted by: Kendra | May 26, 2007 3:39:16 PM

That was a cute article...My final exams are this week as well...so you can wish me luck as well as I wish you luck. deal?

Posted by: Ferri | May 29, 2007 1:39:03 PM

Reading this well written/funny article was a nice break from studying. Although I am a bit envious...would have loved to sit through a lecture from Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen.

Posted by: Gurleen | Jun 6, 2007 11:36:20 AM

hey..u are so lucky to have been able to attend to Prof Simon's lectures..i had known about him through his works in autism and savantism and they are masterpieces..anyhow..all the best in ur exams
ps-hope u'll update ur Angry Medic blog more often..sigh!

Posted by: arshad_syahali | Sep 27, 2008 5:07:16 PM

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