By Stephanie Tsui | SCMP | HONG KONG |
Sukhdeep Singh, 23, is used to getting stares. “It’s because I’m so handsome,” he says, chuckling. At nearly 1.9 metres, Singh naturally stands out from most Hongkongers, but he believes his height is not the only reason he is considered different.
“Some people who assume I don’t understand Cantonese would comment on my turban in front of me, and on the MTR, people would rather squeeze themselves into more crowded rows than take the empty seats next to me.”
Singh is a final-year medical student at Chinese University. When he graduates next year, he will become one of a handful of Sikh doctors in Hong Kong – and the first to be wearing a turban. While not all Sikhs wear turbans, Singh dons one as an article of faith and to keep his uncut hair tidy and clean. He has been letting his hair grow since he was about nine as a show of faith.
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“The sad reality is, when I’m wearing scrubs and a lab coat, I get treated differently. If I’m wearing normal clothes, no one would believe I am a medical student,” says Singh, who is one of about 12,000 Sikhs in the city.
“Patients might develop a different perspective on people with turbans in Hong Kong when they see me, a turbaned doctor, and, hopefully, start to view other ethnic minorities differently.”
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Singh grew up surrounded by Cantonese speakers, including his own father, a civil servant. But he only realised the importance of speaking the language when he enrolled in medical school.
“Patients look at me strangely, and that’s normal. But whenever I speak to them in their own dialect, their faces light up.”
Read full story, ‘Sikh Hongkonger wants to change attitudes towards ethnic minorities, while also being first doctor in city to wear a turban’ (South China Morning Post, 11 May 2019), here.
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