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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


March 29, 2000

Hakim vs. doctor

Wonderful story ["The Herbalist"]. Enjoyed it very much indeed. Is this part of a book or just a short story? Where on earth did you find out so much detail about a hakim's practices, i.e.

"Then there were scorpion oil, snake's oil, sesame seeds, balsam oil, grey oil, essence of turpentine, Glycerine, dried herbage, white powder and blue liquid, humbled on the lower shelves. And on the bottom shelf were stocky cloth bags, a cast iron scale with brass plates, stone weights and pestles impatiently resting in rock mortars. An oil portrait of Imam Ali adorned the adjacent wall, his daring eyes piercing the air."

I like the touch about his eyes.

My late father who was a French trained doctor used to recount these two stories about Hakims in Iran. Apparently hakims did not like being referred to as "doctor" by patients and used to reproach such a patient by saying "I am not a doctor! A doctor is a man who urinates standing up and facing the qebleh."

His second story was that after a few months of starting his practice, a few doors down from a hakim bashi, he was surprised to get a referral letter from the hakim saying "This patient is no longer daai but is davaii" meaning that prayers no longer helps and he needs medicines and asked for more modern treatment for his patient. A few weeks later my father referred to him another patient with a letter saying "This patient is no longer davaii but is daai". Wish you success.

Behzad Djazaeri , F.R.C.S


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