This interview with Dr Rohit Kumar, a cosmetic plastic surgeon, is part of our ongoing series which looks into how creative people draw inspiration from pop culture.
TRM: What were your favourite texts growing up?
RK: Growing up I always gravitated towards adventure novels. Willard Price’s “adventure” series was always a great choice and I remember the thrill and challenge amongst myself and my friends to try and complete a collection of his entire series. The stories were about two teenage brothers travelling the world collecting animals for their father’s zoo and the challenges they encountered. It’s probably a little outdated now and some sections may not be politically correct in today’s world but back then they were fantastic. The appeal was always that the heroes were teenagers not much older than myself and that not only did they save the day but they often saved all the adults as well. It gave me a sense that even young people could accomplish great things both with and despite adults being around. It fostered in me a challenge to constantly improve myself and solve problems creatively – something that I still do today. Along with this, the description and information on animals was very well done and has definitely contributed to my eclectic knowledge now. Other novels I loved were anything by Enid Blyton and of course the super sleuths the Hardy Boys.
What texts do you keep coming back to and why?
I find myself reading Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once every year or two. I’m constantly amazed at the world he created and how I can still find little snippets that I may have missed in previous readings or how I sometimes interpret things differently as my understanding of his world has increased over the years. Isaac Asimov has always been a great influence in my life. He wrote novels during what is often termed the “golden age” of science fiction and I am blown away by his vision and perception of “things to come”. To this date some concepts such as his “laws of robotics” remain current and the benchmark for scientists around the world. In particular his ‘Foundation” series is phenomenal.
Are there texts that relate to your life?
My life to date has been an incredible adventure. Just like most people it’s been filled with ups and downs, challenges and rewards and of course the occasional plot twist that no one saw coming. Underneath it all, there has always been an undercurrent of joy and happiness. Finding a novel that best relates to this is very difficult. Being Hindu, it’s impossible to not have the Ramayan serve as the backbone add to that equal parts of: The Chosen (Chaim Potok) A Suitable Boy ( Vikram Seth ), poetry by Tagore and a page or two from any Ian Fleming novel and that could be a good start 🙂
Are there any artists and texts that influence you creatively?
I love visionaries. I gravitate towards people who like to take the status quo and turn it on its head. People who can dream of a better world or technique or procedure and actually go about achieving this. As a result my influences are quite eclectic. I have loved sci-fi because the authors have dared to dream and more often then not these dreams become reality over time. Jules Verne is a classic example. I’ve been influenced in medicine by amazing doctors such as Oliver Sachs (Awakenings). I find solace in works by Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist) and in business I can’t go past anything by Richard Branson.
Are there any quotes or other words of wisdom you find helpful for your practice?
As a plastic surgeon I am often faced with very difficult reconstruction cases – everything from breast cancer through to reconstructing a face following a head and neck cancer excision. In my cosmetic practice I encounter challenges of a different nature where my aim is to enhance the beauty in what is often a well patient. Both are very difficult and challenging scenarios yet for very different reasons. I enjoy and relish the variety and challenges present to me at work and am buoyed often by a particular quote from John F Kennedy when he was describing the task of placing a man on the moon where he said:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win”
Similarly, I enjoy the challenges my work provides me and I enjoy pitching my skills against them. It gives me a work ethic to always aim for the best and I know my patients appreciate that.
What is a text that every developing artist should read/watch/listen to?
Every doctor I believe should read The House of God by Samuel Shem – while modern medicine has changed significantly since it was written, it still serves as a great guide to those starting out.
The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine by James Le Fanu is also a strong recommendation
Dr Rohit Kumar is an Australian trained and fully certified cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is the CEO of Sydney Cosmetic Sanctuary, Australia’s first comprehensive Cosmetic Surgery, Cosmetic Dentistry and Medispa experience. The Sanctuary was designed to accentuate the ideals of a holistic level of patient care that not only covered the initial surgical or dental procedures but was also part of the patients ongoing wellness. As such, Dr Kumar’s vision is now being shared by some of the top dentists, dermal therapists, stylists and hairdressers in Sydney.
With extensive research experience, Dr Kumar is extremely well published and is a highly sought after speaker at national and international conferences. He has been on expert panels for the Queensland Government and has been requested by various media sources to give his opinion on the latest in plastic surgery trends. He is part of the Expert Advisory Board on cosmetic surgery for Vogue magazine and featured on their expert panel for Breast and Body surgery.
Feature image courtesy of epSos .de via Flickr Creative Commons.