Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

My countries


Summer surgery tansen

I grew up in a dry country, which becomes drier and drier as the years pass.  Our summers are long and hot.  Occasionally, thunder crashes that never turn into rain.  And when rain comes, it floods and races through river valleys, only to disappear once more.

Nepal is not like that.  It has an average of 1500mm annual rainfall to Australia’s 450mm.  Most of that rain falls in the hot part of the year, and it culminates in the drenching rains of monsoon, which evaporate and fill the air with steam. We use the descriptive phrase “monsoony” a lot. Technically it should still be pre-monsoon, but because last year’s season was such a fizzer, we are all getting excited.

  • Monsoony is thinking someone spilled water on the couch, the carpet, the table, the bed.
  • Monsoony is towels that never dry, no matter where you hang them.
  • Monsoony is having to give the wooden garden gate an extra shove to get through it, and eventually having to wedge it open so the kids don’t get trapped.
  • Monsoon is finding a leather belt hanging on a hook covered in mould.  Ugh.
  • Monsoon means wedging wardrobe doors open to protect the clothes from mould, because you forgot to put them in watertight barrels when it was hot
  • Monsoony is the sweat soaking your theatre scrubs at the end of the day -layered with plastic gown and sterile gown in an operation is the pits.
  • Monsoon is breathing in the air, and being rehydrated.
  • Monsoon means closing the windows so that the rain doesn’t get in, and then suffocating in the humid air.
  • Monsoon means taking a bigger purse everywhere, because it always rains out of the blue.
  • Monsoon means learning which of your shoes have inadequate grip on the mossy paths, and finally understanding why nepali people wear waterproof shoes all year around
  • Monsoon means risk of landslides on any trip out of Tansen.  We have had friends delayed by landslides already, coming back from Pokhara.
  • Monsoony is stepping into your sandals in the morning, and they feel like someone has already been sweating in them
  • Monsoon means full water tanks after an incredible drought!

Happy Monsoon to you, and I hope you are as grateful for your season change, as we have been for ours!



I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel sea,

Her beauty and her terror – 

The wide, brown loans for me.


Core my heart, my country!

Land of the Rainbow Gold,

For flood and fire and famine,

She pays us back threefold –

Over the thirsty paddocks

Watch, after many days,

The filmy veil of greenness

That thickens as we gaze.


“My Country” (selected verses) – Dorothea McKellar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

(c) 2022 C.Cuthbertson. All Rights Reserved. All views expressed on this website are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of any other persons or organisations, such as employers, affiliations, publishers or colleagues.