The winter of 2013 was an eventful one for me. As a second-year medical student from Pakistan, I spent two months at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore for a research elective-. It was a time of excitement, wonder and anxiety. One afternoon, after hurrying back to the office from lunch, I stood fidgeting with the office key, struggling to open the door. A middle-aged lady impeccably dressed in crisp dress pants and a blazer, who I had bumped into and exchanged pleasantries with the day before, kindly offered to help.
After she and I had managed to unlock the door, she turned to me, a bit hesitantly, and said, “So listen, I have been meaning to ask you….why do you cover your head?” I was, in all honestly, taken aback, but I noticed that her tone was neither condescending nor pitying. Instead it was laced with curiosity. And that made all the difference.