Sukhdeep Singh, who is nearly 1.9 metres (6ft 2 inches), stands out naturally from most of the Hongkongers, but he believes he is considered different rather than his height being the main reason.
Singh added, “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.”
Final-year medical student at Chinese University, Singh will graduate next year and become one of a few Sikh doctor in Hong Kong to wear a turban.
Not every Sikh wear turbans but Singh has been growing his hair (uncut hair tidy and clean) since the age of nine as an article of faith.
One of the about 12,000 Sikhs in the city, Singh says, “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.”
“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,” added Singh.
Singh was born and raised in Hong Kong, and his father served a civil servant, who was well versed in Cantonese language. But when he enrolled in a medical school, he realized the importance of speaking the language.
While Singh earlier struggled with Cantonese vocabulary at first, is now fluent in the language.
“Patients look at me strangely, and that’s normal. But whenever I speak to them in their own dialect, their faces light up,” told Singh.
Overcoming his communication barriers, Singh says, “As a community, we still need to address these sensitive issues through education.”
In 2018, Singh and other young professionals founded a non-profit organization named Pargaas which helps empower ethnic minority youth.
Pargaas hold higher education and self-improvement workshops also.
Singh says that if they want to improve the number of ethnic minority kids getting into higher education, they need an organization that can help them improve basic skills like CV writing, adding that there were not many educated Sikhs, who could run an organisation like Pargaas, but now there are.