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Health Care in India: Scooters, Breaking Bones, and Surgery | The Motherland – Part III



Prelude | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

The “The Motherland” series will go over the benefits and challenges of studying Islam overseas in India, institutions of learning there in, and Nihal Khan’s journey of studying at Nadwatul ‘Ulama in the 2014-2015 academic calendar year. The subsequent articles in this series will detail his experiences and reflections from his travels and studies in India.

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. . .

Getting Hit by a Car in India


Being that the main mode of individual transportation in Lucknow (and probably the rest of India) is either a scooter or motorcycle, I bought a scooter for Rs. 6000 ($100) to get around the city. Although for most of my time in Lucknow I had no issue getting around, sadly in October of 2014 I was rear ended on the road by a car, the driver of which ended up running from the scene of the accident. My foot was broken in the process and I was in need of surgery. That night I went to a local foot doctor who temporarily wrapped up my foot and took some x-rays. As for hospitals, well, it was Diwali and many of the local private hospitals were closed. So I went straight from the doctor’s office to Nadwa where I spent two days before getting any actual medical treatment for my foot. After the two days had passed I was finally able to get a ride to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital, I paid all my medical expenses before being officially admitted as that is the policy of most hospitals in India. No money equals no treatment. Even if you die. If there is further treatment needed on an already diagnosed prognosis, then that tally is added in later, which was done in my case. For two days I remained in the hospital and ended up having a surgery on my foot where a metal wire was temporarily inserted into my toe to keep the bone aligned. Eventually I walked out of the hospital in a cast for a month, without any crutches or a wheelchair. The hospital will not provide even a glass of water for patients, so medicine or medical equipment was out of the question. I had a walker which was very difficult to use. It took me a week to just find crutches!



A man gets into an auto rickshaw after a foot surgery.

Prior the accident, within Lucknow I had gone to meet the family of my friend Saim–who lives in Dallas. His mother Tayyaba Qidwai runs a school in Lucknow and her brother-in-law Dr. Iqbal Qidwai is a physician in the same area. I had just met them on the day of the accident, but they proved to be a Godsend for me when the accident happened. Not knowing anyone in Lucknow, I anxiously called them. A family who I had just met a few hours before ended up driving me to and from the hospital numerous times, visited me there, and paid for part of my medical expenses. For that I am indebted to them. That is what you call true Islam in practice and real Lucknowi mannerisms–a truly awesome combination!

So what happened at the hospital?

When I paid close to Rs. 15,000 ($250), I was finally admitted into my own room. The nurses and doctors were not walking me through what they would be doing, my IV was constantly injected with medicines that would cause immense pain in my hand, and not having any family or close friends around pained me much more psychologically than the physical pain I endured throughout this whole experience.

My leg was only partially plastered on the parts that were injured or needed to stay still for healing.


Even though I paid an equivalent of USD $500 for all my medical expenses in India, I learned to really appreciate American health care in a more practical light. There is absolutely no place like home, where you get to be around family and friend be cared for as if you actually matter as a human being. I realized that even the negative situation I encountered at the hospital was not nearly as bad as what regular Indians experience on a daily basis in the local hospitals. I used my ‘American card’ to attempt to get extra treatment, and though it may have worked a little, I realized that the majority of Indians have it much worse than me when it comes to health care. Learning to be thankful and internalizing new experiences is the most important aspect to keep in mind.

After spending two nights at the hospital, enduring anesthesia in my spine, feeling the metal in my foot, waking up daily in the morning to Catholic mass services or nuns who would ‘bless’ me by drawing a crucifix on my forehead without asking about my religious beliefs after being up all night, I was finally ready to leave the hospital. I was wheelchaired to the exit and from there I hopped on one foot to an auto rickshaw which took me to Nadwa. I ended up missing classes and being in bed for a month, but by the grace of God I was able to easily catch up and not let my time go to waste—even in the physical state that I was in.

Eventually, I located the owner of the car that hit had me. He turned out to be a retired police inspector who did everything in his midst to disassociate himself from the situation. Instead of taking him to court and spending time and money on most likely losing the case, I decided to not pursue any legal action against him. As for law enforcement in India, well–be sure to read the next post!

. . .

Stay tuned for Part IV of this series: Law Enforcement in India

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Nihal Ahmad Khan is currently a student of Islamic Law and Theology at Nadwatul 'Ulama in Lucknow, India. He was born and raised in New Jersey and holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Business from Montclair State University and a diploma in Arabic from Bayyinah Institute's Dream Program. He began memorizing the Qur’an at Darul Uloom New York and finished at the age of seventeen at the Saut al-Furqan Academy in Teaneck, New Jersey. He went on to lead taraweeh every year since then. Along with his education, Nihal has worked in various capacities in the Muslim community as an assistant Imam, youth director, and a Muslim Chaplain at correctional facilities and social service organizations. Nihal is also an MA candidate in Islamic Studies from the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.



  1. Iffat Sharif

    October 14, 2015 at 4:56 AM

    As salam alaikum,
    I am really enjoying your experiences in my country. And I have to admit, healthcare in India is in a bad shape but isn’t American health care system very costly and capitalist? what’s the difference? Money speaks everywhere.

    • Cz

      October 24, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      Hospitals are pretty good here. Expensive, definitely, but nurses and doctors don’t lower the treatment for those who can’t pay. I don’t know about everywhere here though.

      • Donald

        October 26, 2015 at 10:02 AM

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that about American hospitals (that they don’t lower the treatment for the poor). If you’re wealthy you’re more likely to have the proper testing done. If you’re poor they may not do an expensive CT scan or MRI and give a diagnosis that’s more common without exhausting all the options. It’s true they can’t turn you away from an ER but they don’t have to do the same for all. Many doctors and nurses will though; they should be commended for rejecting the profit-driven business of American healthcare.

    • Cz

      October 24, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      I’m thinking about quitting motorcycles.

  2. AmericanMuse

    October 14, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    I like your descriptions and writing style, Nihal. Have you read V.S. Naipaul’s famous book about India written in 1964 called, An Area Of Darkness? The country is even more wretched today than when Naipaul wrote back in the sixties!

    • Nihal Khan

      October 28, 2015 at 3:00 PM

      Thanks! No, I haven’t read it. I’ll be sure to give it a look when I get a chance.

  3. Nabil

    October 14, 2015 at 11:20 AM

    I’m sorry for what you had to endure Nihal. But, as an Indian now living in the US, I sort of miss the trouble and chaos of the third world. Although your story is literally painful, reading it made me nostalgic.

    I interact almost daily with people from across the world and no matter how “good” or “bad” an outsider may perceive a country to be, and with all the pros and cons, the native always yearns to go back. Truly, there is no place like home.

    Maybe I should write a series on my struggles living in the US ;)

    • Nihal Khan

      October 28, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      Writing a series about your struggles in the US would be delightful. I’d definitely read it!

      • Nabil

        November 5, 2015 at 12:29 AM

        I will consider it if you promise to get it published here on Muslimmatters ;)

  4. Anees

    October 14, 2015 at 11:18 PM

    So sorry you had to go through all that pain,discomfort without that feeling of security of family or friends. Though, thank God for the new acquaintances that were able to offer a great helping hand. May Allah (swt) bless them.

    I cringe at the thought of falling ill or being injured to the extent I would need hospitalization in India. When I hear that family, or family friends there or those visiting need medical attention, I often feel less secure about their treatment and well-being. Indeed, we should feel blessed that we have good care here, as well as that priceless comfort of family surrounding us.

    Insha’allah hope your recovery is going well.

    Health and happiness dear brother Nihal.

  5. Omar

    October 16, 2015 at 3:28 PM


    Can you post more about you learning experience?

    • Nihal Khan

      October 28, 2015 at 3:04 PM


      Be sure to follow the series :)

  6. Pingback: » Self-Revelations: Discovering Your Limits in India | The Motherland: Part II

  7. Um mohammed

    October 19, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    I think the need of the times is a secular health clinic in Nadwa. Scholars and students must be plenty going by Nadwa’s fame.

  8. Pingback: » Studying Islam Overseas: Nadwatul ‘Ulama in India | The Motherland – Prelude

  9. Waqar

    October 20, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Great read, I really enjoy your posts about India, not least because I am also an American who’s parents come from India. May Allah reward you for your efforts.

  10. Aatif

    October 24, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    Wow that sounded like a rough time. Not buying insurance can be rough.
    I am thankful the same did not happen to you in a country like the United States. The $500 would probably have been closer to $50,000 and could have potentially bankrupted you.

    • Cz

      October 24, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      Salam alaikum, broken feet don’t generally bankrupt people here, lol.

      • Aatif

        October 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM

        Walaikum Assalam,
        Am glad to hear that. Had read that in 2013, 550,000 thousands families went bankrupt due to healthcare costs.

  11. Mustafa Umar

    October 25, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    Yup, I had a similar experience in Nadwa when I got typhoid and spend a few days in the hospital. Alhamdulillah, amazing life experience.

  12. Pingback: » Dealing with Indian Law Enforcement: The Motherland – Part IV

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