She spent most of her childhood in her father’s dental clinic, her brother is a dentist and she was addicted to medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy. All this inspired Bondhona Rani Pal, a freelance physiotherapist who is better known as Bondi, to pursue a medical career.
Born and based in Petaling Jaya, Bondi, 31, says, “I knew I wanted to be of service to people but I didn’t want to be a doctor. I wanted to see patients and help them heal without the invasive procedures!”
She has a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from Northumbria University, a Diploma in Physiotherapy from the Malaysian Allied Health Services Academic University and is a member of the Malaysian Physiotherapist’ Association.
Her clinical training exposed her to various hospitals around Malaysia and after graduating, she worked part-time at reputable local hospitals as a physiotherapist. When Bondi learnt that these hospitals were not employing full-time physiotherapists, she was undeterred.
She started working freelance in June 2015, making house calls offering appropriate exercise programmes and treatments for patients with neurological, respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions from stroke, post-op CABG and fractures.
“I enjoy meeting people and knowing that with my own two hands I can help heal people who are suffering, is what drives me.”
Meeting Bondi is like an encounter with the biggest ball of positive energy that is topped up with an infectious smile. Her effervescent personality, sense of humour and professionalism is what gets her recommended job after job.
On a busy day, she sees as many as five patients, driving all over the Klang Valley and out of town. According to Bondi, she has had her fair share of being shouted at (by patients in pain), being unappreciated and working with stubborn, uncooperative patients.
So she tells aspiring physiotherapists that having passion is important but you also need soft skills and a ton of patience. Her most memorable experience was the recovery of a 33-year-old female patient suffering from severe neck pain, who could not comb her hair, drive or hold a pencil.
“She would flinch when I touched her. It was rewarding to see her improve and be able to drink a cup of tea and comb her hair. By the eighth session, she could drive and by the 12th session, she was recovering.”
“The social interaction with a patient is important to help them understand their situation and what they need to do, so that they are more open to doing exercises and managing their pain.”
Next month, Bondi and her business partner – a physiotherapist – will be taking up a lease at a private residence in Kuala Lumpur that offers paediatric physiotherapy and speech therapy. They will offer neuro and musculoskeletal physiotherapy for stroke and Parkinsons’ patients, and women’s health pre and post natal fitness.
To destress and stay sane, Bondi – a dog lover and an occasional dog-sitter – goes for runs with her two-year-old rescue dog Yoda. “Luckily for me, most of my clients have dogs, so it helps me lighten up and I get to relax within the blissful energy of being around dogs!” says Bondi, with her infectious grin.