Sunday, August 29, 2004

My Middle-Aged Country

I noticed that I could be a bit more patriotic than my friends sometimes. Maybe it’s because my very expensive medical education is currently being paid by the taxpayers (if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t find me here—I probably would have slogged my way through Form Six, hope that I did well and pray that I would get a place in a local university to do Medicine. If not, I still wouldn’t be here because my family wouldn’t be able to afford it. Goodness knows what I would be doing then. I shudder at that thought.) and let me assure you, I am working very hard to prove that I truly deserved it. I wanted to study overseas for the whole 5 years, but was disappointed that I got the twinning programme. Note that I used the word ‘was.’

Every day is an experience that is uniquely Malaysian. Heck, even my lil clique in school is known as the Barisan Nasional Trinity! ;P (coined by an observant backbencher. ;) ) And the choices of food available... yummm. So many ways to cook chicken-- Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Western style, etc; each delicious and special in its own way. :P I once heard this on the radio: if there is at least one form of patriotism instilled in every Malaysian, it’s stomach patriotism. How true, hehe. I love the weather (though it gets a tad hot sometimes), I love it that our Chinatown has much more personality than the one in a particular Southern neighbouring country, and I love it that when I take a ride on the LRT, I am greeted with views of different kinds of buildings instead of flats, flats and more flats like the aforementioned neighbouring country.

Sure, Malaysia also has her fair share of flaws, but doesn’t every country?

And when that day comes when I have to leave this place for a while, I know I’ll probably bawl my eyes out in KLIA. I look forward to experiencing life in a foreign land, but I know I’ll miss my family and friends. And this place I call home. A LOT. Better enjoy the times here while I can. And I am. Despite the whole sh*tload of stress which comes with medical education, I am currently having the time of my life. :D (Thanks, y’all.)

I am bonded to the government for 10 years after graduating. But that’s okay.

Keranamu Malaysia. Happy 47th Birthday! :)

P/S- Amendment to the Schumi, Champion of The World mini post. I made a mistake. Schumi isn’t officially the World Champion yet. It was Ferrari that secured the Constructor’s title of the season. But, well, it’s just a matter of time, innit? ;)

Friday, August 27, 2004

DESSERTS spelled backwards

'I think Divination seems woolly,' she said, searching for her page. 'A lot of guesswork, if you ask me.'
'There was nothing woolly about the Grim in that cup!' said Ron hotly.
'You didn't seem quite so confident when you were telling Harry it was a sheep,' said Hermione coolly.
'Professor Trelawney said you didn't have the right aura! You just don't like being rubbish at something for a change!'
He had touched a nerve. Hermione slammed her Arithmancy book down on the table so hard that bits of meat and carrot flew everywhere.
'If being good in Divination means I have to pretend to see death omens in clumps of tea leaves, I'm not sure I'll be studying it much longer! That lesson was absolute rubbish compared to my Arithmancy class!'
She snatched up her bag and stalked away.
''S no good, Ron,' said Hagrid sadly as they reached the castle steps. 'That Committee's in Lucius Malfoy's pocket. I'm jus' gonna make sure the rest of Beaky's time is the happiest he's ever had. I owe him that…'
Hagrid turned round and hurried back towards his cabin, his face buried in his hankerchief.
'Look at him blubber!'
Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle had been standing just inside the castle doors, listening.
'Have you seen anything quite as pathetic?' said Malfoy. 'And he's supposed to be our teacher!'
Harry and Ron both made furious moves towards Malfoy, but Hermione got there first- SMACK!
She had slapped Malfoy around the face with all the strength she could muster. Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione raised her hand again.
'Don't you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul- you evil-'
'Hermione!' said Ron weakly, and he tried to grab her hand as she swung it back.
off, Ron!'
Hermione pulled out her wand. Malfoy stepped backwards.Crabbe and Goyle looked at him for instructions, thoroughly bewildered.
'C'mon,' Malfoy muttered, and next moment, all three of them had disappeared into the passageway to the dungeons.
'Hermione!' Ron said again, sounding both stunned and impressed.
'Harry, you'd better beat him in the Quidditch final!' Hermione said shrilly. 'You just better had, because I can't stand it if Slytherin win!'
'We're due in Charms,' said Ron, still goggling at Hermione. 'We'd better go.'
'My dear…' Professor Trelawney breathed, gazing up at Harry. 'It is here, plainer than ever before… my dear, stalking towards you, growing ever closer… the Gr-'
'Oh, for
goodness' sake!' said Hermione, loudly. 'Not that ridiculous Grim again!'
Professor Trelawney raised her enormous eyes to Hermione's face. Parvati whispered something to Lavender, and they both glared at Hermione, too. Professor Trelawney stood up, surveying Hermione with unmistakeable anger.
'I am sorry to say that from the moment you have arrived in this class, my dear, it has been apparent that you do not have what the noble art of Divination requires. Indeed, I don't remember ever meeting a student whose mind was so hopelessly Mundane.'
There was a moment's silence. Then-
'Fine!' said Hermione suddenly, getting up and cramming
Unfogging the Future back into her bag. 'Fine!' she repeated, swinging the bag over her shoulder and almost knocking Ron off his chair. 'I give up! I'm leaving!'
And to the whole class's amazement, Hermione strode over to the trapdoor, kicked it open, and climbed down the ladder out of sight.

Excerpts from 'Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban' by J K Rowling. Copyright (c) 1999 J K Rowling.

And that, my friends, is how stress could even affect Hermione Granger, the brightest student in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who is cool, calm and collected most of the time.

Imagine what it could do to a lesser student like myself. *bursts into hysterical giggles*

Hanna Glawari: Stop giggling like a half-wit!
Count Danilo: But it's the only giggle I've got! (from Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow)

Tuberculosis is usually due to infections by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis and occasionally due to atypical mycobacterial infections which include Mycobacterium kanasai, whoops! I mean, kansasii, Mycobacterium avium...

Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Culture Specimen

“Hey, I heard you’re going to watch a performance on Friday night. What is it again ah?”
“Oh, I’m off to watch an operetta.”

Wah liau eh, just merely saying that already makes me feel so cultured, and I don’t mean the urine/stool/sputum sample kind. :P

op·e·ret·ta n. A theatrical production that has many of the musical elements of opera but is lighter and more popular in subject and style and contains spoken dialogue. Also called light opera. (source:

Actually, I didn’t even know what the word ‘operetta’ actually meant but I felt like watching it after reading the write up about Franz Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ in the newspapers. It sounded really fun and interesting (it also helped that it was incredibly cheap—RM22 for students), so it was me and two of my footie gal pals off to ‘The Palace of Culture’ to relax and unwind.

We did not regret the decision. It was highly entertaining, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The leads were foreigners supported by a Malaysian cast. It was not a world-class presentation, I must say. The Baron was an absolutely delight onstage (he got the loudest cheers at the end of the show), but unfortunately, his manservant had poor articulation (he sounded ill at ease speaking English—he had this strong Malay accent) which was a shame ‘cos he had some of the best lines in the show. The choreography was alright but obviously could be improved. However, I went there not as some hoity-toity snob but as a stressed-out medical student who wanted to be entertained. And entertained, we were. The lead who played the Janda Riang (which is the Malay title for it, btw :P), Hanna Glavari was very clear, and she sang so beautifully. And the love interest dude, Danilo had a very likeable stage presence.

The dialogue was very clever and witty, we laughed so much, but it was the beautiful lyrical prose which I fancied most. The soprano who acted as Hanna Glavari managed to convey the emotions of each song, especially when she sang of this story about a hunter who fell in love with Vilja the sprite.

“Haunting the woodlands,
Enchanting the night”

was how the hunter described her. There were many other beautiful, poetic words sang throughout the night (it is essentially a romantic comedy) which I cannot remember. But I remember how touched I felt when I heard them (and wished I had someone singing them to me exclusively. ;P)

However, our untrained ears could not catch what they were singing most of the time as they were singing in operatic style. There were subtitles, but the English one could not be seen and only the Malay subtitle was available. So we had to quickly read the Malay words, translate them in our heads and then concentrate on the singing onstage, listening to the lyrics which we (hopefully correctly) deciphered. It was a hit-and-miss thing, but even if you still don’t understand a word they are singing, you’d still enjoy it because hey, great music is great music. I don’t understand a word of French or Italian but that doesn’t stop me from listening to Josh Groban, Charlotte Church, Celine Dion (her French stuff) or Kyo (this French-singing Belgian rock band. It’s very nice!!! Download this song— Derniere Danse—it’s really good. And if you translate the lyrics... you’ll feel even more jiwang listening to it. Sigh. ;P Thanks to Ad for introducing me to them. ;) ). But then again, French is a very romantic sounding language... Japanese is so not.

Anyway, I saw the posters of various performances previously held at the venue. Among them were ‘Fame-The Musical’ and ‘Giselle and The Nutcracker’ performance by the Bolshoi Ballet. I felt a twinge of regret missing them. I think I didn’t go due to financial constraints. What a crappy excuse. :( Well, the next artsy-fartsy excursion would be a trip to the MPO next month, tentatively. Anybody interested? ;)

I also wanna watch Kampung Itu by M. Malam Shyamalan, but I don’t think I can afford the time to do so now, since it’s only a week plus before the RS Assessment. After that-lah, I guess...


Mini posting:
Schumi, Champion of the World
I just wanna announce to y’all how great my Schumi is, clinching the World Championship title after only 13 races in the season. This is his SEVENTH World Championship title, btw. And incidentally, at the same race, Kimi’s McLaren went bonkers. AGAIN. I don’t think the McLaren boss reads blogs (especially by medical students) but in case he somehow stumbles into this particular blog (fat chance of that happening! But you’ll never know...:P): “Mr Ron Dennis, many fans are displeased with McLaren’s mediocre performance. Buck up or let Kimi go to a better team. You are wasting his talent.”

Hail, Herr M. Schumacher! :D

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Just Breathe

“Another day, just believe/ Another day, just breathe.” – Breathe by Telepopmusik (I really like this one—great chill out music.)

“If I just breathe/ Let it fill the space in between (alveoli?)/ I'll know everything is alright.” – Breathe by Michelle Branch.

“'Cause I can feel you breathe/It's washing over me/ Suddenly I'm melting into you.” (I wonder what brand of breath mints he used) Breathe by Faith Hill.

“I’m alright, I’m alright/ It only hurts when I breathe.” -- Breathe by Melissa Etheridge.

“Take my breath away...” – Take My Breath Away by Berlin.

“Is there anyone out there cause it's getting harder and harder to breathe.” (somebody call an ambulance, please) Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5.

“I... can't breathe easy/Can't sleep at night (PND? Orthopnoea? You better see a doctor soon.)/ Till you're by my side (is she a doctor?)”Breathe Easy by Blue.

As you can see, there are many songs written about respiration. These are only but a few examples. We just started Respiratory System (RS), btw.

Often we take for granted our ability to breathe effortlessly. Except those who are asthmatic or suffering from respiratory illnesses. Which is probably why smokers smoke. But I never really believed in smoking due to these reasons:

1. I am a vainpot. Smoking stains your teeth yellow. Yucks.
2. Smoker’s breath is so stinky. I don’t wanna make myself puke, now do I?
3. Cigarettes don’t come cheap. I rather spend my money on CDs.
4. There are healthier alternatives for stimulus out there such as coffee, or in my case, pain. (the bruises sustained during Futsal prove to be useful. I’ll just press on it or give it a good massage... instant alertness. Magical. )

And of course, the whole ‘I-don’t-wanna-die-of-lung-cancer’ thing.

After studying a week of RS, I’m quite amazed by the whole mechanism of breathing. Since it’s automatic, we don’t really think much of it, but now I realise that it takes many aspects of our human body for us to obtain the precious oxygen for our bodies. And now I am even more upset—why would anyone want to deliberately abuse their bodies by smoking? I mean, we have been blessed with a healthy set of lungs and airway system... knowingly destroying them isn’t much of a sign of gratitude, now is it? Nicotine is addictive, I agree. But there’s also this thing called ‘will power’ and ‘discipline.’ Most smokers ‘cannot’ quit smoking simply because they don’t really want to. How disappointing. And those innocent people inhaling 2nd-hand smoke have increased risk of lung cancer. Sigh.

One week and already there’s a lot of work. Stuff to read, mainly. As for my practical skills, my percussion technique is okay :) but my technique to measure chest wall expansion was a bit out. I see my friends doing it correctly but somehow I just couldn’t imitate them properly. You know-lah, I’m a bit slow. ;P

“You have to press!”
Press. Still wrong.
“No, press like this!” (then proceeded to demo)
Press. STILL wrong.
After attempt #827839 (haha, I’m exaggerating, but it sure felt like that), one of them finally said the magic word.
“No, you have to press UPWARDS.”

Bingo! And I finally got the technique right. Why-lah never say that earlier?!?!? I was pressing and pressing against the chest wall itself. :P Anyway, I feel so grateful that I have such kind and helpful and patient friends to help me learn and improve. Special thanks to The Housemates, Mulan and especially The BFG for being such an obliging ‘patient.’

So much to read, so little time. I feel a bit overwhelmed by RS already and it’s only been 6 days so far. I am trying to take things easier; taking it one day at a time. Life’s too short. There are far more important things in life than studying and doing well in exams alone (although, getting an A does feel really good ;P). Time feels like it’s slipping out of my grasp. I guess it’s time to take control of my time.

What am I to do?

Just breathe-lah. ;)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Keeping the Faith

This movie released in 2000 stars Edward Norton, Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman. It’s a story about a priest, a rabbi and a girl whom both fell in love with. It’s a romantic comedy, really funny, but it also gives a glimpse of how Catholics and Jews are different from each other, yet alike at the same time. It also portrayed how faith plays a part in one’s life. Sort of. To a certain extent. Anyway, it’s a feel-good, entertaining movie. If you wanna borrow my vcd, feel free to ask moi. :)

BTW, Edward Norton did not just act in this movie—it was also his directorial debut. He also co-wrote the movie with his college buddy, Stuart Blumberg and also served as the Executive Producer of the soundtrack and the movie itself. Basically, it’s his pet project. Edward Norton... so leng chai, so multi-talented... SIGH. :P

Anyway, I really like this quote from the movie:

Father Brian Kilkenny Finn (EN’s character):
"It’s very important to understand the difference between faith and religion. Because faith is not about having the right answers. Faith is a feeling. Faith is a hunch, really. It’s a hunch that there’s something bigger connecting it all, connecting us all, together. And that feeling, that hunch, is God."

Faith. What is life without faith? I wonder.

Friday, August 06, 2004

This Is A Public Service Announcement

1. Be kind to your parents.

2. Smile. You'll be 10x better looking. And be deemed friendlier, as well.

3. Jamie Cullum is an amazingly talented jazz musician. Listen to his version of Radiohead's High and Dry. Totally fab. Highly recommended.

4. Fellow batchmates, please call up the school and ask for Jennifer of AAD. The batch has been divided into 3 groups: those with CSU, those with Clinic Visit or those who are free on Monday morning (at 8.30 am, to be exact). Call to find out which group you are in. And then at 2.45pm, there'll be a lecture in the audi. For those involved in VMU, wo pu che tau. It won't hurt to call too, I suppose. Please pass the word around.

5. There's no place like home. :)

Thank you and have a nice day.

P/S- How come no one had attempted to guess which movie the quotes came from? I'm trying to make this blog more interactive. Choki-choki not enough to encourage your participation, is it? Okay-lah. I increase the number of Choki-choki to 3 sticks! How about that? ;P