Sunday, December 13, 2009

Birthday party: analyze that ^^v

Assalamualaikum and good evening,

I suspected that if Allah hadn't decreed me to be a doctor, I would have made a good linguist. But I digress.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to categorizing people based on their general behaviour. I think (without any research) that most of them tend to divide people to four groups. Keirsey system divides people to Guardians, Rationalists, Artists, and Idealists.

The Four Temperaments (which have roots from the teachings of Hippocrates regarding humorism) on the other hand divides people to:

Sanguine: people person, short attention span, confident, loves to entertain, lively, livewire, fun-loving,spontaneous, extrovert
Choleric: Go-getter, charismatic, leader type, energetic, ambitious, irritable
Phlegmatic: laidback, compassionate, peacemaker, witty, observant, lazy, shy
Melancholic: Introvert, ponderer, thinker, fastidious, reflective, sentimental, depressed

The characteristics are not set in stone. Most people will have a combination of 2 or 3 types, but every body will have a dominating character type.

I attended a friend's birthday party today. Parties are a good way of seeing myriad of people interactions. When the party involves a large gathering of people, say more than 20 people, soon you will see during the course of that party, the formation of little islands of congregation. Subconsciously some people who have good chemistry will band together and mingle around.

There will those who'll be the centre of attentions, some who listened with rapt attention, some who are present physically but let their minds wander, some who observed other people, etc etc.

No prize guessing which type I am eh? hehe. I am a melancholist through and through. But previously I thought my breakdown was this: 70% melancholic, 20% sanguine, and 10% phlegmatic.

But after an evening at a friend's party, I reflected, and realized that maybe it's more like: 70% melancholic, 15% phlegmatic, 10% sanguine, and 5% choleric.

I have always marvelled at my own way of perceiving things. Thinking too much and in a convoluted complicated kind of way comes to me naturally, like breathing or eating.

When guys go to watch movies they do just that; watch movies. But I will find myself thinking about who is the director of that movie and how does this one stack up to his previous films, what was the main actor's previous movies, what would be the best lines from that movie that I would store in my brain and quote relentlessly, etc etc.

And when my friends are enjoying themselves at a friend's birthday party, I was categorizing the guests according to 4 temperaments. hehe. Scary...

And then another unique reflection comes to mind... "I am afraid that in this personality of data-amassing, number-crunching, and hard analyzing..there is no place for a soul-mate (read:women) to understand me"

Lho? koq mikirnya gitu sih? (huh? why do you have that way of thinking)


Just random thoughts in a grey evening.


p/s: Happy birthday Nani! May ur adventures ahead are filled with vibrant colours of joy! ^^v

Friday, December 11, 2009

Leading a simple fulfilling life

Assalamualaikum & evening people..

People who know me say: I think too much, I complicate matters, I worry too much.

Guilty on all charges. (^^)

But allow me to be optimistic. Indulge me.

I like to think that I have improved by leaps and bounds over these past few years. Alhamdulillah.

The key to be happy in life is to be grateful.

We human beings are always led astray by our inherent greed & envy. These 2 characters are considered in Christen-dom as part of the 7 deadly sins. With good reason.

If we can cast away our greed & envy towards other people, we will feel better.

Be grateful with what you have, & never think less of yourself. Never think that you are useless and replaceable. For in the grand scheme of things, each & everyone of us is important in this world, and have our own roles to play; our own niche to fill. To each of us; his/her own unique place in this world.

Count your blessings people! And never give up hope! (^^)

"The world is a lovely place and worth fighting for. I believe with the 2nd part"
-Morgan Freeman; Seven-


Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Sabine Chronicles 4: A dear friend's visit

previous part of the story...It was a cold night

A wet and misty Sunday morning.

The living room radio is fittingly belting out Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning.

Sunday morning rain is falling…steal some cover… share some skin…

Hazami smiles wrily. Rain is definitely falling alright. Bed covers are aplenty. But there’s decidedly no skin. Unless it was his own.

He’s expecting company. The table on the patio is set and ready. Nothing that’s too fancy. French toast, with marmalade aside. Fried eggs. Cups which are twins of each other brimming with ground coffee. Wisps of steam arise from the cups and dissipate to the cold air.

Presently the doorbell rang. “Assalamualaikum” chirped the built-in greeting.

“Waalaikumussalam. Come Sabine, let’s greet him.” Sabine abruptly rose and stretched. “He better bring along some treats or else,” seemed to be the feline’s body language. Hazami chuckled, more to himself.

In the doorway stood Azzim. His dear friend since secondary school days.

“Nice of you to drop by, Azzim. How was the commute from Penang yesterday?How’s the business talk?”
“Both was pleasant. Likewise Zam. It’s been ages.”
“Come, I have set the table for two.” “Meowww,” Sabine protested. “Well, two and a half.” Hazami added apologetically. “Haha, how are you faring, Sabine?” Azzim petted Sabine affectionately. “Here’s some Whiskie. Tuna. Your favourite.” Azzim produced a small pack of cat food. Sabine purred approvingly.

The three of them sat at the table, Sabine at the floor curling with 2 bowls of milk and tuna Whiskie.

Hazami and Azzim spent the greater part of the hour talking about work, old friends, goings-on of the world. They have a lot to catch up about each other. Work and, in Azzim’s case, family, have been occupying them both these days. Azzim, a botanical researcher with USM in Penang, Hazami, young GP doctor upon the throes of registrarship.

“So, you are set on specializing in Medicine?” “If there’s still empty seats for the scholarship from UKM, eitherwise…I am keeping my fingers crossed,” Hazami said. “Other specializations?” “Not really into them much. In fact, back when I was a lowly intern, an OG specialist appraised me physically and said, Kid, you get Medicine stamped all over you. Haha, no, I think Medicine is the best option for me. Either it or I am looking at another opening next time. I am not in a hurry.”

“Well, you know best..”said Azzim. “How is Rafidah and Raudhah?”asked Hazami. “Mom and daughter? Alhamdulillah, they are healthy. It’s been 2 months now since Raudhah was born.” Azzim mused “That’s good to hear. And your Tiger?” “Azri?Scraped his knee for the umpteenth time last week.” Hazami smiled, and added, “Boys of his age are always adventurous. I broke my own forearm bone when I was also 5.”
“Yes, yes. Haha. And it seems only just yesterday I was a doting first-time father.”
And these close friends laughed heartily. And after the peals of laughter subsided, a moment of silence. Sabine is lapping silently at the milk bowl.

Azzim took the initiative, “So, how are you holding up?” “Hmm? Meaning…?” Hazami replied quizzically.

“Come on Zam, you know what I mean. I…don’t take this the wrong way Zam. But don’t you feel lonely? This place you have here, it is nice and cozy. But it is missing something. Don’t you… don’t you want to give it another try?”

Hazami smiled, but it was a tired smile. “Well, I do have Sabine. She’s good company. And Mak, Ayah, and my dear sisters and their families, my friends, all are just a phone away, if it gets really boring..” Hazami patted Sabine absent-mindedly. “Besides, I am busy with work. I don’t have time to go anywhere..”

Azzim sighed. “I’m just worried for you mate, that’s all. You are the only one you know…who are still not hitched.” “Yes, previously it was a contest between me and Hamidah and Zamani right? Haha,” Hazami laughed, but his laughter died abruptly when he saw Azzim’s concerned look. “Well, thanks Zim for your concern. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. It’s just that I have been used to being on my own, that I have adapted to it. Now I cook my own meal. If I grew tired of my cookings, there’s always eat-outs. Cleaning up has always been my forte. There are many more books, countless movies waiting for me to dig my teeth into. My days are occupied to the max, that I never have the time to feel alone.”

Azzim eyed Hazami intently. “Is that really true? I don’t think you yourself believe in what you said just now. I know you brother. Maybe more than anyone else.”
Hazami sighed a deep long sigh. “I suppose you are right. Maybe it was my own self that I was trying so hard to convince. This house…” Hazami waved his hand around, “…needs its Queen. But you, Zim, of all people should understand. I am tired. It’s always the same with each woman. They will always say: You think too much. You are not confident enough. You are just too childish. You are too analytical. You make a mountain out of a mole-hill. You are fretful. You are not old enough. You are just too weird.. And the list goes on. Not to mention all those cheatings and lyings. That wardrobe there is bursting open.”

Azzim nodded sympathetically. Hazami had that curious habit of storing an iconic item which signifies each and everyone of his relationship in one mahogany wardrobe in his house. It is fitted with see-through glass panels, 1 metre by half a metre, with 3 rows. And it’s full to the brim. Letters, dried up flower petals, pendants.

“I…..I don’t know what to expect anymore. I know that time is not on my side. At 34, I can’t elect to be choosy. Do you think that I have been…well….too selective?”asked Hazami.

Azzim closed his eyes and reflected. All those run of bad lucks. Improper timing. Being hoodwinked a couple of times by money-grabbing women. Not the right situation. And Azzim thought, “No.” Hazami was always accommodating of other people’s faults. He was willing to accept folks for who they are. And Azzim answered likewise. “No, you are not.” Azzim added, “But never give up hope, Zam. Never give up hope, I implore you. You are a special one in my eye. Never thought of less of yourself. Maybe…maybe Allah saved the best for you, for last.”

Hazami smiled, “Ameen. Thank you. I never really gave up hope.”

Then the conversation continued for a little while. Until it’s time to leave.

“Thanks for the meal. Keep in touch…and keep your spirits up.” “I will Zim. I will. Regards to Rafidah, wouldn’t you?” “Of course I will. Assalamualaikum. Bye Sabine.” “Waalaikumussalam.” “Purr,” come Sabine’s answer. Upon that cue, Azzim and his Peugeot, was gone. Back to Penang.

“Well, Sabine, time to clean up.” “Meoww.”

That night, while Hazami was taking in the wondrous night sky peppered with glowing stars, through the glass roof, he said a silent prayer. “O Allah, let there be no more new additions to that mahogany wardrobe. I can’t afford to buy a new one.”

He smiled, and drifted to Morpheous’ realm again. At that armchair by the bookcase, to the tune of Celine Dion’s When I Fall in Love….

When I fall in love…it would be forever..or I’ll never fall in love..”
“And the moment that…I feel that…you feel that way too…is when I fall in love..with…you….

He drifted more and more deep in his slumber, but with a difference tonight.

With hope.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Sabine Chronicles 3: It was a cold night...

previous part of the story...Not taking his own medicine

So cold.

The car's thermometre implied that the air outside was 22 Celsius.

He stopped at the local 7-11 to grab some milk.

"Evening Dr!" chirped Grace the cashier. "Evening.." was the tired reply. "Tired" was strengthened by the panda eyes, that haggard appearance, the 2-day shirt. The unruly sorry excuse for a hair.

Tired! Was the unanimous equivocal statement.

"Are those Good Day ones in stock, Grace dear?" "Sorry, sold out for the day. But the Dutch Lady's are at the back."

He cringed. Dutch Lady is a bit expensive. All the same, he took two of the Lady's.

"Working late Dr?" "At the end of a 2-day shift. Going home for a while to have my 40 winks," he replied with a wry smile.

"So, Dr, when is our big date?" Grace said with mischievous eyes. He smiled. "If I have told u, I have said it a million times. I am too old for you. Wouldn't want to be charged with a minor."

"Aww, too bad. I was hoping that we can go to somewhere cozy..." "Bye Grace!Nite!" Grace's advances was cut short.

That last 1 km drive home was uneventful. "Damn that Grace!" Always teasing him. Another tired smile. Rounding that last cul-de-sac, parking his Toyota Vios.

"Assalamualaikum. Sabine! I'm home!"

Down came Sabine from upstairs, prancing gracefully. Quite the feminine grace. With that haughty blue eyes. Colour of lapis lazuli. Striking.
Air of confidence. Like she commanded the room. Sucking the very air into her. Like an endless vortex.
That silky hair. Soft to the touch.
Those lovely curves. Shapely.

"There you are! Do you miss me? Hope you have eaten those dishes that I've prepared for you." He stroked her hair. "I've got you some milk" he added. She eyed him thoughtfully.

And he went to prepare himself his first square meal in days. Nothing sashy. Just fried rice with omelette. The one that everyone can whip up in 20 mins. He also cooked for his dear Sabine.

They had a simple dinner together. Of course, Sabine must have her dinner with milk. All the while he was regaling her about that difficult specialist Dr. Ifrinda, or about Puan Malika's improving conditions, or Azzim's new son, or Angah's salary increase, Adik's new job, Dad's new golf set, and about Mum's impending retirement.

He was content after that. For Sabine is very a good listener. She makes the speaker feel appreciated.

He cleaned things up. For eventhough Sabine is a good listener, she was no good in tidying things up. Some might consider that a fatal error. It was fine by him.

And then he went to his armchair by the hi-fi.
Next to the armchair was a bookcase stuffed to the brim with books. All kinds of books imagineable. Most of the books are well-worn. Testament that he has read them countless times.

He plucked a cd into that old hi-fi. Out came the classic song I Dont Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith.

To the tune of that song he picked Tere-Liye's Bidadari Surga from the bookshelf. Tere-Liye is an Indonesian writer. His writings are about slice-of-life. Perseverance. Hope. Struggle.

He read it for the umpteenth time. While absent-mindedly stroking Sabine's hair. Steve Tyler's voice in his ears.

Past the half-hour mark, he fell asleep on that armchair. Upon closer inspection, that armchair too seemed well-worn. As if the owner constantly fell asleep while reading there. And that was the case actually. Has always been for years now. He rarely sleeps in his bedroom anymore. Preferring this sanctuary of armchair/hi-fi/bookcase to the splendor of his bedroom.
He is more contented this way.

"I dont wanna close my eyes...I dont wanna fall asleep..coz I miss you baby..and I dont wanna miss a thin'.."

But he did fall asleep.

Sabine, seeing him slipping into Morpheus' realm, slowly yawned herself. But she was not quite tired. She's not diurnal anyway. Nocturnal is her biology. And then she pranced on her four legs.


Yes, four. For she is not Homo sapiens. More like Felis domesticus.

The book Bidadari Surga slowly falls from his lap. The upturned page is page 290. A sentence commanded our attention.

"Ia sudah terbiasa dengan kesendiriannya..."

continued in...A dear friend's visit

First 2 months in clinical rotations...


I started my clinical rotations of 2 years on 4th May 2009 (which is also Adik's birthday, that's 2 pivotal moments on 1 date).

Due to luck of the draw, my first posting was Obstetrics and Gynecology (henceforth OG) department for 2 months.

Just finished OG. Got a break for 1 week before entering ENT (Ear Nose Throat) department.

Havent got any pictures as mementos of my exp in OG. I am just not a picture-snapper. But "a picture is worth more than a thousand word", or so they say. Must change this habit :) . The dearth of pictures in my collection also means the dearth of memories.

Entering clinical rotations (henceforth CR) means being a member of a permanent group of colleague. All of the students in my batch are broken down to small groups of 11 to 12 people. Big dept like OG will constitute a permanent combination of 2 groups.

Since through the theoretical years foreign students have a different schedule than Indonesian students, this is my first time of truly mixing with my Indonesian friends. Alhandulillah, I can get along well with my group members. (which is a given, considering that these are the people I will work with for the next 2 years).

So, the past 2 months have taught me a lot of things, and got me thinking very hard.

The moment you wore that white coat, it entails a lot of things. Responsibility, accountability. People trusted you a lot. And if you are not deserving of that white coat, you must buck up or ship out. Every time I wore that white coat, I felt undeserving. Feeling that I have to be better as a doctor.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Being Sensitive to All Human Tragedies Irrespective of Race, Nations, or Creed: Part 1

Assalamualaikum and good morning,

Without meaning to make light of the gravity of situation in the recent Gaza conflict, which in itself is deserving of our unbridled attention, there are other plights afflicting groups of people which we might not be aware of, due to lack of media coverage, because their plights are "not important to the political global landscape".

First, there are the plight of the Rohingyas, an ethnic group of mostly Islam by religion which traditionally lives in Arakan, in northern Myanmar. They are a marginalised community in Myanmar, deprived of their ancestral land and rights for Myanmar citizenship.
Prof. Gabriele Marranci wrote about their plight in three of his articles (in chronological order) : The other, invisible suffering of Burma; Rohingya Odyssey: a silent cultural genocide?; and Rohingya Muslims and injustice: a security issue? . Their plight are not even listed in the list of ongoing conflicts worldwide in Wikipedia.

Excerpts from Marranci's articles:

"Rohingya Muslims are victims of their lack of strategic value, both for their native Southeast Asia and the wider international community. Similarly to the tragic reality of Black Muslims in Darfur, their lives have no economic, or political, value for the rest of our cynical world."

"It is clear that the Islamic concept of ummah has little value when compared to political interests. Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh, as in other Muslim countries such as Indonesia or Malaysia , are no more welcomed than in Thailand. Rohingya Muslims have protested, even recently, and tried to make more and more people aware, especially other ‘brothers’ and ’sisters’, of their intolerable condition. Yet who is really listening to them?"

"...the majority of Muslims, even those so ready to violently scream and shamefully misbehave in the name of a free Palestine, will not whisper even a single word to help these ‘brothers’. How many Muslims have heard an imam mention the name Rohingya during his supplication (Du’a) for Afghanis, Palestinians, Iraqis and even perhaps the Chechen muhajedeen?"

" ...many Muslim governments...still play the ‘Muslim ummah’ card, as in the case of the Danish Cartoons, when it is needed for their political games - but never when ordinary Muslims, like the Rohingya, without political value to barter with, find themselves oppressed."

"...the discussion is not about them, as human beings or to address their issues, but rather about how to get rid of them as quickly as possible."

Next, is the Darfur conflict raging in Sudan. Last year, the conflict managed to grab headlines for a stretch of time, before being relegated to the dustbins of journalism. The conflict is between people of African-Arab descent (specifically the Janjaweeds, allegedly helped by the Sudanese government) and the Black Africans living in Darfur province of Sudan. UN estimated that around 300 000 people had died. Further information can be gleaned from Wikipedia and the BBC.

The Gaza conflict has ceased for the time being, but the Sri Lankan conflict is still ongoing. The conflict is between the Sri Lankan Government (dominated by the Sinhalese) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who fights for an independent state for the Tamil minority. Since the conflict initially erupted in 1983, 80 000 people has been killed. Now, after years of fighting, it seemed that the balance of power has shifted to the Sri Lankan Army, who has occupied most of north-eastern Sri Lanka (LTTE power base) and pushed the LTTE to a strip of land there.
However, about 200 000 civilians (est.) who are mostly Tamils and not affiliated to LTTE are still trapped in the crossfire.

I was drawn to these conflicts, because it seemed to me that the immediate circle of people around me are sometimes selective in tuning their compassion to the victims of human conflicts.

(to be continued...) Part 2

Broadening Your Horizons About the Gaza Incident

Assalamualaikum and good evening,

Since I havent been actively blog-hopping for the past few months, when I do blog-hop for a few hours today, digging up blog archives, there are some noteworthy articles that piqued my interest, and I would like to share with you guys.

The first group of articles is about the current Gaza conflict between Israel and Palestine (going on for close to 60 years now).

My heart goes out to all the innocent civilians who died or were maimed during the conflict, irrespective of Palestinians or Jews. Contrary to popular belief, not all Jews support the active war effort perpetrated by the Israeli government against the Palestinians, although I cant vouch as to the number of these peace-minded Jews. But it can be said that most of the casualties during the 6 decades of conflict have been Palestinians.

Read these articles with an open heart.

Prof. Gabriele Marranci argues that the conflict might be a way for both Kadima and Hamas to appease their respective citizens, trapping them in a cycle of death.
He also argues that if we truly analyze the conflict, it is a political conflict, not a religious one.

Mustafa Akyol wrote that the main problem is that both sides seemed to think that their cause is the right one, and the other side is the evil one.

Tun Dr Mahathir also wrote a series of rebuttals to the claims made by the Jews regarding the conflict.

I hope that you will gain something from them.


Entering Clinical years...Finally!

Assalamualaikum and good evening,

If my blog page is considered a bookshelf, festoons of cobwebs will be dangling from its corners.

The past few months have been very crucial for me. I was finishing my theoretical years, culminating with the important exam of Penilaian Berbasis Kompetensi Ko-Asisten, aka PBKK for short in Indonesian language. In English, roughly it translates to Med Interns Assesment Based on their Competency.

What makes PBKK more terrifying to us UGM med students was due to its nature of not relying on written answers, but rather your skills and ability to cope with pressure. Basically, you have to perform a series of clinical skills (anamnesis, delivering a baby, suturing skins, etc. ) in a limited time-frame while having your lecturers breathing up your neck like vultures feasting upon carrions.

Well, I did exaggerate a bit, hehe.

Add to the fact that you never know what your exact questions would be until the moment you enter the exam room, e.g. we know that Room 1 is for Emergency Cases, but will we get CPR and ET, or CPR with Splint? How about Integrated Patient Management (IPM)? Will I get the comparatively lightweight TB, or will I get the devious CHF?

So, at the end of the day, it's a combination of hard work and pure luck.
Some will work their a** off for this exam and still flunked it because they get the 'perfectionist' examiners who expect you to do everything to a tee, or because they get the HIV case, or because their nerves just fail them.
Others with less work rate might find the exam plain sailing and pass because they have 'kind' examiners (oh, they are still students...still long as they don't mess up too much...), or they might get that TB or Malaria case.

Oh, the PBKK was on 24 February, 4 days ago. Results will be out by 14 March.
If I pass it, Insya Allah I am eligible to enter the clinical rotations come 23 March.
If I don't, then I will have to wait another month before I had another go for PBKK remedial.
Yup, that's right, another month of waiting while your friends are practicing at the hospitals.
With a failure rate of between 50 to 60% for first-timers, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

What to do between 24/2 and 14/3 you say? Well, I am currently back in Malaysia now for 2 weeks break. Figured that since in clinical years my longest holidays would be 1 week breaks, I am spending time with my family now. Clinical years would be close to 2 years before completion.

Hope that me and my fellow batchmates will all be part of the first intake for clinical rotations, Insya Allah.

But for now, a break. The calm before the storm.... :)