Thursday, June 30, 2005

Top Ten Reasons Why I Should Shave My Head

Top Ten Reasons Why I Should Shave My Head

10. i can shave off 2 minutes each morning, not having to comb my hair
9. i'm losing hair anyway
8. i'll stop stealing (no shedding = no surgical tape needed to pick up stray pieces of hair = no stealing of surgical tape from the wards = a sin-free life)
7. that annoying spider nesting in my long hair
6. sean connery, bruce willis, mitch pileggi
5. i got a wig as a present
4. a little voice in my head telling me to cut it off, cut it all off!
3. my favourite doctor is bald (hey Dr Ramesh Sahathevan!)
2. people will think i have too much testosterone
1. apparently bald people won't get a hernia


my mom has always been on my case about long hair, but ever since i came home bald, she kinda stopped complaining about long hair, and wished i had more. it's been a yearly ritual since 1st year actually, when i let all my friends take turns with the scissors and shaver, outside my room door. made a mess, but everyone had a wonderful time lopping stuff off.

there are many socio-cultural and politico-religious issues when it comes to shaving. the Lord Murugan requires His disciples to shave an odd number of times in their lifetimes as offerings to Him. Sikhism requires adherents to never have a haircut. a long time ago, it was decreed by the Pope that people with long hair should be excommunicated while living, and not be prayed for when dead.

the House of Clovis, forerunner of the modern French state, believed that it was the exclusive privilege of the royal family to have their hair long, and curled. long hair, apparently, needed a lot more attention and care than short hair, and it was a luxury that can only be accorded to the rich and famous. Alexander the Great cut off all the hair of his men in order that their long hair and beards cannot be grasped by their enemies during battle. bald men are looked upon variously as jokes or testosterone-laden sexy timebombs.

shaved heads indicate penitence, sacrifice, offerings, religious humility, prostration, comfort with one's own self-image, and a million other positive connotations. i'm all for that, and more!

off i go into the barber's chair!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

blog to your heart's desire

i write tonnes of letters to myself, on blank white sheets of paper, committing my deepest feelings, fears and fantasies into black and white. blogs, i have found, do not permit me to be completely honest with how i feel, simply because i cannot control the type of audience who will read my scripts.

there seems to be a need for a two-faced approach to life now, even a 3-faced one. one is the public face that we portray, the necessary second of our (often intensely) private lives, and a third perhaps, of a digital presence. why the dichotomy, or trichotomy? why can't there be an amalgamation of all our selves, without having to screen through the words that we write and the emotions we feel?

i find myself being careful about the things i write about, not wanting to implicate myself (with ill-defined laws about moral culpability and legal responsibility in place, it's best to be discreet) or offend anyone. the problem with this is that it goes against the very essence of what a blog is about: freedom of expression unrestrained by normal conventions and an avenue to reveal your own soul in all its glory or grossness.

but blogs are good, if you let it challenge yourself to exercise discipline, intellect, discretion, judgment. if i can keep this up, i should be a better person at the end of this journey.

in the mean time, where's the rest of my crisp, spotless, white paper? :-)


i'm back! HUKM feels pretty good, but i guess that's because i'm so used to the setup here that it took me a few days to get used to telukintan, and by the time i got used to the setup there, it was time to come back already!

(if someone wants to be a surgeon, they'd best try the first 2 years of their masters in a district hospital under a good surgeon, where there isn't competition for cutting time. i suppose medicine is better done at a tertiary, there won't be much competition for patient management.)

funnily enough, i'm drawn to surgery now more than medicine. i hope it's just my fickle nature that's making me feel that way... surgery is tough, and very demanding, personally and professionally. but i enjoy it so much, the practicals, the theory, the use of hands and knots and instruments (a throwback to Scouts perhaps?), the immediacy of results.

i'm not by nature a very patient man, and i'd love to be very efficient with patients and not have chronic management as part of my life. i guess.

murky future lies ahead of you, young apprentice!

Friday, June 24, 2005


yippee! teluk intan was a wonderful place, with this irresistible small-town charm. you could feel the change of pace that was present in the air, where everyone took things in a very unhurried way, with lots of patience and lots of smiles and lots of understanding.

one morning we stopped at the traffic lights, and an indian lady on a motorcycle puled up beside the car, and i smiled at her, and she smiled back! that's not something that ordinarily happens in KL, and not even in taiping these days. people are so much more suspicious when it comes to the bigger cities in malaysia.

the hospital is a nice place to work in, albeit small. the patients that are there are much more rural and much more traditional than the HUKM ones (guess lots of exposure to lots of different types of patients is a good thing). their tolerance to pain and to discomfort is far higher than the average city dude, and they have a higher faith in traditional means of curing themselves.

i saw the cases that you'd normally expect in a more rural setting, like a breast cancer that (literally) fell off after she refused a mastectomy because her brother didn't want her to. interestingly, there were ultra-modern and exotic diagnoses such as the young woman who just got married who was diagnosed with honeymoon cystitis! (cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, commonly in women, manifesting as painful urination, usually caused by infection or in this case possible increased sexual activity)

it became like a short holiday really, with 2 very good friends (hello alex and weichieh!), doing interesting things in an small town. yup, we saw the leaning tower, and had a really good cendol, plus some good meals too!

Thursday, June 23, 2005


*phew* the house the UKM provided in teluk intan was terrible! they weren't kidding also when they said that district hospitals are hardship postings too!

it's been an interesting time, but there's hardly enough time to sit down and properly chronicle the very interesting stories and happenings here.

i'm having fun, but there are a lot of pulling factors back to KL, and HUKM. can't wait to get back!

Monday, June 20, 2005

teluk intan sighes

i really hate going for these small holidays without a really good reason. i hate the process of packing and unpacking (twice, both here and there), missing the little things that make life bearable, making the arrangements for things that can or need to happen when you're not around, being irritated by the abrupt change in your normally pleasant lives and having to get used to it, and then after having gotten used to it promptly reverses into a sickening sense of normal service resumed.

*sigh* i was looking forward to teluk intan last week when friends were telling me how exciting and educational it all is, but now that i'm faced with the prospect of packing (including small annoyances like phone chargers, stationery, a shaving blade) and internet-deprivation and gmail-neurosis... things have changed.

*doublesigh* can't i learn as well in HUKM? now i'm rebelling, i feel like some kind of labrat thrust into some experiment that he has no control over. what black magic is the UKM admin thinking of now?

*triplesigh* i've got nothing against teluk intan, and i remain certain that given some time i can get comfortable in whatever surroundings i find myself in, with at least the caveat that i'll be spending some time there. the rationale is this: if i'm spending too short and too temporary a stint anywhere, there's no reason to invest time/money/effort in making yourself too comfortable.

i went to pintu 1 today for the clinic, which ended much too quickly. a new community numbering about 50pax with common cases. the most unusual one was epistaxis, which needed a referral. otherwise unremarkable.

the whole operation is a lot bigger and structured than i remember. a lot more sites, but the number of doctors remain quite static, though volunteers etc are quite numerous. recognition both internally and internationally is increasing, and it shows exactly how much impact Kumpulan ACTS Berhad (hmm, will it get listed soon?) has had on Malaysia and the world.

it's World Refugee Day tomorrow, and we should spend some time reflecting on the 10 million refugees worldwide (seems too low a figure, but vicarious criticism of CNN is banned on this blog) who ran away from home, just to get a job or to get a meal or to get a chance to live.

they are living in sometimes sub-human conditions, and the last time anyone used that word properly was Hitler, who justified the treatment of Jews by labelling them sub-human. objectification is an altogether unsophisticated tool of denial.

As i have made my bed, now let me lie in it. - Anon

Sunday, June 19, 2005

breaking down borders

one of my favourite philosophers is a french guy named Jacques Derrida. he's a bit strange in that he wanted to popularise philosophy and at the same time debunk the myth that philosophy is difficult to understand and is reserved only for those shaggy-haired, chain-smoking, sloppily-dressed fools wasting their lives with their cups of black coffee (or double latte chocolate-twist mochavaganza, these days) in dingy sidewalk cafes.

so what did he do? he pioneered this new way of thinking called Deconstructionism, which is basically deconstructing the foundation of philosophy and language and literature and asking the very fundamental questions that the layperson should be able to ask when it comes to even the deepest philosophy; what is right? what is legitimate? what is real?

it's almost zen-like isn't it? those questions seem so innocent, kinda like the ones that a child may ask. but it is anything but innocent. Deconstructionism is provocative, it asks us to question even the most basic of all truths. politics and social sciences will never be the same again, but it's interesting to note that Deconstructionism started out as a literary tool in order to not be influenced by the Western-centric messages that were believed to be inside most books written by philosophers.

i don't pretend to be an expert on this bit, even the Cambridge dons had a bit of a quarrel whether or not to award Mr Derrida a honorary degree. let's talk about something easier!


i love bookshops! there's just something to be said for being surrounded by lots of books of every imaginable genre, size, colour and theme! my favourite bookshop is Kinokuniya in KLCC; bright, breezy, lots of sunshine and windows and good books. the first few years of my life in KL were spend happily in Kinokuniya, sometimes hours worth of it at a stretch.

i've been postponing going to Borders in Times Sq for some time, because i sorta wanted my virginal experience in Borders to be well, special. i guess i wanted to do justice to a brilliant bookshop.

nothing special about today, except i went to watch a movie in times sq (Mr and Mrs Smith turned out only acceptably fair, despite rave comments from friends), and then was seized by an urge to go in and have a good look.

a starbucks in the corner with excellent chairs, tonnes of books on subjects that amaze me: not even kinokuniya stocks such a selection of books. i haven't even gone upstairs yet, and the books downstairs already stagger me.

there were leather-bound hard covers of Meditations and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, plus socially-provocative books like Why Society Needs Dissent (ain't seen that before), lots of Calvin and Hobbes, and a whole section on Magritte!

it's such a happy place, with lots of nice quotes on the wall, nice colours, warm smell of coffee and tinkling laughter from the starbucks patrons... he-a-ven!

the only problem with Borders is the annoying sound of that stupid indoor roller-coaster 3 storey up that also gives off a dull vibration. bzzzbzzzbzzz how's anyone going to get any reading done? also, an entire section in the direct centre of the lower floor was given up to world of fengshui (no doubt the site was chosen carefully by Ms Too herself). c'mon, surely business isn't going to pick up if you have fengshui ornaments irritating your customers? bookshops are bookshops, not some psychological balm for the spiritually wounded.

all in all, Kino's got some stiff competition. not passing judgment now, but i'm sure my hand will be forced one day soon.

If i have a little money i buy books. With what is left i buy food and clothes - Desiderius Erasmus

Saturday, June 18, 2005


jacquesderrida everclear catch-22 theindependent tokillamockingbird billieholliday persephone renemagritte pabloneruda sarahmclachlan capetown vikramseth juliannemoore jeremyclarkson trainspotting linkinpark nigelreo-coker desperatehousewives kevinspacey collateral jocelinetan newbornbabies hieronymusbosch thematrix thegodfather ahouseformrbiswas theeconomist francescfabregas googoodolls jeremybentham oscarwilde lost platoon lavender deco sisyphus noamchomsky maureendowd theprimeofmissjeanbrodie gavindegraw bread thomasfriedman tuesdayswithmorrie nicolekidman lisaloeb animalfarm paulocoelho countingcrows theguardian georgeorwell georgebush *phew* georgesantayana betterthanezra thenewyorktimes thepretenders oxfordhandbookofclinicalmedicine CSI ingoodcompany michellebranch thegrapesofwrath u2 fionaapple kurtvonnegut xabialonso fuel vladimirnabokov gladiator cesarebeccaria jamiefoxx inverness se7en theusualsuspects thirdeyeblind freshlycutgrass charlieandthechocolatefactory raycharles perseus champagnefuchsia frankafka johncarpenter duncansheik armanimania dubai thomasaquinas sherylcrow lolita lennykravitz bravenewworld dylanthomas theinsider geoffreyrobertsonqc 1984 marcovanbasten ironandwine vsnaipaul

THERE! now that i've told the world what my favourite newspaper traveldestination book movie actor singer greekmyth philosopher smell footballer author tvseries actress colour poet newspapercolumnist is, i can move on to talking about things other than myself.

after all, we're only as interesting as what we're talking about, not who.

Friday, June 17, 2005

dream workplaces

we all dream of a perfect working environment, doing the things we like, with the people we like, and certainly getting paid the kinda money we like! my dream workplace is filled with a lot of people with a sense of humour, a broadband internet connection, copies of The Economist, good speakers with sarah mclachlan singing to you.

in my "chosen" profession, i guess it becomes doubly important to have nice people around you when you're deprived of sleep, threatened with unmentionables from nasty superiors, screamed at by patients/nurses/insufferable know-it-all medical students, and what-not (and sigh, no broadband, no Economist, no good speakers and definitely no sarah mclachlan).

that's why i really like the current house officers in surgery. they're a bunch of *very* nice people, and part of the charm of being in the wards (once detestable thoughts, yuck!) is their presence.

i can only hope for as efficient, as helpful, as friendly and as charming a bunch of co-workers when i finally step out into the blinding light of the working world.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

secrets posted

there is a charming blog i found today, with lots of postcards sent by people with their deepest, darkest, funniest secrets written/printed/scrawled on them and then scanned and posted on the internet.

the word catharsis jumped to mind, and how sometimes just telling all your problems to a complete stranger on the train and having a positive reaction from them, can change the world for you. anonymity is important for everyone, as it allows us to be our *real* selves without having someone we know there to judge our actions.

i guess that's why the internet is the ultimate in the anonymous universe, broadcasting your life and its contents to all and sundry, to a million strangers at once, at worst the pinnacle of self-masturbatory self-publicity, at best the pinnacle of revelation-based emotional therapy.

a permanent presence

*tap*tap* does this thing work?