Sunday, April 30, 2006

Talk to me, son

Through my observations lately, I find varying degrees of communication between parents and their child/children. It can range from being completely open ie. you know what I know and what I did, to absolute secrecy. I dunno if you know but I am not letting you know anyway.

The whole concept of good communication between say, a father and a son is good, definitely. It shows the extent of comfort and confidence that the child has in the parent that he doesn't mind sharing or seeking advice from a parent about whether or not he should propose to a girl. Think Gilmore Girls, about the mother and daughter who are so close in everything so much so people like me may mistake them for being lesbo. Notwithstanding that, having a parent knowing about what a child is doing would be essential in ensuring that the child is properly guided. It forges a bond between parent and child; they tend to learn to understand each other better and hopefully learn to compromise too. But this is all assuming that parents to begin with, are 1) bothered or have the time to sit down and talk to their children; 2) "friendly" and approachable enough for a child to confide in them. In conservative Asian families, parents are always regarded as the authority who more often than not, rule with an iron hand. This is done for the sake of bringing up the children well, that they will be well disciplined, hardworking, won't do drugs and will bring pride to their families. But in doing so, it leaves little room for their children to express themselves. They obey their parents whole-heartedly (or risk being caned and not having pocket money for the next week) and really, you don't expect them to go against their parents' instructions eg. of not getting involved in a relationship while still in school. Let alone discuss with them about that cute girl in the next class. Or about changes in puberty. Through time, what we see is a sort of barrier that grows between them. Children acknowledge that while their parents may have been pivotal in their success, they can't exactly treat them as a friend either. An authority remains an authority and that's as far as the relationship goes.

While that maybe the scenario experienced during our parents' days and maybe even till today by some of us, I see much change in some families nowadays. Probably through Western influence and education, some parents I know are amazingly cool and friendly to their children, yet not letting their children forget who's in charge. Sorry if I always draw parallels from boy-girl relationships, but really I know of friends who actually discuss with their parents on whether they should dump the guy/girl or not, and how they should go about it. I seen alot of interaction and good conversations between mother and son; on the child's future plannings or life's ups and downs over ice-cream or on the swing. It's really great and enviable to have such an approachable parent who comes down to your level and isn't one who's waiting to hear of your wrongdoing and then pounce on you. The family I come from is a conservative one, exactly like how I described it earlier. Dinner time on weekends is mainly about surface stuff, like "How's your studies?" or "Has the toilet leak been fixed?". I just feel weird to initiate conversations with them, especially my father who has since young been really strict with me. The feeling is just peculiar, if you know what I mean.

My parents are also the type who thinks they know something about me, but yet don't ask for confirmation until I tell them so. Even though I have been with Elena for the past three years, they do suspect something of that sort but still have not asked me about it till today. I don't know if they are afraid that by asking me for confirmation, they have to come up with an unfavourable response to me. If they say it's ok, it means they have allowed me to disobey their instructions of not getting into a relationship while still studying (because apparently love and studies don't mix). If they say no, they risk breaking my heart and causing unrest in the family because I know they know how much I am into this relationship.

Well, personally if only I had started or learned to communicate with my parents more freely since young, things need not be so awkward sometimes. And let's be friendly parents to our kids next time too.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Apalling

How can a relationship of a couple which showed the world (and each other) of its then stability, mutual loyalty and unwavering love for each other end so abruptly simply due to the reason that "it is getting boring"??? Even if it was, what a coincident that this happened when the couple was seperated long distance for the first time, after a mere one month?!

IMHO, if only PAS MP Abdul Fatah had rephrased his earlier remarks on divorcees and widows to "some long distance-seperated couples tend to be more gatal while abroad", perhaps there would have been more truth to that than the former.

Breaking long distance relationships---a matter of convenience or lack of commitment?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Of Poverty and Negligence

This is a real life account of a story related to me by a mother whom I met at the O&G Clinic of Hospital Seremban last Wednesday. It is as true as how the teary mother told me, and I find it deeply disturbing and worthy to be blogged here.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are my sampling days. I travel all the way south to Hospital Seremban at the crack of dawn in search of suitable candidates' blood samples for use of my research project. Wednesdays are booking days (ie. days when mothers come in for their FIRST checkup and also BOOK their slot for delivery at the same hospital), and it also happens to be less chaotic than Thursdays which are purely for antenatal checkups. Last Wednesday as usual, Elena screened through the pile of fresh records to identify mothers that fitted into the criteria of our projects and one by one, I called them into my room by pressing their queue numbers.

After seeing two mothers, I came across this file of a Chinese mother with her Obstetrics history in the red. Well this is not the first time I have come across such a case, and in fact, 8 out of 10 mothers actually have past histories in the red; which means some where along their multiple pregnancies they had had at least one failed one, either a miscarriage or elective abortion etc. In this case, it stated that the 3rd child died after 6 months of gestation, apparently due to strangulation by the umbilical cord. While I am aware that such an incident is possible, it also intrigued me as to how it could have been missed by the mother and doctors whom she met. Cases of umbilical cord strangulations are rare, especially at later gestational ages since the foetus would have already been able to kick around (medical term: quickening) and would definitely show signs of distress if it really had the cord round its neck. Examination by the doctor using ultrasound and some basic experience would be able to detect the problem and can be rectified by emergency operation. Of course if the mother doesn't mistake the sudden extra kicking as simply a stomachache and delay medical attention.

So having greeted the distraught and haggard mother, I proceeded into some history taking in 100% Mandarine. When I started to ask her about her third child, it was when she completely took over the conversation; she broke down in tears and went on telling me the whole story of how she lost the child with a mix of absolute sadness and anger in her voice.

One fine day in her sixth month of pregnancy in the year 2003, she felt that there was an extraordinarily peculiar movement in her "stomach" that persisted since the night before and showed no signs of abatement even on the morning of the day after. She suspected something was not quite right and decided to visit the Klinik Kesihatan in Jelebu where she used to go for her regular checkups. The clinic is the nearest from her place, and it is one hour away by bus not to mention the process of waiting for one to come by. After one hour of standing in a packed bumpy bus, she arrived at the clinic and was seen by a doctor. All the doctor did was just ask a few questions, gave her some pain killers and sent her home, without any physical examination or anything more. Probably in blind obedience or sheer ignorance, she just left the clinic and went back home, with many questions left unanswered. But the pain was still felt. And mind you, her husband happens to be working as a rather odd job worker, and he is rarely at home according to her, let alone accompany her for checkups or listen to her problems.

On the following day, realising that the pain was obviously not cured by the painkillers, she decided to go the extra miles to come to Hospital Seremban for help. Again, she had to endure the rough ride and stuffiness of the old jallopy minibus, this time for more than one hour and with her little son tagging along. After arriving at the hospital, she had to wait another hour before she could actually see a doctor. The doctor examined her this time and wrote her a referral letter to be passed to a particular doctor at the Jelebu Klinik Kesihatan, since it would be a little more convenient for her to go to that clinic. The doctor also did mention to her that there was a possibility that her foetus was actually having a cord around his neck (it was a male foetus by the way) and wrote down his finding/probable diagnosis in the referral letter too. The strange thing here is, why didn't the Seremban Hospital doctor admit her and get the problem diagnosed and rectifed there itself? Wouldn't the small clinic also refer her back to the general hospital for operation? Anyway she was pleased that at least she got a little more information here and hoped that with the letter the doctors at Jelebu will look into her problem more seriously.

On day 3, she went back to the same clinic in Jelebu and showed the letter to a doctor on duty there. To her horror, that particular doctor just quickly brushed her aside and said that no such person exists. When she tried to explain more, the doctor just rudely argued and growled back at her and even told her not to come back to the clinic anymore in future. At this point she was totally stumped; she had been going up and down hoping to find a solution or at least someone who may treat her case seriously but all she got was a dead end. Totally depressed, and not to mention the pain still persisting, she went home and decided to go back to Hospital Seremban the day after to get treatment. It was her only ray of hope left for her baby boy to be saved.

Day 4. The pain ceased in the morning, and soon later her amniotic sac broke. She rushed to Hospital Seremban crying incessantly and doctors there did an emergency operation to take out the already dead foetus. To make things even worse, the nurses tried to make her sign a form of acknowledgement that her foetus was dead without even showing her the foetus. She had to practically cry and beg to get a glimpse of her foetus before it was taken away for good.

Till this day, she holds the doctors responsible for the death of her would-have-been third baby boy. She kept telling me that "It is you all who caused the death of my son. I am also very poor and I can't do anything but to follow the whims of you people". Personally, I felt very ashamed that something like this actually happened; by either laziness or negligence of the S.O.B. doctor in Jelebu, the lack of common sense and consideration of the Seremban doctor and the ultimate is the young Malay doctor whom she met on the second occasion who practically chased her off. Also if only she could afford to have a car, or a house nearer to town or the money to visit a private clinic, there is a higher chance that the foetus could have been saved. To me, it is poverty and the doctors' negligence that killed her son; and along the way had her heart broken to a thousand pieces and made her lose all trust in the healthcare system. Seeing me was a phobia to her, but thankfully I managed to console her and she even agreed to participate in
my project.

I sincerely hope that her third child that she is carrying now will be fine, and that God forbid such irresponsible and idiotic doctors who take advantage of poor, uneducated people to be found on this earth ever.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

PC Fair

It's the time of the year again when people get great bargains for anything PC related-from RAMs to hard disks to printers and even screws for desktops.

Few of us went on Friday, the first day of the fair hoping to get some nice deals. Most people think that on the last day (Sunday) there would be the cheapest deals around, but apparently I was told that by Sunday most stuff would have been sold out or the stock level would be low and hence prices should go UP instead. So anyway we went on Friday, and while my friends bought themselves laptops and PDAs, I got myself a 512MB RAM stick and an 80GB HDD. I swapped my original 30GB HDD with the 80 GB one, and along the way faced all sorts of problems. I had troubles pulling out the delicate film like connector from the back of the hard disc (of which few pins were bent when I forced out the connector eventually), getting the darn thing recognised by my computer, getting it formatted and mainly reinstalling everything back like usual. That explains why I am posting a bit late. Other side effects include having about RM500 less from my piggy bank, and a sore thumb as a result of trying to be forceful yet gentle in fixing and dismantling the old HDD from its casing. Aargh.

Nevertheless I must say that the prices there are really at a bargain. Things that are usually sold for RM400 go for RM340, only during the 3 days. So even if you have to squeeze and push and get lost in the fair (as in my case), the savings are really worth it. But we must also consider the fact that most people driven by the big discounts opportunity, tend to be impulsive in their buying. Some people may never have planned or needed to buy something, but ended up with them eventually just because they are cheaper than outside. Or sometimes, because of lucky draws that come with purchases. Think of someone who already owns a few large capacity thumb drives, but still goes ahead buying several more just for the sake of entering a lucky draw. The biggest prize is a cordless phone, which IMHO costs less than RM200. The cost of the few thumb drives? RM95 multiplied by 3. Most people who genuinely needed to buy one ended up with a SD card look alike chocolate bar, and they go away with a smile; but I can't say the same for those who treated the whole thing like a gamble.

Another thing worth noting is that although all the stuff in PC Fair is generally much cheaper than usual days, the prices between different booths vary quite a bit too. An exact product eg. a 1 GB PenDrive thumb drive may be RM4 cheaper if you walk to the end of the hall, and even if the price is the same, some where else they may be giving a free gift along with the purchase. So really we got to shop around wisely. Incidentally, talking about being impulsive, today I got myself a super duper cheap webcam. It's called XYZ brand and Made in someone's backyard. But I must say that the quality of the video is not too bad, and even has other features like night vision. Apparently, it can also function as a CCTV. "Just imagine you are downloading porn from the net, and you gotta go downstairs for dinner. Your brother finishes his food earlier than you and decides to use the PC. If you set the Alarm function, the moment it detects someone sitting in front of the PC it will start making noise". This was what the promoter said.

Oh and the price for this wonderful device? Only RM 48 plus a free microphone cum headset worth RM 16 on its own. Cool.

So for those who missed out on the deals, there will be another one in August. The fair goes around Malaysia and hopefully they may be at a town near you.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My Poor Kangoo...

This is not the first time my Kangoo has met such bad luck. Is it really my bad luck (as how Elena's mom think it is) or is it because the Kangoo just attracts so much negative energies?

For those who didn't know, my dad bought the Kangoo in June 2005. And by the end of July, an idiot motorcyclist rammed into the back of my Kangoo which completely shattered its back windscreen, seriously dented the rear tailgate and bumper. The damage? RM 6,000. Lucky for me (and unlucky for the insurance company), I managed to claim the damages in full although the insurance company was really sore about having to pay out 6k after receiving only a month's premium. But the experience was bad enough. I was on my way to Istana Budaya to watch Stomp!, a group of people making music out of trash cans and brooms. It was a few seconds after I stopped the car at a red light that a loud crash came from the back of my Kangoo. Before I realised what actually happened and managed to react, the idiot Malay guy with some cuts just scooted off. I was in total shock immediately after what happened, and I totally wasted my money on the show since my mind was so disturbed. After the show I had to bear all the hassles of making a police report, claims etc., and had to endure scoldings from my father although it wasn't my fault. Also, I had no car for the next two weeks. Till today, I have this phobia whenever a motorcyclist tails too closely behind, for fear they may just ram into my back any moment. And after that incident, I just prayed that I may never have to go through that ordeal again.

In less than a year, another misfortune has occured to my Kangoo; less serious though this time around.

On Wednesday morning, which was the first day of my research sample collecting at Hospital Seremban, my Kangoo was hit by a high-speed stone/pebble (possibly from a stone-laden tipper truck on the opposite direction) which cracked my front windscreen. It was about 7:45am, and the road was fairly clear. I wasn't driving too fast then, and when I was almost reaching the exit, a loud 'SPLAT' was heard on my glass. Contrary to what I always thougt, this time it was no bird dropping or small sand particles hitting. My glass had cracked and I could see a 7 legged spider on my windscreen as a result of being hit by a fairly large stone. I was shocked but somehow still managed to drive on. I have heard of people sharing glass-cracking experiences but this time it was real to me. I was worried of a few things; worried if the crack grew larger, or if the glass may eventually fall on me. I also feared if it rained, because then I can't use my wipers as it will exert pressure on the cracked glass. And after finishing for the day at the hospital, I returned to my car to see that the legs of the spider had grown longer! The car was like an oven having been in the hot sun for hours, and I suppposed that the extreme heat in the car caused air expansion that exerted more pressure on the glass. Anyway, tomorrow it will be off to the Renault workshop for replacement, but it will surely be costing me. For your information, it will cost me RM 1,100 with NO insurance claims. Reason being, my mom did not buy insurance for the windscreens when we bought the car.

AARGH!!! Why are all these happening to me! It really kills my confidence in driving! It makes me think that each time I drive out I am at such high possibility of landing up in accidents, even though they may not be my fault. How the hell can such a large stone be in the air firstly, and worst still, why does it target my car??? I ought to feel lucky that it could have been worst, where the stone could have went through the glass and punctured my heart if it was bigger or faster. But still, with a thousand dollars out of my pocket for something not my fault, I have lots of reasons to feel sad and pissed, as how I am feeling now.

Pray for me and my Kangoo that I may be safe from all untoward incidents wherever I am and whenever I drive.

Below are pictures of the crack taken with my V3i:















Note that the location of the hit is actually pretty much in line with the area overlying my heart. If only the stone was bigger or was travelling faster...




















From a seven legged spider with about equally long legs, three of which grew longer as a result of the intense heat. Note the extended crack on the top left corner.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kangoo support group???

I drive a Renault Kangoo, thanks and no thanks to my ever frugal yet want-the-most-out-of-money-spent dad. Back in May 2005, we were set on buying a new Waja for me to drive, but the next thing I knew was that I was supposed to go collect a new KANGOO from a nearby showroom. For those who don't quite know how it looks like, it is a shoe-like car/van/MPV with many large glass screens and has conflicting views of its exact identity. Go find one on the road yourself and tell me your comments.

My dad insisted I drove the Kangoo for a very obvious reason: since I drive around much more than he does, I need a safer vehicle. For 70k, it has ABS, EBD and 2 airbags. Its framework is solid and has won this-and-that awards for safety and reliability. But none on its looks and design. Anyway after much persuasion, I have been driving it since day 1 till now to the glares and mockeries of other road users and fellow friends. Adrian says it's "UGLY" while Elena's parents call it a "COFFIN CAR". A doctor in Lumut's naval base was cheeky enough to ask me where was the sticker at the side of my van that says "6 penumpang sahaja". But I guess the good thing about having this vehicle is that 1) People rather not car pool in my car for fear of being seen in it (and I get to end up in their cars out of sympathy for having to otherwise drive alone to a place); 2) It attracts alot of attention from passers-by; 3) I don't see much intelligence in someone stealing a vehicle that has such low popularity and hence low resale value; 4) it can really stuff lots of things.

Amidst all the grouses and criticism about this vehicle, there has apparently been a formation of what they call a "Kangoo Club" with the motto "I Love Kangoo!". It was featured in an advertorial in the Star papers for quite a while and now it can also be seen on posters hung on lamp posts. Apparently they have been hoping to gain support and popularity by leveraging on the success of the Renault F1 team (by the way Alonso of Renault F1 won today's Australian GP again). The strange thing about this club is that they have not mentioned the purpose of this Kangoo owners' club. Is it a forum for discussion on the technicalities of the vehicle? Or is it a group of disgruntled owners like me who were at no choice of choosing a better looking vehicle and so sit together to find rebuttals to criticisms? I see it as nothing more than a Support Group. It serves to assist and support each other as Kangoo owners face the cold, merciless, stereotyped and uniqueness-unappreciative world of drivers out there. It hears grouses and threats of breakups made my girlfriends of Kangoo owners who are guys, as well as hearing sudden excessive offers by guygriends to fetch the female Kangoo owners for outings and such.

Well I say that the society of drivers (at least in Malaysia) are too un-unique friendly. I admit that apart from negative comments, I have also received a small amount of compliments mainly saying that it is a very cute and unique vehicle. It has also been praised for the remarkable quality of its engine and overall performance. Therefore it is my assertion that this club will certainly be a spear-header in making the Kangoo wholly acceptable and shown respect and love by all the drivers on the road. Being a lobbyist for the acceptance of weird looking vehicles amongst stereotyped people, I am going to sign up to be a proud member of the Kangoo Club pretty soon and demand people show Kangoos the respect it deserves. Hmph.

I LOVE KANGOO!!!

Exodus

For those partnering to UK and Canadian schools of medicine, yesterday marked the beginning of a series of send-offs which will last till end of August. To start the ball rolling, Adeline and gang left for the University of Aberdeen yesterday night in two flights. And taking the lead to be the first to leave for UK, they certainly were sent-off by an enviable number of people in style. Or at least for Adeline.

Most of my batchmates had their parents, BF/GF, couple of relatives and/or friends to see them off, which may total to a maximum of 10 well wishers each. Herbert from Sarawak had NOBODY to see him off; no parents, no friends who came specially to see him off (excluding his batchmates), no one extra. Adeline on the other hand had THREE groups of people/fans/supporters/ce le fes/whatever-you-call-them to see her off!!! Group A had her parents & relatives, Group B had IMU mates and Group C consisted of church mates (who came in at least one bus load). It was really astonishing to see the people coming in throngs to see her off, and she was absolutely busy "entertaining" her friends who were everywhere. All her church mates were at McDs, parents near the escalator while the IMU people just had to run around trying to capture her shadow. And just when we (Hai Liang, Prasad, Deborah and me) met the Gong...

Hai Liang: Hey Adeline! I barely had two sentences with you, you know.
Richard: Ya where have you been?!
Adeline: Oh I am so sorry guys, but really thanks alot for coming.
Hai Liang: It's Ok...
Adeline: (Abrupt) Oh I'm sorry but I gotta go cos my church group are in McDs waiting for me. Better not let them wait...

And she scoots away.

The next time we saw her was when she left McDs for the toilet, and then to the departure escalator. Since she was found to be at McDs for such a long time, and having neglected her IMU juniors who came SPECIALLY to see her off, they have now decided to call the Gongster... McGONG. No hard feelings Adeline, we understand the crowd was just too much for you to handle.

***

Enough of gossiping about Adeline. After Aberdeen, it will be time for those heading for Canada to leave in May, followed by the remaining bulk of UK/Ireland people throughout August. Apart from all the travelling to and from KLIA (and gossiping bout McGong), I think I can expect to see more tears, hugs and kisses in these coming months. Not only me seeing people getting emotional, but perhaps experiencing it myself too. So far I must say that I haven't been really emotional when friends or relatives of mine left in the past. But this time around I think I really will feel the vacuum when my close friends leave. Yesterday of all who left, I think the people I felt sad most are for people like Siddharth and in all honesty, McGong. Sidd has been a close friend of mine since 2001 where we met in Taylor's, sat together and traded foreign currencies together. McGong on the other hand was our CG mommy, one of my closest friends and by far one of the most intelligent girl I have known. Her thoughts are profound, conservative yet at the cutting edge of the avantgarde at times. She is one who I can talk with about all sorts of things from religion to politics, and she really does provide you with insightful and out-of-the-box ideas. But for now I think there won't be a McGong to talk to much...

Other friends who I will be missing are people like Jody whom I have known for the past 9 years, Grace who have always been a paragon to Elena and I, Yee Pei for the times we debated and for the times we just talked nonsense, and a few more people. It's just these few people that make a difference in your lives, regardless of the fact that my batch may consist of well over 180 people. Sometimes although they may not be physically present next to you, the fact that they have left for "somewhere far" and that we see no prospect of meeting up in the near future will really make me miss them. Well at least for consolation, I have 13 other friends who will be with me at Queensland; and more importantly, there is Elena around. But I suppose I would have preferred if ALL of us, the whole batch or at least the people close to us, were able to study our clinical years together. Wouldn't it be nice? Then again, it's easier said than done.

For now I think the best thing to do is to be close to one another in the remaining time that we all have together and try to make the best out of it. The next time that we may meet in a big group would most probably be for someone's wedding. I can't think of another occasion where we can all meet for a common purpose. And by the way, I realised that by the time the Queensland people leave in January, there will be no other friends left to see us off. Of course we have the Seremban people around, and we might as well have to depend on them to see us off. We'll see.

For those who have left, good luck and all the best in your future studies. May those who are still single and maybe gorgeous and available, successfully find the love of your lives in UK or wherever you may go.