Monday, December 19, 2005

B.L.A.C.K - Black

It is 2:15am on Monday morning and I have just finished watching “Black”, a film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. WOW. It is not the typical melodrama, coordinated singing and dancing, with a love triangle mix Bollywood film that most people would suspect. My parents had seen this film earlier in the year and my mum told me that it was a movie that I must see. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t show here in Brisbane. While I was in Delhi, I found a copy (not a pirated one!) and bought it.

The film is about a girl named Michelle McNally (played by Rani Mukherjee); she cannot see nor hear nor speak. She inhabits a world of infinite black…of a seamless, endless void where nothing reaches her and she reaches nothing. Her world is frightening in its complete remoteness. On the sheer will of her ferocious rage against destiny, Michelle struggles to stay afloat in the impenetrable whirlpool her life has become.

Into this devastating isolation enters a battle weary teacher, Debraj Sahai (played by Amitabh Bachchan), life’s wounded but arrogantly insolent warrior. With a single minded obsession, Debraj takes the challenge that is next to impossible – to lead this wild, uncontrollable child into the light of knowledge.

Thus begins a journey of two headstrong individuals. They overcome failures, obstacles, even ridicule as they tread the path less taken. What they seek is that moment of miracle when the ray of knowledge will penetrate through the dense black of Michelle’s life. Black is the cathartic tale of a deaf, mute and blind girl who saw what people with sight fail to see, a vision of her God. Michelle McNally saw what other lesser mortals could not. She saw her God, heard Him and walked with Him into the light.

From the beginning to the end, my cheeks were moist from tears. I would not consider myself a person that would show such emotions, especially when it comes to a Bollywood film. However, this one is an exception. There were so many moments in the movie that expressed how I have felt at times with my hearing loss. To see the frustrations that Michelle’s parents and sister had with her, resonated with me and what I felt that my parents and brother went through. It is a film about celebrating the colour black. It is a film that illustrates the spirit of a human being going from darkness to light.

This movie is probably the best movie (along with Hotel Rwanda) that I've seen this year. Note: The Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe is awesome! :)

It’s time for me to rest; after movies such as Black, my head hurts and my heart pangs for a certain something; I just can’t explain it. Also perhaps it’s my body’s way of saying, “Hey you…yeah, you. You think that you can do without sleep? No you di-int! You gots lot of jobs to do today!” I guess the most important job is that I get on my flight to Calgary (by way of Singapore, Taipei and then Los Angeles).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It's been about a week since the UQ SOM have released the MBBS I provisional year-end results, and I can say (provisionally - if you can say that) that I'VE PASSED!!! I'm on cloud 9! I just can't believe it! Not only did I pass, but I kicked ass! I went into the final exams with a very miserable mark (< 50%) and my marks has improved by 30%!

Now...I can relax, enjoy the rest of my time in India and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Namaste from Delhi!

I do apologise for letting this blog go…it seems that every time I go and sit down at the hospital cyber cafĂ©, I am unable to log onto this site and write about my thoughts. I do warn you that this is a long post…so, go to the toilet now, get that cup of coffee (or cold drink, depending on what part of the world you are in).

Well, the past 4 weeks have been absolutely incredible! I don’t know how I will be able to put into words the things that I’ve seen and been able to experience. That being said, I will try my hardest to do so.

My time with St. Stephen’s Hospital has been primarily spent with the Community Medicine/Health department. I’ve not worked in the hospital at all; instead, I travel with a few registrars, consultants and nurses to an urban slum about 30 minutes east of the hospital, a place called Sunder Nagari. Louise and myself talked with one of the consultants and have drafted a protocol for future elective students coming to St. Stephen’s Hospital wishing to do their elective in community health. To be able to be a part of the process is exhilirating!

The time requirement for the elective was 20 hours a week, which is easily met by working at the hospital in the mornings from Monday to Friday, leaving you with the afternoon, evenings and weekends off to explore Delhi and environs. However, at the Community Outreach Centre (affectionately known as Community) the bus leaves SSH at 7:45am and arrives back at 5:45pm. It’s full on! I’ve done more hours in two weeks at Community than some of the others have done all month. The atmosphere out at Community is so life affirming, so much so that I have asked for and have been granted a week extension of my elective to work at Community.

So, what is in the day of Veevek while in Delhi? Well, it starts of by my alarm going off at 6:45am and having a hot bucket bath and getting dressed for ‘work’. I go to the Hospital Dietary for a quick breakfast (usually chai and toasted toast) and get my packed lunch to take out ot Community. I get on the bus and greet all the other persons on it. We normally talk amongst ourselves, which normally revolves around what people have been up to the night before or what the day is looking like out at the centre. After the 30-40 minute ride (depending on the traffic), we get to Community and I look at what the day is (each day of the week has certain activities associated with it, i.e. Wednesday is Well-Immunisation Day, meaning as many children as you can think of (and then think of some more on top of that) come and get their immunisations done. This also means that Veevek normally leaves Community with a massive headache because of all the noise from the crying bastards…I mean…children. Community runs a medical clinic (with all major interventions being referred to the major government hospitals nearby) also runs a daycare and a child-to-child education programme along with empowering women in the local community with vocational skills. I have become so attached to some of the children that are in the daycare (ages ranging from 1 to 4). In fact there is one little girl that comes (she is about 1 year old) and her name is Anjali. I learnt that she was ‘fatherless’ and had some social developmental delays. After spending one week with Anjali on my breaks and feeding and playing with her, she called me “papa”. The daycare workers were in shock! They had noticed an incredible difference in Anjali. She smiles more; she has become more active during playtime and exhibits normal child development behaviours. All the other children in the daycare call me “bhaiyya”, which is Hindi for ‘brother’. Making these children forget their worries for any amount of time is time well spent. I had also taught the kids a Gujarati children’s song (Chukee ben, Chukee ben), which they will sing at a local competition hosted by the YMCA on December 7th – 9th. I also helped choreograph a Rajasthani folk dance that the older girls are doing (they are around 12-14 years old). I only wish that I could do more for those kids. Also the impact of the other community health workers has been great as well. With my semi-fluent Hindi skills, my interactions with the staff and patrons of the centre have become co-ordinated and I have felt as if I’ve become a part of that community. On my breaks, if I am not playing with the children, I talk to the other youth workers there (they practice their English and I practice Hindi) about their plans and how the Community has changed their outlook on live and the local community that they are living in. The nurses (one in particular that I think is just the cat’s pajamas is Sister Lovey [head nurses on a ward are usually referred to as sisters in India], who has a PhD in Nursing and is in her mid 30s) have been instrumental in my understanding of how Community operates. Because of them, I’ve been able to help with the immunisation drives by weighing children when they come in, by administering oral polio vaccinations and giving injections of MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus). The most senior female consultant, Dr. John, is a 67 year old with severe rhuematoid arthritis. Her and I get along like houses on fire! She takes the time to explain to me the inner workings of differential diagnoses and how socio-economic factors influence the ability of patients to make health decisions (she was quite surprised that I was able to understand it, then I told her that I have a background in economics focusing on health economics and she just smiled). I was able to assist her with the tuberculosis clinic, which was AWESOME! In fact, tuberculosis was the topic of my community case report, which I had to present to the consultants and registrars. I was able to visit patients’ in their homes and look at public health factors that influence their health status – absolutely mindblowing.

Alright...this has to be enough for the's 8pm and the dietary is only open for another 30 minutes. My eyes are tired, my heart a little depressed as all my friends have left Delhi this morning. I will write very soon...