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 café, 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...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ladies & Gentlemen, Indian Airlines would like to announce the depart of Flight IC408...

First off, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Diwali (Nutan Varshabinandhan) & Sal Mubarak! For those of you that are celebrating the end of Ramadan, Eid Mubarak!

The past week has been all about partying, relaxing, re-energising, getting my thoughts collected and packing up my belongs (in that order). I've reconnected with some friends and am enjoying every moment that I have.

On a more exciting front, I'm leaving for India today! I'll be flying via Malaysia and staying a couple of days in Sri Lanka before meeting up with the rest of my friends on Saturday that are going to be at the same hospital. For a nice treat to myself, I'm staying at the Taj Samudra Hotel, which is a part of the international reknowned Taj Hotel Groups.

I'm looking forward to the exposure and experiences that come along with the challenges of being in a hospital that serves 5 million people. I am a little apprehensive of speaking Hindi as I've not done so in quite some time. I've been practicing by watching bollywood films but the 'hindi' used is a mixture of English, Hindi and Urdu.

I'll be in India until December 14th and may do some travelling with a couple of friends, however that has yet to be decided. I'll be back in Australia for a few days before heading to Calgary and spending Christmas and New Year's with my family and close friends. I can't wait!

Have a good one...

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I've finished my last MBBS I exam yesterday!

The days leading up to those exams were horrible. Stress overload, thinking that my level of knowledge was inadequate and that I would make a horrible doctor. Then I smacked myself up side my head and realised that everyone else in the course must be feeling the same way with regards to level of knowledge that they have (or don't have) heading into the exams.

The first exam was the MSAT (Multi-Station Assessment Task), and it consisted of 9 stations, that were 9 minutes long. Each station also had a 9-minute instructional stations right before it so that you can prepare for that station. There were 2 stations on communication skills, 2 stations on history taking, 2 stations on clinical examinations, and 1 ethics station. I got full marks for most of the stations, not sure how I did on the ethics station (it was talking to someone in your PBL group who shows up late, takes very long breaks, makes derogatory comments about the patients in our cases, puts down female members of the group, and thinks that sociology and things similar are not necessary in the study of medicine). I just didn't know what the "right" path was. Apparently, everyone that did the Saturday (it was held over Saturday and Sunday to accommodate the 296 students that were schedule to take it) MSAT passed.

After finishing the MSAT, all motivation to study for the written exams went down the drain. It seemed quite anti-climactic. I went over all the past exam papers and my basic/clinical sciences revisions. The first exam was a bitch! There were 5 parts and one ethics essay. The essay was fine and a few of the papers in the exam were from past papers, so that made things a bit easier. However, they School of Medicine used way too many multiple choice questions, which doesn't really assess what you know about a particular subject area (the MCQs dealt with haematology). I know that heaps of people were quite annoyed with that form of testing. I rather have short answer than MCQ. The next written exam was 7 parts and covered pretty much whatever wasn't covered on the first exam. More of those papers were from past exams, which probably saved my ass!

After the last exam finished, a number of us headed to Claire's place to start the post-exam celebrations and have pre-party drinks and food. Too much fun was to be had...I forgot how much fun it was to be in a group of people and talk about things other than medicine. After getting some of our alcohol metabolism going, we all headed to the bowls club (lawn longer a geriatric sport!) by way of taking the City Cat (or what Claire likes to call it, "Shitty Shat"). It reached up to 31 degrees Centigrade and with that kinda heat mixed with copious amounts of alcohol consumption results in some weird shit. After several hours at the bowls club, most students headed down to the local waterhole, the Regatta (affectionately known as the Regretta). They were serving free drinks for an hour for med students and then after that hour, you could buy 4 drinks for $10. That mixed with top 40s music, a Leanne (voted "best dancer" by her PBL tutor), and some med school drama (oh the drama...even if I wasn't interested in medicine, I would stay in this course because of its drama!), resulted in a fantastic night!

It's now 10:43am on the day after my last exam. I'm sitting on the balcony having morning tea. The day seems to be like any other, and I've to keep reminding myself that I deserve a break. I have a week till I leave for my medical elective in India. So much shit to sort through before leaving - packing for India (can only take up to 20 kilos! and as anyone that has travelled to India...that's normally the weight for the carry on lugagge!), packing my room so that Dave and Suz can move my stuff while I'm away, need to get some last minute supplies for the trip, and to sort out some other stuff (address book, upcoming birthdays, etc) before I head out.

I can't believe first year is done (well, it will officially be done on December 2nd when the elective finishes)! What an exciting year it has been...and I would have done it all over again, exactly how it has, in a heartbeat. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The past couple of days have been very right eye has been extremely photo sensitive, to the point where the room has to be dark. Any sort of light was quite painful to the point where tears would be streaming down my face. That being said, I spent most of my time in bed, with a sleep mask (courtesy of Qantas) and blankets over my head. Today, was the first day in which I was able to tolerate some sort of light.

Also, the past few days, I've been feeling quite annoyed (not sure at whom or what) and dissatisfied (once again, not sure if it is with myself or with my circumstances). This evening I got out of the house (which took Dave and Suz by surprise), I originally intended on going for a walk, maybe seeing a movie, and then chilling at a coffee shop. However, I decided to head down to South Bank (where World Expo' 88 was held). This evening, the Gujarati Association of Queensland was celebrating Sharad Poonam, which is a celebration of the harvest time in Gujarat. At the Suncorp Piazza (a large plaza, that has a roof over it, but not completely covered on all sides), there was garba and dandiya raas. I thought that I would go and make another attempt to meet people. I wasnt' dressed for the part, as I wore jeans and a t-shirt. On the way there, I ran into one of the guys that I met at Navratri. I introduced myself and he told me that he, and a number of other people, were really impressed with my dancing. He asked me if I was Indian, then Hindu. I told him that I was Hindu Gujarati (not that that matters). I got there and people were dancing and I dove right in. I recognised heaps of faces and people gave the obligatory smile when they see someone that they have seen before. Also, there was a really nice Gujarati girl that I met last time and she was here again tonight. I get so bashful...argh! It's quite irritating. Doing garba and dandiya raas with the opposite sex, is the Gujarati version of dating/flirting. You show off your hottest moves and styles. The best complement is if someone mimics your movements/steps. I doubt that I will see this girl again until next year. Then again, who knows?

Also, I've started to miss my family a lot. I guess because the feeling of staying in Australia has finally gotten into my head. I can't wait to see Mum next month and then the rest of my family (sans Hasit and Johanna) including Vinay and Bhavisha near Christmas. What good times to be had. :)

Alright, I should get back to studying about antibiotics. I'm at Lou's place - we are having a study party and at this rate, we are going to be up for most of the night. fun, fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The final week...

This is the final week of lectures for the MBBS I at UQ. The atmosphere amongst the cohort is quite charged - people have become withdrawn, moody, unusually cheerful, while some have become apathetic, lethargic and just wanting this ordeal to be over with.

Being the type of person that I am, I need to have my social interactions but with these final exams looming, I feel a bit guilty for wanting a bit of time to just have fun. I can hear my parents in the back of my head say, "beta, you know dhat ishtudy comes furst, den you can play, okay" (or in Gujju-che speak, "Beta, thenay kaberche ke banavanu bowaj important che. Exam pacche, taney je karvu hoi, ee chut che.")

But I found myself to start thinking about what happens if I fail my exams? It's a serious possibility (this is not to say that I have done nothing all just means that no one can guarantee that they will pass all the components of the exams). I have a friend that went through a very similar situation back in Canada. She failed first year and repeated it. In the beginning, she wouldn't tell people outside her med circle of friends that she had failed. However, she got over the stigma of failure and held her head up high. She became a resource for her cohort. And I can see myself doing the same thing. If I do fail, then I would make sure that I would develop friendship more and that I would be a resource for others. However, I doubt that my parents and family would agree with that. I have no clue as to where I would get the tuition if I were to repeat first year.

Alright, now I have just successfully scared myself (once seems to be a daily ritual at the moment that I scare myself into thinking that I will fail and shiite like that). through the nose and out through the mouth...[Veevek takes a deep breath]. That's better.

Also, it doesn't help that at the moment that I'm studying about suicide, domestic violence, and drug abuse. These are all very important topics because these are many of things that prevades all societies and doesn't get reported often. And why don't doctors ask about domestic violence? Well, first off, lack of skills and training; belief that it is not common; fear of offending the patient(s); privacy beliefs; perpetrator may be a patient; belief that nothing will change from intervention; belief that women will provoke the violence; and (one of the most common) lack of time with the patient.

Okay, I need to get off the computer and go over some past papers with Annabelle and Kim. It's going to be a very long day...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So disappointed...

Well, yep. I am. I was looking so forward to Saturday night. Why? Every year around this time of year, millions of Hindus celebrate Navratri. Navratri is an annual festival is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word "Navratri" literally means nine nights; Nav-nine and Ratri-nights. The festival is celebrated for nine nights every year at the beginning of October although the dates of the festival are according to the Hindu calendar.

The state of Gujarat is most famous for its Navratri celebrations. Traditionally, Navratri was celebrated only by Hindu women only, in the honor of goddess Amba/Durga. Amba/Durga is a believed to be a Shakti (literal translation "energy"). Women would put "Garbha deep"(an earthen pot with holes, which has a lamp inside of it - representing life within a womb) in the center, as a symbol of shakti/godess. And at the rhythm of prayers and folk songs, they dance with clapping in concentric circles around "Garbha Deep" or "Garbo".

Even more popular is the dandiya raas. Dandiya raas was traditionally performed by men only. Dandiya is actually a pair of bamboo or any wooden sticks of the length 1.5 to 2 feet. Men would held this sticks in hand, and start with a circuluar formation. Nowadays, both sexes do garba and dandiya raas.

Alright, there is the information bit of Navratri. So, why am I disappointed. Well, I got all dressed up and got down to the place where it was being held. The hall was massive! And I would have to say that there were similar number of people as would come out on a Saturday night during Navratri in Calgary. People were beautifully dressed (there were some absolutely beautiful girls tonight) and hearing people talk in Gujarati made me feel a part of a larger community. However, I also realised some very harsh things about the community. You need to know people in order for them to introduce you , to what is a very closeknit, to their social circles. Everytime I would go and make conversation with someone, they would say "hello" and then leave. I did recognise a few people from uni and perhaps if I see them around, I will go up and introduce myself. I guess I took that for granted in Calgary because my parents are very active and social within the community. I did some garba (have several blisters on the sole of my feet), which was great! Even if I just had one extra person with me, it would have made all the difference. Some of my friends were going to come but, at the last minute, they weren't able to come. This is going to sound so fucking stupid...but my feet, ears, hands and eyes were feasting on the dance, people and sounds. However, my heart wasn't it in because it was the first time in a long time that I felt as if I didn't belong.

Alright, enough with this post. I told myself that there is no point in being disappointed anymore. I just have to keep trying and next year's Navratri might be a whole different experience.

Now, I need to go and nurse these blisters...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Quite far yet so near...

It has been too long since I’ve last posted on this thing, and for that I apologise. So many thoughts, ideas and reflections have been through my mind in the last month and I’ve been trying to sort through them as opposed to putting them on this site for public perusal.

I can’t believe that I’m almost done my first year of medical school. It’s quite a scary thought – I know only a few people that have not had a freak out in the last little while. Right now, we are in Week 31 – which looks at central nervous system and higher brain function. The academic year is 38 weeks (the last 4 weeks is the medical elective period; the rest of the university only has 32 weeks). After this week, we have another week of the central nervous system and then the last two weeks look at psychiatric issues and suicide/depression. Rumour has it that this is the School of Medicine’s implicit way of providing therapy to the MBBS I cohort, as final exams are fast approaching.

Apart from trying to keep on top of my studying (which is getting to be more difficult that I imagined as there are heaps of past exams, my notes, and weekly quizzes to go through), I’ve been counting the days down to a number of key events that will be my rewards for finishing the exam. First off, there is a tradition that MBBS I students go to Stradbrooke Island after they finish the last exam. Straddie, as it is called by locals, is one of the largest sand islands in the world and from what I’ve heard from Brisbanites, it has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Australia. During the same weekend, Ruth will be coming up to Brisbane (tenative - but a friend can dream)! I can’t wait to show her the sights and sounds of Brisbane, as she did with me when I vistied her in Adelaide. It will be a bit difficult to get her around as I don’t have a car. However, that will hopefully change at the beginning of next year when I buy myself a shitbox with wheels. Ruth’s arrival also means that those student members of MAPW QLD that are interested in NWIP will be having a retreat and having workshops on how to conduct non-confrontational dialogue and things like that. There are some future plans with NWIP coming out of Australia, however, I reckon that I will just keep those ideas to myself for the time being because I don’t want to get my hopes up about it and then have them come crashing down because I was just a bit too eager.

After the Straddie trip, I have a few days to get my shit together and leave for Delhi! I’ll be leaving on November 3rd. I’ll be stopping in Kuala Lumpur for the day and then make my way to Colombo, Sri Lanka for a couple days. I’ve never been to either Malaysia or Sri Lanka. It will be nice to add those two places on my travelling belt. Regardless of the fact that they will be whirlwind trips, I can’t wait! I’ll arrive in Delhi on November 5th. I’ll be picked up by some people from St. Stephen’s hospital and then taken to my hospital accommodations.

I’m so excited about having a medical elective experience in India. I will be going to Delhi with a number of other students from the class; fortunately, I like them all. My only worry is that we will all hang out together (which is fine) and that most of them will use me as a conduit for their experiences in Delhi. I reckon that I already know who will hate it and who will love it. I know that seeing India from a tourist perspective and as a person who claims the place as a source of ancestry often yields in different paradigms.

Regardless, something that is even more awesome, I will be meeting up with Mum in Mumbai on November 13th. We are then going to fly to Porbandar, Gujarat (her birthplace). One of my cousins (on my mum’s side) will be getting married and one of my dad’s cousins will be getting married as well. After the weddings, her and I are heading up to Ahmedabad to do some shopping for my brother’s wedding which will be next year, and to do some personal shopping because when in India, one goes shopping. :)

My elective period goes until December 2nd and I will be in India until December 13th. I fly back to Brisbane via Colombo and a night stopover in Kuala Lumpur. I arrive in the evening of December 16th, only to pack and move, and then get on a plane to Calgary on December 20th.

Now, if only I can get through the next 5 weeks without having a major upset or freak out session. Wish me the best of luck…I’m going to need it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pillars of friendship

Dave and Suz are two of my closest friends here in Brisbane. They are just beautiful - just take a look at their picture perfect smiles! They have been the pillars of friendship, support and strength. That and they are some of the most fun people to be with! We always share huge, belly aching laughs, cook great food together, talk medical shop and have meaningful conversations (most of the time) and have had some pretty productive study parties. Not only that, but they are the best flatmates that anyone could ask for. :)

More beautiful people and Veevek

This is Annabelle, Kim (the lovely ladies of PBL 1) and Leanne (my partner-in-crime when it comes to be overdramatic and laughing in the aisles). Annabelle and I (along with Lou) are going to Delhi in November for our 4-week medical elective! Kim is just a superstar! Her smile is something that just takes my breath away. just special. :)

This is Phil, myself and Paul. Phil is from London, Ontario and Paul (an MBBS IV) is from Sydney. Phil is the king when it comes to karoake and does a FANTASTIC Kramer impression that landed him a great role in the this year's Med Revue. He is a person that brings a smile to anyone that he talks to. He has this ability to make people laugh and forget their worries, even if it is for a split second. Paul - is gold. He is my tutor (along with 9 other students) that has been helping me to see how things are done when it comes to clinical exams and things like that. He has become a mentor and a great friend.

This is my very dear friend Lou. She looks much better without me trying to stick my fingers up her nostrils (which I do often). Lou is also going to Delhi with Annabelle and I. She is my partner-in-crime when it comes to development issues and human rights. Also, she made me a kick ass khaki man-skirt. I wore it today and got several catcalls and compliments on it. I was just beaming!

Don't worry...I didn't eat whatever that thing was

This is a photo of Leanne, myself & Cam. Leanne and I are THE hams when it comes to the camera. Her and I had several of these types of photos taken during the May Ball. Her and I are always making total asses of ourselves in lectures and whenever we are in public together. Cam, a fellow Calgarian, is known as "Smiley". Oddly enough, he isn't smiling in this photo. He has a heart of gold and his catch phrase is "Sweeeeeeeeet".
This is a photo of Nabila, myself, Param, and Marlo. These girls are a part of the fashionistas in the class. They are the best! They are the type of good friends that you can chill over a cuppa tea or on the dance floor with a gin-lemon-lime in your hand. Also, they give great hugs!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


It seems as if life has been moving at mach 3 for the past few weeks. I've started Week 26 of the 34 weeks of MBBS I. I've been having some motivational issues in terms of becoming hardcore in my studying and revising. This is not to say that I've not been doing anything...I've just not been doing enough. However, this past weekend was quite productive in terms of learning all the different drugs that we've learnt in the course thus far. Also, I'm trying to do some revising of past weeks but, as I wrote earlier, but the motivation is somewhat lacking.

In a week's time, I'll be turning 26. I've no qualms about it. Then again, perhaps I've been to busy to think about what this year's birthday represents. I know that this is the first time in a very long time that I've been able to celebrate my birthday in August. Being born near the tail of this month (at least in Canada) meant that my friends were on holidays and people were getting busy with going back to school and things like that. However, being on the under side of the world, uni is already in full swing and people aren't necessarily going to be going away for an extended period of time around now. I was talking to a friend and telling her how I really wanted a small dinner with maybe 15 or 20 people. She laughed and said, "Veevek, you want to repeat that sentence again?" I know that that sounds odd but its true! I've always had a problem in deciding who should come to these sort of things. I've made some fantastic friends (yes some are more fantastic than others...but fantastic nonetheless) and I want to share my birthday with all of them. I made a list of people that I would invite, that is if I had no constraints or anything, and the list came to about 80. What is a socialite to do? :)

Apart from that, I got a massive haircut. Yes, a haircut. Most people that know me have known me with fairly long and curly hair. After much thinking, I decided to get the locks cut off. The hair that was cut when towards a charity here in Brisbane that gets people to donate their hair to make wigs for children that are undergoing chemotherapy. It's kinda weird knowing that there will be kids in QLD that will have Veevek hair on their heads. They should only be so lucky! :) My hair is now about 4cm long, which is by far the shortest it has ever been since I was an infant. It looks damn good - or at least that is what people tell me.

Other than that, life here in Brisbane is moving forward, while I've been chilling, maxin' and relaxin'. After the holiday tomorrow, I need to get back into gear. Only 8 more weeks till the end of the year and I've so much shit to work left to do, let alone learning the new stuff that the next 8 weeks will bring. On that note...I should get going.

Friday, August 05, 2005


I'm in Melbourne! I'm at a computer terminal in the Baillieau Library at Uni of Melbourne. I'm down here with Dave as we are attending the Medical Association for the Prevention of War National Conference. Fortunately, it wasn't a hard week of learning - benign prostatic hyperplasia. I just need to make sure that I bump it up a notch next week.

I should get outta here...I don't want to be in a new city sitting in front of a computer all day. I wonder how hot a credit card can get. :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another voyage...

Aside from all the things going on here in Brisbane, I've already planned my next major trip abroad. After my last final exam (October 26th), I'll be off to Delhi, India! I got accepted to do a 4-week medical student elective at St. Stephen's Hospital. I'll be starting on November 7th and going until December 2nd. I can't wait! The last time I was in Delhi was in 1994 and my experience was a bit jaded due to the run-around my family and I got from staying with some family friends.

Ever since my brother came back from living in Delhi, he had changed - for the better. He always had these stories, such that during dinner or drinks, he would tell me and other company about a particular storewalla or the traffic officer on the corner of the road that he lived on. As trivial as these stories may sound, they are a part of a bigger picture. What is that picture? That picture is knowing what makes my brother think, knowing what makes his heart beat - essentially, it's getting to know him. I know that that city has a very special place in his heart. A part of me thinks that by seeing what he has seen and to be in the same space that he was, will help me to see things how he has. We often don't see eye-to-eye on social issues but I guess that that is due to the fact of our experiences and how we understand the world (granted, his understanding puts mine to SHAME, albeit I would consider myself to be quite a learnt person in that regard).

Not only will this trip be good in terms of progressing my medical education but it will be the first time that I'm going to India without my parents being there. A cousin of mine will be getting married (one cannot go to India without going to a wedding) and the month of November is especially important because Diwali (Festival of Lights) will be going on. The last time I was in India for Diwali was in 1994 and I've so many fond memories of that time.

A number of other students from UQ will be going to the same hospital. It will be interesting to see how my fellow colleagues will react to the litmus test that India is so famous for. Most of them have been outside of Australia, but only to places like New Zealand and Western Europe. I'm going to have some sort of cross-cultural training workshop for many of them are going to need to do a lot of mental preparation for what they are about to embark on.

Speaking of embarking on a journey, I need to traverse the dangerous passage of learning about cancer - and my midmorning coffee is ready.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Good god! I've been away from this blog for too long. I'm sorry...seriously. I am. Okay, so where did I leave off...ahh...yes, I had a fantastic time in Adelaide visiting Ruth and seeing what comprises her world.

I arrived in Sydney to be greeted by what seemed to be a very strange yet familiar face. Dave came and picked me up from the airport but he had gotten what was the shortest I've ever seen his hair. I couldn't believe that I had arrived in Sydney. This city has been a city that I've always wanted to visit since going to India in 1987. I remember my cousins were taking about Qantas and how much of a great airline it was and how that was based in Sydney ra ra ra.

Regardless, I was in Sydney. Dave took me around the city - I mean I pretty much saw everything except for a few things. He was indeed the host with the most. Sydney is WOW. I see why it is considered a world class city, on par with New York, London, and Paris. I was trying to peg it other places that I've been but my mind was playing tricks on me. It reminded me of Stockholm, New York, Johannesburg, and London all in one. Now, Sydney stands its own ground. It's absolutely spectacular!

Dave took me to see the city and his stomping grounds. We went up to his alma mater (however he refuses to call it that) University of New South Wales, the suburb of Coogee, and saw some fantastic beaches - Coogee, Maroubra and Botany Bay. Also, we saw La Perouse, which was the island that Tom Cruise rode his motorcycle in Mission Impossible. Lunch was had in North Sydney, at one of his watering holes. The day wrapped up by seeing Sydney Olympic Park. We picked up his younger sister (who happened to have finished her last exam of the semester) before heading 100+ km south to his parents' home.

The next few days were blissful...yet cold, very cold. The time spent at the Chessor's home was in front of the roaring fireplace, drinking tea, reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and watching M*A*S*H. There is this sense of enjoyment that I get from meeting my friend's family. It completes their picture, not to say that that is the case for everyone.

Sydney was also the location where my social circles collided. Ruth met Dave and other friends from UQ. Often times, this collision is quite disastrous (I am remembering my 20th birthday party at, what was then called, the CAPITAL). However, Ruth and Dave got on like houses on fire. Ruth told me that she was more than floored to know that I've friends like him and Lou (another very special friend). Dave, again, being the host with the most, took Ruth and I to Bondi Beach (which was much smaller than I thought); it was calm, peaceful and relaxing. We also went to this place in Sydney that is known for people committing suicide by jumping off these high cliffs that have a fantastic vista of the Pacific Ocean.

I had a few reasons to go down to Sydney: to experience a real city (sorry Brisbane, you know I love you but...); spend time with Dave and his family; and to try and be a registered delegate at the Australian Medical Student Association's Developing World Conference. Yes...the DWC. It was the inaugural conference put on by AMSA. The theme of the conference was "Taking the First Step". For those people who know me, they are probably thinking, "Veevek, why would you attend a conference that has it's theme as 'taking the first step'?" To get others up to speed, I've been invovled in a number of projects that have been centred around issues of internationalisation, human rights advocacy, health and other social issues. I was being sneaky. Yes, me. I was straight forward about asking the organisers whether there were any spots available at the conference, and that I was able to pay the registration fee. I was turned down; the other delegates from UQ told me to come anyways. I did. But throughout the weekend, I felt as if I wasn't able to participate in the conference (read - Veevek didn't speak) and spent the most of my time shielding my presence. Tis was a very odd behaviour from me. This was the first time that I attended a conference where I wasn't the target audience. It was the first time that I attended a conference where I didn't use any of the information. It was the first time, however, that I realised that I had enough expertise (when compared to the majority of delegates at the conference) in development issues. That is when I realised that I should be helping other students to pursue areas that affect health and other social areas in the developing world. By the time the conference finished, I made a few new friends and developed the foundations of a very strong friendship with someone - Lou. An incredible person; a person that shares the same passion towards international health as I do. A person that gives her voice for those that aren't able to speak. She is my partner in human rights crime. :)

My time in Sydney came to an end; I headed back to Brisbane feeling refreshed and knowing that I will be seeing familiar faces again. Also, coming back to Brisbane was a sign of renewal, as had a few days to pack up everything and move into a flat with a very good friend of mine, Suzanne.

Hmm...that was three weeks ago. I've learnt about (and should also do some major revising and completing my learning objectives) teenage pregnancy, Down Syndrome, and now breast cancer. A number of things have happened since coming back from holidays. Some good and some bad. Needless to say, I'm surviving.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Brisbane - Adelaide

Yes...WOW. That's what I use to describe my recent holiday. I have returned to Brisbane a few hours ago. To recap - after my exam, I went to Adelaide to visit one of my best friends, Ruth. After spending a week in Adelaide, I flew to Sydney to see another very good friend, Dave. So, here are the stories.

Brisbane - Adelaide:

Adelaide was COLD. Really. It was. Not funny at all. Upon arrival, the cabin crew announced that it was 9 degrees and raining furiously. Tis was very cold. After getting my luggage, I waited for Ruth to come and pick me up at the airport. She had to get a friend to drive her there as her right foot had suffered some partial thickness burns due to a ruptured hot water bottle (note to self and everyone else that's reading this: DO NOT USE HOT WATER BOTTLES - electric blankets have made advances and are considered much more safer). After getting to Ruth's house (absolutely gorgeous and full of eclectic charm), we got out some wine and chatted for several hours before going to bed.

The next day I drove Ruth's car to uni - driving her old car (which was a stick) was quite a thrill! My experience in driving standards is quite minimal. After some shaking starts and stalls, I was able to navigate (with the obvious help from Ruth) through some of the streets of Adelaide.

I think that the biggest thing about going to Adelaide, apart from seeing Ruth again, was to see her friends and the sort of life that she is living there. She has talked about her friends and Adelaide to such great lengths that, at times, I felt as if I were there by her side. I met some of her closest friends there, and I'm so glad that Ruth has been able to cultivate this community around her. Hmmm...what am I say?! This is Ruth! She cultivates these sort of communities wherever she goes. :)

I didn't get to see much of Adelaide, apart from the beach in Brighton/Seacliffe, some of the Adelaide Hills, Flinders University, a major shopping centre (I helped Ruth do some shopping for a few key items for an interview she had for her 3rd year placement), and numerous cafes and the like. However, from what I have seen, Adelaide resembles a large retirement village nestled somewhere within Scotland. The houses are all made from stone and most of them only have one floor. The concept of condominiums and flats is new (unlike Brisbane, which seems to springing up new condos/flats left, right and centre). The CBD has the highest concentration of tall buildings, but even then, it's not that impressive.

My lasting legacy in Adelaide will have to be my cooking (my my, aren't I being modest). For three of the nights, I cooked dinner for Ruth, Cathy (her fantastic podiatrist-cum-artist housemate) and some of their friends: Italian, Indian, and Thai, but not all at the same time. :) Ruth told me that the friends that were over for the dinners were still raving about the food.

Even though I was on holidays, I attended a couple of lectures with Ruth and some of her friends. I even took notes! Not only that but some of her friends asked their clinical tutor if I could do a clinical coaching session with them. Fortunately I had my University of Queensland medical student badge. I was given an introduction into the wonderful and exciting world of rheumatology. I even noticed things about a couple of patients that the 2nd years didn't pick up. There goes for being a quiet person to tag along. :)

The rest of the time in Adelaide was filled with marathon conversations and catching up with Ruth. Even though we live in the same country and are able to talk over the phone, there is something to be said about being in a person's physical presence.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Would you like fries with that?

Well, it's Saturday morning and I'm in front on my computer attempting to write an update. This is pathetic. I finished my exam on Thursday morning and I'm updating my blog as opposed to sleeping in. Hmm...note to self: turn off alarm on mobile phone.

Yes, so the exam preparation went very well (at least I thought it did). However, when it came to the exam itself, I buckled. I think I failed. It's a serious possibility. There was nothing on the exam that was new or "what the fuck is that? I've never seen or heard of that before!". However, the depth, or I should say lack of, was astonishing. So many of the concepts I knew in great detail but when it asked for 2 mechanisms of something that could easily be a PhD thesis topic, my mind got liquefied (and no, there was no liquefactive necrosis happening). :) What I've taken away from the experience - a) detail is shit; b) take a silent stopwatch; c) it's only worth 25%; d) more study parties.

The exam finished at 11:10am, I was outta there and heading up to the PBL room to meet the other people in my PBL and some other friends. I opened the bottle of Grappa that was given to me by a very good friend of mine from Berlin (Danke Peter!). For those of you that don't know, grappa is a traditional Italian spirit made from the pressed seeds and skins of grapes after the must (grape juice) is used in winemaking. Grappa is very strong, between 80 and 90 proof, and is served as a digestive after heavy meals. But there were no heavy meals to be had in the morning. A big crew of us went down to Pizza Caffe and had a few rounds of pizza and jugs of beer before heading down to the Red Room to partake in more debauchery and to celebrate the fact that we have officially finished half of first year (regardless of what the results of the exam will be).

After spending 6 hours at the red room, Claire, Kim, Leanne, Rob, Rob, Hal, Brownlie, Soozie, Dave, Lou and I headed back to Claire's place to drink some more and have pizza before going to Finnigan's party. Lou and I slept on the sofa and believe-you-me, it was one of the best naps of my life! That was until I was to get up. My head was pounding! Good god! Never have I felt like that...ever. But by inhaling two panadols, I was good as new and we all made our way to Finnigan's. Finnigan's was a blast! Lots of good conversations with people and had the chance to reconnect with those that I've sort of lost touch with. A conversation that I distinctly remember is that a lot of people were astonished at how white my teeth are. HAHAHAHA. They didn't believe that I've never had orthodontic work or use whitening toothpaste. I guess some people will believe what they want. :)

After Finnigan's, Nabila, Katrina, Anthony and I headed down to the Regatta to meet up with some friends. There was much dancing and drinking to be had. It was probably the longest day I've experienced in a quite some time.

Friday morning was weird - I got up around 8am, and then realised that I didn't have to go to uni. I almost got so excited that I nearly couldn't go back to bed. :) I slept a few more hours and then headed over to Claire's to watch some movies. It felt so good to use an afternoon to chill on a comfy sofa and watch movies, with not a care in the world. That evening, I headed over to a friend's house party. Alright, most people know that I hate cold weather. Brrrrr...I'm getting cold just thinking about it. But Brisbane has been getting quite cold lately - perhaps maybe because it's almost winter here. When I mean by cold, I mean 6 or 7 degrees at night. Most people would scoff and think that I am crazy for thinking that. But here's the kicker - there is no central heating here! So, when you people are thinking that I'm crazy just know that you are sitting in a place that is always 22-25 degrees Centigrade! Most of the people were huddling in the kitchen, striving off of other people's body heat. Rob and Dan had left all the windows and doors open in the house. Tis was funny to see people, full on, wearing toques, gloves, scarves and furry jackets.

The next morning, I headed into the Valley to meet up with Lou for brunch. Finally, I am able to do things that I've been putting off because of that exam! Food was good - I'm thinking that any amount of grease after a few days of drinking is a good thing. :) Afterwards we did some window shopping and she showed me the places that are worthy of going shopping. As I've said before, Brisbane is Australia's fashion capital. I, then, went into the city to look around for some warm winter clothes (because I didn't bring as much as I thought I should have). I ended up buy a jacket from ESPIRIT and a jumper from Roger David. And I ended up getting a free beanie/toque from Roger David! I went in there and the salesperson came over and asked about my hair. He asked how I was able to manage it and asking all these questions about where I was from and what I was doing in Brisbane. I realised that this bloke was trying to chat me up. I took the jumper that I liked and tried it on in the dressing room, and this girl was definitely talking me up about the jumper. She told me why it worked for me and left her hands of my shoulders and sides a little longer than what most people would. I bought the jumper and left the store as I was on a mission to find some more winter clothing. After leaving the store, I realised that I forgot my receipt at RD. I went back and the bloke and girl were at the front till. The bloke told me that I had forgotten my receipt and he kept in on the side waiting for me in the event that I'd come back to get it. He gave me a free beanie (it was $25) and it's uber nice! I thought, "if this guy expects me to put out...he's going to be really disappointed!" Hahahahahaha. After the shopping upheaval, I headed home to get ready and meet up with Nabila and Phil.

We haded down to West End to partake in some great food, hookah, and fantastic vodka infused drinks courtesy of the Lychee Lounge. Around 2:30am, Nabila had a craving for Macker's fries and we headed to the Valley, ate fries, and then went to a club called Birdie Num Num. In Brisbane, there is a newly instated 3am lockout. This means that if you are outside of a club and it's 3am, you will not be able to get in. Apparently this measure was taken to reduce the number of people loitering around after 3am in the Valley and City. From what I could see, it wasn't working so well. Yeah....back to Birdie Num Num. Absolutely packed! It felt good to go dancing again - sometimes its the simple things that we miss doing the most. However, the part of the club that we were dancing in was concentrated with people that were on all sorts of shit - speed, ecstacy, and whatever else. Needless to say, I didn't get home till 6:30am.

-------------Monday Morning------------

Yes, so this update it taking much longer than anticipated.

Alright, Sunday...Sunday was a rainy and very cold. A perfect day for the movies! Claire and I wanted to go and see Batman Begins, but alas, it was sold out. So, we went to go and see Mr & Mrs Smith. Tis was okay - Brad and Jolie definitely have an interesting chemistry together. The plot was a but the dialogue made up for its shortcomings. It being a rainy day and all, we thought that touch footy would be cancelled. Half way through the movie, I get this text from Dave saying "touch is wild, wet and still on!" Our team was really hoping that the other team would forfeit and then we can go home and be dry and warm. The other team showed up...and clobbered us - 8 to 2. Oh well, you can't win every time. After that, I headed back to Claire's and made mushroom and red capsicum risotto and we watched tv. Ahhh...what life is like when you don't have to do any uni work...fantastic!

Alright, it's Monday afternoon (12:01pm) and I've so much shit to get done today - washing/packing for my trip/packing for my upcoming move (yeah, that'll be another update)/cleaning my room and getting things sorted with student loans and shit. It's still cold and grey out. I might just fuck it and go take a nap. Yes. I've decided, I will do the latter first and then the rest later. :)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What is a person to do?

Hmm...I'm sorry for not having posted anything for the past couple of weeks. Things here in Brisbane have been a bit crazy.

The MBBS I mid year exam is looming and quite a number of people are starting to get stressed and pissy due to being in exam mode. I, on the other hand, have been quite calm (well, that's quite egocentric but most people have told me that I seem as solid as a rock). I think that that is scaring me a bit. I know that this is not the end-all/be-all of exams that I will be writing in the next 4 years. I am thinking that this exam will be similar to an immunisation shot. It will prepare me to know what to expect for subsequent exams. Also, I can test whether my study habits have been working. The exam is 3 hours long (8-11am) and will be covering materials from the past 19 weeks. What has the past 19 weeks been about? It's been about: cardiology, respiratory, gastro-intestinal, renal, reproduction, immunology, aboriginal healthcare, intellectual disability, ethics/law, and to public/preventive health with a healthy mix of microbiology, histology, and anatomy. So, 3 hours to cover all that?! What is a first year medical student to do??! I know that not all of those topics will be covered but it's not like you cannot studying something because you have a hunch that it may not be tested on. Hmm...sure. At this point in the game, I'm trying to solidify all the major concepts and know small amounts of detail in different areas. There is no need to give yourself an aneurysm in trying to get all the details about all the different systems and how different things are negatively/positively effect through the myraid of feedback loops - simply not going to happen.

I cannot believe that after this exam is over, I will have completed half of first year medical school. Tis crazy! After I come back from holidays, I have 14 weeks of uni (no holidays except for a Wednesday in mid-August) until finals, which are in October.

I had a bit of an episode a few days ago. I'm having some issues finding the best stethoscope, so that I can do the necessary auscultations. I was told by a professor that there was a 2nd year med student who had similar issues and that I should get in touch with them. I sent an e-mail to someone in the SOM (who will remain nameless) several weeks ago asking them whether they can send my contact information to this 2nd year med student. On Tuesday morning before leaving for uni, I checked my e-mail and I got a response to that e-mail. It stated that there was no 2nd year medical student that fit the description that I gave and that I should look for finding resources myself. I was absolutely shell-shocked! I called up the medical bookstore, which looked into a number of options for me (albeit none of which I am able to use because they aren't loud enough). The very first prac I had Tuesday morning was how to take blood pressure, which would be pointless because I wouldn't be able to use the conventional stethoscopes. I was in no mood to be left out while watching my class mates taking part. What is a deaf Veevek to do?! And note: a deaf Veevek is not a happy Veevek.

So, that's on the exam preparation side of things. Also, Mr. Thankey is having some issues on trying to decide where to do his medical electives for the month of November 2005. In years 1 and 4 we are allowed to an elective anywhere in the world. I know that I won't be able to do as much travelling as I would like to in the next several years, so I thought that these sort of opportunities might be perfect for going to a new place, whilst learning about clinical medicine. So far, I've shortlisted the following: India (Delhi/Ahmedabad), Sri Lanka (Colombo), Kenya (Nairobi/Mombasa), Vanuatu (Port Vila), Guyana (Georgetown), Malta (Msida), and Canada (Calgary - last resort). However, there is a part of me that is looking into doing an elective within Australia, most likely in an indigenous community in South Australia or the Northern Territory. We shall see, time is running out has placements need to be confirmed and approved by the SOM in August. What is a crazy nomad to do?! Any suggestions about where I should go (even if they are new places) are welcome!

Other than that, I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip to Adelaide and Sydney! I'll be seeing Ruth in Adelaide. I'M SO EXCITED! I love Ruth - she is someone that I know that no matter how I'm feeling will always be able to relate to me. When both of us were living in Calgary, we'd used to get fries and milkshakes from Peter's Drive-In and go up to Nose Hill Park and finish them off, while taking long walks. Or we'd go down to Banana Jak's (a place that serves bubble tea - every time we are there, we're the only non East Asian people in the establishment and we get these looks from the other patrons. I love it! The best would be having marathon conversations in my car when I would drop her home. I'm truly lucky to have a friend like her (and I'm even more blessed to have more very close friends like her - you know who you fabulous people are! MWAH!). Needless to say, I'm uber excited to see her again. After Adelaide, I'm heading off to Sydney. I'll be staying with Dave for a few days and then heading into Sydney proper and hanging out with some friends, doing some much needed shopping (because Brisbane is known as Australia's fashion capital) and being a tourist. Indeed something to look forward to after this exam is over. Also, I have a particular goal while I'm here in Australia. What is that goal? I would like to have visited every State/Territory capital. After my midyear break, I'll have 3 under my belt and 5 cities left.

Hmm...also, there is the whole thing about me moving out of my current place of residence. I really like where I'm living, as it is very close to grocery stores (Woolies/Coles), the RE and Regatta, and a major train and bus stop. I'm thinking of moving in with a good friend, who is in first year med as well. It's a bit further west than where I am now, but close to all the amenities (a major shopping centre, train/bus stops). The rent is marginally lower. Why do I want to move? I guess I'm tired of always being alone when I'm at home. I've got Philipe but a cat's company can only do you so much good (especially 1. when I'm allergic to them; and 2. I hate cats). I like living in an environment where people are around, it's jovial, warm and filled with effervescent personalities. I can say that this has definitely been the case in the past few places that I've lived (Ottawa and Nairobi come to mind). What is a person to do?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I have achieved a world record!

Well, let me clarify, I, along with 1500+ people have achieved a world record! This past weekend was the Panyiri Greek Festival in Brisbane. The world record was the longest Zorba dance, which up till this year, was kept by Melbourne (read: largest Greek population outside Athens). It was so much fun! Great food (spanakopitas, haloumi, honey puffs, greek salads, poura, baklava, Greek coffee, and some ouzo), music and dance. My friend Phil, who is Greek-Canadian, was very impressed with my Greek pronounciations of food. :) I guess that trip to Greece in 2000 paid off. There was a midway and games, very much like the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede. And for my zipper riding buddies (you know who you are), I rode in the Zipper called "Bad Ass" old times. :) I left early, as I was uber tired and felt a little guilty because I wasn't studying. I guess all work and no play makes Veevek's quite irritable.

Speaking of irritable, I felt that way after playing touch today. The other team came to the field with some sort of attitude. It just didn't groove well with the team spirit and comraderie that the Flaming Sambucas (we want to change it to the Motely Crew but too late) pride themselves on. The other team was playing rough, which is fine; however, their attitude seemed out of place. We fought back - player harder, touched harder, and carried a look of aggression. Alas, I didn't score a time.

After coming home, I was able to finalise my plans for my 3-week midyear break. I'm going to Adelaide to visit one of my best friends, Ruth. I'll be there for a week, and then I'm off to Sydney for another week before heading back to Brisbane. I'll be meeting up with Dave, Graeme, Ruth and some other Sydneysiders. How I love to travel! And this time, I'm not missing any uni to do so! Cool bananas. :)

Alright, I gotta get back to indigenous health care and the structure/functions of the abdomen.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Brrrrrrisbane III

Brrrrrrisbane III
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
I love this photo! The juxtaposition of the palm-like trees in the back, with the white hail. It was quite deep, in some places, the snow was above my ankle!

Brrrrrrisbane II

Brrrrrrisbane II
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
This photo was taken a block outside my house! If it were daylight, you'd be able to see it (it's behind the orange light in the background of the photo). Once jaw dropped when I saw the amount of hail that was on the road! Tis was crazy!


Originally uploaded by Veevek.
No, it's not Calgary. It's Brisbane! Apparently, St Lucia and environs were the worst hit areas of the storm. I just couldn't believe that this much hail had fallen!

Where have I been?!

Alright, there have been a couple of things that have happened in the last little while that I have failed to mentioned:
1) Mr. Thankey has reluctantly decided to open the flood gates in terms of extra-curricular activities.
2) Brisbane had a taste of Old Man Winter on Thursday, May 19th, 2005.
3) Veevek is slowly spiralling into madness...MADNESS I SAY!

Alright, let me explain the aforementioned numbered items.On May 10th, there was an international student night that was hosted by the University of Queensland Medical Society. It was a night whereby international students, from all 4 years, would be introduced to topics such as United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), foreign doctors practising in Australia, and opening remarks from Ken Donald, Head, School of Medicine. Because of the complexity of those issues, we didn't have any guest lecturers (which we were going to have) to shed light on the bureaucratic issues that affect international students. The reason for having this information session, which was a first at UQ, was because of the marked increase in the number of international students in the course. There are more than 50 international students in my year, half of us are Canadians, the other half are comprised of Bruneians, a few Singaporeans, Americans, and Europeans (British and Norweigan).

An Australian medical degree is fully recognised in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. This makes life a whole lot easy for students that want to practise medicine in those countries. As for Canadians, we have to write the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exams (MCCQE), which all Canadian students attending a Canadian medical school have to write as well. This is not the hard part of getting into the Canadian system. The hard part is qualifying for a residency match through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). Applicants who are students or graduates of international medical schools are eligible for the second iteration provided they have passed the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam within 5 years of the beginning of training. According to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada eligibility criteria for the first iteration match, graduates of international medical schools are not eligible to be ranked in the first iteration of the match by medical programs recruiting to first year residency other than those at accepted to apply in Quebec. What does this mean? It means that Canadians that have gained medical degrees from outside Canada/US are matched in the second round, if there are any spots left. In the 2005 match, there were 629 IMGs (International Medical Graduates) and of that only 80 were matched. Tis pitiful! At the moment, there are a few vehicles of change that are looking to get Canadians IMGs to be considered for 1st round consideration. As it stands, international students that are able to get into a Canadian medical school (and successful graduate) are considered for 1st round, even though they may not necessarily be Canadian citizens or permanent residents. To make a long story short, there are a number of things that need to be considered if Canadian graduates from Australian medical schools want to go back to Canada to practice medicine.Now, there are just as many complications for international students to stay and practice medicine in Australia. I would write about it but then I would be up for a few more hours, which would mean that I would be procrastinating even more from revising the gastro-intestinal tract.

To move on with was a night where I was elected by the UQMS to represent MBBS Year 1 international students on the International Student Sub Committee. This sub-committee consists of 5 international students, and (for the time being) convenes monthly to discuss academic and administrative issues relevant to international students. One of the main focuses of the ISSC will be to improve communication between the School of Medicine and its students. So, what will I, along with the other members of the ISSC, be doing? Our first priority is looking at the creation of a database of information about how students can return to their home country/work in another country/stay in Australia. The second is to provide some assistance to UQ by coming up with a list of universities with which to pursue relationships for international rotations/electives.So, in the end, what does all of this mean? It means that Veevek has to make more efficient use of less time that is directed towards studying and revising.

The second item - Brisbane had a freak hail/thunderstorm yesterday! More than 150 lightning strikes were recorded in the Brisbane area. At uni, it was raining like mad. However, a few hundred metres away, there was a huge hailstorm! Right outside my house, there was enough hail to come up above my ankles! The roof of my pool collapsed due to the weight of the hail. Here's what the Sydney Morning Herald said about the event:

Brisbane is bracing itself for a second bout of thunderstorms after a freakish deluge of hail brought the city to an abrupt standstill late yesterday.

The storm, which damaged homes and business and cut power to more than 7000 houses, hit without warning about 5.30pm, surprising weather forecasters and peak hour commuters. The temperature fell suddenly as up to 50 millimetres of rain and hail fell on parts of the city, producing a sludge that prompted some to make the most of the extraordinary conditions with makeshift sleds.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Geoff Doueal said it was a once-in-a-lifetime storm."It had a great volume of pea-sized hail with it, and what caused all the havoc was not so much the size of the hail, but the great volume that was coming with the storm," he said. "It was a fairly slow-moving storm and the hail tended to block up drains, gutters, and then some heavy rain with the thunderstorm inundated people's properties. "For this time of year we haven't seen hail like that in the Brisbane city at all." Mr Doueal said the storm cell grew from a small thunderstorm to an intense barrage of hail within 15 minutes, leaving no time to issue a severe weather warning.ABC TV was forced to take its 7pm news bulletin from Sydney after the ceiling of the Toowong studio partially collapsed and received extensive water damage. Part of the Toowong Library caved in.

The State Emergency Service took calls from 200 people whose homes were overrun by water and hail. "Most of the damage centred on broken skylights and water inundation caused by the hail, blocking drains and gutters and water having nowhere to go," a rescue service spokeswoman said. About 200 power poles were hit by lightning and a felled tree brought down five powerlines in the northern suburb of Kedron.

Mr Doueal said the storms lasted several hours. They were expected to return late this afternoon. "We're likely to see some sort of thundery showers again today but it's very unlikely that we get a freak storm like that over the city again," he said."It just really was a build-up of hail. If you get big hail, it pounds into your car and makes big dents. We don't think that sort of thing happened - it was all very small hail, but it was the volume of hail which was quite amazing."

A friend drove me home from uni and traffic was so slow! I was thinking, "Move over people! Let a Canadian show you how you would drive in snow." Seriously, it took us more than 30 minutes to travel a distance of 1 km or so (for those of you in/know Calgary, that would be almost the same distance from 17th Avenue SW and Sacree Trail SW).

And as for the last item on the agenda - madness! Yes. All this studying (or the attempt to study) has been making Veevek quite sleepy and lethargic. I have quite an elaborate study schedule and tracker, that it seems all pretty on paper/computer that I just like to look at it and not do anything. Hmm...that's counterproductive to why those aids are used, hunh? :) Yes. Indeed, I've three and a half weeks till this exam and I feel as if I'm already cramming the information in my head. I know that I will pass (well, at this rate of studying, I'm not sure about that) but do I really want to just pass? I mean this is information that I should be able to compartmentalise and have to access to when I am dealing with patients, na? Now, I am just obsessing about it.Whew...I tell you, there is nothing like a good rant session, innit? :)

Monday, May 16, 2005


Yes, I scored! I scored my first try at touch! WOO-HOO! It felt so great! Of all the sports that I have ever played (which I could probably count them all on one hand), this is the first sport that I have played where I was a team member; all the other sports have been solitary, for example, skiing and squash. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a loser when it comes to touch footy. I’m definitely not an agile player – I’m good at defence but my offence sucks as. I’m asthmatic, which means I can’t sprint down to the touch line like Graeme/Dave/Rob. But after today, all of those things were wiped out! I really felt as if I am a member of the Flaming Sambucas (we want to change it to the Motely Crew) as opposed to some vestigial appendage. Rob told me afterwards that he is expecting that sort of play from now on. And he’s right – I normally give whatever I’m involved in a 110% - at least that is what I have put into all the things that I have done thus far or I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, the question remains, “why should touch footy be any different?” Simply put, it isn’t. :)

Apart from touch, this is the first weekend where I have realised that there is so much stuff I left to learn/study/revise/know before the June 16th exam. I have two weeks of cardiology and then a week of renal (or two, there is speculation that the SOM might spring a new organ system on us before the exam – if they do, it will most likely be blood). I have finished all my weekly summaries from the faculty learning objectives and trying to fill in the gaps of my knowledge of things like the respiratory drive, embryology of the heart (which still remains forever confusing) and the different congenital defects that can occur at each stage in the development of the heart. I guess this is going to be a feeling that I won’t be able to shake throughout medical school. I mean, there is no way that I will be able to know EVERYTHING. If I believe in that sort of process, then I have already given up. You might be thinking, “hmm…Veevek, wouldn’t you want to know as much as you can, so that you can help the patients that you may be seeing in the future.” And yes, you are very right in thinking that. However, to everything that we need to know, in the detail that is presented to us, would take absolute ages to synergise with previous knowledge. Hence why people specialise and why GPs refer their patients to those specialists.

Alright, tis way past my bed time. It seems that with each passing weekend, I have less and less time to do things that need to be done. I was fortunate to get my room organise, my notes updated and filed, and the washing. I have yet to go grocery shopping (yummy yummy for Mi Goreng noodles and vegemite sandwiches!). I made a kilo of pasta on Saturday night, so I'm hoping that that will keep me at bay for a while until the next major grocery shopping haul.

I just took a test at, and surprise, surprise, I'm considered a Libertarian Left. Oddly enough (I didn't check the facts on this online test) my score/coordinants were the same as the Dalai Lama. for thought - just as long as it isn't tofu with fruit coulis, I'll be fine.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Annabelle & Graeme

Annabelle & Graeme
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
Annabelle is the hottie of PBL 1 (my PBL). She has degrees in economics and political science - hot. Graeme is a IronMan Triathelete and is more ripped than any other guy I know. The two of them (even though they aren't together) would make some pretty goodlooking children.

Tofu or bust?! Bust...bust...bust...

This was the awful raw tofu with mango coulis that I wrote about in the entry about the May Ball. Trust me, it was as bad as it looked.

Aawu kavanu na kavai! BILKUT NAY!

Claire & Suzanne

Claire & Suzanne
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
These two ladies are awesome! Both are in my course - Claire has a background in speech pathology and Soozie is a pharmacist. They are indeed in the top 10 of the hottest girls in our year. :)

Rob & Marlene

Rob & Marlene
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
Rob & Lene - a recent match made in 'med-heaven'. Rob is the star squash player on the UQ Squash Team and Lene is a genius (not to mention that she's a very attractive genius).

Lene & Veevek

Lene & Veevek
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
I was quite surprised that I was able to get Lene's leg that high up! I think that she most likely gave a show to everyone that was behind us.

Veevek & Leanne

Veevek & Leanne
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
Leanne and I are always hooting and hollering in lectures! And honestly, we always look like this when we are together, even at 8am on a Monday. :)

She's probably the only girl in the course that can keep up (and most likely surpass) my zaniness!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Holly & Veevek

Holly & Veevek
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
Holly was "Masquerade Barbie" that night. I know, I know...her mask doesn't compare to mine. :)

Dave & Veevek

Dave & Veevek
Originally uploaded by Veevek.
This the Dave that started the V-MAN craze. He is my partner-in-crime! Seriously, I think that I'd be more sane without this guy...but who would want that? :)

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Well, it is the day after the ball, and I am looking for signs of a pumpkin, scattering mice, and some ragged clothing strewn about. Instead, I see my suit hung in closet, the tie rolled up nice, shoes put into place, my contacts in their cases. Did I really go to the Ball last night? [Veevek looks up hoping that this large booming voice from the skies will give a loud resounding "YES"]

The May Ball was fantastic! There is something about seeing people dressed up and how people flirt about like peacocks during the rainy season that puts a smile on my face. (note: my mask was made out of peacock feathers, which probably used an entire peacock in its creation, and oddly enough it matched the suit/tie combination that I wore). At one point in the evening, I was approached by this woman (immaculately dressed) and she slipped me a business card. The card was regarding MedCouture. Apparently, I met the standards of the fashionistas that were out and about looking for people that would be able to carry on the tradition of scarificing pain for the goal of looking beautiful. I know of another girl that got one (Pam R.) for she was wearing a green/silver sari with all the jewellery to match. Tu jeez badi hain mast mast! :)

I didn't take my camera to the ball because it is quite a large camera. However, Lou was gracious enough to let me borrow the camera that she brought. I was camera happy! Once I get the photos uploaded from her, I'll be sure to send them out to those of you that are interested.

The food was awful, well at least the vegetarian meal was awful. It was raw tofu with mango coulis (a thick sauce made out of puréed fruit). Ick. But apparently, the chicken and steak weren't that good either (this is from what a few people had said). I was so hungry at one point, Lou jokingly offered me a piece of chicken and I ate it. It was NASTY! Seriously, I had to wash it down with two glasses of wine (which didn't make it any better). one goes to the ball for its food. They go for the drinks! Beer, wine and champagne wearing being consumed in vast quantities (not because it was high quality because it was all that they were serving) that at one point they ran out of glasses. So, they only served people that had glasses (fair enough). Some people were scavenging for glasses (new/used) just so that they can get all liquored up before the after party.

The after party was held at the Port Office - a favourite for the med students. They play good music, drinks are pretty good but the bouncers are extreme hard asses when it comes to letting people in. Dave didn't get in because he left his wallet, and ID, at home. However, at the ball, we were all given entrance tickets to the PO. I didn't have any problems, as I just showed them the silver ticket. He was pretty slick - he quickly jumped the from the line into the outside foyer of the club. He walked in and, since he is a social butterfly, he started talking to someone near the front. The bouncer caught him and he was kindly escorted out. Meanwhile, those of us that were allowed in, it was a blast! There was great fun to be had - great music, good conversations (well, whatever I could remember), good drinks and the general feeling of being merry. At some point in the night, I wasn't feeling very good. In the words of an acquaintance, "I didn't drink too much, I just drank too fast". :)

I got home this morning around 3:30am and I don't really remember anything from the time I got out of the taxi to when I went to bed (which must have been a 30 minute window). When I got up this morning, I realised (to my surprise) that my suit/shirt/tie/shoes/mask were put away properly, my contact lens were taken out and placed in its correct container, I drank a litre of water and ate a couple of vanilla wafers.

The only thing that I had to do today was go to the footy game. I thought that I probably should have skipped it but it's the best way of spending 40 minutes on a late Sunday afternoon. The footy game was great - we won! Well, we won because the other team had to forfeit because not enough of their players should up. Regardless, we had a friendly match of footy (which was great). However, after finishing last week's case on asthma, I've realised that my managment plan is really shitty. I reckon that I need to go and do some research on what needs to be done about it. It's a good thing that asthma is taken very seriously here, as Australia has the highest rate of incidence of asthma in the world (approximately 10% of the adult population).

I talked to my mum today (as it is Mother's Day). My parents had come home from a late night of playing cards at one of their friend's house. I saw my mum online and then called her. My dad answered the phone and he was so tired that he wasn't making any sense on the phone. It was one of the sort of conversations where you want it to be over so fast so that you can go back to bed. My mum had waited up because she knew that I'd be home around that time. Wow...mums really do know their kids even if they are 10000 km away. Normally, my parents aren't really interested in my friends (they are interested only if my friends are doing something to 'oooh' and 'ahhh' about). But lately, my mum has been asking me about my friends and what they do and if I have photos of them for her to see. I guess this is her way of being in touch with my life here in Brisbane.

Alright, speaking of life here in Brisbane, I need to bustamove. I should get going and do some work on cystic fibrosis and asthma. Or, I could just go to bed now (it's 7:30pm) and get up early in the morning. Hmm...knowing me, I reckon that I should do most of the work now and try to be in bed before midnight.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Broken blood vessels

It's Wednesday (12:09am) and I just finished my learning objective on the examination of the respiratory system. This was the first time that I was given a clinical LO. SO MUCH FUN! Yes, the basic/clinical science theory is very important but actually knowing the clinical signs and symptoms about particular diseases/illnesses just gives me goosebumps!

This upcoming weekend is the UQMS May Ball. This is, supposedly, the premiere event in our social calendar and the explanation is all in its name. A gala ball, held in May and attended by over five hundred people, beaten only by the Graduation Dinner for shear numbers. There is an informal welcome from the Head of School, before patrons sit down to dinner, wine, and later on, a little dancing. The twist to this gala (as in previous years) is that it's a masquerade ball! My parents sent my mask from Canada (I had bought a mask when I went to New Orleans in 2001 to visit a friend and take a two-week intensive Spanish short-course). There was quite a bit of noise about this year's May Ball because of the price of the tickets. In previous years, the tickets were around $40. This year, they are $85. Apparently in previous years, there was no food or drinks served. Also, the Roma Street Parklands is the world's largest urban subtropical garden. The entire event will be held under a marquise (read: glorified tarpaulin). Everyone is getting all excited about it. People are getting last minute things finalised: tuxedo rental and dresses (I'm decided against the tux and am wearing a tailored three peice navy blue pin striped suit), hair (hmm...I'm not going to even go there because this head of hair needs a weedwacker to cut it down and I'm not going through the hassle of testing a new haircut on the 'premeire social event of the year'), and things like that. Needless to say, all of this excitment has taken its toll on studying. The weekend was quite productive in terms of studying because I knew that I wouldn't be doing much this upcoming weekend.

Ahhh...back to the title of this blog. On Sunday night (Monday was Labour Day in QLD), I decided to take a small break from studying. I went to the Royal Exchange to meet up with Matt B and his girlfriend. After a couple of drinks, I met up with a whole bunch of other students and headed down to Caxton Street. During the day, there was the infamous Caxton St Seafood Festival. I didn't attend because I was studying and I don't see myself eating and enjoying mussels and octopus (yuck). Regardless, the street was blocked off for pedestrian traffic and beer cans were everywhere! It almost looked like the aftermath of Canada Day outside the Maple Leaf Pub in London. I didn't have much dinner before heading out and after a few drinks, I was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol. I realised that this wasn't what I wanted to do this evening, as I knew that I would have to get up early the next day to get some more studying done. I left the group around 1am and waited in a taxi queue. In Brisbane, there are taxi queues around certain hotspots and at certain times (around bars/pubs in the late night). I stood in the queue and started talking to this friendly couple. And I had enough to drink that my senses weren't totally sharp but I definitely knew what I was doing. After some time of the conversation, what did I do? Mr. Thankey thought it would be a good idea to pash this girl whilst standing the cue with her boyfriend right there! At first, I didn't think that he was her boyfriend but then again, nowadays, you really don't know how people are associated with one another. I ended up getting a small hickey above my left clavicle and proximal to the sternomastoid muscle (read: on my lower neck above the collarbone). After this short pashing session, the couple asked if I wanted to 'share' a taxi with them. They lived in Bardon, and I in Toowong. Bardon is close to Toowong but definitely out of the way. The couple soon kissed each other after making this proposal. So many thoughts going through my head. I ended up taking a taxi home (by myself) and thinking that one miss opportunity isn't such a bad thing. :) I tell you, sometimes I just get the shits and giggles thinking of what things I have and can get into. Oh well, I guess it makes for a good anecdote on a late Tuesday night (hmm...I wonder what sort of anecdotes will come from this weekend...stay tuned...)

Sunday, April 24, 2005


How can this bloke have NFI (no f*cking idea) of what the Nazi Swastika means?! Apparently, he flew the Nazi flag, not realising what it meant! Darren Mackay's Nazi flag has caused mass offence but he does not understand why, because he didn't learn about Adolf Hitler in school history lessons.,10117,15048244-1242,00.html

Good god. That is tragic...just tragic.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The revision starts now

There are 7 weeks left till my mid-year exam. What does this mean? I have 6 weeks to revise for the past 12 weeks and keep up with the next 7. Definitely doable. In fact, at the moment, Dave, Rob and I are going through the faculty learning objectives (random selection between the four different domains - basic/clinical sciences, ethics/law, interpersonal communication, and public/preventive helth). It's a pretty snazzy and flashy system that requires the use of Microsoft Excel (courtesy of Dave), which is uber sexy. :)

Apart from uni, things are going okay. I have been feeling a bit homesick lately, in the sense, that I really miss speaking Gujarati. I have started to talk to the cat (oh yeah...that should be its own paragraph) in Gujju-che (that's what my friend Anita likes to call it). Maybe I am just a bit crazy (I can see how the old grannies with lots of cats are deemed crazy) but I think that it understands my muttering.

Okay, so, my flatmates decided to buy a cat while I was in New York. I hate cats. I despise them. I really do. Yes. Affirmative. Uh hunh. Regardless, they bought this albino Siamese kitten and named it Filipe. They didn't know that I was allergic to cats. In fact, I thought it was really stupid of them to buy something like a cat without consulting me on the issue. Whatever it has been done. The good thing is that my allergies haven't been very bad (actually quite mild) and I spend more time outside my place, which means that I have been studying more. :)

This upcoming weekend in ANZAC long weekend. Australia and New Zealand commemorate the ANZAC Day public holiday on the 25th of April every year to honour the bravery and sacrifice of the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and of all those who served their country in time of war. More specifically, it marks the anniversary of the first major military action taken by the ANZAC in the World War I. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula (Turkey) to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Whew...that was a mouthful! But yes, this weekend is ANZAC long weekend. It is going to be filled with insane amounts of studying (I say this now. Hopefully this will be the case by the time Monday evening rolls around). I have two birthday dinners/parties to go to. Saturday is Nabila's party; her birthday is on ANZAC Day but no point in celebrating it on that day. Nabila is originally from Vancouver and she did her undergrad at McGill. She asked me to plan it, so I did. :) I chose a restaurant that overlooks the Brisbane River called the Jade Buddha. Afterwards, we are going to make our way down to the Port Office Hotel, which is a bi-level bar in the City that is just KICK ASS!

Sunday, like every other, will be me trying to get all my grocery shopping done for the week, washing, organising my notes, and touch footy. However, there will be some upscale debauchery after touch. :) It's my good friend Suzanne's (a Brisvegan) birthday and we are (tentatively) heading out to a Turkish restaurant and then to a funky place called the Lychee Lounge, which apparently have the best infused vodka in all of Brisbane. :) I have yet to go to the West End in Brisbane. It is a suburb on the south side of the Brisbane River. Look left - it's the fashionistas sipping lychee martinis; look right - an earthboy hippie is jamming on bongos with a jazz sax player; and straight ahead is a Middle Eastern tobacco cafe, where all sorts discuss whether apple flavour is better than vanilla. And this is at 2am. Apparently, there is never a dull moment in the eclectic melting pot that is West End. I am uber excited. :)