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.