Friday, March 23, 2007

Trip to Ireland - Part I

My journey to Ireland is something I would never forget. There were so many beautiful and moving moments, and there were trials and tribulations as well...

The night before I left for Mangalore Airport, my right eye was red and itchy. I thought it was a normal eye irritation, so I applied a few drops of EyeMo before I went to bed. I woke up at around 5 a.m., and the eye was still red... and it has somewhat become more painful. I applied EyeMo once again, hoping that it will be okay by the time I reach Bangalore and had my proper rest in the plane (didn't have one the night before.. I was busy packing, checking everything.. oh and was busy feeling excited). Maziah and I waited for the promised taxi for a good one hour, before she lost her patience and called the driver. We were worried that we might miss the plane. The taxi driver said he didn't know the way to our apartment! We panicked. Luckily, the guard at our apartment offered to fetch the driver and direct him to the apartment.

We got to the airport safe and sound.. and in time... to find out that all the worrying were useless. Our flight was delayed again and again.. up to 5 hours of delay! In the mean time, my right eye was beginning to hurt and throb, and its red colour is becoming more prominent. After a while, I noticed that the eye was not able to see things clearly... everything seems a bit foggy. I got scared, and it was a really frightening time waiting for the flight to take off. I just wanted to get to Bangalore and see the doctor there. My friends were very concerned with my situation. Shidan, my class rep, was kind enough to carry my luggages and offer me a towel to dab the tears that kept coming out from my sore eye. Thank you.

By the time we arrived at Bangalore, it was already late afternoon. I rushed to the auto, alone, and told him to bring me to a clinic, a hospital.. anywhere relevant to get my right eye checked. The driver brought me around aimlessly - he doesn't seem to know where he can take me - and the pain was becoming more and more unbearable. The eye practically throbbed and was extremely sensitive to light. I broke down and the auto driver panicked. He brought me to a spectacles shop. Everyone looked at me and my puffy face and red eye. One guy asked "what happened?". I croacked a little when I told him, "it's my right eye. It's really painful. I need to see the doctor". He told the auto man that there was an optical clinic named Vagh Eye Center nearby, and the driver brought me there.

Dr. Mustali M. Vagh took a look at my eye. "It's bad," he says.

"Bad.. as in.. I can lose my eyesight?" I asked, scared.

"Yes, you CAN lose your eyesight."

The words hit me hard. The doctor went on to explain that it was bacterial, and it had spread to my cornea.

"What are the chances that it will be okay?"

He said if I took my medicine religiously, the chances would be high. I promised him I would, and he told me to get a follow-up in Ireland. He would want to see me again the next day. He prescribed Cyclosin (I think that's the name), Vigamox, Tobrex and an antibiotic. The eyedrops were to be taken every half an hour, alternatively. Antibiotics were to be taken three times per day. The auto driver was kind enough to accompany me during my clinic visit, and he took all the trouble to get all my medicine for me. He didn't ask for much either. I guess he sort of took pity in me, all alone and sick.

I came back from the clinic, feeling very sad and worried. Then I realized that I have left my cellphone in the hotel room in all the rush to get to the clinic.. and I didn't have my keys with me, as they were with Maziah. I kept pacing up and down to see if she's back, but she didn't. The eye was getting painful again, and I needed to apply the eyedrop. I needed a clean bathroom to clean my hands to ensure that everything is hygenic. It was then I remembered that I had some Ireland friends' numbers in a book I brought. I wrote everything about the Ireland trip inside my book - the flight number, time of departure, travel documents I brought, and a few contacts and addresses of my friends in Ireland. I went to the ISD/STD calls booth and called Farhan, Maziah's close friend, first. I thought I could obtain Maziah's number from him. He didn't pick up the phone. I called two of my close friends next. Only one picked up and I blurt everything that had happened in an instant. It was sort of embarrassing, but I just needed to tell someone. I didn't want to worry my parents, so I only told them about the eye infection once it was getting better (i.e. a few days after my arrival in Ireland). Alhamdulillah for my friend was willing to listen to my concerns and worries.. Thank you for being there. You know who you are!

Maziah came back after a while, and saw me waiting in front of the room, all tired and puffy. I told her everything that the doctor had said. I didn't really have a good sleep that night. I kept waking up every half an hour to apply the eye drops. The next day, the same auto driver took me for the follow-up. The doctor said I have improved from the day before, and that I should be continuing my medication and see a doctor in Ireland. Before I left, he told me to get more eye drops from Bangalore medical stores before leaving for Ireland:

"The price would be the same in the number, but instead of rupees, it would be Euros. You'd better get your supplies here."

I did what I was told to do. Once again, the auto driver drove around to find all the medical supplies and told me to just rest in the auto. All of the stores seemed to run out of one particular eyedrop I needed, so the auto driver drove all the way back to the clinic and asked the doctor to contact anyone for the supply. I was told to wait in the auto and he did everything he can to help me. After a few minutes, he came down and told me that the supplier would send the medications to my hotel room later. I thanked him profusely and got back to the hotel to rest. An hour later, the medical supplier came and I managed to get hold of two more bottles of the eyedrop. Just after a few minutes, I got a call on the telephone in my hotel room. The auto driver had called and asked if I had gotten the promised medications. I told him I did, and thanked him again.

That evening, after a good rest, my friends called me up. They asked me if I could join them shopping at Garuda Mall. I hadn't had a proper meal since the day I've arrived (I ate Kit-Kat and drank mineral water for every meal), and had not purchase any winter clothing, so I agreed to come. I met a few ex-Kolej MARA Banting and ex-Kolej Teknologi Timur students, who helped us around the mall. I ate a chicken lasagna (Indian style!) and managed to purchase a green winter clothing at MNG. It was a quick decision and an instant purchase. I had no time to think of whether it would suit my other clothings. All I knew was I needed one before coming to Ireland.

We got to the airport at 12 a.m. and had an early check-in. The airport was full with Malaysian students, some heading home, some heading to other parts of India for vacation and me and Maziah, who were heading to Ireland. We left for Frankfurt, our transit stop, at 3.05 a.m.
I'll tell you more about the happier bits of my trip to Ireland, but for now I have to study for my Physiology Self-Directed Learning test this Saturday.. which includes.. the Thyroid Gland and the Male Reproductive System. Yikes! It's a lot! In the mean time, I'll post some pictures of my trip:

Some of the many nice people I met in Ireland. I stayed with Helma (back row, black hijab), Sarah (front row, red sweater) and Hazirah (next to Sarah and me)

With Helma, at University College Dublin, where I attended a talk by a recent Muslim revert. Notice that my right eye is red and swollen

At Trinity College

In front of Royal College of Surgeons, where I attended a few classes, just for the fun of it :P

In front of Malaysia Hall, where I attended the Penang Medical College Farewell Ceremony. Good food, good speeches :)

With Atikah, my friend from INTEC, at St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre

Feeding the swans. I really think it could be a favorite way for me to spend my spare time.. but we don't have swans in Manipal

In front of Malahide Castle, with Kak Firdausi and Helma

Somewhere around the Malahide Castle. I love that huge tree

In the cafe within the Malahide Castle. We ordered a hot chocolate drink from the cafe, but we ate nasi lemak cooked by Kak Siha (in the picture) :P

Guess where we are? In the toilet of Malahide Castle

At the playground near Malahide Castle

Er.. somewhere I can't recall. We stopped by at this place on our way back from Malahide Castle

At the Japanese Garden, one of the many gardens at Powers Court. Just look at that beautiful Sakura tree!

I want a garden like this!

At the seaside in Bree

At a mini-golf course, with fairy tales as its theme. I believe this is one of the bears from the story Goldilocks

With my friends Jannah and Dayah in Galway. We had just attended a talk on "Shahadatul Haq" and were on our way to visit the lake nearby

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The word "holiday" is something really rare in Manipal. People there work really hard. Even on holidays like Deepavali, they'll continue working as if it wasn't a holiday. Although our classes end at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, our lecturers and expected to stay at their respective rooms throughout the day, until 5 p.m. So you see, holidays are very precious to us medical students of Malacca-Manipal Medical College.

And right now, I'm on one! This holiday would only last for a month, but it means a lot for me to take a break and do something else.. of course, I hope I won't forget to study! I am currently in Ireland, staying over at a friend's house. I'll be staying here for about three weeks. I hope to be able to join as many Muslim programmes as possible, as I have heard so many wonderful stories about these programmes. Ireland is extremely cold for someone like me, who had to use 2 blankets, a sweater and a pair of socks as well as having the fan switched off at night... in Manipal!

I hope to get the best out of this trip. It was a long journey from Manipal, to Mangalore, to Bangalore, to Frankfurt and finally Dublin. Hope it is all worth it :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

What's New?

Okay, not really that "new". It's been over two months since my last entry. It's not that I'm that busy. But I am that lazy. Laziness is the worst habit a medical student could have. I've got to get over it!

A few things that had happened in the last two months:

1. Elected as the female Malay representative in the Malaysian Students' Association (MSA).

2. Sold flowers for the MSA stall, during Malaysian Food Fest 2006. Unfortunately, didn't get the opportunity to enjoy any of the food due to the ever-busy flowers stall.

3. Went to Hana-chan's friend's house to cook assam laksa. Turns out a little spicy, but I like it just the same. Thanks to my parents for sending me the belacan stock granules, dried daun kesum, bunga kantan and asam keping! Can't wait to have a kitchen of my own when we move out from Sharada Hostel!

4. Had my first block exams. A bit disappointed in my performance, but it's all due to my lacklustre studying habits. My Physiology and Anatomy papers barely passes the distinction mark, while Biochemistry is my best subject. The worst had to be my Anatomy spotters paper. We're lucky to have Histology spotters to compensate the marks.

5. Currently working as a secretary for the upcoming Malaysian Cultural Festival, "Lagenda 2006".

6. Attended a programme called "Saturday Circle", held every two weeks. It's a programme where one of the brothers or sisters would speak about a topic (we had topics about hadith, lailatul qadar, etc.), followed by Q&A and current issues updates.

7. Joined the girls' basketball and futsal team. I even surprised myself. Didn't escape unscathed though. I already had several fingers injuries, lips swollen and had fell down at least a dozen times. Ironic how sports is supposed to make you "healthy". Hehe. The basketball tournament would start tomorrow, where we'll play Batch 18. Futsal would be on the 1st of January.

8. Went to Mangalore to visit our friends. Had a nice time shopping at the mall.

9. Visited End Point, Udupi, Malpe Beach.

10. Watched a movie called "Red Ribbon" during our PPD class. The movie revolves around the character Prem, who is suffering from AIDS.

11. Watched House MD from time to time, Eyeshield 21 when I can find the times, and finished watching My Boss My Hero (thanks Hana-chan!).

Both my parents are now away in Mecca to perform their hajj. Insya-Allah, you can do it, mom and dad. I love you both. And to my siblings in Temerloh with my grandparents, don't be naughty!

Can't wait to be back with all of you :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Some Pictures To Look At

My sister Sumaiyyah working as my roommate Maziah's temporary nanny

MAHE Building

Our dissection hall is situated in this building

One "fine" day in the lecture hall

The most convenient mode of transportation here - auto. You seriously feel like you have a personal driver.

Tiger Circle

Us with our colourful umbrellas during the monsoon season

Flowers I got from some lovely people, during the Malaysian Food Fest

Najwa (I call her "gakusei") and me (she calls me "sensei")

After Eid prayers in the masjid

Our hari raya meal. Thank you to the seniors for cooking for us :) Oishii desu!

Du'a is read first before the meal!

Muslim INTECians on 1st Syawal

Kak Fid, Damia, Kak Dina and me

Watching the sunset at Malpe Beach, before heading for our Maghrib prayers by the seaside..

Eva and me enjoying the beautiful scenery at End Point

Our friends Hazimah and Mus came all the way from Mangalore.. and we brought them to the food court to eat nasi lemak

With the lovely kids from the orphanage. They are so genki!

With our custom-made salwar

Batch 19 Muslims - picture for our hari raya card

Wish to post more pictures.. but it seems like after a while I'll get the "problem loading page" message. So this is it for now :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

A month went by...

I have been neglecting my blog for more than a month. Trust me, the guilt of seeing the same entry on top of my blog haunts me everyday.

Alhamdulillah, things are progressing well here. True enough, the subjects were no longer as breezy as those in A-Levels, but this is the path I have chosen. Studying can be tedious at times, but there are those moments when I paused and think - Subhanallah, Allah is Great. Things as simple as an uptake of glucose is not so simple after all - it goes around a long cycle, induced and repressed by certain factors. It is really amazing. Anatomy classes never seemed to stop to amaze me (and giving me wonderful tongue twists as well).

One of the classes I particulary enjoy here is Humanity. It is the only class where examinations are not needed and notes need not to be taken down. It is a class where what is needed is our heart and soul, and a pair of attentive ears. In the first Humanity class we had, our lecturer asked us to share our feelings when we first saw the cadaver in our dissection sessions. Our dissection sessions, by the way, is everyday, save for Wednesday. At first, no one spoke up. Then, one by one, started to share the thoughts they had:

"Why is he here?"

"Doesn't anyone want him?"

"Is he so poor that he needed to give his dead body away to support his family?"

"What happened to him?"

"Our differences are only skin-deep."

"Even in death, he is teaching us something."

My first thought when I myself saw the cadaver was that this is what we are all going to be one day. Just flesh and bones, rotting away to be recycled for other living things.. It is the soul that matters. It is the soul that makes us who we are.

The class was pretty much emotional. It drew tears. At the end of the class, we were asked to put our thoughts onto a piece of paper and to submit it to our lecturer.

The second Humanity class was more brutal. A lecturer came from Kasturba Medical College. He is the head of department of Biochemistry at the university. At first, he made a joke out of our dean's "Rain Clap". His laugh was just something out of this world. It just makes us laugh along even though we don't understand what was it that he thought to be so funny. All jokes aside, he gave us three sheets of papers - one was the story of an AIDS patient named Ron, another was a letter from second year medical student on quitting the course and lastly was an article about the inhumanity of medicine. Our lecturer starts getting serious. He told us that he shed tears after reading our thoughts.

"Your heart is so young, so pure.. so innocent! You're too good for this world. You don't belong here.." He said.

He then lamented on his own experience, before launching into an outburst: "Where is that pure heart of mine now? It's gone. My heart is like a stone, man!" He told us how many doctors try to escape the human sufferings they see every day. It is not easy, that is for sure. I realize that ever since I've decided to pursue this career. I know it would be a journey of so much sacrifice, pain and strife.. but I believe that iman is important to sustain that passion. I'm praying hard that I won't turn back. And most of all, I'm praying hard that I will turn into a doctor that I aspire to be.

Humanity classes aside, other classes is going well. I love all my lecturers. They all have something that we can identify with. For instance, Table 5 dissector, Mr. Venkat Ramana, will usually say "like that". Mr. Sudarshan would say "Okay, fine" or "So sad..." and Mr. James Gonsalves will go "which is nothing but..." The slangs are really something here. They were times when we are just plain dumbfounded over the words that were said. They pronounce motor as "mo-tar", for example. They don't know what handphones are - they are "mobiles". We don't "pack" food here, we "parcel" them. Speaking of food, I'm far away from being deprived of them. Seems like my cheeks are getting chubbier, even in Ramadhan! *horrors* I seemed to be very fond of the mint cheese grilled sandwich at a vegetarian restaurant here.

We had a nice 4-day break from Saturday (yes, we have Saturday classes) to this Tuesday. Saturday was Diwali, and there was a huge fireworks display here. They carried on playing the fireworks up to the late hours in the nights, and even continue doing so on Sunday night. It was extremely noisy. Our Hari Raya is today (Monday). We had a good Eid prayer, although our takbir sounds really different from the mellow one we usually have in Malaysia. Our real ceremony for Eid would be tomorrow, though. It will be held at a senior's house. I'm going off soon to help them with the lontong!

So far, I have been around to a lot of places. We've been to so many place to eat. We've went to Udupi to buy cloth for our tailor-made salwar, as well as to shop for certain furnitures and shoes! We've been to End Point, where we had a good view of a large, idyllic rainbow and the sea. We've been to the Maple Beach, where we watched the sunset, and had a peaceful prayer by the sea. The prayer by the sea gave me a reminder that no matter where we are on this earth, we are always His creation, His slaves. Di mana bumi dipijak, di situlah kita hamba Allah. Last Sunday, I even got the chance to visit a nearby orphanage. Although we were separated by the boundaries of language, it didn't stop the kids from laughing and enjoying with us. It was a good visit.

I'd love to upload pictures, but I'm running out of time. Perhaps I'll include them in my next entry. 'Til then, selamat hari raya, maaf zahir dan batin to each and everyone of you who's reading this blog. May Allah bless all of you!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Greetings From India

Thank you to all of the well wishes. I am doing fine here in Manipal. It's always raining here, but I don't mind since it kept the weather cold enough for me not to waste my money on air-conditioning. But it does get a bit too cold at night. Had to use two thick blankets, a pair of socks AND a sweater to keep me comfortable.

The food is good, alhamdulillah. I've been eating a lot of vegetarian foods lately. Fish is quite scarce, but I ate one two nights ago at Fish Point. It was really tasty. I still miss my sambal belacan and kangkung belacan. I get good (and cheap) laundry service and good housekeeping here. I was initially given a single room that I applied for beforehand. However, the price they quoted was a lot more expensive than the one they had included in the booklet. In the end, I shifted to a double standard room, which is a lot cheaper, and Maziah, my classmate in INTEC, becomes my roommate. The room is not luxurious, but it's good enough.

I get to meet a lot of new friends, and I instantly bonded with two girls from KMB and KTT, Hani and Najwa, respectively. We tried foods from Snack Shack, Saiba, the food court, Fish Point and various other places. They're relatively cheap as compared to Malaysia, with Fish Point being the cheapest so far. 7 of us had our dinner there, and that only amounts to Rs 127, which is roughly about RM12. Snack Shack has good food, but unfortunately, it is too loud at times. The lecturers here are very nice and helpful. My mentor, who is my "parent" here, is Dr. Maneesh. He teaches Biochemistry, and he is extremely nice and calm. My seniors (from the March batch) are also nice and friendly, and they helped us around with buying things (and bargaining), finding good food, registration with the police and things like that.

I had my first lecture yesterday on the subject of Biochemistry, where we learnt about amino acids, and then another lecture on Anatomy, in which we were introduced to the anatomical positions and movements. This morning I had my first encounter with the cadaver and we had a lecturer who showed us the basic things we should know, like nerves, veins and the likes. The time difference between here and Malaysia is about 2 and a half hours.

Unfortunately, the mosque is quite far from our hostel. Not only that, there is no allocation for women at the mosque. I do see Muslim Indians from time to time here. We have not been given a surau for our prayers, so we had to settle for prayers in the room. My friends and I are making our effort to perform as many solat jamaah as that we can afford. I reminded a male friend of mine to convey whatever they get from the mosque to us girls. Insha-Allah, when things are totally settled down and established, we would begin an usrah.

So far so good. I'm loving it here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Life = 'Ibadah. Really?

Initially, I thought of writing a post on the "grand lunch" Pycno, Bea, Elvis, Hiyoshi, Skye and I had, but I think Crimsonskye had nicely captured the moment with her words. I've left a long comment on her entry as well.

Instead I choose to write about our lives and our purpose. Most of these points are extracted from Ustaz Hasrizal's talk I attended quite recently. If we were to ask humans: "what is our purpose in life?", each would have their own answers, be it fame, money, status, etc. One of the most talked-about psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, had only these words as to the answer to the purpose of our life: "to fulfill our ego and libido (sexual desire)". The most average answer that most people seem to practise in their daily life: "we live to eat, sleep, work, get married, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work...", which is no better than a herd of goats. No goat wakes up and vows to himself: "I hope to be a better goat today than the goat I was yesterday." None of these answers are good enough for us to know which direction we are heading in life. I personally think that none gives us the sense of completion. If getting a PhD is our final goal in life, what's next after we get there?

So, let us look back at the manual written by our Creator:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.
(Qur'an 51:56)

This is our purpose of life. Sadly, many of us limits ibadah to the time we spent on the prayers' mat, or reading the Qur'an. Those are ibadah all right, but ibadah isn't just a certain time in life, but it's life itself. Working, sleeping, taking meals, getting to know people, spending time with friends - all these are also supposed to be ibadah.

There were quite a number of talks I've attended where people would always reiterate just how little time we spend on prayers, on reading the Qur'an as compared to spending time with friends or working or studying. It's almost like those are the only things we do that will earn us good deeds. Once we've folded our prayers mat and put away our telekung, it's like we're in another world. Which is of course, the wrong outlook.

The downside to this "distinction" is that we are subconciously being secular. We may not dare to shorten our Subuh prayers into just one rakaat, but we dare to cut class or cut our working hours (be it coming late, leaving early, or too much "coffee break"). We dare to talk bad things about people. We dare to break promises. We could care less about studying or doing our best in everything we do. We cut queues, we shout at people, we plagiarize, we lie. And the list goes on.

So, today let's just ask ourselves: Just how far had we made our life an ibadah? I must especially remind myself and ask myself this question again and again and again. Are we really serving our purpose of life? Or maybe are we just a part of the herd of goats?