Monday, May 28, 2007

strangers & angels

My care-group (aka cell group) held our quarterly Pot Bless last saturday, with the aim of encouraging church members to join one of the many care-groups. our care-groups usually consist of 8 - 16 members , or about 4 -6 families, & meet once a week to fellowship, study the Word, pray & provide spiritual & emotional support. non-members are especially invited to introduce them to christian fellowship.

as it often is, our CG leader, B8, took it upon himself to open his home for the occasion. as we all know, that's a heavy responsibility - getting food organised, source out chairs & tables, etc - but being the capable leader that he is, most of the other tasks were delegated to the other members. i was supposed to meet & greet the guests, but i was held up at the hospital.

i specially invited sbanboy to join in as he was around for the weekend. i know he enjoyed the food - he looked the type, heh heh! (i'm certain he has fully digested the ikan bakar dinner from the previous evening - read here.) i mean, who could resist the roast beef & turkey, tauhu sumbat, pasta & salad, chicken curry & duck stew, complemented by a most delectable home-made chocolate cheesecake with oreos topping, fruits & drinks?

as always, B8's hospitality (warmth, home, food & all) is 2nd to none. it's obvious he heeds the words of paul :

"do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." heb 13:2

so, could sbanboy be an angel?

err...he looked quite down-to-earth to me.

**image : source**

Thursday, May 24, 2007

of greener grass...again!

Another enlightening weeekend on-call came to pass.

patient A, a middle-aged woman was admitted for sudden breathlessness. amidst desparate gasps for air, she made a startling request - that she wanted to be treated to be well enough to singapore for proper treatment. because she's singaporean.

(hey, aren't we good enough for stiff upper-lipped inhabitant of one small dot on the world map?)

actually, she's got a point. she lives in an affluent society with easy access to some of the best medical facilities in the region. if not, why would the president of a BN component party have his hip operation there? or, why a recent deceased state assemblyman should seek cancer treatment down south?

it's perfectly human behaviour to desire the best for ourselves - the most stylish car, the biggest house, the most profitable investments, & of course, the best medical specialists. why, even famous european footballers go to a particular knee surgeon in colorado, USA, to get their career-ending injuries fixed - remember van nistelrooy, shearer & del pierro? similarly, the texas heart institute can lay claim to fame by counting royalty & dignitaries amongst its patients.

unlike A, who has to seek emergency treatment here while on vacation, patient B came from another neighbouring country to seek redress for 3 previous surgeries done back home when he was younger. to say they botched it, is putting it mildly. this unfortunate teenager, or his family, has absolutely no idea what befell him, resulting in the last few days with gut sticking out of his abdomen. not a pleasant sight, but he had corrective surgery done here & is currently recovering from the ghosts of his past.

the point is that A intends to go back home for definative treatment because she knows she'll get it there. B came here because his family thought he'll receive better care here. they are both probably right, as are the thousands who go abroad for the perceived better medical treatment & facilities.

this reminds me of the dentist joke:

dentist : i'm going to give you some local anaesthetic to numb the pain.
patient : doc, if it's ok with you, can i have the imported stuff instead!

i think we ourselves are guilty of perpetuating the myth that foreign/imported is always better. that the grass on the other side is always greener.

however, i am consoled & comforted by the lyrics of an old, old song by petula clark:

The other man's grass is always greener,
The sun shines brighter on the other side!
The other man's grass is always greener,
Some are lucky, some are not,
Just be thankful for what you've got!

image : source

Thursday, May 17, 2007

mum's legacy.

Mum used to be a nurse. she often went on field trips with the school health team to schools & estates to conduct health checks. remember the eye-sight (visual acuity in medic-speak) tests & BCG vaccinations during primary school days? incidentally, it was at these checks that i found out i was short-sighted (myopic) & needed corrective glasses.

in the late 60s, the country was gripped by an epidemic of cholera (a water-borne disease charcterised by abdominal pain, vomitting & diarrhea) & health teams were working round the clock at various entry-points to vaccinate incoming travellers as a preventive measure.

meals were provided to these nurses & health assistants. Mum used to bring home her ration of bottled Magnolia milk, either in chocolate or strawberry flavour, because she knew my brother & i loved it. i recalled we eagerly await her return each night for our prized drink. however, it didn't occur to me at that time what she drank with her meals.

yesterday evening, someone gave the OT team a treat - Nando's chicken with its complement of side dishes. i decided i'd save my share for the kids at home. i know they'll be thrilled because all kids love fast food.

now i wonder....

....if they ever thought what i had for dinner

....what Mum would say when i tell her what i did.

**OT = operation theatre**

Sunday, May 13, 2007


"And I realised when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know." Mitch Albom in For One More Day.

mum, i love you. happy mothers' day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

a party & a legacy

The boy will be 5 on the 18th, but he had an early party today. (his sister also had her 1st birthday party when she was 5, at the local McDonald's.)

but today's party was held at home. our part-time domestic helper cooked nasi beryani with chicken, popodum, cucumber salad for the parents while the wife prepared nuggets, fries & sausages for the kids. pizzas, jelly, fruits, drinks on free-flow& the mandatory birthday cake completed the spread.

the kids were the usual suspects - from church - & all in, 10 came with their parents. i think everyone enjoyed themselves with games, presents & food:

poison letter

forfeit : hug the birthday boy

tucking in

blowing out the candles

just hanging out

hand ball

Jason Fong from the Scripture Union gave a talk on handling children today, based largely on his personal experience with his 2 girls. we would do well to instil Christian values in our children, in order that they may pass this virtue & legacy on to their children.

we will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, & the wonders he has done.
so the next generation would know them, even children yet to be born,
& they in turn would tell their children. psalms 78:4,6

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

the terrible teen cometh!!

The little girl is today a teen. thirteen.

she arrived at a time when we had no permanent abode nor a steady job. the single-storey house was rented from a GP who operated a clinic next door & i was near the end of registrar-rotation training in sheffield, england. the only asset of notable value to my name was a 13-year-old volkswagen which, thankfully, ran like clockwork. (proton - take note!)

she was due on apr 25 but, like a typical m'sian, she didn't inform us that she can't make it at the appointed day. no contraction, pain nor leaking - an emphatic no-show! another check with the obstetrician & she was given another 2 weeks to appear, or else!

at the end of that 2-week grace, she was to be "coaxed" to make her appearance. so on the morning of may 9, wifey was admitted to be induced, but even with the pitocin drip & epidural analgesia, she remain defiant till 8.18pm, british summer time, when she finally relented (thanks to the vacuum cup) & made her grand entrance (or was it exit??) at the northern general hospital. all 3.9 kg of baby cuteness.

it's so surreal. to be a 1st time parent. at a time when britain was still governed by john major & his embattled tory party, the british pound was worth only rm3.80, wet wet wet's "love is all around" has been top of the charts for several weeks, & malaysia was in the midst of the last bull run.

be that as it may, the girl was, & is, loved like no other.

ribbon & all, with the 3 (wax) bears

by Tower Bridge along the Thames

prize-giving day in school

as a prequel to her birthday, we spent sunday in KL. at kinokuniya, she only asked for this book....

(still in wraps, to be read after the mid-term exams) be added to her existing collection....

i expect that her demands will get more intense for future birthdays. she wouldn't be a teenager if she didn't ask, & i wouldn't be a parent if i didn't give in (to some!!).

but today is hers, & tonite i shall share this with her in prayer :

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. matt 7:11,12

happy birthday, darling daughter!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A does not equal B

i saw this in the papers yesterday.

this is the 1st time i've noticed a college publish it's entry requirements. what's bizarre is that, while it promoted its pre-medical course, nowhere in the advert indicated that this pre-med/pre-U will actually lead to the medical school. an oversight? a deception? another scam?

if that's bizarre, try this : how can a GRADE A accredited institution with excellent academic facilities & highly qualified staff require only B-grade students for entry??

2 scenarios may ensue :

1) the excellent highly-qualified staff may lose the motivation to teach the B-grade students, which the latter don't care as long as they pass the course;

2) these 2nd-rate students actually find the going rough, but because the college need the fees the students pay to stay in business, the passing grade is lowered & a bunch of B-grade graduates are let loose.

Alex Tang, quoting from The Medical Tribune (read here), shared my fear that while we are gearing towards developed nation status, we may be producing too many doctors too fast, giving rise to concern that the quality of these fresh graduates may be suspect.

oh, maybe we should consider a 3rd scenario : these fresh graduates are posted to your neighbourhood hospital.

med school, anyone?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

another trip to the circus

Coincidentally, the circus has come to KL, too. no, this is not the royal london circus but rather a musical ensemble at the MPO - a family funday where kids, young & old, are encouraged to attend, with affordable seats to boot (prices start from RM10).

so that was how we spent this sunday afternoon. after a short drive, we're at the dewan philharmonik petronas again. the almost-full auditorium was noisy with kids & their parents (oh, there were adults who came on their own as well) but things settled down once the performance started. it was obvious that some of the younger ones were getting restless halfway through the show, perhaps because there was more music than actual effective interaction with the audience. kids have such short attention span, so interaction & participation keeps them interested & attentive. i did learn a few tricks though - you can mimic a cow's moo with a cello & an elephant's trumpet with a trumpet.

the other thing i discovered was that the times bookstore has some pretty good bargains at their stock clearance at sect 13. look at what i got....

J Archer at RM8 apiece & C Ahern at RM26.

can you get any cheaper?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

the circus comes to town

i think it's quite easy to please kids because their needs are really simple, eg...

1) some fast food, or....

2) a day-out at the theme park, or......

3) a trip to the circus.

he's been pestering us ever since his kindergarten teacher announced that the school was selling tickets for the royal london circus which started its run last week. we had taken the daughter to the same circus when she was 5, so i thought that it's only fair the boy got his due.

needless to say, he was thrilled to bits. i mean, which child wouldn't be? the big top, the lights & music, the acrobats & clowns, & of course.....

..the cotton candy.

me? i'm not easily impressed. the trapeze act failed not once, but THREE times. yes, the guys failed to grip their catching partner's hands on the other trapeze THREE times, & they're alive, thanks to the safety net. other than a tame-looking elephant, there's no wild animal act - presumably they were difficult (& expensive?) to maintain, or maybe there were safety issues. maybe a partial refund was in order.

the singers were quite good - surprise, surprise, they were filipinos. their rendition of amigos para siempre was commendable, although i thought they strained a bit at the high notes.

but what did sway me was this motor-cycle act where the stuntman rode around inside a hollow steel sphere, measuring about 8m in diameter. round & round he rode on his scrambler, defying gravity while creating a din & spewing exhaust fume. 1 by 1, his partners joined him till there were FOUR riders, each on their machines. so there you have it - a fitting finale - 4 daredevils simultaneously speeding horizontally, vertically & diagonally, criss-crossing each other's path within the restricted confines of the sphere, which by then seemed decidedly crowded.

truely, an act of unusual skill, precision timing & bravery. & guess what? 1 of the riders turned out to be the clown in earlier acts. who said men can't multi-task??

as the show ended & the audience trooped out, the ringmaster (also the male lead for amigos) wished that everyday may be a circus day. ha ha, at those prices, i don't think so, buddy! not when guys in leotards keep falling from the sky. the boy thought that was funny, though!

like i said, the needs of a kid are simple.