Archive for the ‘What I’m Reading’ Category

gawande failure and rescue

Especially after the very disappointing commencement I attended at my medical school for this years MD class. Im really looking forward to my graduation next year, but id like to have a speaker who inspires, motivates, and pushes me as I step into the world as a new doctor! Not someone who is carrying a political agenda, blowing their own horn, or are just awful speakers.

Gawande’s speech should go in the annals of awesome graduation speeches and also as part of those compilations for medical students and residents. I mean, everything that drips out of his wise mind should. This is an eloquent, excellently written description of one of the key features of medicine that we in the field ourselves like to avoid. We don’t like to think of failure, but the truth is that a plan is necessary at all times, and it is always a possibility. The bigger failure is not having a plan and not being able to pull off a feasible rescue, especially in this time and age.

I like to think that in a few years when I am in that position, I will not hold on to ego and useless vanity as I’ve seen others do but instead aim to have a stepwise plan for every possibility.

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I should be more regular in posting, but continuously whining about that but never doing it is neither here nor there.

I’ve been feeling a little low this week because I have a lot of grave things to think about and I’d rather not, and its always difficult trying to figure these things out. At the same time, reading the news is really depressing because the conflict in Gaza keeps making me go WTF WTH WTF WTH in shock and pain. Its infuriating, yet you feel helpless. I think now all lines have been crossed, and I think everyone can agree: I mean, a UN clinic was bombed. A CLINIC. After a SCHOOL. And people are being shot at as they leave their homes with white flags (note, after they are told its safe to leave). It is such an open massacre that there’s really no words left to describe it. I don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong, but I think its freaking enough. When will it stop?

I thought I’d read something other than journal papers to distract myself and this week I brought home five novels from the library, two of which are devoured. I’m working on Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia now, and I’ve never read his work before, but after a long time I’ve really been attracted to a book and an author in this way. The book is exactly the kind of black satire I enjoy, and its brutal at times, and hilarious, and moving, but at other times its terribly disturbing and uncomfortable. It makes you uncomfortable because the characters are so human and so stupid and so faulty, and you flinch and squirm and ache for them as they make their mistakes and shirk responsibility and make stupid, immoral choices. Its funny enough to add an edge so you can handle it, but real enough to make you take a look at your own damn self. The main character narrating the story is at times very Holden like, and I remember feeling terribly uncomfortable for Holden. Actually, thinking about it, the satire is also very Salinger-like, though I don’t think comparisons really work. At the same time, its not really doing its job of distraction because it gets very heavy and thought provoking at times, about subjects that at any other time I’d love to ponder over (like race relations and the immigrant mentality). I’d recommend it to anyone who’s up for a challenging but funny and moving read.

For some reason this one line after a key moment in the book really got me. I swear, I almost cried. Out of text it may not mean a lot to you, but it really struck me as being so simple yet so hard hitting and poignant.

“So the three of them bundled out, their faces full of tears and fear and pain and anger and shouting. ….The house was silent, as if no one had been there.”

I knew Kureishi was well known, but I finally know why that acclaim is so well deserved. That very simple sentence doesn’t just speak of an empty, abandoned house, within its simplicity it speaks of everything that had been there but isn’t, the life that had been there but will never exist anymore, the home, the warmth, the living, the action, the movements, the feel of family, the noise, the daily sounds…which will never be there…gone as if they never had been there. I guess you need to read it to truly experience his words…for Kureishi, like the other great authors of the world, is to be experienced, not read.

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Meherbaan, A.R. Rahman, from Ada

All the time until I finally leave for HK is going to be very, very busy. Its already been quite full, although I’ve had more than my share of lazing around and aimlessly youtubing videos (speaking of which, I’m addicted to 우리 결흔했어요 (We Got Married): its reality television you can watch without guilt! Like most Korean reality shows! ). Anyway, while this is a period of exciting changes and new beginnings for my family, it is also somewhat scary, worrisome, like all change is.

Right now I’m mainly focused on figuring out all the wedding arrangements. Now that some of the stuff has gone into place, I’m a little relieved, but until we move the rest isn’t really going to happen. At the same time, working on the wedding and the house has taken away from my work out time, and this was meant to be the get in shape once and for all summer (is that at all possible anyway?). It is too darn hot, for one thing, it just makes me sick to step out. Second, I can’t do work out videos in an apartment which is for one, upstairs, and also full of chaos. Its too crazy. If things get chaotic or too messy, my way is to just completely give up and go into ennui. It makes no sense and it doesn’t help, but its a desperate solution. Right now, I know we will move soon and also I will pack up and leave soon, so it makes me want to bother less. And I do bother less. Argh vicious illogical cycles.

I’ve booked my ticket to HK, which is exciting, and which makes it very real. I’ve also been confirmed for housing. Its an expensive room, but cheap for HK, and its on campus which I wanted for the communality, and at the same time its a single with its own bathroom (I like me privacy). I’ve been in touch with some people, which is a little comfort, especially the fellow Scholars going to HK. They seem like nice, intelligent and social people, just my type, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them. So far, I don’t feel very nervous, just a little tense of all the stuff I have to figure out (like darn visas, and insurances and stuff), but I think the closer it’ll get the more I’ll be apprehensive since I’m practically moving there. I’m used to living away, but living with the knowledge that I can’t run anywhere to family in a 40 mile radius is new. Its a little exciting, but very strange too.

I’m now brainstorming for ideas for my travel blog. I decided a brand new blog would be apt, but I’m now not sure if I want it to be under this blog or just a whole new niche. Lets see what I do with that. I’d probably continue to blog on this for more general stuff and my opinions on other non-HK-living stuff, but I’d like to devote the other blog just to my time there and my experiences and adventures.

A couple of things that have made me quite happy recently:

*Ada…the new A.R. Rahman album, from which I’ve posted the song Meherbaan. Its a great album, though there are certain songs that, while being very Rahmanish, are also not clear on their inspiration. Tu Mera Hai has a very 90s feel, as does Milo Wahan Wahan, they’re somewhat unusual and not something you’re used to hearing nowadays. I enjoyed Hawa Sun Hawa the most, undoubtedly. Sonu Niigam is in full form, and Alka Yagnik’s voice is like sweet honey, but not too sweet. The lyrics aren’t spectacular, but it makes up for that with emotion. Meherbaan has Rahman’s voice, which surprises you again. How does the man change his voice to suit the style so well? So very different from Khwaja, yet still similar in the sense that Meherbaan too is filled with words I cannot understand. The song plays on the relationships between words and symbols and metaphors, so I miss out on many, but the ones I do get are lovely (this is not a direct translation, just the lines I really love. Thanks to Bhabhi :D)

Tu Hai Zabaan, Main Hoon Bayaan (You are the language, I am the speech)

Tere Bina Main Hoon Bezameen/Tere Bina Main Beaasmaan

(Without you, I am without land. Without you I am without sky)

Tu Hai Nadiya Main Hoon Sangam (You are the River, I am the Union)

Tu Hatheli, Main Hoon Henna (You are the Palm, I am the Henna)

Tu Hai Nazar, Main Nazara (You are the Eyes, I am the View)

Tu Hai Saagar, Main Kinara (You are the Sea, I am the Shore)

Aren’t those lovely?

Gulfisha is another notable Sonu Niigam number, where he’s in full flirtatious form, and as my chingu S said, I have no idea what gulfisha means, but we is sure loving the song! Hai Dard sounds great with Udit Narayan, who I haven’t heard in a while so can enjoy more now (distance makes the heart fonder?). It is overall quite an impressive album, and as always it amazes and astounds you that Rahman has so much talent that he can make every album, every song, sound so different, unique, with its own qualities and its own life, so to speak. Like my dad said, it makes you wonder how a human is created in this world.

*I am America, and So Can You! I finally got my copy of the legendary book by Stephen Colbert, finally being able to afford my very own copy, and I am beyond thrilled. And it is more than I could ever have wanted. Pages and pages of the grand wisdom, in your face, no words minced mouthiness of the great Colbert. It has me rolling on the ground in laughter, and it just cannot be explained just how great this book is, from the titles the footnotes to the disclaimers and stickers. It is brimming with Colbert’s greatness (quite literally), and I suggest that if you haven’t, you go out and buy yourself a copy this minute. Or many. And remember to stick up the sign to let firefighters know to save your copies. This is worth more than its weight in diamonds. 🙂

I’m going to now go look for a creative name for ze travel blog. Whee!

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A Cricket Team, representing a country, NOT a Religion.

I’m not a cricket fan, ashamedly or not, except for that Lagaan cricket match that had me eating my nails. I’ve always been happy for people into the game, I’m sure its very exciting and a wonderful, unifying experience to watch a game and win/lose, share the sentiment. India, as is Pakistan, and South Africa, and England, and West Indies and on and on, is a country with fervent cricket fever. Everyone joins in, everyone goes crazy, laughs and cries and gets furious together. I miss that feeling here, and I know my cricket-crazy friends manage to recreate it, which is great. I’m usually too oblivious to follow in, and have to depend on everyone else to keep me updated.

For the Twenty20 international match, though, it was in the air. The radio announced the score this morning, and I couldn’t help wondering who’d win the close race. It was extremely well played, very exciting, and India won by only 5 runs, a really close match. Congratulations to India, the Indian Cricket Team, for their very hard-won and well deserved win. Congratulations to Capt. Dhoni for leading a team well, and to the man of the match, Irfan Pathan. Congratulations to Pakistan for playing so well, till the very end. Both teams deserve a pat on the back.

Friends and family in India (and Pakistan) had been praying for days, extra aartis were held, extra namaz was promised in this month of Ramadan. When the win happened, everyone was ecstatic. The Indian Cricket Team had won, India had won, and Indians across the world were overjoyed. Emails were passed around, phone calls were made, people screamed and hugged and yelled and many cried.


Irfan Pathan, the man of the match, was congratulated and feted. No one, no critic could deny the great job he had done. It was a historic day for India, for Dhoni, for Pathan.


Messages of congratulations came from everywhere. Shah Rukh Khan descended on the field, he flew in especially for the match, and enveloped the team in hugs. The Chak De spirit was everywhere. The Pakistan cricket team was, ofcourse, disappointed in their loss, especially since it came after such a close match. It is always painful to lose, and when you were so close to winning, its even more difficult. I can understand that. I can understand the immediate anger and frustration and unhappiness, and as the leader of a team, you feel it even more. You feel the need to defend yourself, or apologize, and its difficult. You’re not sure what words to use, how to phrase it, and make it sound right. So I can imagine, in a way, Shoaib Malik’s situation.

What I cannot understand, at all, is why in the world, even with nervousness and pressure, would the Pakistani cricket team and the Muslim world get mixed up in Malik’s comment to Ravi Shastri:

“First of all I want to say something over here. I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world.” (Quote)

I’m disturbed by this irresponsible and senseless statement. Pakistan does not represent the Muslim world. The Muslim world cannot be represented by cricket or a cricket team. The cricket team lost: it was a loss for Pakistan, not for Muslims world wide. It was a win for Muslims in India for one thing, Indian Muslims all over, and for all Muslims who were supporting India anywhere in the world. I’m amazed, and deeply disturbed that the captain of the team would make such a statement. It was wrong, and unprofessional. It was also complete nonsense.

There is a Hindu in the Pakistani team. There are two Muslims on the Indian team. The man of the match, Irfan Khan Pathan, was Muslim. Shah Rukh Khan, a Muslim, was there to celebrate in person on the field. Something’s out of line here, isn’t it?

[Mukul Kesavan wrote a great piece on Malik’s statement, expressing his disappointment and shock:


Even if these facts did not exist, it would still be an outrage. Many have said that we should just forget what he said, he didn’t mean it that way, his English isn’t very good, the sentiment is always there, etc etc. But I’m just at a loss: why is there a need to bring Islam into cricket? Whatever he wanted to say, why bring in Muslims at all? I’m not completely sure that Malik is innocent. Maybe this is indeed a prevailing idea thats always there that he just spoke outloud (its happened before, with cricketer Imran Khan), but here’s the key: in this age, in this time of stressed, tense relations, when the entire world is stepping on each other toes, you CANNOT, CANNOT, be in a position of fame and celebrity and say something like this outloud. Its wrong, irresponsible, and VERY, VERY DANGEROUS.


For people who still say we should let it go, take it as a mistake, its all a match, no big deal……I can’t.

Someone I’m close to is Muslim. Living in India. A prominent family in the town. Minutes after the match, there were demonstrations outside the house. “Muslims Murdabad, Pakistan Murdabad.” It was a dangerous, frightening situation. Shops closed down in the neighborhood, anticipating violence. Its happened before, and I’m not blaming Malik entirely. It happens in a country with tensions high between the religions.

But today, there were a lot more demonstrations and a lot more anger all over the country, all over the world. There were a lot of Indian Muslims today whose loyalty was questioned–whose team do they support? Whose side are they on? When a group of people were hugging and cheering, invariably some side suspicious glances fell on the Muslim in the group, after Malik’s statement. Was he/she really happy India won? There were Muslims today who felt accused and wronged in their own country, who had to bear unjustified looks from other ignorant people (there’s no lack of ignorance in this world), who were verbally and physically attacked in many places, who were saddened and shocked to be questioned and treated in this manner, when they simply wanted to do what everyone else was doing: share sweets, sing songs of victory, give prayers and thanks.

Malik had a difficult job today. He played well and admirably. He had an even more difficult and important job as the captain, the representative at a key match: what he said accepting his loss was crucial. He could have said something that could have built relations between the two countries of India and Pakistan. He could have said something about peace and sportsmanship. There are a lot of positive things he could have said. He could also simply have thanked and apologized to the nation of Pakistan. He chose, however, to make an ignorant, inflammatory comment that made no sense, that endangered and angered Muslims. Ignorance breeds ignorance, and no one seemed to have told him to be careful about saying something this ignorant.

To use Mukul Kesavan’s words: “He said something that goes to the heart of cricket’s loyalties, its culture, its plurality of race and faith and language.”

I’ll repeat it. The cricket team of India won. No religion is represented by sport (and hopefully never will). Muslims did not lose a match. Pakistan lost a match. Malik lost the respect of many.

He needs to apologize, immediately, and be taught to hold his position to build bridges, not to create rifts.

Music: Chak De India, from the soundtrack of the 2007 movie Chak De India.

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