Friday, March 25, 2005

Short takes on...

...the Da Vinci Code Debacle:
Hello, people!!! This is a work of fiction! I thought the book burning days were long gone.

..American Idol technical problem:
I wonder how this will affect the results. My fave is still a tie between Bo Bice, Carrie Underwood & Anwar Robinson. :)

the Aids issue brought up by Dr Balaji:
Lets hope that the hoohaa about whether this is a homophobic statement or not will not cast a shadow over the larger problem of keeping the transmission numbers down, hopefully with Public Education programs to BOTH hetero- & homosexuals.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar." - Khoo Swee Chiow-

This local adventurer who has scaled Mount Everest, reached the North and the South Poles, swam the Malacca Straits, and plans to swim the English Channel this year (despite having just learnt to swim last year!) gave a motivational talk at work today.

This phrase that he used struck me, as our lives will probably undergo some major upheavals this year, with a move to a foreign country. The kids will have to acclimatise to a new school, we'll need to find a new home, and probably have to try to learn a new language as well.

Frightening, exciting, unfamiliar changes. But I know we can do it....we've done it before, and will probably do it again many more times. Do I wish that we have a stable place to call home? Undoubtedly, I sometimes do. But I believe that the experiences that we, and especially the children, have been/are/ will be exposed to, will enrich our lives, and hopefully help us grow to become global citizens who are more tolerant of the world and the people who share it with us.

Life is an adventure, as someone once said. Let us have the courage to live it.


I wrote about milestones too, in my surge of inspiration. 2004 was indeed a year of milestones - I reduced my working hours and changed to part time work instead, then decided to get away from clinical medicine altogether, and made the extremely unorthodox move of joining the civil service instead. Man, did I feel like a dinosaur (still do!) People I met within the Ministry were unsure of what to make of me, with my background of coming in from the private sector, and my "maturity" (ahem) and experience.

This was my "Milestones" entries from 2004:


Milestone #1:

I turned 40 this year. As I approached this milestone, I pondered over my life – its quality, its priorities, and my mortality. Was it worth it to slog on in the clinic, seeing my children & husband only after work in the evenings & partial weekends, usually fatigued & drained? These precious hours were sometimes reduced further by attendance of CME programs in order to accumulate those much needed points for registration.

I made a decision to reduce my working hours, spend quality time with my 2 children, who, after all, will (hopefully) go on to college in 6 to 8 years’ time…not a lot of time left, I reckon. I am fortunate that I am in a situation that enables me to work on a part-time basis. But I wonder about the quality of life of my colleagues, especially those GP’s who have set up their own practice, working 6 to 7 days a week, often doing morning, afternoon & night sessions. Where do they find time to spend with their spouses & kids? They seem to be killing each others’ businesses by keeping their clinics open up to 24 hours a day, trying to compete for the same pool of patients. Getting locums to cover some of their sessions may be difficult at times, especially during “peak periods” like school holidays, or public holidays & weekends – and yet they persist. I admire their tenacity & dedication to the practice of medicine…or is it just a matter of survival in this competitive environment? The Government polyclinics have jumped into the foray by opening night clinics. I wonder if there is a way of working together so that these hard working people can have some semblance of a family life.

Milestone #2:

Our new PM has given a promising speech about what we can expect in the coming years under his leadership. It looks like he is trying to improve the quality of life for Singaporeans. Can we take a break from the rat race & start smelling the roses again? Will it be possible for the “kiasu-ism” prevalent today, to be diminished? Will the “gracious & civilized” society that was wished for by former PM Goh be a reality? I think these are all inter-related – if we can break away from that mindset which makes us give priority to win at all costs, and to chase after the 4 “C’s. Instead, we can do the best we can & enjoy the journey on the way. I believe that this can be achieved. We would start giving way to off-loading passengers first before embarking on the MRT train; we would stop honking impatiently on the roads & stop tailgating; we would stop loading our trays with excess food at the buffet table, but just take what we can eat; we would start having more kids because of the joy they bring us, and not because of the Baby Bonus or the extended maternity leave; we would start bringing used dishes, utensils & trays to the collecing area instead of waiting for the cleaners to do it for us. Wishful thinking? Maybe not.

Milestone #3:

My son turned 12 last December. His hormones seemed to kick in with a bang after that. He is no longer a boy but looks like a young man. He has sprung up 6 inches in 6 months; his voice is starting to sound like a man. And yet, when I see him, I still see my little boy whom I used to hold in my arms & pat to sleep with his baby cheeks against mine as his head lay on my shoulder. Now, his body seems to be too large for his head! Suddenly, he seems like a klutz, tripping over steps, bumping into banisters, knocking over glasses on the dinner table – it is like his brain has not quite come to terms with the new increased length of his limbs!

Physically, he looks like a teenager. Oh, yes, I see the occasional emergence of the adolescent trying to look cool when he is with his friends, and I know that girls are no longer the creatures which make him say “Yuck!” anymore. And yet, inside this rather grown up body still resides the mind of a pre-teen, who still gets excited over seeing his favourite sports car on the road, who still asks 101 questions about things in the world around him that are still mysteries to him, and who still is not too embarrassed about giving his Mom & Dad a hug & kiss before bed every night.

As he matures into a young adult, I hope that his future holds the realization of all his dreams and aspirations. I hope that his youthful fervour for new knowledge will never fade. I hope that as he grows into adulthood in this new, exciting, shrinking, frightening and competitive world, he will never lose sight of the beauty that still surrounds us, in spite of us.



I wrote the following entry last year, when I was in a particularly melancholy mood after reaching the big '4-0'...


It’s strange, thinking back now that I’m in my 40th year – I used to write in a journal everyday in my teens. It seemed like a necessity then, to put my thoughts down on paper & record all the significant moments for posterity. Who knew then that I would treasure those words although it’s been years since I have looked at any of those journals. The pages are mostly yellow now, with oxidation….ageing… like me…

I wonder how I could have written so much down every single day. I guess that is why they are called the tumultuous teenage years, when raging hormones not only influence how your bodies grow & create all that angst, they probably also contribute to the continual spurts of inspiration which manifest itself into words & if you are lucky, poetry too.

I was reminded of this when I started reading my 14 year old niece’s blog. Full of expressions like hmm’s, ha’s, lahs, it brought back memories of my adolescence when emotions raged & feelings were felt in extremes. There were only blacks & whites; no grays in between. One felt “love” for a certain pop star or movie star – never would we love another person the way we loved then. Little did we know then that such crushes would eventually die a natural death. Remembering some of my entries which displayed my affection for a certain pop star, I sometimes cringe at the words I have written. My “love” was true; no “if’s”, “and’s” and “but’s” about it.

I have sometimes wished that I could feel like that again. And on reminiscing with old friends, I have wished that I could go back to those carefree days again. I remember my father telling my sister & me something along those lines, where school days were the best days as we didn’t have to worry about earning a living & supporting your family. But then, I look at the life I have now & realize that with turning 40, came a maturity & confidence I never had, even as recent as a decade ago.

Some say that for a woman, after 40, it is downhill all the way. Well, these people don’t know what they are talking about. True, fine wrinkles are starting to show, & the metabolism has slowed down such that one thinks twice or even thrice when faced with a chocolate cake! And certain areas of the body have started to surrender to the pull of the ever-present gravity. For me, these external manifestations of age are unimportant. Inside, I feel the pride of having done pretty good job so far in bringing up 2 human beings in this world; I feel satisfaction in what I am able to achieve with the experience I’ve had in life; and I feel confident enough to speak my mind when the need arises. The ability to love is still there, although I love differently now, than then. No extremes of passion - just a constant feeling of warmth, tenderness & security of knowing that the love is there & is reciprocated.

Of course I wonder how I will feel when I am 50. I wonder if the process of menopause will bring with it similar effects on my affections, that menarche & adolescence did. We’ll see.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hmmm....the big day is coming up...

After a certain age, one realises that the excitement of birthdays just isn't there anymore. I remember the excitement and anticipation of presents and a birthday cake as a child and teenager. Somehow, it isn't the same now. Sometimes, it takes a reminder to remember that hey, I'll turn 41 in a few days.

The day has become mostly a non-event - maybe dinner with the family, unlikely to have even a birthday cake. This year, I will spend my birthday chilling out in Bali, on of our favourite spots for a vacation. I am looking forward to the quality and relaxing time that will be spent with hubby and sons, not to mention the aromatherapy massages at the spa! I don't need the birthday cake or the presents...the simple pleasures of life should suffice for now...

Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wow, am I a blogger now???

How did I end up here? At the milestone age of 40, I started reading my 14-year-old niece's blog last year. I remember keeping a diary - a journal of sorts- when I was her age. When I read her entries, so full of teenage angst and passion, it brought back memories of my own entries made during those years of hormonal upheaval and emotional swings.

As I feel myself approaching another similar phase of hormonal changes (in the opposite direction, I must say), the urge to write and to put my thoughts down into words is once again stirred up.

I put aside my writings when I entered junior college and then medical school, as I found myself pressed for time and pressured by the endless tests and exams that I had to study for. Then came internship and residency with ward rounds and night calls. In the midst of all that, I got married, and had children......who had time to write? Any sparks of inspiration I might have had during those years were utterly ignored by the other priorities that cropped up especially when the babies came along.

So here I babies are now a pre-adolescent and a teenager who would usually rather spend time IM-ing their friends or with their PS2/XBox/PC when they are not busy with homework. I find myself with more time to mull over current issues and life in general. And suddenly, I feel the occasional inspiration to write down my thoughts once again - this time, in the virtual world instead of on by-products of dead trees.

I still have my old journals from my teenage years. I haven't opened them in years...I don't want to. Not yet, anyway. I don't know why; maybe it's because I don't want to miss my youth now that I am facing the middle years. Maybe I will, once I have accepted the fact that age creeps up on everyone, including me, with a 41 year-old body but a 16 year old soul...