Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big shoes...

It's hard being a parent.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of Semester One..

Results are out and though they aren't all that great, Im glad and grateful nonetheless.

When i first saw my results at the stroke of midnight, I analyzed them and had to do several calculations before deciding that i did ok. I had high hopes for computing but had to settle for a B and while i expected to flunk physics and maths, I'm glad i had Cs. An A in Effective Communication was the little cherry that topped my little ice cream.

Overall, Im happy considering that it could've been a lot worse. And after comparing my results with those who did better than me, I realize i could be alot happier had i done better. So that'll mean hard work in the coming semester.

And i'll have to remind myself that not getting the grades after putting in so much effort is not an excuse for not putting in as much effort in future. I just got to be more patient and just soldier on. One thing's for sure, all that effort simply means there's no regret over the things I should've done but I didn't.

Let success be a measure by your own standards. Don't be too concerned about others. But don't ignore them either. Instead, let them lead you as you continue to pursue your dream.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Engagements and out of ideas...

The word engagement does seem to linger around the house as of late - be it friends or relatives. Almost got into a quarrel with the mother talking about the process of minang, tunang, nikah and whatever else there is that i hear about without knowing what's what. Seems like culture and tradition to her is like the basic computer know-how to me. Two different generations but I guess I'll look up the books of adat istiadat when the time comes -- though i prefer to learn the hard way even if it means making myself look like an idiot and the mother, otherwise.

One thing i realise is the existence of some conditions that have to be met before us children can even think of getting into something serious. Not that im having such thoughts, yet, but whatever she's been saying would definitely apply to us as well should the time come. It's pretty hard to put it down in words so to put it simply, I know what conditions i have to meet first and whoever i like must definitely be someone very patient and understanding.

It has been a while since i wrote something i could call my own aside from short comments and facebook status updates. Hate it when the creative juices stop flowing....

Till they start flowing..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hidden meanings

Adolescents are not the world's greatest communicators, and some of the things they say are almost unintelligible, even without their slang. Large portions of my humility have come as a consequence of realizing that just when I begin to think that I understand them, they remind me that I don't.

What the adolescent means is sometimes hidden from view and must be sought, because the real meaning can be quite revealing. Let me cite an exchange that took place between me and one of my patients on the adolescent ward one morning:

Dan, a 14-year-old boy who had been physically and emotionally abused in life, was brought to the hospital after a suicide attempt. He seemed to be responding positively to the security of his new environment. He let the nurses know that he liked feeling safe. However, he was distant with me, and, despite my efforts to get something going with him, he remained apart.

As I entered the ward one day, I spoke to several adolescents near the entrance. I turned to see Dan glaring at me. "You don't like me!", he declared in a most unfriendly manner. My first impulse was to feel offended. My second impulse was to defend myself against this unfair accusation, saying something like, "What do you mean saying something like that to me after all the hard work I've done to help you? Who do you think has been trying to make things better for you? Is that the thanks I get?" and so on.

Instead, I decided to seek the hidden meaning in his words. I was confused and said to him, "I don't understand." His reply was,"Yes you do, you don't like me!" I asked: "I don't? You believe that I don't like you?"

"That's right," he snapped. "Gosh, Dan, what is it that I'm doing that would cause you to feel that way?", I asked.

"You spoke to everybody else and didn't speak to me!", he informed me. "Oh, I see! I guess I'd feel the same way if I thought someone didn't want to speak to me. How does it make you feel thinking that your own doctor doesn't like you?" I inquired.

"It scares me. It makes me think that you might send me away," was his almost whispered response. "I'm not going to send you anywhere, Dan, not until you and I both think it's time to go," I assured him. I touched his shoulder and said no more.

Initially, I had been tempted to refute Dan's statement. Instead, I chose to find out what had prompted his statement. My obvious struggle to understand what was going on in this unhappy young man made a statement to him far more eloquent than a defensive denial of his charge. I didn't have to tell him I cared about him. He concluded that on his own.

I was fortunate that Dan was willing to give me bad news. Too frequently, children will misinterpret parental actions and feel hurt, but out of "respect" they keep it to themselves. If they tell us about it, we have a chance to put it right. Whether they are willing to bring unpleasant news to us depends upon how we ordinarily react to bad news.

......."Understanding the Adolescent" by George H. Orvin

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"What is an alchemist?" he asked, finally.

"It's a man who understands nature and the world. If he wanted to, he could destroy this camp just with the force of the wind."

The men laughed. They were used to the ravages of war, and knew that the wind could not deliver them a fatal blow. Yet each felt his heart beat a bit faster. They were men of the desert, and they were fearful of sorcerers.

"I want to see him do it," said the chief.

"He needs three days," answered the alchemist. "He is going to transform himself into the wind, just to demonstrate his powers. If he can't do so, we humbly offer you our lives, for the honor of your tribe."

"You can't offer me something that is already mine," the chief said, arrogantly. But he granted the travelers three days.The boy was shaking with fear, but the alchemist helped him out of the tent.

"Don't let them see that you're afraid," the alchemist said. "They are brave men, and they despise cowards."

But the boy couldn't even speak. He was able to do so only after they had walked through the center of the camp. There was no need to imprison them: the Arabs simply confiscated their horses. So, once again, the world had demonstrated its many languages: the desert only moments ago had been endless and free, and now it was an impenetrable wall.

"You gave them everything I had!" the boy said. "Everything I've saved in my entire life!"

"Well, what good would it be to you if you had to die?" the alchemist answered.

"Your money saved us for three days. It's not often that money saves a person's life."

But the boy was too frightened to listen to words of wisdom. He had no idea how he was going to transform himself into the wind. He wasn't an alchemist!

The alchemist asked one of the soldiers for some tea, and poured some on the boy's wrists. A wave of relief washed over him, and the alchemist muttered some words that the boy didn't understand.

"Don't give in to your fears," said the alchemist, in a strangely gentle voice. "If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart."

"But I have no idea how to turn myself into the wind."

"If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

"I'm not afraid of failing. It's just that I don't know how to turn myself into the wind."

"Well, you'll have to learn; your life depends on it."

"But what if I can't?"

"Then you'll die in the midst of trying to realize your destiny. That's a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their destinies were.

"But don't worry," the alchemist continued. "Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives."

........."The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

Monday, December 22, 2008


And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."

Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay." And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;

For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

....."The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When one becomes too many

This week was and might still be filled with events. I do not remember a time when I've been out as often and thus, i didn't know when one becomes too many. Until today...

I was pretty much a person of excuses whenever it comes to social gatherings and stuffs. And I really don't give much thought about what others may say. I only think about what my mum would say whenever i make my decisions.

Lately, it has all been about me that i forgot about her. However, just a handful of words from her left me thinking -- about freedom.

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Ay,in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes. And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead. You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you. And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

......"The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran

Friday, December 19, 2008


And he said:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

......... From The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ayat-ayat cinta 2

Watched Ayat-Ayat Cinta the second time during the long trip back to Singapore and i must say there were a couple of moments that made me want to cry. The first time i wrote about it, i sounded pretty emotionless. Maybe it was due to poor sound quality the first time round.

Fahri was indeed a lucky guy. The writer of the novel must've left most guys dreaming...

The short vacation

It has been a long time since i went on a holiday overseas. This not including the two trips to Taiwan while in the Army.

Clearly everyone isnt used to going on a trip without the dad. And the morning got off to a pretty bad start. It's back to whether the mother should try to understand her children or the other way round. Personally, i thought she was being unreasonable but after a while, from my other perspective, us children should be taught a lesson on punctuality and that's just her way of doing things.

In short, it's hard to understand what goes on in the minds of our mum and dad. And likewise, i guess it's hard to understand what goes on in the mind of young kids nowadays. So i'll stick to if u cant understand them, just follow them.

KL was all about food. The cakes from Secret Recipe was awesome! Burger Ramlees. The hotplate noodles. The mangoes and mango juices are lovely. Shopping was boring coz the package are more catered for the makcik-makciks. Petaling Street was great -- and mothers know how to bargain best! If only there's more time.

Went to Bukit Bintang at night and it really seems like Orchard Road -- with mats and minahs here and there. Didnt see much of Bukit Bintang though.... coz we were trying not to miss the last monorail.

More shopping at makcik-makciks place the day after at Nilai and Ayer Hitam and i was back home -- surprised that Man U didnt capitalise on the draws of Liverpool as well as Arsenal. Glad that Chelsea drew last night too!

All in all it's definitely better than home and tv. For $75, decent hotel and cheap food, it had been a great short vacation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bioethics, Life Sciences and Islam

In this current era of information and technological development, various new findings have been presented. Many of these new developments have great potential in helping to solve the issues and challenges facing humanity today. This is the opportunity for Muslims to benefit from in order to take lead in such efforts towards global development.

However, the enhancement of knowledge and the mastery of new information that we seek is not only for the intention of contributing to the social and economic developments, but it is also for us to implement our responsibility in bringing peace and prosperity to the world. Let us not forget the fact that many of our Muslim scholars in the past were not only experts in Islamic sciences but also in other areas of knowledge as well.

Abu Rayhan al-Biruni for example, not only was he an expert in Islamic philosophy and comparitive religion, but he was also a scientist, astronomer and an expert in geography. Ibnu Nafis on the other hand was a master in physics and human anatomy. At the same time, he was also a Hafizh of the Quran and an expert in Hadith.

All of them studied science, geography, human sciences and other types of knowledge. However, they were always guided by their strong understanding of Islamic morals (akhlaq), and Islamic law (syariah) in their pursuit to consolidate the knowledge that they had.
As a result, not only were they able to leave behind valuable knowledge for others to inherit and learn, but they also managed to do a lot of research for others to benefit from and improve the quality of their lives as well as their understanding of a certain knowledge. This is the kind of motivation and spirit that we should take away and learn from.

My dear brothers,
Among the types of knowledge which has seen a lot of rapid developments recently is the knowledge of human science and bio-medics. This field of knowledge has the potential to discover the antidote and alternative treatments for various diseases and genetic disorders. Issues such as cloning, genetic testings, stem cell research and others are just some of the outcomes from the study done on life-sciences. With stem cell research for example, we are able to study the source of various diseases and genetic disorders.

That is not all. In fact, it is also needed to find the best cure and discover solutions to overcome these problems.
As a community that has been entrusted to enrich the earth, is it proper for us to ignore the developments in knowledge? Is it not part of our responsibility to analyse these developments and look at their benefits and harms?

Would it not be brilliant if the Muslim community, either ourselves or our children, are to be the ones taking the lead in such developments? It requires guidance so that the efforts are made in relevance to the ethics of the Syariah and does not contravene with its restrictions.

Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran in Surah ar-Room, verse 8: Which means: “Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allâh created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allâh has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term.”

In analysing the creations of Allah s.w.t, especially in the creation of humankind, we will discover many of His secrets as we study this wonderful and flawless creation. By just looking at the growth process of a foetus in a womb is enough for us to remind us of our status as His humble servants. Also look at how careful and organised the creation of a human is through the structure of DNA and chromosomes in the human cells. This allows us to think of Allah’s Divine Greatness. His Greatness which is shown in His perfect creations. SubhanAllah! This is one of the wisdoms behind Allah’s command for humans to think about how He Created them.

One of the wisdoms behind this is to also study the type of things that we can benefit from this knowledge. There are actually a lot of secrets that we can discover, which could actually improve the quality and standards of a human’s life. For example, the stem cell research can open doors to identifying antidotes for many diseases. The blood which is taken from a baby’s placenta can be used in the future as a source of treatment for that particular child or even for other children. The advancements in technology can also help a couple to have a child through the process of fertilization outside the mother’s womb, before the mother actually carries it in her own womb. Subhanallah!

God is great, for He has hidden many secrets in His creations for humans to learn and discover.
At the same time, these efforts need to be done in relevance with the conditions and ethics that has been set by Allah s.w.t. and His Messenger s.a.w. in the Holy Quran and Hadith. Let us not allow these developments to instead bring damage and harm to our planet and the creatures who are living on it.

Allah s.w.t. says in Surah al-Qasas, verse 7: Which means: “And seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah does not love those who do mischief Some of the guiding principles in Islamic ethics when facing the developments in life-sciences are:
  1. To not bring harm to anyone, as this is prohibited in the religion, and it is in line with the core principle of protecting lives.
  2. Any form of harm, if available, must be minimised and reduced to a level which is acceptable in Islamic law.
  3. To avoid harm is more important than obtaining goodness or benefit.
  4. A good and true intention (to achieve something) cannot be attained by a manner which is immoral in Islam.
Let us become a Muslim community which thinks about Allah’s creations. Let us be determined to raise our level of knowledge and develop a generation after us that is always hungry for knowledge. Let us use the knowledge that we have now to bring benefit to others and in bringing prosperity to the world. With this strong determination, may we be chosen as the ummah which thrives in its duty as a vicegerent and caliph on earth.

Sermon for Friday prayers,12 December 2008

Fine tuning the neurons in my brains

9 days without something.

3 seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender basically sums up the 9 days. There were some readings and i must say that i do not understand the relevance of pathogens, diseases, DNA, RNA, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Bioethics (and the list just goes on...) with Civil Engineering. Perhaps before thinking big, an Engineer has to start small -- i never thought that small is at the cellular level.

Genes, gentetics and the human genome reminds me of Dr Suresh from Heroes. And hypothalamus something something reminds me of the disease Michael Scofield has. 

I am beginning to wonder if too much television inhibits the way the mind thinks. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making decisions

Fun day today although something was definitely wrong with my aiming.

A conversation led to a thought to ponder about and it led to this for the night.

I remember the last few months before ord really starting to think about what i wanted to do with my life. Whether Civil Engineering is the way to go or whether i should listen to my heart and stuck with what i wanted. Or at least that's what i thought i wanted back then.

Deciding where to go was tough and it took a really really long time. Slightly over a year.

I remember wanting to do a degree in social work. I felt that i had enough of maths and sciences and that if i ever go higher in this field, I'll struggle. I didn't want to suffer anymore. And social work seemed like the easier option. The only problem was I didnt have the ability to see the future. I had to choose between two options which clearly leads to two totally different paths and I really needed to see the future.

So while i was still in National Service, I sent an email to a person whom I felt was the best individual that could help me make the right decision. 2 emails and plenty of sound advices from individuals --who cant see the future but can look back in time and have seen so much more -- made me where i am now. And now me looking back slightly over a year from now, Im glad i've made the right moves and seized the right opportunity.

I believe that when it comes to making important decisions, one has to consult one's council, seniors, resource people. In other words, I believe that it is best for one to be open to different views and opinions from different perspective. Cross reference everything with one's own research and ideas and then make that decision.

And that said, I guess looking back, I wouldnt have met the the individuals ive met had i hidden in my own shell. The shell's long gone. Perhaps there's the right time and the right place with the right people to do the right thing.

Perhaps there really is.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December's here!

December's arrived a little early.

Ran out of The Big Bang Theory episodes a couple of days back. And ive decided enough was enough. But i did catch 21 and Eagle Eye though and both were great movies! Could have watched Quantum of Solace and Madagascar 2 back to back but I decided to wait till Harry Potter shows up. Till then, ive got more important things to do.

Getting my next speech up seemed hard. Firstly, the brain's filled to the brim with music, tv and movies. And secondly, would a speech on saying no to slimming pills offend un-slim audience? And thirdly, is such a topic relevant for an audience who are generally slim?

Im trying to write something interesting and meaningful, logical and clear. My aim is to present a 5-7 minutes that is organized in a manner that leads the audience to a clearly defined goal.


Since December's already arrived, I must say that it's time to hit the books again. If we dont start early, how else can we beat the smart internationals? And even if we cant beat them, we can try to beat as many locals as possible right?

And it's also time to hit the gym. im so unfit right now and fitness wise, im not ready for Sunday's game. Aiming for that $400 offered by Ministry of Defence. Wonder if it's possible.

I shall sleep, hoping that fats will miraculously be gone by morning.