Minggu, 14 Maret 2010

Personal notes

People say that keeping some notes about our feeling, thinking and opinions will give us more understanding about ourselves. This is a note from my final days after working for a year in Papua. I have some other notes from my journal that I would like to share. I'm now digging to my old diaries and scrapbooks in case I find anything interesting. I'm going to start with this one first.

After graduating from university, I did my mandatory government service at West Papua, Indonesia. There are two classes of job offered by the government for fresh-graduated physicians: to work in rural place or in very remote rural place. If we choose the second option then our contract will be shorter than the first option. I chose the second.

Little did I know that my decision would change my whole perception later on. Working in a place that only could be accessed by small “Twin Otter” plane and only has a radio for communication device, I started learning that there is another world outside the world I used to know.

The society I was living in is far and away different from my own, although we are all Indonesians. They practise an odd way of treating disease when they get ill. I hadn’t even been trained to work in such a condition. I was quite surprised (no, I think the right word is ‘gobsmacked’). The awareness that I was the only doctor for the whole mountain was overwhelming. In the first 2 months, I struggled to adapt with my new environment. Everyday life, such as cooking, bathing, or washing suddenly became difficult things. I didn’t know how to make fire, I don’t know how to get water from source, I couldn’t take a bath in the river. Even staple food was difficult to get. They don’t eat rice but cassava. Cassava wasn’t very good for my digestive system. It produces a lot of gas in the intestine and makes my stomach bloated uncontrollably. So at the beginning, it wasn’t me who gave them treatment. It was them who gave me. I learnt to sleep in the hut, then next day I could fix my door and put a stove inside. In a few weeks time, I could say that I survived. But then came along other problems: I relied too much to interpreter that I couldn’t do an appropriate history taking, and also there were short of medical supplies and limited diagnosis tests.

In order to get reliable history, I tried to understand some important vocabularies, e.g. headache, fever, unconscious, diarrhea, bleeding, cough, cold, and three times daily. Then I could ask them further questions like: when it starts, what colour and how many times, etc. However, I wasn’t sure if I use the grammar correctly. Sometimes patients just nodded and laughed. With a help from a nurse, I also managed to store the supplies in order at last, but some of the drugs were apparently expired. To dispose, we had to bury these stuffs otherwise children or animals might ingest them (I had never buried drugs before, I felt like criminal). It took me longer than I thought to get my clinic operate “normally”.

When I decided to extend my contract for another 6 months, I was sure that I did the right thing. In my high ideal I thought I might bring about changes. But I was proved wrong. I wasn’t aware that many people strived before me to make condition better. But it was so difficult to change people’s mind. Before my contract ended, I was at my wit’s end. I started being impatient and frustrated. I felt helpless, disappointed and alone. I had a quarrel with my chief of health department. I had resentment to the eldest of the society who I considered as ‘conventional and stubborn’. At the end of the day, I didn’t accomplish my work triumphantly. As soon as my contract ended, I signed out.

I returned home and I wanted to do something else. I am rather happy with all experience I’ve got, but I also realised that I wasn’t very successful. Now I am still not sure what to do if I have the same situation once again. I want to study tropical infectious diseases so I might return to Papua again. But for now, I guess it might be helpful if I learn to deal with ‘challenging people’ in different circumstances. In my opinion, if I put myself to unfamiliar condition, then I will learn the most.

I lost most of my pictures during traveling, but not the notes! I'll publish them soon in this blog.

This one is from year 2006, during my first visit to London. I was mesmerised by the musical as I'd never seen live performance before. Now it sounds rather exaggerated but honestly, I still love musicals and theatre. The latest performance I really want to see is Monty Python and The Holy Grail but they'd already moved to Los Angeles =(

London’s Musical

What will I miss the most in London? It’s musical. Breathtaking, witty, amazing, fantastic and artistic are not enough words to describe these plays. I agree that not all musical are good enough for their standard, but here are some of the plays I certainly do admire (if you happen to see them, give me your own comment).
The Producer and Avenue Q are the most humorous of all. Surprisingly, they are both set in US. I assume American has better sense of humor. The Producer tells a story of a producer (of course) who want to make the worst play ever in Broadway. He and his accountant, the wanna-be producer, try their best to hire the worst scriptwriter, actor and director in order to make the most box-office flop. They wish that after the unsuccessful show they will be gone with a lot of money. The worst play unpredictably turn to be the most-wanted play, and the funniest part…you’ll see the rest by yourself.
Avenue Q is the story of our everyday life, with unemployed BA degree called Princeton and those all people live in Avenue Q. This play consists of live stage performance of sex, unfortunately, by puppets. With songs like "It’s suck to be me" and "We’re little bit of racist", I’m sure you can imagine what kind of musical it is!
Chicago is likely the sexiest. If you have seen the movie with Catherine Zetta-Jones and Renee Zellwenger (ups, I don’t know how to spell her name, forgive me), don’t even think that you will be bored to watch this play again. It’s fabulous! The music is totally alive and the joke is much funnier. Roxie Hart, the main character of this play, really dances like a puppet. She’s not only hot but also very absorbing. Like to make fun of herself as well as entertain her audience. And with the orchestra as a part of the story, who doesn’t enjoy it?
Lastly, The Phantom of The Opera  is the absolute best classical play. This remarkably well-done musical will make you gasp in fascination when you only first see the setting. With a bit theatrical song, you will be brought to old canals and cathedrals and plays in the Victorian times. Best work of Andrew Llyod Weber and reputated for the longest play in West End, the play is undeniable a classic masterpiece. Never miss it!

Ok. This one is my friend's note when we visited Japan. This bustling, vibrant and twenty-first-century country has only one flaw: they don't have night bus. So if you go out after the last train, you'll end up paying a fortune for a night cab. Luckily there are some good news: MacDs are opened 24 for hours and there are sushi vending machines about every 100 metres. Yay! (P.S. This note is very recommended for my male-traveler friends if you happen to hang around Tokyo or Osaka or Kyoto).
What to do if You get stuck in Tokyo or Kyoto from the hours between 12-5 am 
  1. Start the night right off. Go to the vending machines and buy a BLACK BOSS or go to Family Mart and get an energy drink {Y200 (up for 2 hrs)-Y1500(up for 2 days)}.
  2. Decide where you want to go. There are bars, clubs -stripclubs- you can hang out by a river or just drink from a vending machine.
  3. I suggest going to all you can eat/drink place for Y3000. Get drunk and hit a club. Kyoto (club metro, World, Ruba dub). Tokyo (BiasPanic or NUTZ). If you want to take a break, go to an arcade or the Shibuya Mc Donalds.
  4. Who you will find at Shibuya Mc Donalds. The second floor will be filled with smoke and Shibuya girls putting on make up and fixing their blonde hair. Some will be adjusting their high heels and long black socks. These girls are hot!!!!!! Everyone is eating Mega Teriyaki burger.
  5. If you are a Gai jin like myself then you have to pay 2500 yen to go to a club. Most likely it will be a Reggae club. Here you will have to face the DJ and dance. If you turn your back to them to dance with a girl it might be considered disrespectful. Just drink a lot and it will be a lot of fun. It will be tough to talk to girls so just give them your camera, ask them to take a picture of you and your friends. This will start a conversation. Just pray they know more english than you know Japanese. WAtch out for dudes from Ghana wanting you to go to stripclubs. Go if you want. Get on train at 4.30 am. Go home!!!!

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