Monday, September 14, 2009

Maximum Entropy

I’m in lack of proper words to justly describe my life at the moment. Any dissonance between claim and fact becomes trivial as my system steadily evolves toward maximum entropy. Even if I do try to keep a positive mind, my eyes still have to endure this terrible sight of my so-called abode resembling quite remarkably a vagabond tribe’s caravan, which is exactly what I am right now- a vagabond. My ears have to endure alternating promising and crushing news which can be likened to that old chipsmore ad on tv (“sekejap ade, sekejap takde”). My arms and legs have become jelly from chronic jitters.

What a way to start your new academic year, being kicked out of the room you just moved into and not knowing where you’re supposed to move to. It’s starting to become a biennial thing, if you remember my staying-in-guys’-floor misadventure two years back. Thank God two years from now I won’t be living in this hostel anymore. I say, these Russians are really good at ticking people off and act real sensible about it. But again, I’m reserving myself a hard jumping kick in the head for not being able to speak super-fluent Russian and exert myself more.

For all the brouhaha about Russian students not getting the best medical education, I see part of the problem being the significant number of students coming here not to study medicine so much as to wallow in a 6-year vacation with hope of scoring some Russian girls (guys?) along the way. I do wonder why they ever decided to take medicine in the first place- why not some light, short courses that wouldn’t pop their brain with so many facts to digest, and without the heavy accountability of dealing with life and death matters? I may sound harsh, but if you hear half of the stories of it, you’ll be thinking along the same lines too.

Another big part of the problem lies quite plainly in the language barrier. I’ve seen many lecturers who can’t express themselves very well in English but when they switch to Russian, 3 hours of class won’t seem to be enough. After four years the problem of understanding greatly lessens, but I still have a whole lot to work on. And then there are some lecturers who insist on speaking English, and it usually means they can teach less than what they are able to in their native language. Obviously, it affects the practical part as well, the area where everything is wholly conducted in Russian.

So, that is to say, my Russian needs some speedy salvation.

My first two weeks here have been spent in the department of psychiatry, and you only need to look at the patients here to realise that your problems are of microscopic value. If there is one disease that I wish to be spared from, it’s the disease of the mind, the conscience, the essence that makes you aware of who you are in this world. I find the discipline fascinating, but I just can’t imagine myself as a psychiatrist in the future (although my mother has suggested it would suit me, I have no idea why. Hehe). But well, you never know.

I got a little bit of everything from my 2-month break at home this time. My father, as always, sort of kept a constant mental check on the things that I had wished to do when I got back, which, as I lived in Russia, obviously involved cravings of food origin- food I craved to eat, restaurants I craved to go to. He would always think about what we really wanted before making any decisions, which I can’t even begin to express how much I really appreciate it (darn, I’ve got tears in my eyes now).

Meanwhile, I discovered that I’ve grown to enjoy going shopping with my mother, even though she herself sort of dislike shopping by nature. Haha. I used to prefer going with my father when we were younger, as my father would be more readily to indulge in our whims and fancies compared to my mother, who would choose whatever the cheapest to come off the racks. My father, being a man, however, doesn’t seem to quite fit into the shopping scene of a twenty-something daughter anymore (for the most part) and nowadays we’ll just spare him the torment and go by ourselves, me and my sister, or with mother.

My mother is an excellent listener, and for two months she became my ear for all the compiled stories over the past year, the person I confided in with all my problems and fears, the one I asked for advice in personal matters. I reckon you would have made a great psychiatrist, mak. Hehe.

Am I turning this into a tribute-to-family entry? Haha why not. I love my brothers and sisters, even if some days I just feel like kicking them hard for doing things that irritate me (thank God our physical fighting days are over). My elder sister’s in Japan as I write this, and I have to say, I do miss her presence here. We never failed to have a major disastrous fight whenever we were back in home soil, and even though I used to vow to remember that whenever we got back here, to sort of resist being nice to her when she started being nice to me, I would always forget it in the end. And now I don’t even have the privilege anymore, and things aren’t that much fun. Fortunately I’m in company of such great friends (but hold it, today’s is not a tribute-to-friends entry!).

My younger brothers and sister are the ones that liven up the house. Their jokes and antics never fail to crack everyone up, and this is the best reason why everyone should have a big family (by today’s standards, a family of seven is considered big. Heh). So when one fine week in July everyone happened to be home at the same time and I came up with the idea to have an early ‘raya’ family picture, you could imagine what would result from it.

Official, proper version. For the record, my family has never caught on the eid family colour theme thing; the proof is rather striking as you can see.

True colours coming out. Back (L-R)- me, Muhammad, Luqman, Sarah, Aliah. Front (L-R)- mak, abah.

More action as we exchanged headgears. Wish I were the sith lord. Heh.

The next weekend all of us minus Aliah plus my grandmother and aunt went for a trip to Langkawi, and I had a really good time basking in the nature, albeit having an inadvertent self-staged drama with my camera for the better part of it, which we shall not discuss here. Anyway, I had become a passive photographer throughout the entire holiday. It just shows that although I love photography, I love lazing around doing nothing more. And with most of my family members being avid photographers (when we took a boat ride at Kilim national geopark, the boat driver asked, “ni aktiviti kelab fotografi ke?”), and them having much better arsenals of those shiny guns, we wouldn’t need my pictures to cover for an event, which sort of triggered the lazy photographer syndrome.

Sunset at... err, where was it again? A little further from Cenang.

A fisherman waiting for his late catch of the day.

Yes, I only ever managed to shoot the sunset during the trip due to the aforesaid 'drama'.

My youngest brother Luqman. He's been a gem throughout the hols, helping me with various errands in and out of the house. ^_^

One of the very few things that made living at home less favourable than here was the presence of various ‘exotic’ faunas inhabiting our house and the backyard. My least favourite animals, frogs, totally roamed our backyard and for that reason, I never once took a walk across it, not for anything. Lizards were rampant (I once found a humongous lizard in a glass of half-empty cendol that we drank upstairs), and splashes of iguana jumping into the swamp behind the house (purely a hypothesis, but a likely one) have been heard once or twice. Last time I heard, a rattlesnake had been sighted, being pestered by our daredevil cats as my sister went to feed them. Living in a (seemingly) peaceful village overlooking the sea obviously comes at a price.

However, home is home and will always be so. I can’t say Kuantan has the best-looking beaches or sell the cheapest headscarves, but I’ve lived here almost all my life that I simply feel belonged. I find myself totally at ease when, say, I step into a local shopping mall here, but roaming around Suria KLCC, for example, still gives me a sense of alienation, like I’m an outsider and people are throwing me looks. Whereas, I figure, who on earth will have the slightest idea whether I am a native of KL or not? Sometimes your mind can play wonderful tricks on you.

But these are the trivia of life. Sometimes, when you really open your heart to accept it, you’ll be able to find a space for contentment in every breath you take. I’m trying (struggling, really) to complain less because deep inside in my heart, I know I’m contented. When you’re caught in situations, you complain, because it’s sort of become a habit. The truth is- I’m fine. Despite my current stressful situation (some people know the details), I’m savouring the beginning of my final two years here.

My mother asked me whether I liked it here, I said yes. If I were given the choice once more to go anywhere in the world, would I choose to study here? Probably not. Here is a place you won’t fall in love with at first sight. You learn to love it. And I know I’m going to miss it when the time comes for parting ways. My mother asked me what I like about Russia, and I remember not having the chance to answer. Well, I think I’ll save it for another entry.

I feel like I've been writing too much for my own good so I'm leaving it at that with some random pictures from my summer holiday...

Visiting Ustaz Yusof at his house.

Breakfast with family + grandparents at a restaurant in Ampang.

My sister Aliah, me and my youngest aunt.

Me and my friend Erfa at Ikea after our tennis date.

My second aunt Aunty OG, Aliah, me, Kak Sarah, my cousin Qistina.

Very pretty pavlova for dessert.

My brother Muhammad- greatest badut in the family!

Class 3 Gigih '01 reunion.