Just a few days ago (June 22, to be exact) Jakarta celebrated its 483rd anniversary. Netizens took to Twitter and Facebook to share their love for the city. The media ran articles about Jakarta’s history and rapid development. Local shopping centers joined the party by taking part in the Jakarta Great Sale Festival. Last and as usual, poorly-designed and easily-misunderstood banners by the city council are flown all over the city.

In written media, the attitude towards Jakarta can always be simplified into a sentence: ‘Despite its frustrating <insert negative points here>, Jakarta is a wonderful city because it <insert positive points here>’. Popular negatives include traffic jam, pollution, lack of green areas, and atmosphere of utter chaos; on the other hand, the positives center on how Jakarta is growing very rapidly and how Jakartans generally have more fun than their neighbours across the strait. (We got Beyonce a few years ago because some wacky Malaysians thought she was too entertaining to do a show there.) But this is not news.

What actually stole my attention was the banners. White background with green design. Green, green, green. Everybody’s going green. The Governor’s smile graced the banners and beside his face, a sentence along the line of “with our diversity, let’s make Jakarta an environment-friendly service city" bravely expresses its designer’s confusion. And we say, “WHAT?”.

Living in an environment-friendly sustainable city is every citizen’s dream, and changing Jakarta into one is our responsibility. In fact, most Jakartans I know are currently trying to reduce their negative impact on the environment. For example, plastic bags are beginning to lose favor and the Bike-to-Work community is thriving. I, along with many friends, actively choose to reduce our paper use by going paperless as often as possible and printing on both sides of the paper.

However, I still cannot make any sense of the banner. First and foremost, its green theme suddenly popped in without prior brouhaha. While Jakarta has been known by many names, I have never heard anything so defiant like ‘Green’. The lack of empty campaign is quite surprising actually, because if you need to get a lot of mouth (and no action) on an issue, you can always rely on Indonesia’s government. Perhaps they are not trying hard enough to fool us.

Next, what on Earth is a service city? A city that provides real public service so that its citizens can achieve high quality of life? Definitely not Jakarta. Just take one example. Applying for a Jakarta-issued national identity card can take as long as waiting for the Halley comet – and as expensive as lunch for ten people.

Ultimately, it is a sign of pure ignorance and shamelessness to put up such banner. The go-green motivation is noble, but when we put that banner in Jakarta’s context, it is just sad. As the world proceeds to embrace more advanced green-living principles, Jakarta consistently fails in fulfilling the basics.

Just another example, flooding is a common complication of rain in the city, and when traced, it comes back to people who throw away their thrash to the streets or into the rivers. In addition, the city government neglected their duty to regulate the development of gigantic, green-space consuming multi-use shopping centers.

At the end of the day, I can only sigh with shame. I love Jakarta. I have tasted the cities of Europe, America, and Australia, but I have always foolishly said Jakarta is better. As the years pass, it takes more and more effort to do declare my unconditional love for the city. But, finally, I can only say “Happy Birthday My Dear Jakarta”.

Everyone’s a fan

That is what generally happens to the Earth’s population every four years. Perennial football fans will find their cheers amplified by World Cup enthusiasts; people who couldn’t have cared less about soccer for 3 years and 11 months are suddenly converted into football fanatics for a whole month. My observation presents 3 major groups of these die-easy fans.

First, guys (or even girls) who are genuinely into World Cup football because of the festive atmosphere and they do feel that football is interesting. These people can be quite well-informed, although their penchant for showing off sharing soccer trivia can be annoying at times. They usually root for certain teams and make fairly good match predictions based on their knowledge.

Next, good-looking soccer players draw a considerable crowd of overexcited girls and gay guys. These romantic football fans always predict that the team of their hearthrob will rule the world, and their favorites are quite typical. In case of yellow or red cards, they will turn into the world’s greatest defense attorney and will bring the best evidences to prove that their star did not kick his opponent in the nuts. Heck, if Iranian clerics can blame women for earthquakes, why can’t we blame Miley Cyrus for Zidane’s headbutt?

Last, kids and the young-at-heart gladly joins the worldwide party just for the fun of it. I used to belong in this group in previous Cups, before I learned to believe that ‘I don’t have to like what you, or all the Earth’s ten continents, like’. They are a blast to be with, even if you don’t have the slightest idea what Jabulani is, and won’t judge you if you chose to let the quadrennial ball pass. Just don’t ask them about any World Cup things after the event.

Six Weeks to Breathe

I woke up today with the sun staring down on me. “The early bird gets the worm,” the sun said, “but you’re no bird. You do need a lot of sleep!” I turned to see the clock, and the short hand has already left its usual position above the depressing number 6. As my soul starts to come back, I went to the kitchen and made myself a full breakfast. I enjoyed it thoroughly, tasting every single bite. No rush at all. A beautiful day is waiting for me, and I’ll be relaxing on the couch with Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye.

But this is not a blog for fiction or happy glowy stuffs. This is a medical student’s blog. Expect lots of violence and gore with a strong mix of self-hatred. Only Glee can glow here.

Two weeks ago, I had gladly hugged cardio goodbye - although I really suspected that it wasn’t so happy to let us go in one piece. Without any drumroll, another module swiftly took its place. Respiration module, affectionately called ‘respi’, will enter its third week tomorrow; as usual, modules run for 6 weeks and I have three breathless weeks ahead.


Respiration is a challenging topic, if not downright difficult. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. There are a zillion topics to cover, from the microscopic structure of the alveoli to the public health aspects of tuberculosis. Among the basic sciences, physiology took first place in the Torture-the-Students contest. As a whole, it is not too scary, but some topics involving laws of physics and intricate biochemistry will devour unprepared students.

In the clinical stage, tuberculosis owns the spotlight. There are at least 4 lectures on the disease alone; starting with its pathogenesis and ends with rational treatment for TB. A group discussion session is also dedicated to the ancient disease – and yours truly has stepped forward to volunteer in delivering the report for plenary.

To be honest, I have set a high target in this module. My grandparents are pediatricians specializing in respirology; so naturally there will be a little extra burden, but on the other hand, I have my own experts to consult with. I’m looking forward to getting through respi unhurt. What doesn’t kill me will make my holiday perfect.

A Passion for Hatred?

“I could kill all the Jews in the world, but I kept some alive so you can see why I was killing them.” – Adolf Hitler

Living in a predominantly Muslim country, I have to admit that the air here is polluted with blind anti-Israel sentiments; more so in recent years as Islamic conservatives tighten their grip on the society. Thus, it was no surprise that in response to the Gaza flotilla clash, the above quotation spread so fast like chicken pox in an elementary school.

For years I have resisted condoning, let alone being tempted, by the regrettably racist behavior by my fellow Muslims. I simply kept my mouth shut up. Only occasionally have I tried to correct the narrow-mindedness. My position in this matter is that Indonesia should not get too involved in the fray, lest we be caught in a bad romance.

For one thing, it has become very impossible to take sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which started an extremely long time ago. In any fight that goes on for too long, no one is free from blame and no one deserves too much sympathy. I’m not saying that we should leave the people of Palestine and Israel be. They do need our help so badly. However, I wouldn’t throw all my sympathy to one side or another. A bullet through the heart is a live lost, doesn’t matter if he’s a Palestinian or an Israeli. A house rocketed is a home lost, regardless of the flag it flies.

But for now, I cannot allow myself to be silent. I do understand that Israel’s raid on the activists’ flotilla is a tragedy for humanity; moreover, the incident is another episode in the already violent history of the region. We have to demand an independent and thorough investigation regarding this attack. Nevertheless, this trend of quoting der fuhrer is utterly racist and disturbing. The toxic words, along with the ideas it carries, should be stopped as quickly as it had started.

First, we are speaking for humanity and humanity deserves a better spokesperson than Hitler. Thousands of influential figures from the past and present, and people come up with Hitler!? If any of you has forgotten, he threw millions of people into suffering. Surely we don’t want our quest for peace to be blurred by gas chambers.

Second, the act of passing on the message means that people give their nod to genocide. I don’t have the slightest idea why people could agree with such massive killing. What good would it bring anyway? Furthermore, people are being blatantly unfair. Try replacing the word ‘Jews’ from the quote with ‘Muslims’, no doubt mobs with pitchforks and torches will siege the German embassy in a flash. With the do-unto-other spirit, I say we should say NO to disseminating this hate message.

Last, I humbly ask everyone who claims to ‘support the path toward peace’ in the Middle East to rise above all the anger and hatred. Anger and hatred are what had started this chaos; we must not let them take control of the situation. What this world needs is, as clich├ęd as this may sound, compassion. If that’s not possible in this heated atmosphere, then restrain will do just as fine.

We have to stop Hitler, once again.

Done in A Heartbeat

It’s always been like this in every module. Each module is always preceded by the pre-module excitement, which is actually a cry of freedom carried on from the previous module. Into the module itself, the first weeks are filled with lectures on basic sciences; thus, there are tons of new things to discover. This phase is quite engaging, if not challenging. On the the following weeks, lectures come from the more clinical departments. Lecturers from this department do bring interesting topics to the table, yet they are very unpredictable in making questions for the exam. Out of this dilemma was born a love-hate relationship with the departments.

During the last weeks of a module, life seems to painfully decelerate to make sure that each module can torture students more thoroughly. In cardio parlance, the Earth experienced severe bradycardia and students are congested with clots of exam materials. Finally, the ‘longed-for’ exams come and, poof, buh-bye module!

For now, I am happy to announce that cardiovascular module is DONE, DONE, and DONE. Well, I don’t know if I passed all my tests, but after weeks of systole, there’s no reason to not enjoy this rare period of diastole. (Sorry if my allegories burn your brains). To review, the two multiple-choice summative exams were relatively easy; the anatomy lab exam was hellish; and the path and histology lab exam was somewhere in between.

This weekend is all the time I have to stop and smell the flowers before I choke myself on the respiratory module.