Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Farewell '03

After 4 years in Yichang, the first batch of Overseas students of the Medical college are now back home. We gave them a farewell party and it did bring back old memories even though I was not that close to the 2003 batch.

Our senior batch had completed their first year in another University in China and then moved to CTGU when we arrived. The old hostel, the welcome party, AEC, our first day in suits, the meetings, the first cricket tournament, the first snow... they are all so fresh in my memory.

Well now that they are all back in India, we are waiting to see what they will do. They are the first batch to complete this course in our University and are among the first to pass out from China after this new Overseas programme was introduced. In effect, they are like the lab rats in this little experiment of ours.
Let's hope they pass the test!

Warm wishes for your future '03!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Great Wall of China

No, I'm not talking about one of the 7 wonders of the world, but it's still a wonder to me.

Allow me to explain.
The West gate of my university leads to a small street, on both sides of which, there are shops and little restaurants. The Chinese called in "Snack street" while we Indians prefer the name "Food market". It really does have a strong market feel to it especially during rush hour when the street is basically clogged with students of all shapes and sizes.
Yesterday, a friend and I decided to have an early dinner and walked to the West gate. Instead of the familiar worn out iron gate, we saw a new, fresh brick wall! Once we managed to fix our gaping jaws back in place, we tried staring at the small Chinese notice board in front of the wall hoping that some part of this mystery might be solved. Neither of us were too knowledgeable in the area of Chinese reading comprehension and so I was really glad when my Chinese friend Johnson showed up. He told us that the University had decided that the food market was too dirty for the students. We wanted to find out more and so Johnson took us on his bike out through the North gate, around the campus and dropped us off at the other end of snack street.
We talked to some people and this is what we found out.
All shops along the street had been ordered to pack up and leave by the 20th of April. [They had three weeks notice] To make sure they did, the student access to the place had been blocked off by a neat wall on the 14th. The street was going to be "beautified" and "developed" with new shops coming up and would reopen on 30th June. The present rent they had to pay for putting up their food shacks was 400 yuan. They had no idea how much the new rent would be. Even other establishments not in the immediate path of this "beautification" were considering closing down for 3 months because the wall would restrict student access. Half the shops have already closed down while the others are waiting to see how many people would still take the trouble to visit snack street in the post-wall era.

Again, there are many things I learned from this.
One, the Chinese are fast builders. That wall just took one afternoon to build. I can already imagine how some Chinese student had gone down to one of the Internet cafes by snack street in the morning and when he came back that evening he found a tall wall blocking his path. Talk about rapidly changing skylines...
Two, China can never fail to surprise me. I come from a place where anything can trigger strikes. People just take to the streets, create a scene and we students get holidays. The only laws passed without much trouble are the ones supporting salary hikes. No one can take anything away from you unless you let them. And even then, there are others who can't stand it. I know there is a lot lacking in that situation and there are quite a lot of problems, but it's a crazy free world. And in no way can I understand the blind subservient obedience of these people! They probably run whole families with that one shop and now they they cannot run their little shops for 3 months with no idea about what will happen after that. Yes I can see the development. There will be new beautiful shops with licenses, things will be cleaner and look a lot better... no wonder China is developing so quickly. They don't care who they have to step on. Why should they? The person being stepped on doesn't care either.

Or maybe they cannot do anything even if they cared.

Or maybe I just cannot understand because I'm an Indian.

Cross cultural hurdles

Last week I was in the Hepatology dept. and was talking to one of the doctors there. Out of the blue, he asked me what I thought about Chinese economy. I started out on a winding comparison of Indian and Chinese economies when he cut in and said,"No, not economy... just China." Observing my puzzled expression, he asked me,"Where would you like to live, India or China?" My answer was of course India and he wanted to know why I didn't choose China. "Less freedom", I promptly answered. He looked rather sad when I said that and remarked to his colleague next to him how most of the foreign people seemed to think that there is no freedom in China. He said to me that he would defintely want to live in China and that he knew that sometimes the government had to take hard decisions but they were for the good and helped in the development of the country. He wanted to know what lack of freedom I experienced here and I thought of the ban on Blogger among other things. I just told him about freedom of press and information and then he asked me,"Do you want the Olympics in Beijng to run smoothly?" "Of course", said I, even though that question took me by surprise.

We moved on to different topics, mostly about liver cirrhosis, but all of that got me thinking.
One, I love sports and I wouldn't want anything getting in the way of the Olympics.
Two, the people here don't really care about lack of information; the ones who do, know how to get around the system.
Three, you will always judge others using your own standards not theirs. This applies to me and the Chinese.
Four, the Han majority in China view themselves and everyone within official Chinese boundaries as Han. For them, 'Chinese citizen' and 'Han' are synonyms. In other words, what's good for Beijing, is good for China.
Five, sometimes what's okay for me is not okay for you... and what's okay for you is not okay for me... and we just have to accept that.

Super 7's Trophy

Our first year in CTGU will be remembered for many things and among them, the tournaments will surely find a place. We had two cricket tournaments and one football tournament. That's when the Hurricanes football team was formed. The credit for putting up our team should really go to Vivek Ram. He is no longer with us but the team is still here.
Anyway, there have been two other football tournaments over the years but they were never completed. A friend and I have been thinking of holding a tournament for a while [almost a year now] and here we are finally. Our football team, the Hurricanes, are in the middle of organising a 7-a-side football tournament. We've got 7 teams divided into 2 pools and after two weekends, it's time for the semi-finals.
We did pretty well with our games, drawing the first one against the tournament favourites and beating a weak opponent in the second. I must say I can see a realistic chance of winning but with just 50 minutes of football in a match, anything can happen.
Of course we also have to do all the organising. We've been printing out articles and results for two weeks now and the success of our "Spot the Ball" contest has been most satisfying... but now we've got to spend more money to buy prizes for all those contest winners...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Song A Week IV

Praise You In The Storm - Casting Crowns

Tough as a Rhino II

Last semester a doctor told a friend of mine that the Chinese can withstand more pain than the Indians and from what we've seen, that wasn't his national pride doing the talking.
The Chinese really can take more than others. This also translates into more hard-work. Just looking at the students and the workmen on their shifts gives you an idea of how much they can push themselves.
History tells us all that they have gone through the last 50 years but they still keep going. It's the little things you notice... my friend was telling me the other day how the chinese don't care if someone cuts across them when they are walking, they don't even notice the offender. Their ability to brush aside 'irritables' is amazing. Maybe that's why they don't care if they are hit by a car.

Back to the Hospital

Finally I'm done with my exams for the semester. All my 'teacher' friends, including my mother and my sister, have told me what a headache exams are for them and that they would rather go back to being students at exam time because in hindsight that was so much easier. But still, everytime I take an exam I think of the evil teachers who make us do it. I can almost see them sitting in their little corners, rubbing their hands in pure delight and with an evil grin on their faces, waiting impatiently to see what effect this torture has on the poor students.

But now that the exams are done, I'm on amicable terms with my teachers again. I don't believe in carrying grudges.
My football team, the Hurricanes, is organising a 7-a-side football tournament. It's called the 'Super 7's Trophy' for want of a better name and right now it's keeping me busy. The last two football tournaments organised among the overseas students here, met with premature endings and so our main aim is to see this tournament through to completion. Of course, we would also like to win the Trophy but it doesn't look very easy right now.

Back on the studeis side, our clinical practice for this semester has started again. Once again I'll be in Yichang shi Zhong xin Yi yuan [Central Hospital of Yichang]. This time we have 14 weeks in the hospital and this week we are in Hepatology. We change departments every week and this semester we have some new departments as compared to the last one. Yesterday during the morning rounds, our teaching doctor asked us if we had been to his department last year. When we answered in the affirmative, he asked, "Then why have you come back this year?" I just shrugged.

Rulebook Test

It's been a while since I last blogged... just been a bit busy, but hopefully things should improve soon.
This is just an update. The Rulebook test on March 31st was an open book multiple choice test. And some students still wanted to copy answers from others...