Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Was at the First International Something

"Primum non nocere"


But if it's cancer, it's "primum succurrere," mkay?

Programme Book
Ooh, glossy.

Last weekend, I attended the 1st annual MIMSC - which is anagrammish for Many Imperious Medicos Self-Congratulating the Malaysian International Medical Students' Conference - at the Palace of the Golden Horses up in Mudtown. I call it "Mimsey" in my mind, and I am hoping that it will catch on. "Mimsk" sounds like someone having a hiccup attack trying to say "memes," amirite or amirong?

I was part of a delegation from my college to the conference and while some of my colleagues were attending with the intention of presenting their scientific research papers, I was pretty much just there to inflate the size of our entourage and to provide comic relief. It cost me RM 250 in all but damn, you wouldn't believe what RM 250 could buy.

Just for starters, it bought two nights at a 5-star hotel,

They take their equine theme pretty seriously.

The room I shared with Sanjeev, who was presenting a research paper.

Now, I'm no ignoramus when it comes to lodgings and paid accommodations having quite a taste for backpacking myself, but my experiences have largely been limited to the shoestring budget variety. I don't demand a lot personally - a clean bed and a clean bathroom are all I ever asked for, but the Palace was... outright palatial in comparison to the kind of places I've roomed in before. It has cable TV, pseudo-antique furniture, a balcony, a giant mirror overlooking a bathtub and a stone washbasin so big you can have a threesome on it. However, it does lack free wireless internet access which is a real buzz kill. If my uncle's budget-class hotel can provide that free of charge, any 5-star outfit which doesn't is just going to appear miserly in comparison.

The view from my room.

In the Baffrum
And here's me in front of that giant mirror I was telling you about. It's for people who like to look at themselves in the nude.

That RM 250 also bought 6 all-you-can-eat buffet meals - two breakfasts at the Palace's Carousel cafe, two catered lunches in the IMU campus, a classy dinner at the Saloma Theatre Restaurant and a banquet in the Palace's Grand Royal Ballroom! Just imagine what sort of havoc all that can wreak on a person's waistline. I have officially decided to participate in this month's Ramadan fasting, and I'm going to abstain from Sahur too but that's only because there's no way I'm waking up that early during my holidays. Oh, did you knoe I'm having my hols now? Well, now you do.

Unfortunately, this is the only photo I got of the nosh I scoffed. I snapped this one because... BACONBACONBACON!

The kicker ceremony and dinner was to be held at the Saloma Theatre Restaurant on Jalan Ampang in the middle of KL and several tour buses were slated to whisk us there. The logistics of carting a few hundred medical students through rush hour KL on a Friday evening in the span of just half an hour was mind-boggling to say the least. Considering that we only departed about six-ish, we'd be lucky if we could make it in time for a midnight snack.

Unless that RM 250 also bought...

Police Escorts
The cavalry has arrived!

I have no idea how they managed to swing this, but somehow, the organisers surprised the lot of us by calling in a couple of police escorts to speed up the transit. It was the highlight of the conference for most of us (in my bus, at least), if the cheers and whoops were any indication. There is simply no way to describe how gloriously awesome it was to travel with so much pomp and ostentatious display of self-importance.

This must be how royalties and ministers feel like daily. No getting stuck in jams. No waiting at intersections when the light is red. Just cruising painlessly through town, blowing raspberries and making fart noises at all the plebeians in cars that you sidelined. Damn, power is intoxicating! I'll 'ave 'nother glass, pleash, guv'nor *hic*.

Parting the Way
Because we are totally worth it.

I wonder how they would feel when they find out that we have set back the entire jam about half an hour just because a bunch of medical students wanted to make it in time for dinner.

And speaking of dinners, here's where we had ours,

Studies have shown that a full moon and the KLCC in the background improves appetite by 50%.

We were seated according to our assigned numbers with the designed purpose of enforced mingling between the foreign and local delegates (if you remember, it's an international affair after all). I met a couple of very interesting Saudi Arabian characters but I shall not delve into the details of our conversations just yet. I'm relegating that and more to the weightier, slightly more academic writeup I plan to pen about the conference after this one (a review of sorts, if you like). For now, let us focus on the fluff.

The dinner spread was myriad and plentiful, and the entertainment was thoroughly capital. I particularly enjoyed the organising chairman's speech. He seem to have quite a bit of problem distinguishing between R's and L's in his pronunciation, and the effect was balls out, laugh-out-loud funny, particularly this little gem;

"It is a preasure having all of you here..."

And considering the subtitle for the theme of our conference, the word "confrict" pops up hilariously often too. One of the organising committee member at my table had to ask me if I was choking on my bubur lambuk. I shared the joke, naturally, and pretty soon, a small number of people in the audience had to stifle their laughter every time "doctors in confrict" and "confricts alound the world" come up. I directed so much of my attention to anticipating his subsequent slip ups that large portions of his waffling just flew over my head whenever he addressed the assemblage. I don't think I missed much though. Most of these sort of speeches tend to be meaningless soundbites anyway.

They also presented a disaster-themed slide-show to us while we sup, one comprising of pictures of natural calamities and human suffering, which are precisely what we need to look at to help our buffet dinner go down well. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on grammatical conventions (and Jeebus helps me, I make more than my fair share of them daily) but if I was able to spot them in that slide-show, they must have been glaringly bad. Still, they were good for a hoot. And why was the suffering-filled presentation set to an incongruously soothing soundtrack? Talk about mood dissonance.

The ice-breaking game that night was a hybrid entity partway between speed-dating (apparently) and Simon Says, which is refreshingly juvenile for such a stuffy sort of conference. The problem is, it went on for far too long - and one game made the hall smell of shoes.

Sanjeev and I
Sanjeev and I at the banquet on the final night.

The "Banquet Dinner" (I'm sure that's redundant) which was held in the Palace of the Golden Horses' Grand Royal Ballroom was sedately climactic, but was an interesting and colourful affair throughout, which I understand to be a very hard thing to accomplish. There was a traditional-themed dress code but everyone knows how I feel about wearing weird period-drama clothes. If I have my way, I'd do away with the very concept of dress codes and conventions.

By the way, I'm sure I am speaking for everyone when I say that the opening act for the banquet was stretched on for far too long. There's only so much a lion dance troupe can do besides busting eardrums when they aren't going to perform any real acrobatics.

Lion Dance
"Now for my pièce de résistance, I shall stick my head into this papier-mâché lion's jaw!"

The performance troupe from the Malaysian Tourism Board was better but mostly, they were just adequate. The short blowpipe demonstration was especially embarrassing - I mean, missing 2 out of 4 balloons from a distance of about ONE FUCKING METRE away? Well, I'm no blowpipe expert but don't people usually make sure that they are good at something first before they trot their stuff out for everyone to see? Who auditioned these clowns?


Then there's that violin recital by one of the members of the organising committee. To put it in euphemistic terms, her talent with the violin was massively outclassed by her other God-given gifts. This is the absolute last thing I'm going to say on this subject. Another committee member performed a traditional Indian dance which would certainly have been impressive to me had I not previously spent two and a half years in India, watching Bollywood-worthy boogies every other night till I felt like hurling.

By and large, the most memorable and exciting performance of the night was the peacock dance,

Flaming Queen
"Hose me down, quick! I'm FLAMING!"

Of course, what I truly enjoyed about it is the subtext - only male peafowls possess the distinctively flamboyant plumage we're all familiar with. If the peacock isn't already the universal symbol for transvestism worldwide, well, it should be! It certainly helped that the dancer himself was highly accomplished at expressing emotions through fluid facial and body cues.

The thing which really got everyone roused was the best traditional dress pageant, and two of our colleagues were selected to compete. Unfortunately, I only managed to photograph just one of them,

Nickson in the golden kurta he made in India.

Our other representative was Torng Lei (which means "slaughter you" in Cantonese, by the way). She wore a sweet, pink Nyonya kebaya that night and actually won. It was quite a "wow" moment for me because... just take a gander at the kind of competition she was up against,

Magdelena from Poland. Her dress is white, signifying that she's *winkwink* unmarried.

Aws in a an Arabic thawb and what I think is a keffiyeh on his head. He was explaining to us how the headdress signifies a person's honour and what he would do when he is elected President of the World (honestly).

Yukata Girl
Ping Ping from IMU in a yukata.

The night was wrapped up with a few more speeches and more bouts of self-congratulations endemic in these kind of events, and the chairman (unsuccessfully) tried to coax the floor into participating in a bit of ballroom dancing - by asking Magdalena to dance on stage, much to the murderous chagrin and envy of every male in the hall. I wanted to ask one of the ladies in ninja outfits burqas if I could have a little jig with them, but for the sake of international relations and world peace, I ultimately decided that it was a very bad idea indeed.

Alright, there you go; a little primer on what I was up between last Friday and last Sunday. If you're looking for a more serious and scholastic review of the 2009 MIMSC Mimsey - which I promise you I shall write in a day or two - stay tuned to this channel. Now, in case anyone finds my portrayal of the conference thus far to be unfairly negative, let me just say that the whole event was one of the most enjoyable weekends I have spent this entire year. Kudos all round to the Society of MMA Medical Students and the organising committee!

Over and out.

Your friendly neighborhood medical student,
k0k s3n w4i


- yuhhui - said...

aha ! I knew it ! my bf got invited there as a rep of Monash Uni but he didn't go because he's deeply involved with the Aids council of malaysia already..too many stuff on his hand but his friends were all there. I wanted to go too but we're not invited. hehe. I supposed you had a wonderful conference? =)

Yatz said...

i guess the escort part is the stimmest of all..you should have video-record it..LOL

nissy said...

hello, can i post this link on facebook? :D it would be great to share it with others.
Nice post.
U've totally left out the description of the workshop! the workshop was great!

Zzzyun said...

ooo sounds cool! i like the police escorting part...are they even real police?? omg! haha

k0k s3n w4i said...

yuhhui: there was a batch 22 junior there! u shud have asked around :) monash, you say? I think I met some of them.

Yatz: never liked video recording anything, but yeah, it was AWESOME!

nissy: the workshop was way too brief, but I finally did writeup on them in my more serious review. look at the post after this one.

Zzzyun: how do i find out?! do i go up to them and ask, "maaf ye pak.. pak ni police tulen ke?"