My doctor

This is a personal one. And a long one.

Today, my sister finished 6 years of medical school. That’s nearly 50,000 hours. For the more than half a decade, I have called her countless times to find her either in class or in the library or studying way past my bedtime. As the older sibling, she was also assigned the duty of handling her baby brother’s tantrums and rants about how engineering is hard and the world is unfair and how he procrastinated all day. And somehow, she managed to make me feel better about all of it. Truth be told, she didn’t have to be a doctor to fix whatever I was going through.

Textbooks bigger than my arms and chemical terms longer than my full name. Her field has always seemed so daunting, especially since the only medical experience I have comes from House MD. We would often enjoy fun late night Q&A sesh’s where she would ask me complex questions and I’d give the most ridiculous answers you have ever heard. In those moments of laughter, I was happy I could share just a bit of the heavy burden she carries on her back.

We were sent to boarding school at a very young age. We only had one another to cope as we prepared for a life of living away from our parents and eventually, from each other as well. As a cool pre-teen, I never fully appreciated the role she played even then. No one wants someone watching over you and taking care of you at that age. But you need it. And I did. At the end of the day, I needed someone to tell me that it was going to be alright. That we’d see our parents soon. That cuts and injuries healed over eventually. That I was a good person no matter what. More than a decade since we were in boarding school together and she still does all of that. Whenever I need it. Every single time.

As incredible as completing medical school is, it’s still not the most remarkable thing I’ve seen her do. She was the third parent. She was the backbone to my parents as I snored blissfully in the back. I honestly don’t think I’d have made it this far without her.

But enough about her. As a brother there’s only so many nice things you can say about a sibling. She gets nothing but jokes about her face for the next few weeks. But for today, my congratulations to her and the people she graduates with. They go on to become the healers we need so desperately in the coming years. I wish her and all of them the best of times ahead.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.


Missing Blogger

In my last post, I wrote a post about being calm even though I had two midterms on the same day. And then I stopped blogging for almost two months. Despite the message this blog sends out over the first two sentences, I’ve just been busy. Life catches up at the worst of times and you fail to stay committed to things you care about. But I’m home now and I feel like writing.

So let’s do a recap.

I was halfway through my semester when I last posted giving midterm after midterm. Nothing relieves stress like knowing that you are only in the first midterm season and the second one is well on its way. My midterms went as they always do. Not as good as I wanted them to but enough to allow me to kick off my shoes and relax afterwards.

Air Quality and Hydrology projects gave me great insight into what these fields might hold for me if I do decide to go one of those ways. The Air Quality project was about preparing an Emissions Summary and Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) report for an actual facility. With a combination of AutoCAD, air modelling software, meteorological data processing and a whole bunch of complicated words, this project was perhaps the most challenging of them all. But completing this project gave me immense satisfaction. Not from a job well done, but from a job done. While not effective, this ideology helps one keep up with the pace.

I ended up dropping Economics. While I am to be blamed about not giving it the attention it deserves, I found that course a wee bit overkill. I will have to take it later on and this might even result in an extra semester but I knew that this course would only hold me back. All in all, some regrets about not sticking with it, but I’m only human. Kudos to my peers who stuck with it. You’re the real heroes. 

I got offered an 8-month work term at Coca-Cola Bottling Ltd in Brampton as a manufacturing development co-op student. Now, this is neither the finest job out there and nor do I fail to notice the presence of the word “bottling” in the company name. But, neither of those are important to me. It’s my chance to build relationships, develop competencies and give it my everything from day one. So, looking forward to that.

But apart from academia, I learnt things about myself that were very wrong. I learnt that I judge people too fast. And this cost me a friend and a broken moral compass. I suppose we all like to think we’re doing the right thing when we’re doing it. We find what reasons we can to justify our actions. But, that doesn’t make them right. Nonetheless, I messed up and I’ve spent every day since working on myself.

That’s pretty much it. Exams. Grades. My first work term. And a lesson to never forget. If I had powers to go back in time, I’d chuck them down the drain. This semester and the good and bad in it was for the best. I’ve made my peace with that.

Merry Christmas! 

Overpopulation: Do we need an inferno?

Quite a few years ago, I was walking through the local Borders store, and my eyes fell on the new Dan Brown book, “Inferno”. The synopsis was intriguing and Dan had done it again. That night, I began turning the pages to what turned out to be a most invigorating read.

In the book, a billionaire geneticist decides to cure the world of overpopulation by engineering a biological virus that will wipe out half the human population. And there begins the heroic professor’s race to stop this semi-apocalypse with nothing but an eidetic memory and a Mickey Mouse watch.

But I can’t help but linger on the issue Dan Brown addressed: overpopulation.

Here are some facts:

  • The current world population is 7.6 billion. (based off of a UN estimation)
  • We are growing exponentially, not linearly.
  • We will be nearing 9.9 billion by 2050.
  • This is not good at all.

Numbers aside, while it is not something we notice, it is happening all around us. And the irony is that we did this to ourself. The better healthcare we applaud ourselves over, is one of the root causes of overpopulation. The death rate has undoubtedly lowered over the past few decades. But with it, we are pushing our natural resources to the limit, in an attempt to meet the demands of an ever-growing number.

And that begs the question, given where we are headed and factoring the rate with which we are headed there, do we need an inferno? Do we need a means to cut our current population in half? Gives me the chills just asking the question. While I assure you I have not been collecting Infinity Stones over this summer, we must admit, it would tip the biological scales back in our favour. There would be enough fresh water for everyone. Decreased population in bustling places like Africa, India and China would literally save the planet. But let’s look at some other options.

Adoption is most certainly one. There are currently over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States alone. We need to remove adoption as a last measure and give it the priority it deserves. I don’t mean to get into a “my child, my flesh and blood” debate with parents but every little helps and we need a lot of help.

Launching people into space is also something that may become a critical way to save us, and I don’t mean the US Space Force. Putting it in a more refined way, setting up colonies on other planets would require manufacturing artificial atmospheres, terraforming and better space travel technology. Ongoing research on all these fronts is hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and frankly, wouldn’t you like to wake up and see Earth from out of your window?

There are several other options like a one-child policy, better environmental awareness and universal access to safe contraceptives. I believe that we need to work hard and fast on the single most important issue that threatens life as we know it. I also believe that the most viable and moral solution will have multiple fronts to tackle and that more people need to dedicate their lives to this one cause.

I don’t ask anyone to drop what they’re doing and start handing out contraceptives. But research the subject. Realize it’s importance. Find out how you can make a difference and begin to make that difference. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t need an inferno!