Thursday, 9 April 2020

Day 100

Today is the 100th day of the year, and it feels like a thousand days have passed. It has definitely been a tiring year so far for the world, and we're still floating on the sea of uncertainty and fear. I still feel like we're still living in a limbo, awating what's coming ahead, holding on to a hope that this will be over soon, yet living with worry that we might still have a long way to go ahead of us.

I've been thinking and contemplating a lot about these 100 days. Life has changed drastically for all of us. Yet at the same time, I feel like we learned a lot about these 100 days. These 100 days have forced us to think about a lot of things too, the way the world functions, the way we interact and communicate with each other, and the way we live our daily lives. And it's kind of good, that we use this time to stop and think, and reflect about this world, and life as we know it. Or the many things that we don't know of.

I would like to use this post as a reflection of everything that has happened in these 100 days.

The world is not ready for a pandemic. We are not ready for a pandemic
This is the first and main thing that comes to my mind. We are truly not ready for a pandemic. From every side of this pandemic. Healthcare side, economic side, and social side. As hospitals struggle to keep up with the influx of patients, as nurses and doctors fight to keep patients alive, as scientists scramble to find vaccines and drugs to combat the virus, and as economically-struggling people couldn't afford treatment. Millions of people around the world lost their jobs, or are in dangers of losing their jobs because of this massive disruption. And these people also struggle to feed themselves and their family. At the same times, countries seem to be stumbling trying to find ways to save their people.

We, are truly not ready for a pandemic.

My hope for the future is that I hope countries will make plans for a pandemic, or a global economic disruption. Perhaps we need to look at ways people are finding livelihood. And we need to look at ways of how countries can help support their people in times of crisis. Not only the government, but its people too. We should help one another in times of crisis, and survive this not only just as a country, but ultimately as a human race. Socially, economically and psychologically supporting each other!

We also need to look at the heroes currently in the battlefield - nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. Without these warriors we will be struggling even further. We need to find ways to support them even more. It's not easy being them really. As for the warriors behind the scenes - the scientists and researchers. We need to support this field too. Every country should try to equip themselves with tools to support this sector in times of a pandemic, or in fact in many normal times too.

Which talking about this, I truly enjoyed the recent TEDx talk by Alanna Shaikh and also by Bill Gates back in 2015. A global healthcare system is the future. When there is an outbreak of a disease of known or unknown origin, countries should rally to help the outbreak-source country to prevent a widespread outbreak (like a pandemic) from happening. Data should be easily accessed by everyone, and we should be able to contain the outbreak quickly and efficiently, if everyone's working together.

Life is being boiled down to its pure core
The past one hundred days really made me think about life in general. I think we are currently being forced to sit down, slow down and think about this life as we know it. Currently the world as we know it has been plunged into the sea of uncertainty. We don't know what's going to happen. And as much as this is the truth, if we think about it.... Isn't life like this too, in general? That life is just too unpredictable, too uncertain. And we live everyday holding on to our faith.

We start to think about what truly matters in our lives. We seem to think a lot about simplifying many things in life. The way we work, the way we earn a living and so on. In this time, we are truly forced to just reflect about life. Okay forced isn't such a great work to be used here. But yes I think many people will understand this. The slowing down of life's pace, has surely made us reflect.

We need to reevaluate the way we interact with the world, and nature
We don't 100% exactly know where does patient 0 in Wuhan China got the disease from. Is it the consumption of an infected animal? Or is it passed from an infected animal in the market? This question leaves a big question mark. But with the fact that the virus is very closely related to the virus found in bats shows that it comes from a wildlife animal. And this is a clear reminder and warning to us humans to leave wildlife animals for good! We should just leave them in nature.

And the recent video surfacing of a speech by Dr Greger in 2008, about the dangers of factory farming and pandemics have taught us further that we need to also reevaluate the way we obtain our food from. I will talk about this in another separate post. But basically... Factory farms are a perfect breeding ground and a ticking time bomb for a pandemic. And we need to act quickly, to prevent it.

In the lyrics from "When You Believe" - Though Hope Is Frail, It's Hard To Kill
I know it's hard to remain hopeful in today's world, especially when everything we read on the news seems dark. But seeing the spirit of other people supporting one another. The gratitude people show to the nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. The way people lift each other with songs and words and arts in times of isolation. I still see the spark of humanity. I still see the long road ahead that we can all walk on together. Though the road ahead still seems bumpy, better days are coming!

And yup these are some of my thoughts of the past 100 days of this long and tiring year. It's been only 3 months and it already feels like a decade heh. Am I worried? Yes. Am I scared? Kind of. But somehow I took comfort in knowing that there's nothing much I can do, and comfort in knowing that there are still things I can do and take. That despite the big changes I'm going to go through, there is faith and hope that I can still go through them. And I will arrive somewhere out of this.

Please take care and stay safe everyone. We will get through this. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Isolation Journal Day 08

I actually signed up for Suleika Jaouad's project called the Isolation Journals earlier this month! Well although I'm not isolating myself (but practising social distancing, always), I really love the project! Cause no only I love writing/journaling, it's always good to add to my list of prompts haha. And to challenge myself as well. However some of the prompts feel a bit personal for me, and thus I won't be writing it here. I will write it in my journal perhaps. Also I'm not doing it day by day! I don't have the time to commit to the daily project but I saved the prompts for future use mwahaha. Alright this is day 8!

Isolation Journal Day 8 
Pick five time periods, ages, or moments from your life—they can be spread out or all clustered together. Don't think too hard about your choices, just write down the first one that comes to mind and move to the next. Next pick a song to pair with each moment. Again, try not to think too hard. Let it be a gut thing. Now write a quick and dirty paragraph about each one. Then take the one that feels most interesting to you and expand it.

Here are my 5 picks!

1. Childhood days - The Power of Goodbye by Madonna
2. Secondary School - Merry Go Round of Life by Joe Hisaishi (Howl's Moving Castle OST)
3. Poly days - The Prayer (Chanting Inner Peace) by Ketsana
4. 2013 - Wake Me Up by Avicii ft Aloe Blacc
5. Travel - Paradise by Coldplay 

1. Childhood days - The Power of Goodbye by Madonna
I have a very very vivid memory of this song - sitting at the back in my dad's car while we drive through the hometown on a Saturday evening. The sky was blue with streaks of orange clouds. I can remember the lemon-scented car refreshener, and me just staring at the sky above as this song was playing inside the car. It's been probably be 20 years, and everything is as vivid as if it was yesterday!

2. Secondary School - Merry Go Round of Life by Joe Hisaishi (Howl's Moving Castle OST)
I discovered this song back in 2008 I think. Or early 2009, can't remember. But I really love this song! I think the title is very fitting to the music, how lively and how it just reminds me that well life is indeed is a merry-go-round. I even learned how to play this song on the piano. I think my upper secondary school days were filled with lots of hope and fear and worry. Leaving secondary school to the next chapter, and so on. And this song definitely helped me through those days. And even up till today too.

3. Polytechnic days - The Prayer (Chanting Inner Peace) by Ketsana
This song came to me at the most amazing timing. I discovered this song from Project Runway Season 8. The song was used by the finalist Andy South for his runway collection in the finale. I fell in love with this song right away and went to google it! Thankfully I got the title and downloaded the song. The last year in polytechnic was one of the most stressful years of my life and this song helped me A LOT. I listened to it on the way to school, on the way home, before bed, and when I'm chilling out somewhere when I'm stressed. I've been listening to this song almost everyday for close to 8 years now ever since I discovered it. I wish Ketsana would release the song on digital platforms tho! 

4. 2013 - Wake Me Up by Avicii ft Aloe Blacc
2013 was one of the most confusing years of my life. To me the lyrics "All this time I was finding myself, and I didn't know I was lost" speak volumes in my heart. But at the same time it's a driving force for me to constantly search within, to find myself, for myself.

5. Travel - Paradise by Coldplay 
One of the greatest travel experiences I had experienced was in 2011 - a school trip to Inner Mongolia, and also my first mountain climbing experience to Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia. These two trips taught me how beautiful this planet is and what a waste it would be to not explore it when you have the chance to. And metaphorically, these adventures taught me that there are far more things in life for me to explore. Even though this song was released after my trip to Inner Mongolia, and before my trip to Mt Kinabalu, I enjoyed reflecting 2011 with this song. And it has become sort of a ritual to have this song in my travel playlist since then. Everytime I hear this song, it reminds me of my travel memories, and a reminder to keep on exploring!

To be honest as a music lover, this challenge is so hard because I have many songs in mind. But then these 5 songs are the one that come to my mind right away. I've always regarded music as a time machine. Name me any song in my music library and I will tell you a story that I shared with that music. Be it a period of my life, a memory, or a simply a random day that I once experienced. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

Guru Rinpoche Day

Spot Guru Rinpoche! Taken in Shigatse, Tibet

Today is the 10th day of the 2nd month of  the Tibetan calendar. On the 10th day of every month, Guru Rinpoche Day is observed, where devotees would pray and chant the prayers/mantra of Guru Rinpoche. Guru Rinpoche is an important figure in Tibet as he is the founder of Tibetan Buddhism! And well there's an interesting event that happened to me, that made me observe this day ever since. 

I learned that the 10th of the Tibetan month is observed as Guru Rinpoche day after reading Sogyal Rinpoche's book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying back in 2014. I didn't really observe this day. But... It simply happened, that the 3rd Guru Rinpoche day of the Fire Monkey year in 2016 fell on the day that I was leaving for Tibet! And since then, I took it as an auspicious sign to observe this day. 

I can still remember sitting inside the departure gate in Jakarta airport, aimlessly scrolling through my phone while waiting to board my flight to Bangkok. I followed Sogyal Rinpoche's page on Facebook and it was then I found out that it was Guru Rinpoche Day! The 16th of April 2016. So I was making my way to the birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism, which was founded by Guru Rinpoche himself, on the day that the Tibetans observe as his day! It couldn't get more auspicious as this could it? :D

So yeah from then on, I decided to practise and observe Guru Rinpoche day. Although there were times where I forgot, because the Tibetan calendar is different from the Chinese Lunar Calendar that I am familiar with. But I did mark the days on my calendar haha. And it was my resolution last year to practise this every month. Thankfully I've been keeping on track ever since.

It is said that the mantra of Guru Rinpoche helps to clear the obstacle in our lives. And I always chant the mantra for all sentient beings on earth, hoping that their obstacles will be cleared too. Personally I like the sound of the mantra, it's easy and wonderful to chant to haha. I also read his 7 line prayers. Although I've been reading it everyday now during the daily mantra chanting that I do.

Okay that's all for this really random post! Just want to share with you this interesting occurrence of mine haha. Feel free to practise Guru Rinpoche Day too, just check out the dates and learn the mantra and prayers. May all sentient beings be happy and at peace, may we all jump through the hurdles that are ahead of us. Especially now, when the world has plunged into quite a chaotic sea! 

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Strange Days

We currently hit 1790 cases of COVID-19 here in Indonesia with 170 deaths. A very worrying figure indeed, given that it's been a month since we announced the first two cases. But not surprising, knowing how quickly and easily this virus spreads among people. I'm quite disappointed in the way my country handles all of this. We didn't prepare enough although we have two months to prepare when China announced the cases, and our neighbouring countries were trying hard to contain the situation.

I'm not exactly sure what the government was doing behind the stage these two months. But with the apparent lack of PPEs, masks and other equipment needed to battle the virus, it looks like we didn't prepare enough. Also there was a lack of coherence between the governmental bodies. Between the central, provincial and down to the city governments. Which created a lot of confusion and at times, panic among the people. Also the number of times informations were retracted or corrected.

But the news spread among the people earlier, like wildfire, before they were retracted heh.

For example, on Monday evening we received the news on WhatsApp that among the 300 positive rapid-testing results in West Java, my hometown (Sukabumi) has the highest number. It was so surprising because people expected places like Depok or Bekasi, which are nearer to Jakarta to have the highest. But nope, it's my hometown. Then the news was retracted because it's still rapid-testing and not PCR testing, thus we cannot confirm whether they are really positive. But news, has, spread.

And then today we receive an update to the news that it's not highest in 300, but there are 300 positive rapid-testing results. The cases are found in a police academy here in my hometown. It started from 7 students who tested positive, and from the result of rapid testing of other students in the school, they found 300 cases positive from rapid-testing. And now they're being tested using PCR, to confirm the result. And if they indeed test positive, then we'll have a big jump in cases. In my hometown.

Rice has turned into porridge now (Indonesian proverb ftw) and we can't turn back time. The only thing we can do now is to protect ourselves and others. Keep our body and mind fit and just do whatever we can do to protect us from the virus! I know the rate of infection is worrying but there are still things we can do to protect ourselves. Practising good hygiene, social distancing, and keeping ourselves healthy.

I saw this from a video once: Instead of worrying whether we'll catch the SARS-nCoV-2 virus or not, live with the mindset that we will get it. But with the knowledge that there are things we can do to prevent ourselves from getting the virus. And yeah. This mindset kinda prepares me for things. Although please no I don't want to get the virus hahaha. Neither do I want other people to!

Alright I still have more things to talk about. But I'll stop here for now, was just taking a break cause I've been busy every night for the past week. End of month things. Tomorrow is the final leap and I hope to blog more about this whole strange days stuff. Take care and stay safe everyone!

Also holy Apples it's April already :O

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Nyepi

One of my favourite songs from Olafur Arnalds - nyepi :)

Today is Nyepi, which is a day celebrated by the Balinese to welcome the Balinese new year. It is not celebrated with a bang but instead, people go into isolation at their homes for 24 hours to fast and meditate. There is even no electricity! And even internet (correct me if I'm wrong here) for the whole day. Nyepi is totally my kind of holiday. I'll gladly lock myself at home to meditate for the whole day.

This year it seems like the world is joining in the Nyepi celebration with the Balinese, with many people isolating themselves by staying at home for social distancing and work from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is indeed some strange days we're living in. Anxious times and we're just swimming in the ocean of uncertainty. Perhaps it's a good idea to join in the Balinese today. To contemplate and think about whatever that has happened. And to calm our nervous minds down as well.

And also to send love to everyone who's battling the virus around the world. And not forgetting the doctors, nurses, medical and frontline workers who are braving themselves in this situation!

Wash your hands, be socially responsible, keep yourself healthy and stay safe.

Happy Nyepi everyone. 

Sunday, 15 March 2020

December 2020

It's December 2020
You're scrolling through the timeline
With media outlets links saying
"2020 a year in pictures"

You see pictures of people wearing masks
with their faces glooming like winter evening
You see pictures of empty cities
ghost towns, in lock-downs

You see pictures of doctors
scanning through scans with eagle eyes
You see pictures of nurses
with their brave fronts and assuring hands

You see pictures of scientists
unraveling a seemingly endless puzzle
You see pictures of frontline workers
giving their best in a seemingly endless hustle

You foolishly laugh at pictures of people
clearing off supermarket shelves
But you proudly smile
at strangers taking care of one another

You see wandering cruises
floating on the ocean
of uncertainties and worries
Filled with hearts yearning of home

You wonder at the scene of empty streets
houses with windows and doors shut
But you remember the cries of support
and music echoing hopefully in neighbourhoods

You see pictures of angels and warriors
the world should, but doesn't see
You hear voices and cries of hope
cutting through the isolating barriers

It's December 2020
You wonder how the world did it
To cross this ocean of uncertainty
this anxious planet has plunged in to

You think of people
who have lost the battle
And the angels and warriors
braving themselves in the front line

It's December 2020
A vaccine is on its final stages of development
You've lost count to the number of times,
that you've washed your hands

You've just finished eating an apple
after a good workout
Still wondering how we did it
and wondering what's ahead

I hope this poem brings some comfort to you in this anxious times. Don't forget to wash your hands often, stay hydrated, eat more veg, get enough sleep and exercise. Take care of yourself and one another! Check back on this again in December, we'll get through this.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Anxious Times

So it's been 12 days since Indonesia announced the first two cases of COVID-19 and the number of cases has been increasing. I'm not surprised because we know how rapid it can spread in the community. From the way the government is handling it... Well I can just say we're not ready for a pandemic. I would say this is a test for Indonesia, and I hope we can win this battle victoriously.

The world as we live in today isn't really a good place to be in. I mean this planet is really an anxious planet and now we have to face this whole ordeal. Although like I said in my previous post, this is the planet as we know it. We live among viruses out there. This is a new virus that infected the human race and the world is battling it all together. Still the best defence we can have is to wash our hands often, keep our body fit and practise social distancing. Don't go out if it's not something necessary!

I think all of us need to recognise that this is no longer a "XXX country is responsible to contain the virus" or that a country is responsible for the outbreak. This has become a global fight and every country has to play a part to curb the infection. Or as we know it now, to flatten the curve. Some countries are doing a fantastic job (hello Singapore and South Korea) while others are in progress to do it (like Italy and other European countries). And now Indonesia has joined the battle too.

Okay there's another video I want to talk about but that's for another post.

My social media and the news of TV is filled with news and updates on COVID-19. It's not a fun place to be in for an anxious person like me. I'm torn between wanting to quit social media and wanting to stay update because I wanna see the current situation. To be honest this feels like SARS and H1N1 all over again, but with more information coming in, flooding in, at a higher speed with the availability of social media and so on. Come to think of it I didn't have a phone during SARS, and I was still using my Nokia N82 in Sec 4 haha. My source would be the local TV back then in Singapore.

I can still remember switching the TV to CNA whenever I came back home to see the update on H1N1. How many people are infected, and if there are any deaths on that day.

Now I get the information on the palm of my hand, through Twitter, Facebook and the occasional updates I get from people via WhatsApp haha. I would say I am really just using the platform to keep myself updated. At the same time I do read up on a lot of articles regarding the virus too. So that I know which is true or fake, and to also update myself with knowledge. Knowledge is power still! 

Looks like my 3 years of Biomed education didn't go to waste in this situation haha.

So I try to calm myself down. Even though reading news of spikes in cases in various countries, and news of death tolls can really make me feel anxious. Maybe I'm too empath of a person heh. And there's one thing that really makes me feel sad, angry and disappointed at humanity. It's when people mock my country/government whenever there's news about the COVID-19 situation here in Indonesia.

I understand that my government may not be as competent as yours. I understand that we might not have the best technology in the Biomedical field as compared to yours. I understand that my government makes decisions that may make you raise your eyebrows. I think this is the first time (correct me if I'm wrong) that my country is facing such pandemic situation. I too feel that some of the decisions that they make is a bit questionable (like not being fully transparent and slow moving). But I'm just going to let them do their job. Criticising and mocking them at the current moment won't make the whole situation better. I mean sure, it might make them listen to our plights and suggestions.

My point is, I don't think my country's incompetency and inexperience is a reason for you to mock and celebrate the misery of its people. I mean I saw someone comment a "finally" on a news of the first fatality of COVID-19. And how people repeatedly mock the "prayers" comment. I know I shouldn't have seen the comment section but sometimes they just appear opened on my timeline heh.

Like I really don't get it? Does it bring you joy to write such comments?

We're already living in terrifying times of uncertainty. Let us all be kinder to one another shall we.