Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The last fortnight

In the last fourteen days, a lot happened that I can write about, and much more that I cannot so easily write about. One of the things that happened pretty early on is that there was a request for a pediatrician from Raniya, a place that is located about 350 km away from Al Muwayh. I was once again asked to go there, but I refused because I have to study for my examinations that are scheduled for next month. He was reluctant on account of the fact that he has his family with him in Al Muwayh, but I argued that I had already gone for such duties four times in the last two or three months, whereas he hadn't gone even once. Thus, Dr. Yasser went to Raniya, while I did all the work here in Al Muwayh. The duties were not as bad as in the previous months, and it allowed me time to study.

My reading is mostly online. The books I read for a short while when I am in the hospital. As I did not get any response from Onexaminations.com, I decided to buy a month's subscription from another student portal called 123doc.com. This cost me UK pounds 49.95. Anyways, the portal has great questions, and I hope to be able to do as many as possible in the time remaining. As I write this, I have covered more than 400 questions out of their bank of over 2500. The comments and teaching notes are better than the ones on the previous portal that I was using, so I am happy. Our study group on Facebook is very active now, and we share at least 10-20 questions everyday, although not all the members are equally active as a few of us, including me. We cover different topics each day, and we do a joint sharing exercise on Friday evenings. This Friday, i.e. a few days ago, we covered three different systems, viz. Development, ENT and Dermatology. The interactions were good, and it seems that almost all of us are in the same state of preparation. Inshallah, we will all clear the exams.

On Wednesday evening (four days ago), I went to T'aif with the pharmacy technician Mr. Mohammad. He dropped me near Panda, and I went by dabbab to Ahla-Saif Hotel, where I have also stayed on the last two occasions. Mr. Ahmed, the Egyptian manager recognised me immediately, and on my request, allotted me the same room as on the last two occasions. I used the two nights to enjoy myself, not studying much. I downloaded several movies with the help of the free wireless connection that the hotel offers to all its guests. On the morning of Thursday, I went to Al Rajhi Bank's Money Transfer to send some cash to India. Also, I visited the T'aif Zoo ... known in Arabic as the Hadeeqat-al-haiwaan.

My dinner on Wednesday was at the Asian Restaurant located just below my hotel; on Thursday afternoon, I had a meal that was a hotch potch of snacks at the zoo and some at a local eatery. On Thursday evening, I visited Rayaan Broast, a restaurant suggested to me by my Indian colleague at Al Muwayh (Dr. Narendra). This place is located on Tareeq Janoub, the road that goes left from Shaara Shaher, and is also the route to go to Al Bahaa. There was a sizeable crowd, and I ordered and ate a mutton shawarma sandwich (it was delicious), and ordered a chicken broast to take back to Al Muwayh. It is waiting for my attention in my fridge at Al Muwayh as I write this from my room in Zalm (wait, I am getting ahead of my story).

On Friday, I mostly rested in my room, and left to return to Al Muwayh after Asr' prayers. I went by SAPTCO, the state bus transport, as usual. I arrived in Al Muwayh around 8:00 p.m., and later that night, participated in the Friday night revision session on my study group in Facebook.

Then, yesterday evening, I received instructions to go to Zalm for a night and a day to cover for the absence of their lone pediatrician who had to go to T'aif urgently. The medical director of Zalm, Dr. Talal was returning from T'aif by car, and he personally picked me up at half past eleven p.m. from outside my house and brought me to Zalm. 

Today morning, we had a conversation that explained why he had to bring me urgently. It seems that the pediatrician here had to leave urgently, and there was no time for the director to arrange a proper reliever through the central office (the Muderiya) as he usually does. 

Duty today was light, and I relaxed for most of the day. That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The past ten days since my last entry

My readers might be eager to learn what has been transpiring in my life since I last made an entry in this blog near the end of August. I had described my stint in Zalm, with one more day to go. Well, the last and final day also went off peacefully. I finally left Zalm on Saturday morning, going with a team of Maintenance crew (Al Ewan Medical Company) which was proceeding to T'aif. They very kindly gave me a drop outside my house. I left my luggage and then went to the Hospital to attend to my duties.

The entire week saw me gradually increasing my study hours as the day for my examination for Part 1 of the MRCPCH nears. I am scheduled to appear from Jeddah on the 9th of October this year. Hence, as I write this, there is less than a month to go for the exam. Overall, I am not too satisfied with my studies; I guess it's been over 25 years since I read Pediatrics in a concerted manner. However, I have certainly improved quite a lot this year. Initially, I read quite a lot for the Saudi Council exams; thereafter, I took a break of a few months. From mid-June, I began reading again, what with the books I brought back with me from India (kindly provided by Dr. Faizan Bhoira, the pediatrician who looked after my clinic for the first few months after I left India last year). I subscribed to a paid revision account with www.onexamination.com, a venture that has enabled me to revise over 1600 questions. The account was for 3 months, and expired today. I am planning to renew it for one more month, if they will enable me to do so. This might be a little difficult as things stand today. Although I got a confirmation that they WOULD be able to renew the account subscription, I have not yet heard from them so that I can fulfill my obligation.

If I am unable to renew, it won't be much of a loss, as I do have quite a few Multiple-Choice-Questions books to read. In fact, I have so many books that I don't think I will be able to finish all of them in the limited time available.

I have been cooking quite a bit these last 8-10 days after returning from Zalm. I have made, so far, dal, channa masala, kheema, cauliflower-potato bhaji, mutton curry, fish curry, scrambled eggs, noodles, palak bhaji and chicken masala. The last two items have just been made and I think they have turned out quite good. Let's see what they actually taste like. 

I have been gradually adding friends from the hospital to my Facebook friends' list. This week, I added Dr. Measser, the Syrian resident doctor. Going via his profile, I am now friends with more than 6 other doctors of the hospital, including Dr. Amr Hilal (Surgical resident, now also Quality Assurance in charge), Dr. Majid Shaib (Surgical Specialist), Dr, Moataz (Anesthesiologist), and a few more. This has been a nice thing, as I am now able to peek inside the world of Arab doctors from Egypt, Syria, Sudan, etc. The best posts, however, are in Arabic, and I have to then approach these friends off-line, that is, in the hospital, to understand what the post was about. 

That's all for now. My father continues to be in poor health in India. My mother is okay, I guess, but tired of it all. They have appointed a full-time man-servant to attend to Dad's needs and to feed him by the feeding tube as needed. 

My wife and kids are fine, as are my brothers, their wives and their children. Amen.