Selamat Datang (Welcome!)

It’s been a minute since I returned from Kuching (Cat City, baby!), so I thought I’d drop in a quick hello of fan favorite moments from my 2 weeks in Borneo!

There really are cats everywhere – statues, etchings on the sewer covers, and in same places, real ones roaming around. 

My boss asked me whether or not he should wear a tie to a meeting….he asked me this via text.  He then proceeded to ask if the “Japanese” were wearing ties.  Everything about that moment (which lasted about 30 seconds and 4 SMS) was odd.

People are sooo friendly in Malaysia.  And welcoming.  And beautiful.  And lovers of cats.

I went into 2 temples (Hindu, Buddhist) and 1 mosque (Muslim, obvi) within 2 days.  That was awesome.

I accidentally danced with traditional warrior dancers at a conference dinner with my boss in the front row.  Turns out, I AM A NATURAL.

When it comes to British and Australian accents, I am a total ham.  I cannot get enough of the sweet sounds of…uhh, royalty and kangaroos?  Wasn’t really sure where to take that.  Regardless, I may have slipped into an accent when around those…mateys a few times.  And I sure as hell used the words rather and quite an unnatural amount.

I had to take a small fake baby, NeoNatalie, to Malaysia for our booth.  I had the HARDEST time filling her up.  In the end, I left only halfway-ish filled so NeoNat was looking a little limp when my boss saw her.  He proceeded to properly fill her with a bottle of water (details are irrelevant and yet so fabulous).  I didn’t realize he had spilled some water in her little wrap-around medical sheet until he handed said doll to a passing conference participant.  NeoNat proceeded to have a wee bit of a leak on this poor, unsuspecting pediatrician’s foot.  An “accidents happen” joke followed. [NeoNatalie is a simulated demo baby for an amazing program saving millions of lives by literally helping babies breathe in their first 60 seconds of life.]

I went to a museum for cats.  Like a real one.  Admission was free, but to take pictures, it cost me just over 1 US dollar.  Naturally.  I believe on Sunset Blvd, they charge for celebrity pics (or pics of houses?) – this is a parallel situation.
I ate a lot.  One meal (for a special conference dinner) consisted of well, 8 meals.

My wildlife cruise reminded me that I am blind.  I couldn’t see the damn monkey.  I TRIED.  Finally, after much effort (and having my head literally grabbed and position by the President of the Australian Pediatric Society), saw a black flash in the trees.  Good enough.

My Malaysian tour guide asked me about dowries in Hindu weddings.  No real point of sharing this besides it was weird.

My boss made me attend meetings that I was neither invited too nor really welcomed at.  So I essentially become that annoying Western girl who kinda looked like the locals.  Must have been confusing for the staff.

One of my tasks while at the conference was entertaining 3 Malaysian doctors in a VIP room (read: it looked like the swankiest part of Opera Nightclub with the lights on) for about 40 minutes while my boss tried to get out of another meeting.  The best part – the men did not know why they had been summoned.  And well, neither did I.

My only regret is I didn’t see the orangutans.  How, oh how can I go to Borneo and leave without pics of baby monkeys?!?!  I almost let this friendly Sikh taxi driver take me for a reasonable price, but then I realized—I AM NOT CRAZY.

Turns out I can hang with high ranking (whatever that means) pediatricians like a champ.

An influential pediatrician greeted me with “Kemcho?”  For the non-Gujarati speakers, that’s “how are you?” HOW COOL.  Immediately, I felt connected to this man uncle (we call all men who are elder and not our father “uncle.”  We chatted a few times – where my parents are from, how his son wants to study public health (well, of course, I touted (?!) Emory, etc, etc.  In my head, this small meeting had turned into “Adorable and ethnic tobacco control specialist is going to revolutionize the way the American Academy of Pediatrics interfaces with India.”  On the last day of the conference, before leaving a talk, he asked me my first name.  Oh.  Okay, so this might take a minute. 

It took me a good 2 weeks to get back into the swing of things here in ‘Merica.  But I am back.  Getting back into my routine of dancing, spending time with friends, and bolly-dancing.  The weather is nothing short of perfection of late.  Crisp, slight breeze, and the leaves are changing.

October 2 marks Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday – what a fabulous reminder of how lucky we are.  Do your part, and volunteer when you can!  Help with the campaign, play with children who need some love, try not to embarrass yourself while helping a person study for the citizenship exam, play bingo with the old folks…just do something.  Be somebody to someone.

And I leave you with this –

I recently met up with a guy a friend set me up with (I, too, am appalled by the number of inappropriate prepositions I just used, so get off my back).  Nice fellow (and I am pretty sure based on the date, he’s far too busy to ever read my diminutive blog).  Things he (I’d say we, but I was mostly there to affirm and eat pancakes) discussed:  lawncare (yes, as in grass), his (albeit, cool) website side business (this involved an iphone [the same iphone which was used to answer a phone call during said brunch] exchange so I could see all the magic in real time), and the crème de la crème – he admitted that he still hadn’t called a girl he was supposed to be set up with…back in February.  All jokes aside (seriously, grass), delightful person but quite possibly one of my most bizarre dates to date.  And I went to the Chicago Public library on a date once, so, yeahhh.  My married/relationship friends basically took this experience as yet another reason to be thankful for their somebody special.  Oh, life, you entertain me!

Off to teach some formerly imprisoned ladies computer skills!


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