Monday, 15 October 2012

Stairway to Heaven

There is a tradition at PAHS for the senior students to welcome the juniors at a student-organized party.  This year Batch II students (finishing their 1st year) organized a party at the Lalit Party Palace.  Picture a beautiful garden with two semi enclosed tents, one with tables and chairs and the other with seats, a stage and BIG sound system.  I was invited to attend but had no idea what to expect. I had been told there would be entertainment put on by the senior students but I could not have anticipated how amazing they would be.  It’s a bit like I feel each year at the UBC Spring Gala where I am astonished at the level of talent that is displayed.

The event, hosted by a selection of fabulous MC’s, started off with two different student dance groups in traditional costumes.  The first was a traditional Newari dance followed by a traditional Nepali dance.  The Nepali dance had a familiar theme… boy meets girl, girl plays it cool, boy persists and there is a happy ending.

After that there was an array of performing talent, solo singing, a violin performance, solo dancing, a group of girls accompanied by piano did a rendition of the Titanic theme song, and a boy band (3 guitars and the lead singer) that performed Stairway to Heaven  (touchingly dedicated it to a friend that was lost in a plane crash).

That was about the time the volume of the music got amped up so much that I could feel it deep in my sternum.  The three last groups were all girls dancing to Bollywood-English Fusion.  Imagine Hindi meets The Pussycat Dolls…

It seemed inevitable that if I stayed I would have been pulled up on the dance floor and that was when leaving quietly seemed like the wiser move.  You know what they say that it is wiser to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubt... that goes double for Bollywood dancing!!

Disclaimer... the pictures above are only a fraction of the talent on display. I'm hoping some of it went up on Youtube so anyone involved can see the incredible range of talent. I also did not know everyone's names and so please forgive me not posting individual names here.  CAC

Friday, 12 October 2012

Poof!! A Permanent Art Display.

I love Nepal!

UBC could learn a lot from PAHS about circumventing bureaucracy and red tape…

At 10am I asked Babu Raja Maharjan if it was possible to have the framed copies of the wining art from Mero Mutu Mero Kala hung in the basic science building.  He called Tej (Administrator at PAHS) and set it up.

At 10:15 the plaque that we had ordered two days earlier was delivered.

At 10:17 the Patan Hospital carpenter arrived.

By 10:35 we had a fully installed Art Display.

 Carmina Shrestha (Batch II logo artist!!) and CA maam.

Mero Mutu Mero Kala

Twelve years ago I invited UBC medical and dental students to conceptualize the cardiovascular system artistically and Heartfelt Images was born.  It has grown exponentially since then and was the motivation last year for me to invite the 1st batch of PAHS students to do the same thing.  

First we needed a name for the contest and last year Achyut Koriala came up with “Mero Mutu Mero Kala”  (My Heart, My Art).  In 2011 out of 60 students we had over 30 submissions: photos, paintings, poetry, and a music video.  The winners from 2011 are in an earlier post (see July 2011 in the archive of this blog).

This year Batch 2 was no less creative.  Since we already had a name for the contest the task for this year’s batch was to create a logo.  Carmina Shrestha won the logo contest with her lovely entry below.  It is simple and conveys the link to Nepal (with the flag imbedded in the heart) and two caring hands suggestive of the future care of the Nepali people.

For the actual art contest we had over 30 submissions across all media. The judges had a hard time making their choices but in the end they awarded 3 honourable mentions and three prizewinners.

Honourable Mentions:

Mission of PAHS by Alok Chandra Mahoto.  This was a lovely combination of an anatomical heart painted with scenes of rural Nepal, a medical doctor, and the grounds of the medical school and Patan city.

You reap what you sow by Carmina Shrestha (yep, also the logo winner).  Her installation depicted a tree consisting of a variety of types of heart disease as a result of what is in the soil  (cigarettes, alcohol, high dietary fats, etc).

Heart Animation by Tapendra Koirala.  This was a four slide PowerPoint presentation with an animated cardiac cycle showing the heart beating in time with the changes in heart pressures, volumes and the electrocardiogram.  Very technically savvy.  

The three prize winners (these students were awarded Stethoscopes that Jason and I brought from Canada):

3rd Place
Mero Mutu Mero Kala by Sajan Acharya was a music video with a selection of lessons to be learned from understanding the heart.  It is on YouTube and definitely worth watching (

2nd Place
This was an installation entitled World: MY Heart My Art by Seema Bhandari.  The three parts included two women’s hands holding the earth, a map of Nepal showing the three regions (mountains, hills and plains) and a heart bracketed by the Nepali flag. It pointed out that the only difference between “heart” and earth” is the position of the “h”. 

1st Place
And finally this years first place winner was The Heart by Kamal Sagar Thokar.  He created an exquisite pencil sketch of the heart.  It’s detail and shading rivals anything in the infamous Netter’s Anatomy Atlas.

So what did I learn this year from running Mero Muto Mero Kalo 2012
1)   all students around the world procrastinate:  90%  of entries were submitted in the final 48 hours.
2)   The depth and range of the creative talent of PAHS medical students is astonishing
3)   Poetry remains a strong form of expression in Nepal
4)   Earth and Heart are the same word only different by one letter (HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS BEFORE???)

and the beat goes on….

Girl Power!

Raveena, Komal, CA didi, Monisma, Shweta, Ritu!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A lovely warm parting gift!  Beautiful Nepali scarf!

Final PBL Tutorial

I'm pretty sure I don't need to say how great a time I had with my PBL group.  This picture pretty much captures it..

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Helping Hands

In the pre dawn darkness we don our headlamps and set out to walk up to a viewpoint to see the sun rise and shine on the Himalayan high peaks.  We are members of the International Advisory Board here to attend the 8th Annual PAHS Consultative Meeting. 

We have traveled from Kathmandu up to a small resort area called Nagarkot where, aside from these early morning walks, we gather in a conference hall and marvel at the incredible progress made by our Nepali PAHS colleagues during the past year.  There are presentations on the basic science and curriculum that is well under way with the 3rd batch of students just starting the program. There are ongoing discussions about the upcoming clinical curriculum and the development of two additional schools at PAHS (Nursing /Midwifery and Public Health).  There are medical educators from around the world all here for the common purpose of supporting the PAHS mission to bring better health care to rural Nepal.   We are definitely not here to “give a helping hand” in the traditional sense since the exchange is firmly bidirectional.  Educational strategies that are being tried here will be models for providing care to under-served in our own countries. 

The subset of early morning trekkers made it up to the peak and watch quietly as the sun rises above the prayer flags and lights up the alpine glow on the peaks of the Langtang Range. 

Photo credit of mountain: Darren Nichols

As we walk back down the road we come across a group of Nepali Army soldiers on a brutal early morning training run.  They are in full camouflage, wearing high black leather boots and carrying small metal-framed backpacks and large heavy rifles.  They looked to be about 2/3 of the way through a long uphill run. 

We could see the stragglers much further down the valley on the twisting roads.  I was watching them as they climbed further up the long hill when I heard from behind me what sounded like someone struggling with their breathing.  One soldier, who clearly was having a hard time, went past me bathed in sweat and moving at a painfully slow pace.  As he went past me I noticed the soldier behind him had his hand on his backpack propelling him forward up the hill.  It was such a small but kind and supportive gesture that it stopped me in my tracks.  In this macho-drenched army setting I wasn’t expecting to see kindness.. yet there it was, a brotherly helping hand.