Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Light Moment

Finally finished my proposal…I put all my best effort to piece it all into completion. It felt like a huge burden has been lifted off my back.

Freddy was quite satisfied with it…he admitted that he saw a marked improvement compared to the last one. Minus one or two minor corrections, it was ready for submission.

My proposal was very thick and heavy in contents…it was full of molecular details. Personally I tried to avoid all the complicated terms, because the general public may find it confusing and I do not like that situation. But my supervisor insisted that I included all the details, it was for academic purposes, he claimed.

There are two kinds of people in this world…the one who explains simple terms in complicated manners to appear intelligent, and the one who simplifies complex concepts in layman terms for easier understanding. The former think they are intelligent; the latter think intelligently. There is a gulf of difference between these two groups. It is obvious that I prefer the latter, although I must admit I had limited ability to reach that level. Only a select few could achieve that.

I had the rare privilege of studying both molecular biology and molecular physics (it was called ‘quantum physics’ in physics). Both are very challenging subjects…they stretched our mind to the limit. I read news recently that reported a vast number of professionals are fast becoming an atheist. The more they learned, the more skeptical they were towards the existence of God.

If the purpose of learning is to edge ourselves closer to God, then they had violently violated that principle.

On a lighter note, Freddy called to inform that he was picking me up for a simple discussion. He won’t be around for two days, and this was our last chance to iron out all of our disagreements regarding my proposal. He appeared to be in a bullish mood…he cleared all of my confusions with his elaborate explaining, fuelled by his enthusiasm.

He actually rewrote part of my proposal (in his own words) to clarify and improve it as a whole. I don’t think any other supervisor would have gone to such extent to help their students. It was truly my privilege to have him as my supervisor.

Towards the end of our discussion, he expressed his high hopes for us to perform well during our presentation. It was around this time that I asked him about the imminent departure of Dr Lim. He revealed that Dr Lim will be leaving for UM “for some reasons”. At first glance, it was unclear to me what he meant by that, but then he went on to explain everything in details.

What started out as an offhand question, proliferated into a full blown revelation. He exposed in great length about the inner working of our department, the ‘cog’ in the ‘machine’, the so-called ‘deadwood’, what the lecturers were talking about the students, the flaws of the system, the KPI’s, the ‘free-riders’, the grants and teaching money, the ‘perception’ and ‘pre-conception’, including the ‘power rangers’ who abused their position. Some of his assertion were so controversial that he made me promise not to divulge anything to anyone. I will stick to that promise. He was thoroughly disappointed with all the happenings around him.

Sometimes, we can change something…but most of the times, we just have to learn to live with it. I am not implying we shouldn't do anything…we should always strive to turn thing for the better. But after all, we are just a small player in a larger scheme of things. Nothing that we do will matter much anyway.

Or as the late L of Death-Note series once said, “No matter how gifted, you alone cannot change the world”. As a person, we are powerless…but as a group, maybe things will change for the better. Maybe, one day.