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Monday, April 27, 2009

Malaysia

Some stuff I wrote during my recent trip to Malaysia. (Went for my Father's wedding in Bangladesh. Malaysia>Bangladesh>Malaysia>Taiwan>LAX). Took me almost a month to find the time to type it up! lol, but here it is. Read if you're interested. xoxox =0)

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I am writing from my father's head office in Penang, Malaysia. He is the newly appointed C.E.O of the Research Institute for Chemical Cell Biology at University Sains Malaysia.

Obviously, this position brings an even greater level of responsibility with it than his already multi-layered tenured faculty status commitments with the University of Hawaii, Nankai (Japan), and Geological Nuclear Survey of New Zealand (which he entered into collaboration with a few years after I started university there.)

So, he is finishing up various meetings, his faculty & students are preparing for the "dog and pony" show haha that must be put on tomorrow for the Vice Chancellor of CCB at USM, as well as the Minister (one of the key investors for this center). I have just witnessed their presentation, and I am blown away almost to the point of tears. The science that is being done here, the broad visionary concept my father and his team have, the Humanity, Integrity and Spirited Passion along with Top-Notch Expansive Science, at CCB at USM is just too much for the human heart and mind to fathom. Such pride is within me, such Love, it is overwhelming. Ask me sometime about his research, I would Love to share with you. To pinpoint, Why it is so vital to the human race what his work involves, here are very brief bullet-points of what he does:

1) Anti-aging research > transforming the human conception that "death is the end", into preventative measures Against, yes, Death.
2) Papaya Genome sequencing > using the anti-oxidant properties found in papaya plants as the main ingredient in mass global bio-products (which this center will create as a residual to supply $$ funding) for third world citizens -at a low cost-who are unable to afford health supplements, to increase health. As well as an "immortal-impetus" type of drug for all world citizens.
3) Achondroplasia (dwarf disease) research, one of my dad's grad students will be the First human in the world to volunteer to have her genome sequenced, and cloned, in order to Cure this gene degenerative disease.
4) Hemoglobin (blood) research > my dad discovered a blood substitute a.k.a "fake blood" (which can be manufactured and distributed throughout the world) about 10 years ago. This research has been a bit dead after the hot-press after its discovery due to my dad's uneasiness with the mass consumerism a.k.a "corporate greed" of the biotech industry. He stopped all research on the project due to it. But now, with this new center, may be revisiting it. Can you Imagine, the possibilities, of having fake blood, for all people who Need it on this planet???!
5) Extremophile research >using extremophiles (bacteria who are able to survive in the most extreme conditions on this planet, from those living in say glaciers in Antarctica to acidic hot pools in Malaysia) in use of medical treatments. In laymen's terms, imagine, we due to global warming have a massive blow-out of all heat. My dad's research could save humanity with creating special treatments a human could take to Survive under such type of conditions.
6) Dengue fever> my dad and his collaborative team in Bangladesh have managed to isolate the key factor in the human genome which is susceptible to dengue fever (currently the largest killer of third world countries), and using bio-markers (genome, psychological, and pathological detectors within the human body), will be able to Cure it. They will be providing Free vaccines after FDA testing (thru various VC -venture capitalist funding) to first Bangladeshi population, then, continuing to other third-world countries.


Then Monday evening we are on the plane to Bangladesh to get Wedding boy married, at long last!!!

Well here I am, Le Grand Lilidork, performing my daughterly duties (as have been done since age 8), smiling like a puppet, and talking science, meeting with the top scientists and engineers of Malaysia, as well as my dad's good students.

Both the scientists and students are doing their best to convince me to abandon my Hollywood fantasies and continue my research here. My dad has adamantly made clear, "this" is mine (of course only if I work my ass off) whenever I decide to take up a position he has been offering me since last year.

I must confess, it feels wonderful to be surrounded in bio-tech mode, makes me miss my university days in the labs-only slightly though. Hollywood life still remains my Prozac. Science must wait until I am 40 or so, when my dad retires and no-one else could possibly be trusted to carry on his legacy, a noble one of both Science And Humanity.

So as we walk these beautiful halls together, I feel such happiness, joy and immense pride for and of my father. What a man. Wow.

The hallways of this institute have been specially designed by their graphics team (the main designer I am meeting this afternoon-looking forward to it), it is all Themed. From the entrance, the blue lighting underneath the white Aeon-Flux/J. Paul Getty Museum type architecture. Illuminating the science hub of Malaysia, you are greeted with a streaming genetic code, the building blocks of our life: ACGT (At-amine, Cyanine, Guanine, Thy-amine), surrounded by of course, a Scientist's Britney Spears: a double helix.

The continuing hallways which wrap around the building have walls which outline the human biological story. We begin with basic Biology; digitized snapshots of forests, termite samples ( we are using to create bio-fuel) , mud pools (soon to be used in face mask samples, products to finance the center and make it self-sufficient of investors and grants), microscopic shots of leaves, beautiful Malaysian flora & fauna.

We continue onwards to Proteomics & Genomics (my cup of tea), the labs which are pristine, equipped with the best instrumentation on the bio-market, perfect, in short, any molecular geneticist's wet dream.

And on the outside, again, code and intricate helium structures. Leading to the Organic Chemistry & Conference rooms. The wall swerves to the left and the 3D bio-visualization wing begins. Here we have your x-rays, super computers and coding rooms. There is a face of a man, cut into squares, with a prism of light shining forward in front of his eyes. This symbolizes Malaysia's "Vision of Science for the Future".

The caption under the counter , "Turning Inspiration into Reality."

We reach the women's bathrooms, my dad tells me they have been designed to Hilton 5 Star standard. After merrily prancing in, I can confirm this is correct. I suppose it's good to know that in case a young scientist here messes up with a chemical synthesis they can come in here and take a long shower, and a bath with sweet-smelling fragrances (complimentary of course lol).

Interesting tidbit about the bathrooms: In Malaysia, and in other Islamic countries, toilet paper is not used (unless you are in a place known to be frequented by white tourists,-due to many international scientists visiting the institute, yes, there is toilet paper supplied here). Normally though instead of toilet paper, In it's place you will find a shower hose. Yes, you clean yourself via shower stream. This is a much more hygienic, and tree-friendly way to live. If only America could wise up to this. Japan has a similar system with a bidet that is placed directly inside the toilet. Though I prefer the Islamic system a bit better because it allows you better control of where you, aim. Lol.

Past the bathrooms are further conference rooms, the pantry/food room, library..

.....oh, lol, Willa, the lead secretary just brought me some mineral water, such a sweetheart. She has 4 children, and yet somehow manages to rule this center with an iron fist, keeping all these crazy scientists in line with organized structure. For a woman to be educated, smart, employed in such a high-level institute, happily married, And a mother, is a real rarity in Malaysia (and any Islamic country for that matter). You go girl!......

After the library, there is the main audio-visual conference room, a breakthrough in video-conferencing technology for the world, and a room which will put Malaysia on the map for the revolution of new video-e/education wave which is taking over the world. From here, you can broadcast with perfect clarity, to any center in the world, and hold "star wars" like holographic conferences (like the Jedi Council) and conference sessions. This is where the "dog and pony show" will take place tomorrow and what these poor students scurrying hurriedly around like ants are practicing for. What makes this room so incredible is it's visual simulation power. You can perform experiments in-vitro. Meaning, instead of wasting millions of dollars performing an experiment in the wet lab, you can program the exact sequence and data into the massive super computer, which will re-configure everything into real-life simulation. You put on special 3-D vis goggles, and perform the entire thing (complete with simulated noises and simulated effects of what might Actually happen) in the comfort of an air-conditioned visual room. It's like doing science as a video game. And once you've perfected the experiment several times, you can then do the actual thing in the real wet lab. It's like what the FBI makes their recruits practice in diffusing bombs. This way, it saves a lot of money in mess-ups, and is a great safety precaution for students.

I feel a bit like Charlie in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Minus the chocolate, this center holds an equal amount of "surprising surprises".

Which now leads me to my overall impression of Malaysia. To surmise, I am in love. The nature, the culture, the people, the food (fresh Malaysian roti chennai is the best thing this country has invented in my opinion), the overall rawness and openness I feel in many other Asian countries is exemplified here. Malaysian life is both excitingly vibrant and yet family-oriented, a rare mix.

With this new center, the American business module and Humanitarian values my dad's team will bring, combined with the soul of Malaysian people and hardworking scientists aiming for a brighter future, will make quite the lovely cocktail.

I do understand why my dad wants to permanently base himself here. It fits him to a tee. I am here only 3 days and don't want to leave! Perhaps I can convince Stephen Spielberg to shoot a movie here.... that I will be starring in....lol. Hey! Stranger things Have happened.....

Man, I don't want to go back to Cali.........

Another thing that is lacking in American culture, especially in the communication scene, is the way American males act and behave towards women. It's disrespectful, rude, and so...upfront. Whatever happened to Shakespearian times....and women as Muses....vs. Fuck objects. Grr. Malaysia is nice in that regard, women are still respected as Divine Goddesses. Bangladesh also..actually pretty much Every country except the US has men that treat women with more class. Yes we may all think the same dirty thoughts. But the ART of Living, is the mastery of disguising them. That's not falsitude, not a fake way of life. That is the beauty of elegance, grace, and most importantly, "artists tell the truth thru lies". -V For Vendetta. Advice to men everywhere: no self-respecting woman likes to be whistled at on the street like she's a dog. If your dick is all that interested, stop being a lazy ass and make some Effort.

Well, I will have to wrap up this mini-novella here.

Wedding preparations are being ticked off on a long sheet as planned. Family politics in Bangladesh (my humongous family in Dhaka likes to cruelly gossip -think E! + tabloids to the nth power) are a drama and stressing my dad out. But it will all be taken care of, I keep reassuring him. My position as his daughter has its perks. Besides being me, not to sound like an ass, I am the child of the front-runner scientist in Malaysia. I have political and personal "spin" power. It feels good to be able to use the respect people have for my father to his advantage in de-tangling the web of lies being spread about him, his fiancee, my new sister, and even myself in both Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Malaysian gossips are funny. They remind me of transvestites you see walking along Hollywood Blvd. , or around West Hollywood, at 3 am. Do you think we all can't see your shave burns underneath those 8 layers of makeup you have on? C'mon.

I hope Hollywood sunshine is lovely. It is boiling in Malaysia. And I am happy beyond all measure.

I am left at the airport, after a tearful and touching goodbye from my dad's crew, following impromptu lunch at McDonald's lol. Practically falling over by the weight of my father's new wife, and dream team's generosity (via Malaysian presents & Bangladeshi saris), I am now about to begin my 22 hour (Penang>Kuala Lumpur>Taipei>LAX) journey back to the United States of America, a name which only recently with Obama's victory I could really define as United. Am I looking forward to it? Somehow yes, somehow no. Duality is a basic element of nature. A giant in an Asian country...., I walk around the shops, exploring all the lovely Malaysian charms found in the Duty Free shops. Walking fast to avoid the stares of white businessmen hoping to buy me a coffee or other such nonsense. No. I am not impressed nor inclined to be witness to your bling, your business deals or your first class seats. I'm all that on my own. I decide to purchase some obscure Martini base alcohol from a liqueur & cigarettes shop. They ask me, as most all do in Malaysia who I come across, "wow,....where are you from, what are you doing in Malaysia?" Well, what should I tell them? I'm a vessel...I'm a being.....I live and breathe and think....somehow my life has taken me to strange places....somehow at only 22 I've seen more than most do in a lifetime.....I've traveled the world 3 times over.....I've made love to thousands....I've soaked in the mysteries of life and the grandiose nature of the universe....I've loved...I've lost....I've bled.....I've died.....I've been reborn.....professionally I've worked in many countries....made business deals with men that most fear....modeled for intriguing photographers and designers...studied in the most unique places.....But no. I keep my answer simple.

,"I live in Hollywood. My father is the CEO of a research institute here, I'm visiting him."
"Oh, wow!
So you come here every few months?"

Sure. Why Not.

"Yup."
"How wonderful! Well we hope to see you beautiful lady in our shop again. "

Sure. gotta cream the rich tourists with flattery.

"You bet! Thanks."

Pay.
Sign Receipt.
Smile.
Leave.


That's life , aint it?



If you're interested in further information about USM/CCB or my Father, here are a few links:

http://www.hawaii.edu/microbiology/Alam/index.html< My dad's lab
http://www.hawaii.edu/microbiology/Alam/people/alam.html< My dad =0)
http://www.usm.my/ver4en/ < University of Sains Malaysia
http://www.usm.my/ver4en/apex/get_doc/USM@APEX%20University(intro).pdf < USM mission statement/vision for the future



Useful Malay phrases:

aku chinta kabu-I Love You

tare me ka-se - Thank You

tatare - yummy tea/milk/chai type drink

aku rindu kamu - I Miss You

aku ben chi kamu- I Hate

saiiya aku (softer tense)

awa- You

saiiya ma-af - I'm Sorry

aya/ bapa - Father




1 comment:

Harold said...

your father sounds amazing, an inspiration.