Saturday, October 18, 2008

Inside my head

3 o clock on Friday, 10th October found me enjoying a heavenly Ferrero Rocher milkshake with a few friends at Tinseltown. Fast-forward one week, and 3 o clock on Friday, 17th October found me cautiously dipping my rubber-gloved hands into a formaldehyde solution in order to fish out a brain. That's right- a real, human brain. My first thoughts as I lifted it out were, 'this is kinda heavy,' rapidly followed by, 'I'm sure my brain is not that big!'

This was my first physiology practical of the term. Luckily, my enthusiasm was not curbed by the awful smell of the formaldehyde solution or the fact that we were surrounded by cadavers. Oblivious to all around us, my group and I spent a truly fascinating hour examining one and a half brains and identifying the various parts we had been taught about. At one point, the tutor came over and, using what looked like a knitting needle, showed us the nerve that would control tongue-waggling. I think that is when I suddenly realised that I was actually looking at a replica of the contents of my own head. As I opened my mouth to speak, my own tongue-waggling nerve would be stimulated, enabling me to pronounce words clearly. It was a strange thought... maybe a bit too strange for my brain to handle.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bus talk

Although commuters on buses and tubes usually maintain the 'stiff upper lip' image, every now and again someone will breach the rules of public transport and start a conversation. This often causes shock waves amongst fellow passengers but I find that it acts like a refreshing breeze in a somewhat suffocating atmosphere. It's sometimes nice to know that you are travelling with fellow human beings and not robotic clones.

For example, on the bus last Monday, I sat down next to a woman who was reading the paper. After a while, she neatly folded it away, turned to me and actually began speaking to me. It turned out that she had been invited to a Muslim wedding function, but didn't know what to wear. I helped her out as best I could, answering her questions about all the different customs and traditions she was unfamiliar with. As I got off the bus, she thanked me for the advice, and I walked away with a smile on my face.

Later in the week, I was on the bus with a friend and we began talking about the month of fasting, Ramadhan. A young lady sitting near us suddenly turned to us and began asking about Ramadhan and how we coped with not eating all day. The conversation soon turned philosophical, and we ended up discussing whether prayers work equally well if they are said in a place of worship or at home. At the end of the journey, I think we all felt a little better for having reached across the huge divide that seems to separate people nowadays to build a little bridge of acknowledgement of other lives.