Pre-holidays Singapore exam bash


Four days… three nights.. Well to be frank, it has been a journey of different sorts this time around. 

Air India Express

A month before I got the slot of acceptance to sit for the FRCR 2A exam in Singapore, it flashed in the news that Air India Express is running direct* flights to Singapore. I was excited. Maybe a break from Silk Air, Air Asia and Tiger air. 

The only cost it came was with it being a day flight. I think in the last 25 years, I have maybe flown less than 5 times in a day flight. Unsurprisingly the aircraft was half empty. The IX 484 flew from Cochin to Madurai, held up there for fuel refill and passengers to shoot off to Singapore. 

Weather was intermittently turbulent but the cabin crew was very good. But the catch was on my return flight. I checked out early from my hotel as I always do to spend time in the Changi PP Lounge to just rewind through the past few days. Unfortunately Air India express does not offer early check-in facility. 

So I had to secure my luggage at the ‘Left Baggage’ counter where they keep your baggage safe for 24 hours for nominal rates ranging from 5 to 25 SGD. 

Does its job for a budget airline. On schedule and a very friendly crew. Feel free to fly. 20 kg check-in baggage, 7 kg cabin baggage allowance  with no early check-in is what you lose out for traveling cheap. 

 Bikanervala

Asian flights, especially to India usually depart from Terminal 2. Due to the over ample time available to me in the airport, on advice from my friendly cab driver, I decided to explore terminal 3. 

That’s when  all my strolling got me to the top floor of T3 departures, adjacent to the viewing mall. 

So I feasted upon this delicate and sweet Vada Pav along with a Tiger chilled beer. In fact I write this from here… as I sit and enjoy views of multiple flights landing and taking off from T3. 

Peach of an ambience to enjoy some good Indian food with some chilled beer as you do your work, enjoying lovely view of aircrafts landing and departing. 

FRCR 2A

At the least around 1000 candidates appeared for this exam. Armed with a calculator (which I used only for playing), 3 HB pencils, 1 eraser, 1 sharpener, 1 passport and 1 hall ticket, I walked into the hall. 

The examinations officer was really into it this time. I don’t know why, but she seemed pretty darn upset the way she put out instructions for us. Like if you sin,you die. Bit brutal. 

At the end of the first exam, one of the candidates literally got pulled up because one of his alarms get buzzing non stop in his bag! 

Paper 1

120 questions. 180 minutes. Starting at 1400, by 1537, I was done with answering all 120. Did not know 10 of them, left them for contemplation at the end. By 1401, I was done running my imagination wild and playing poker with the choices of the last ten ones. 

I still had to while away a little less than an hour. So I opted to take a loo break. I was four down in the queue. Eventually I strolled out. Exams offer perks where you get Z security up to the loo and back. It’s worth any exam and you should try it, if you normally don’t move around with security!


Thundershowers outside kept me company till the clock struck 1700. Eventually after 20 minutes of verification by examiners, we were allowed to exit the building to return for round 2. 

Innings break

I sat with my buddy at the cafeteria, munching on dates, eating roasted nuts, and drinking a cold Nescafe. The mood was euphoric. The first paper left a feeling of confidence in our abilities. But as med students, we know that the exam that lets you send your punches out in the first round is looking to knock you down in the next round, and we feared. 

Paper 2

120 questions. 180 minutes. Spiraling levels of concentration. Add to this mix a paper that milks out blood from your eyes, ears and nose. There are disadvantages to writing this examination in Singapore. The timezone literally kills you as you write the paper 2 from 1830 to 2130. By 2001, I finished one round of 120. Had 13 which I had no clue. By 2040 I had run out of gas. The brain could not be pushed anymore to churn out permutations and combinations. I slouched till 2130 on the table, waiting for this misery to end. Eventually at 2150 we were relieved of the torture. 

If paper 1 pumped your spirits, paper 2 ensured it put you in your place. The results are gonna be interesting. People with good work experience is likely to come out stronger in this one. Lot of practicality involved in all the questions that go much beyond reading books.

Google Trips

This is my first trip in which I am using the Google Trips app. Use it to actually understand how useful it is. Firstly after making my travel booking and hotel reservation, I saved the details onto my app which enabled easy access and tracking. It easily integrated with my Google Assistant. I used Google Pixel 2 XL. So it seamlessly integrated also with my calendar. I had travel notifications with regards to flight time, terminal etc., all delivered straight to my phone. 

This is my 4th visit to this beautiful country. Using apps like TripAdvisor in my previous trips, I have more than enough done visiting all the top tourist attractions and I was looking for something different. And what better option than to have a custom serving of things to do, be it a day plan, something for the kids, top destinations, war memorials, colonial district or a journey into nature. 

The integration with google maps makes using trips so peaceful. Ability to download your Singapore map also allows you to stay off the network and still move from one tourist attraction to another. I am really impressed and will be consistently using this app henceforth. I am a Google fan boy. So you ain’t expecting any improvement. Excitement as I return to home base. Asked my brother-in-law to get me my Google Earbuds. More fun with my assistant real soon. 

P.S. I opted to learn how to use the new WordPress Editor and I just cant find the google photos integration anymore. Once I do, I will be uploading more captures off my phone. 

Youtube Travelogue debut


Yes, it is not gonna be that fancy, but whilst on vacation and rummaging through my hard disks, I realized I have quite a bit of content captured over a period of time that deserves to be sorted up and put in the public domain. While I do have time right now, it is probably wise to finish off the back log and henceforth  do post processing of audiovisuals immediately after a trip.

I am beginning with this year and rolling back and as a start am getting all the videos put up in Youtube, whilst the photographs need to go up most likely in Flickr and Facebook Page.

Soon I will put up blog entries of trips to different places that I make.

6 years into blogging, I have not been able to do justice to my write ups thanks to immersing myself in sharpening my skills to provide optimal patient care. #Excited   

The Kuwait Towers


IMG_4049-1Weekends have become much more eventful now that a former colleague and friend Dr. Sid has joined me in Kuwait. Last night I took him to the Kuwait Towers. Was good to be inside it again. Last time I was in there was 6 years ago.

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Reflection off the elevator that was going to take us up the Towers

The towers opened only this National day in Feb 2016 after all the renovation. The new work means we now get plenty of graphics on the towers varying according to the occasion.

I was predicting a French flag last night following the Nice incident. But it didn’t happen.

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Wound up going to good old Pizza hut near the Salmiya coop. From a rumbling center to one that has become so quiet, how times have changed with the newer generations clammering up to shopping ‘malls’ nowadays.

 

Maldives.. the honeymoon.


 

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Rainbow captured as we were mid air flying back from Male

Months before the day of tying the knot I have been told by compatriots, colleagues and friends to find a place for the honeymoon getaway. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted. Whether to trod through sightseeing, or sit back and enjoy a romantic couple time. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Mauritius, Maldives, Europe were up there amongst the top most honeymoon destinations Indian couples pursued. Eventually it boiled down to going for the romantic getaway away from the buzz and the crowd.. quiet, private and in nature’s arms. This trip, the planning etc would not have worked out had it not been for my good friend Jobin who took pains to ensure I got the best of what was available.

The buildup to the wedding was nervy. But on the day things went on smoothly. We managed to creep well within all time limits set out for us; the remainder of the week swept by with us again running around with deadlines to meet relatives. A quick visit to Guruvayurappan the morning before our flight capped off our endless travel.+

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first time on a Bombardier aircraft

It was an awkward time to pick up an international flight. Almost all international flights depart early morning. So the international terminal was sparsely populated. We were offered to upgrade our seats to the first row behind the pilot. The Spice jet staff was prompt to emphasize that Bombardier flights are noisy pretty much everywhere else. I have never been on a Bombardier before, so I accepted the offer. No creepy questions from the immigration officer.

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hot smiles and not so warm meals

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aerial shots of Atolls of Maldives

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The bombardier was a 50 seater like a Volvo bus we travel in, only difference is you can’t stand straight in this one. We were offered prepaid sandwiches (by hot smiles and not too warm meals).  Before I closed my eyes, the pilot announced we were about to land. The strenuous long drives on Kerala roads made this one and a half hour journey to a neighbouring country seem simply too simple. We had a person waiting with my name on a placard. He greeted us with a welcome smile and soon we were waiting to pick our speed boat to the Paradise Island Resort.

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welcome drink

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The rain gods had heard our prayers and made sure there was no hindrance to the wedding. They were even kind enough extend the offer whilst we were at Maldives. The scorching sun bathed the island. We walked into the speed boat and took a 20 min drive to our island. As we were within 500m of the shore, the water markedly changed color from the deep blue sea into a gentle turquoise blue charading the white sand sea shore.

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We were given welcome drinks and face towels as they explained to us the ‘what lies where’ of the island and took us to our water villa. Three days, four nights  – and not a single day went without a smiling face greeting us. The pleasant nature of the staff made our stay comfy.

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lucky to have had a full moon during our stay there.

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shark feeding time

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to tingle the nerves..

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Surrounded by water all around, with sea life, varying tides and exotic food three times a day, we were pampered to the core. Away from the crowded busy life of ours riddled with deadlines, this seemed the perfect getaway.

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As I sit here editing the photographs and writing this up, it brings a smile to my face and makes me want to relive the moments yet again.

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