I first heard of the word 'varsity' from my aunt, Mak Bedah @ Zabedah. I was probably in primary school. She was one of my 2 aunts who could speak English. She told me about the schools and universities during her time. She said girls didn't go to school during her time. She was one of the few Malay girls who went to school, breaking the Malay taboo of not letting girls go to school. She was my mentor when I was young till I started working and could think for myself. I also borrowed 4 sets of her clothes to go to work for the first time. It was from her that I learned the words Lembah Pantai and Masjid Varsity, Kolej, etc. I had thought she was a strange woman, talking about something I had not seen nor visited. She took me for a drive past the university mosque but I found it strange that a mosque was a university (I didn't see other buildings but just jungle). I was really confused. She was talking to my mother and Lembah Pantai was mentioned. I didn't see a beach at Lembah Pantai, just dry land! For a long time I didn't know what Universiti Malaya was about. I didn't know what a university was.
In 1974/75, I visited Universiti Malaya for the first time as a class excursion. We visited the library and bookshop and the Physiology Dept. I was happy at the library and bookshop but I felt intimidated at Physiology Dept - I didn't like the spirometer.
In 1982/83, I wrote to Univeriti Malaya to ask about the possibility of lecturing there. Universiti Malaya re-posted by letter back to my Vice Chancellor's office. The Vice Chancellor's office returned my letter. I was 23 and felt upset about the way Universiti Malaya handled my letter.
Computers invaded Malaysia in late 1990s and I went into computers for the sheer reason that computers didn't have to do with people and attitude. I didn't have to face people. So I stuck to computers, trying to adjust to a better life. Universiti Malaya always stuck in the back of my mind for what it did to me. I got busy with Teleheath. At the time too research grants were big and the amount was in the millions. I too got a RM3 million grant but I shared that with others and worked with just a small amount to buy 10 PCs. Telehealth was doomed from the beginning for many things but I was focused on laboratory computerisation, which was manageable and feasible in Malaysian hospital labs.
When I started researching and writing on The Early Malay Doctors, there were many contributors from Universiti Malaya. They were good and supporting. However, it did not change my stand on Universiti Malaya and its administration. I was bitter about Universiti Malaya.
There was a call for setting up the Primary Care Database by Universiti Malaya. The minute I saw the Universiti Malaya logo on the letterhead. I put down the letter and forgot about it till I was contacted to ask for input. I helped out by supplying data as it was part of my JD (job description). Furthermore, I was in charge of Telehealth operation for my university.
One fine day, I put up at one of the hotels in Kuala Lumpur with my family, just to see how things have changed in Kuala Lumpur. We visited Universiti Malaya (my second time). We first arrived at Dewan Tunku Chanselor, a big dirty grey building with a strange architecture. I had heard of the fire that destroyed it long ago. A colourful mural covered the damaged part. The hall is adjacent to the chancellory. All the words I saw were in Malay. I asked my husband why Universiti Malaya used Malay words when I knew it was a university that chose English as its medium of instruction, and for which another university (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, UKM) was build by then prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak. I looked at the nearby building up on the hill and it too had a Malay signboard. That didn't make me happy because I had expected to see everything in English to fit its British Malayan history. We also drove around a bit but we didn't see a tourist info centre or a place we could ask our way around on campus. We returned to the hotel, totally upset about our visit to Universiti Malaya.
This morning, I was looking for a Blogger logo and reading about Kerabat diRaja Kelantan. I chanced to click and read about Universiti Malaya in Wikipedia (Malay version). The Universiti Malaya logos are copyrighted even in Wikipedia. I'm just wondering why official logos are copyrighted. There is also blue-yellow logo for the King Edward VII College of Medicine. I haven't checked that against other documents published with the KE VII logo. I didn't have this KE VII logo when my books went to print.