i have less than a week before i fly off to munich for oktoberfest with some friends, so i’m trying to wrap up my assignments at work as quickly as possible so i can end my internship early. having procrastinated as usual, i spent the last 24 hours scrounging through the internet like a sleepless bloodhound to complete my research on the EU-Malaysia joint publication, which was due 2 weeks ago. given that ASLI didn’t give me any direction whatsoever on the topics, i’m relatively satisfied with my work on the education, human rights and biofuels papers, but am having a bitch of a time with the security one.

the EU may have tons of publications on european security, harping on terrorism and proliferation of WMD and whatnot, but malaysia certainly does not. a quick look at what google search gives me for issues on malaysian security reveals that we’re still stuck in relatively prehistoric times. if it’s not an article condemning the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) of 1960, it’s a mournful recollection of the Malayan Emergency of the 1940’s. the remaining national security “issues”  are stuff like crime and cybersecurity. between the communist panics of the 1940’s  and cybersecurity, i’m not sure which comes closer to what most people mean when they say they want to know more about a country’s security policy. it is no help at all that ASLI didn’t specify a research angle and nobody in my office really dares to question Cruella de Vil in the main office on what she’s looking for. then again, we all suspect she doesn’t know what she’s looking for either.

after staring at my pitiful word document on EU-Malaysia security policy, i resorted to something less challenging (read: brainless): writing up a report for a conference. in october, i rapporteur-ed ASLI’s asia healthcare summit, which brought professionals in the healthcare industry and tons of businessmen together. the conference was on assessing the response to the h1n1 pandemic and business strategies in the healthcare sector. discounting a lot of cheesy businessmen rhetoric like “who’s who in the zoo?” (read: who are the key players in this industry?), most of it was pretty interesting. next time you want to start a medical group and “expand beyond your shores”, buy me dinner at Nando’s and i will happily share with you the 4 critical steps of tackling “strategy before opportunity”, which should guarantee you the 3 “key success factors” in today’s robust healthcare industry.

don’t get me wrong. i had a delightful time rewriting that part of my report. sadly, i can’t continue before ranting some more about a certain presentation here. i say “some more”  because i think i already wore my ex-fellow intern’s ears off the day we sat through this trash. am so tempted to describe the person who delivered this ridiculous lecture and make this an ad hominem attack, but i don’t suppose it is fair to draw a correlation between her made-up, plump, showy figure (so “datin”, as mum might say) and the vitriol which was her presentation. oops, there i’ve done it anyway.

if you could award anyone a prize for squeezing in the most number of buzzwords and euphemisms into a single presentation, she’d probably win it. the woman’s presentation was about “the spa and wellness part of the value chain”. “modern lifestyle is exhausting,” she coo-ed, creating “a very gloomy picture of today”. as we know, healthcare is about management and cure for diseases, but prevention of diseases are equally important. for this, we must “inculcate wellness” (i must admit i never knew such a thing existed and did not understand any better what it was by the end of her presentation). wellness, as it turns out, is a concept that bypasses conventional medicine. “holistic wellness is about “healing and prevention”, involving rehab stress management, diet, detox, exercise and alternative therapy.

“wellness is the wave of the new millenium,” flashed her powerpoint slide. destination spas and wellness retreats can help people learn how to take better care of themselves and are conducive to reduce stress. to show you how it really is “the wave”, the global spa “economy” stood at USD 374 billion in 2007. how can we explain this phenomena? baby boomers seek longevity and good health. combined with their “high disposable income”, this creates “explosive and exhaustive consumption”. for some reason, my notes tell me that her conclusion was “high consumption –> revived sense of morality”. i can’t recall if this was me making a snidey comment or something she actually said. finally, during the Q&A, somebody asked how else could this industry be made accessible to less able consumers. apart from what i’m sure was a very relevant answer which i just happened to miss, she replied that therapists were always well trained by specialists.

i’d never realised exhausting modern lifestyles were the main picture of today’s gloominess. i always thought it might be stuff like rising crime rates, unemployment, drone wars, cruelty to animals, absolute poverty and hyper-consumerism. humm, perhaps it is those pesky 9 to 5 working hours which truly portray the world’s aggregate misery instead.

how alluring are those bright bold words “wellness is the wave of the new millenium”? after all, we are in the new millenium, we only got here 10 years ago. and the cute alliteration “wellness” creates with “wave” makes it so soothing to the ear. it definitely helps that it’s the only thing appearing on that one powerpoint slide! it’s grabbing my attention so wildly i’m beginning to feel convinced.

but if i hadn’t been convinced already, just look at those figures! USD 374 billion is twice my country’s GDP. that many consumers cannot be wrong. the fact that most patrons of destination spas and wellness retreats are in the middle to high income bracket proves it too. that many rich customers cannot be wrong. especially those with “explosive and exhaustive” consumption patterns (again, love the alliteration). i should do what they do – after all, it never hurts to emulate those with high disposable incomes. i’m sure wellness therapists know as much as healthcare professionals who treat cancer and HIV patients. they seem to receive the same amount of training and make just as much money. yes, i think she’s made a believer out of me. to a spa i will go.

you could say that i’m pissing all over this woman’s presentation on very ignorant grounds. i think that’s fair. i’m a skeptic of the wellness and fitness industry. i don’t go to spas. i don’t have a high disposable income. i don’t like being advertised to and i never knew wellness was a real word until i attended this conference. but at the very least, i think she could have gotten a proofreader to scan her presentation with a first-class bullshit meter.

“the wave of the new millenium”. right…

1 comment
  1. Ankita Sethia said:

    update soon! haha =)

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