One of the benefits of being in Oxford is the chance to attend lectures by people who are leaders in their respective fields. I recently went to a talk given by Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. One part of his speech really resonated with me (emphasis mine):

Many people have been asking, what does it take to be a good and sustainable leader? To my mind, beyond working hard and working smart, there are three prerequisites to becoming a good and sustainable leader; Unquestionable Integrity; Competence; and Humility.

Integrity is about “doing the right thing even when no one is watching”. Competence is about having the necessary knowledge and skills to do the job well. Whilst humility is about treating people with mutual respect, about staying grounded to our roots and about being cognisant that we all serve a greater purpose in life rather than for our self-interest. Humility is also about knowing that you don’t know everything and that you need teamwork in order to succeed.

A competent, humble leader with unquestionable integrity and who works very hard will enjoy a reputation that will precede him.

Thoughts On Social Media

Social media usage is a complete disaster, mmmkayyy?

Next question!

I’m joking, obviously. It’s like the title of Ben Goldacre’s superb book, ‘I Think You’ll Find It’s A Bit More Complicated Than That’. In fact, if you’re really interested in the non-glamorous side of social media, I’d definitely recommend a couple of books about the topic:

  1. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
  2. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

I am somewhat undecided when it comes to social media use. If anything, I’d probably lean towards saying the net effect is to cause more harm than good. Although information is a good thing, too much information, without any kind of context can lead to conflict. I often tease my wife whenever she shares with me stuff she finds online. “OMG, apa kata netizen nanti???” (OMG, what would the netizens say about this?).

Here’s what one netizen (i.e. me) thinks about some of the social networks available these days:


Hate it and love it. I hopped onto the Facebook bandwagon fairly early on, back when you had to have a university email address in order to become a member. I have a lot of content, and more importantly, friends on Facebook that I would lose if I deleted my account. But damn do I feel like deleting my account every time I come across another ignorant comment, rude remark, or false claim there. To be clear, I don’t expect it to be any different on other social networks, but most (if not all) of my social media use is restricted to Facebook these days, so that’s where I encounter this sort of behaviour most often. And don’t get me started on their utter lack of respect for your privacy!


Used it for a while, long enough to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t getting anything out of it. Decided to switch to posting photos on my own blog, so instead of Instagram, I now have Imran-stagram! Deleted my account, and now some random guy on a motorcycle owns the account. If you were following me previously and are now wondering why I’m sitting astride a yellow motorcycle, well, that’s the reason why…


I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for Twitter as I’m pretty sure it helped me get a place to do a DPhil at Oxford. I know a lot of scientists use it very effectively. Sadly, I’m not one of them. I’ve tried various apps to make it a more useful tool, but ended up being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tweets and giving up on it.


Maybe if I worked in the corporate world? But as for now, I have zero interest in LinkedIn.

To be clear, I’m not a hermit. I enjoy chatting with people. However, I must admit I’d prefer to be in a conversation with two or three people at most. I feel like that’s how all the interesting, deep, and useful conversations begin. YMMV, obviously. Thanks for reading!

The Music Of Civilization VI

I’ve always thought that if I hadn’t been a neurologist, I would’ve chosen to become a historian instead. 

Therefore it’s hardly surprising that my favourite game on the planet is Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. It even has Oxford University as one of the wonders, although I reckon none of us here can be compared to Mr. Toad:

“The clever men at Oxford…know all that there is to be knowed. But they none of them know one half as much…As intelligent Mr. Toad!”

Kenneth Grahame

Sure, I had enjoyed many other games as well. I spent hours playing WWE Smackdown during SPM week back in 2001. During my undergraduate days, I probably spent more time leveling up my Undead Warlock in World of Warcraft than writing essays on anatomy or physiology. But the Civilization series is different. It doesn’t force you to keep playing when you don’t really have time. Unless you’re in a multiplayer game (which I’ve never tried), the game is perfectly happy for you to spend as long as you like on a single turn. None of that frenzied shooting and jumping around commonly found on games like Fortnite or PUBG or whatever the hell it is kids play these days. Get off my lawn!

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes, the reason I mentioned Civilization VI is because I am fascinated by how much work goes into crafting a masterpiece like this. In particular, the music in Civilization VI is top notch. I still get this tingling sensation when the main menu appears and the music starts. For those of you curious about what it sounds like, here’s a YouTube video of the composer Christopher Tin conducting the world premiere of “Sogno di Volare”, the theme song for Civilization VI: