Thursday, December 29, 2005


for almost a month i was slaving myself marking spm paper. i marked more than 400 scripts ranging fr the good ones to those who can either make u cry or laugh...depending on how stressed u r at the time.

the last time i marked spm paper was in the year 2000 but i stopped after that since i started my MA a year later. marking isnt easy. if it's easy, some of us wont get headaches. but i think the most essential element an english teacher should have is a really good knowledge of linguistics, to deal with all the grammatical mistakes.

yesterday the ordeal was over. thank god! i was supposed to study for my ptk exam, but i was in no mood to study...wat? study after marking hundreds of scripts? one of my spm teammates said "there's no need to read...just shooting2 je". so today i went to school n just looked at the other teachers in amusement. this is one exam i dont care for the outcome. how can u judge how good a govt officer is by merely looking at how many questions he scored correctly in the exam? this is not a high school or university...we're talking abt a person's integrity here. a teacher who passes the ptk might not be a good teacher or does his work seriously. n that also doesnt mean that a teacher who fails ptk is a bad teacher. it's funny isnt it, the person who suggested ptk doesnt have to sit for it...may be if all the JUSAs have to sit for the ptk, they will think otherwise.

well anyway the questions can be mindboggling, since i'm not used to answering questions in bahasa, n worse, wat can u make out fr. "hamparan elektronik"??? later i found out that "persembahan" refers to gads, y dont they just type the original name of the programme instead of translating every single's a good thing they dont include "joystick" in...just imagine how vulgar the translation would be.

Friday, December 09, 2005


i've been marking the 1119 papers eversince i got back fr the Oz trip, so to those of u, i'm sorry if i dont sound very sociable. *sigh* back to business as usual. hey, at least i get paid for it. (reminds me of Abg Mie's answer when i asked him y he wanted to be a pilot n he answered "i get paid to travel")

anyway, yesterday i had a phonecall from the Dean's Office. the officer informed me that the internal n external examiners have passed my dissertation. i'm officially an M.A. English Literature graduate!!!! woooooooooooooo!!!!!! i never thot this day would arrive. believe me, i got so disillusioned that i just wanted to get the dissertation over n done with. at that time the oppressive weight of the dissertation was an instant killjoy.
i think i've written this lots of time, but ppl never seem to understand. my mother used to say "u wont understand it until u experience it urself" (she was talking abt her pain). some ppl r critics who give destructive comments. they may not say much, but their few words can totally destroy whatever shreds of faith u have left. "kenapa lama sgt buat masters?" yes, i heard this all the time. most of the time i felt like shooting them. try reading 3 novels n then read homi bhabha's book. u'll go crazy. seriously.
in masters programme, there r a lot of structures that u can choose. i chose coursework n dissertation, since i thot that i didnt know much abt lit. n i wanted to take classes. those classes helped me a lot. i wouldnt know abt Freud or Heidegger or Lacan or Barthes or Stuart Hall or Homi Bhabha or Helen Cixous or Simone de Beauvoir if it werent for Lit. theory (the killer subject in MA Lit, where students tend to fail). i miss those other classes , the 19th century lit, the 20th century, (when we were kurunged in class by Miss Wong bcoz we didnt finish reading Virginia Woolf's novels), the Renaissance which i cant remember much, but shakespeare n john donne r the 2 outstanding ones. these classes werent conducted by the lecturers, bcoz this was seminar-styled class. which means the students had to take turns presenting papers in front of the class. n that the lecturers could bombard u with questions any time, n u're supposed to answer it without looking at the paper. to those of u who dont know lit, this is not the kind of lit where u give a simple answer when asked questions. this is the kind of lit where we go really deep. we analyse the characters - their psyche, we analyse the themes n the symbolism in depth, which means we always have heavy discussions on politics, religions, cultures n society. we write 7,000 words for our essays (final sem exam). n when we finish our coursework, we have to write 30,000 words for our dissertation. my dissertation is around 28,000 words. at the beginning of my dissertation, a lecturer scared me by saying that it's suicidal to analyse Rushdie's works n it's double suicidal to apply homi bhabha's theory. bhabha's theory is complex, n is presented in the most scholarly (read that to mean bombarstic) language possible that when u read it, u know it's supposed to be english, n yet u've to read it more than 10 times to understand it. several lecturers told me "any MA student cannot finish their dissertation within 2 semesters. it's not possible". they'r right. at that time i was pushed by the deadline of my sabbatical leave. but i also remember the Dean telling the postgrads that UM is obssessed with quality to maintain the high standard of education. which was y it took me 2 years to do my dissertation, the equivalent of 4 semesters ("4 semesters to do a dissertation is sensible" said Dr Sharmani, my supervisor). yes, UM is obssessed with quality. all lit. lecturers expect the best fr. us. there has to be discipline, determination, commitment to our studies, the ability to reason, n the most important aspect of all - perseverance. perseverance helped me through it all. there were many a times when i broke down n wanted to give up. any MA lit student can tell u that while the M. Ed tesl students r busy discussing or talking at the students square, the MA Lit students r sitting silently, reading the novels or notes for the class.
but if it's so difficult y did u choose lit? u may ask. well, i love literature. it's more interesting than tesl subjects or linguistics which is so dry. i dont regret taking lit. it's a battle filled with blood n sweat, but i came out victorious. the wisdom i acquired is priceless.
this is dedicated to my coursemates, kak non n kak fazi, nash - my scholarly discussion partner cum walking lit dictionary who helped me a lot in this dissertation; iris, jaya sree, elison, christine, emily, david, kasi n tik shaiza.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wanderlust:The Journey Home

i'm now back in Malaysia. arrived at KLIA at 8.30pm on 29th. earlier that day, Gina n I went to Victoria Market for the last shopping. we stopped at this section of the market where they sell all kinds of food that u cant help but go crazy. there'r shops selling homemade pastas, cheeses, meat products, sweets n chocolates, coffee beans, preserves..n my fav - the bakery. there's this 1 shop selling all the pastries n their danishes n almond croissant r simply divine!!!! i'm still thinking of the croissant.
after the stuff that we bought, we walked back to nana's apartment n got ready to return to Malaysia. i knew i was going to miss Melbourne, its 4-season-in-a-day weather, the trams, Victoria Market, the pastries... i thot it's a busy city like KL, but it's a city that celebrates life with the loved ones after work so that u dont get stressed.that's y offices n shops close at 6pm. it's hailed as the most liveable city in the world.
having said that, i'm not saying that i've completely forgotten Malaysia. on the contrary, it makes me appreciate Malaysia more. i miss the food. which is y when kak sham n her daughters lunched at Miss Read, i chose to eat malaysian dishes instead of the Western fare.
i'm back in Trg now, n am happy to cuddle Fluffy. Mother is happy with her wool shawl n leather purse. n she enjoyed eating the cherries n strawberries. my room smells of the scented soaps i brought back. the sheepskin is also in my room, cant put it outside since Fluffy might decide to pee there.
during the 7 hr flight, i had a conversation with a British elderly abt the benefits of travelling. i learnt abt other ppl's culture, places, food n it makes all the difference to me. that's y salman rushdie celebrates the idea of rootlessness. by travelling, u're putting urself in a liminal space, re-creating ur identity.