Monday, August 28, 2006

sensationalism in mass media

well well well...a tv station wore a smug smile because it bought the rights to televise the so-called "wedding of the decade". then, two other stations felt that they should get a piece of the cake too. so they decided to televise an interview of a certain rising star and his ex fiancee'. talk about sensationalism. talk about manipulation. and malaysians seem to fall for it. hmmph.

i flipped the channel to astro ria. ok, there was mawi and ina... 9pm. flip. ok, i saw siti walking towards the dais with datuk k. they sat down on a love seat. the tv commentators said that the theme was supposed to be a garden wedding while maintaining the malay tradition. didnt see any of it except for the newlyweds' ensemble and the bunga telur. the bridesmaids were slowly fanning the newlyweds, the fans resembled more like what Cleopatra used a long time ago.... siti was radiant. a bride's radiance. but datuk K's face was troubled. i wonder why. then they shot the front view. datuk k's face was hidden by strands of jasmine...or is that stepnotis? well, after that it got boring. flip. ah! the confessions of mawi and ina....the oprah style. but that got boring too... mawi didnt want to talk about his personal life. he doesnt look like the sort who tells the whole world. i dont blame him. i blame the media.

so what can we conclude here? that it's all hyped up and these people are just like us. in the end they go through the same mundane life as we do. that there are always manipulators.
flip. channel 17. ah! they're showing House. at least i had a good laugh listening to Dr House's cynical and witty remarks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

bills, bills, bills

it is also universally accepted that at the end of the month (depending on when one gets one's salary, whether on the 1st, 15th or the 25th), one will be suffer a dry spell... as in one's pocket will no longer jingle, there is no fat wad of notes in the purse/wallet, and instead of splurging at chilli's sinking one's teeth into succulent steak, one eats a RM1.50 nasi lemak.

my situation got worse this month since i had to travel to KL for 3 weekends in a row for my convo (1st trip to get my robe and attend the rehearsal.had to go bcoz there's a demo on how to wear the robe and the hood. 2nd trip was my convo.3rd trip was to return the robe and claim the certificate fr. the inst. of postgrad studies.) i wonder if UM ever considered that they have postgrad graduands who are working outside KL. what a dry spell... really musim kemarau. kering. felt like trudging the Sahara desert. trudging...drooping...drooping...salivating at the sight of pretty Nine West heels..nice gold bracelet at Habib *sigh*...drooping...falling...falling...

anyway, my spirits are revived when we the ever so loyal govt officers got our salary...hallelujah!! helloooo world!!! it was hell on the road that seemed like i wasnt the one affected by the dry spell... it's raining money, and everyone's out to play. the roads were congested. parking was hard to find. there were long queues at the ATMs.

but of course, the joy didnt last long. bills just kept pouring in at the letterbox. *sigh*. i went to buy a new pair of walking sandals just now... and i was shocked to learn that in the course of 2 years, the price of the sandals had gone up by RM15. geez. and of course, nowadays, in KL, a decent nasi lemak (with all the works) will cost around RM3.50 to RM5. when i was studying at PPP, i remember eating that amount of nasi lemak (half of a hardboiled egg, a fried chicken) that cost around RM1.50. those were the good ole days...

and back to the present time. still stuck in the vicious cycle. replenished and sunny day. then later as dried up as a raisin in the desert....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Humility:back to the basics

it is universally accepted that when one has achieved a certain station in life i.e. to achieve financial stability (or precariously hanging to it with credit card debts), one decides that he should be rewarded in terms of materials - a nice car ('nice' is very subjective - ranging from myvi to a BMW), a house (ranging from an apartment that looks like a small box to a bungalow that costs RM1million), an expensive handphone (usually with features that one is clueless about but buys it anyway because it looks 'cool').

it is not wrong to spend money, and it's not my point for writing this. however, when one is used to comfort and wealth, one grows soft,and actions that we did a few years ago would deem as beneath us now. i'm not criticising anybody, because i'm guilty of this too.

i'm about to go to UM to return my robe and to get my MA certificate. i'm not going by car, and at this time i sorely miss my wira. i remember those times during my sabbatical leave when i could just jump into my car and go anywhere i like in KL. ah, the comfort! but i take this as a challenge. because there's nothing better to educate yourself than to return to the basics. it teaches us humility, and along the ride with fellow commuters, one can learn a new thing or two.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Perception and Reality

our society simply loves to label people, and sometimes the labelling goes to the extreme until we've become too biased and hold on to our perceptions and beliefs steadfastly, like clutching tightly to a drawtring purse full of coins.

i was talking to a friend in KL recently, and she told me of a mother's opinion in the website ummikusayang - who claims that teachers are lazy and work half a day. my initial reaction to this is indignation, but now i feel sad for this mother, it seems that she's been living in the world of the past. in defence of the teachers, i would like to say this :

1. that without teachers, nobody is willing to babysit the students 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

2. also, a teacher's job is not simple, we dont only teach, we TRY educate the students. this means we try to inculcate moral values to them. but if they're still rude and hopeless, dont blame it on us, because we've tried. they have your genes.

3. again, we dont only teach, we are also in various committees for all the events held at school. this includes sports, extra classes, academic camps, annual camps at remote areas that even YOU dare not go. and all these events are for the benefit of YOUR children.

4. again, we dont work half a day. we have extra classes during weekdays. we have extra classes on saturdays. we have books to mark. and, for those teachers who only teach exam classes like me, we have to mark exam papers 4 times a year. i have 150 students. so, 150 scripts x 4 =600 scripts a year. we dont only mark exam papers during school hours, but also after our school hours, school hols....talking about school hols., some of us are sent for courses or seminars or workshops, as ordered by lembaga peperiksaan, or kementerian pelajaran, or jabatan pelajaran negeri, or pejabat pelajaran daerah.

5. i would like to ask that particular mother, what would she be like if she had no teachers? she can insult us, but we get the pahala for teaching the kids.

however, not only the teachers are attacked. i overheard a few friends talking, and they were condemning the doctors at public hospitals. my late brother was a medical specialist. a damn good one. one of the best in the country. he was offered to work in private hospitals, but he declined because his sole purpose was to educate young doctors in public hospitals. my nephews are doctors. and i've another niece who's still studying medicine. 3 of my seri puteri classmates are doctors, with one of them holding an MRCP, and another one is a dentist. in defence of the doctors at public hospitals i'll just say:

do not belittle the new doctors. they have to start somewhere. give them a chance. after all, you were like them when you started working. so dont be vicious. anyway, they know more than you do about your health. they have the licence. you dont.

the moral of the story? do not be too quick to judge people and be humble. it will get you somewhere.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Continuing the Pursuit of Knowledge

i'm a lover of books. given the choice between spending RM200 on books or cosmetics, i'd prefer to spend my money on the former. cosmetics doesnt last forever, besides it only boosts one's vanity, but books open a whole new world to us - in the way we perceive life and people, as well as expanding our vocabulary (which i always preach to my students, but they never listen)

yesterday i bought another 3 books from kinokuniya - one is about the islamic way of life, one is war and peace by tolstoy and another is a seminal work The Prince by the philosopher Macchiaveli (whom i've quoted in my thesis). because i believe that having a masters degree doesnt make me a person who knows more, in fact it makes me realise that there is more to be learnt.

right now i'm reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, who won the man booker prize in 2002 for this novel. martel employs the post-modern style in the structure of his novel, however, having said that, i find the earlier part of the novel too laborious to read because of the explanation about zoology and the animal behaviorism. martel should have captured the readers interest from the start, with some interesting lines. he switches point of view during the early part, but seems to abandon it when his character Pi is shipwrecked and alone in a lifeboat with a tiger,a hyena and a zebra. havent finished reading the book, but i cant say that it impresses me at all.

perhaps war and peace will fare better.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Graduation

the alarm went off at 5.30. i woke up groggily, and looked at the bed so longingly, but i knew i had to wake up. for it was my graduation day (yeee haaaa!!). had to wake up early to put on the robe and the hood (which reminds me of the olden days when scholars were monks in cassocks and hoods). the assistant registrar already advised us to come early as to avoid the jam near the main entrances of UM. so kak dah and i made our way from ampang to UM at 6.30am.

as we reached there, i saw fellow graduands all in their robes, with long tails at the side (which differentiates us from the 1st degree graduands) with colourful hoods which also differentiate us from the other faculties. incidentally, the arts faculty's hood colour is pink. glorious pink :o). we were supposed to assemble at bangunan peperiksaan, and all the while, all were either pinning their hoods or readjusting their mortar board caps before we were called to queue according to our numbers. i met some seri puteri juniors there too. one is fr my fac, and the other is from law. the procession then began, and the traffic in UM was standstill near the DTC as the guards let us cross the road. this is our day.

near to 9, the academic staff entered and i saw the english head of dept, dr agnes yeow. then raja nazrin arrived. we only saw him through the big screen. never mind, he was going to present us the scrolls.

waiting for your turn is a suffering. the arts fac was half down the list. i was very restless and started shaking my legs until my fellow english lit graduand told me that according to chinese superstition, shaking one's leg is sure to drive away the money. soon it was our turn. there was supposed to be 4 english literature graduands, but only 2 of us turned up. then my name was announced, and there i was, walking nervously (knowing that the camera was on me) towards raja nazrin, bowing to him, receiving the scroll, saying "terima kasih tuanku"... then...hmmm i cant remember whether i bowed to him again or not. well, never mind. i didnt stumble or trip on my shoes.

at noon, the ceremony was over. it's lunch time. my last meal was at 6.30 am and i was famished. so b4 taking pics, kak dah and i had lunch. after that it's action time, as we queued (and some jumped queue) to take pics at strategic spots (anywhere that has UNIVERSITI MALAYA in big letters and the logo). i was sweating profusely at this time, god only knows how thick the robe was. and in this hot weather. we went back at 2pm, still sweating after the long walk to the car.

today i'm proud of myself, because english literature IS difficult, and i've made it. MA English Literature, specialising in post-colonial literature, specialising in cultural hybridity and salman rushdie.

boundless gratitude to Dr Carol Leon and Dr Sharmani Gabriel, my supervisors cum Post-Colonial Literature lecturers; Prof Lim Chee Seng who taught me Rennaissance Literature and can quote Shakespeare at anytime and anywhere, Assoc Prof Dr Su Soon Peng who taught me the fundamentals of Literary Theory and Stylistics, Dr Sharifah Aishah Osman and Miss Alice Pillay who taught 19th Century Literature, Miss Wong Ming Yook who taught 20th Century Literature, and to Nasirin Abdillah, the genius in our class who helped me with the almost impossible to write dissertation.

next target: to obtain PhD and wear that nice beret with gold or silver tassle that PhD holders wear during convo and to shake hands with the handsome sultan azlan shah. though it will probably fry my brain to do PhD in Literature.

a million little pieces : a book review

this book, as usual, is featured in oprah show. oprah's staff all say that the book is a page-turner. so i decided to read the book.

what is different is that this is a memoir of james frey, when he was a heavy-duty alchoholic and drug addict. the story starts when he passes out and cant remember where he is, and then his parents send him to a rehab centre.

the story is about how he comes to term with his life. self-hatred consumes him, he also has the habit of pushing people away from his life.his doctor tells him that his addiction damages his liver, kidney and god knows where else, and says that another drink or dose of drug and he'll die. he is thinking of doing just that, but he is stopped by a rehab mate, who happens to be a mobster. this is the start of his recovery, his gradual faith in himself, his conviction that he'll stay sober, and his newfound love for family and friends.

this is a good read because it is a real story, by someone who has no pretensions and who has risen from being the misfit of the society to a real person.

i like the style of his writing. it's modern, conforming to the contemporary use of stylistics. he uses words with precision. short words that give impact,and also repetitions that sound poetic.

thumbs up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pre-Graduation Preparation

i cant believe it. i am finally going to walk on the stage and receive the scroll fr raja nazrin this wednesday. i went down to KL to take my graduation gown, the hood (guess the colour of the fac of arts' sash) and the mortar board. the gown looks a cross between a monk's cowl and a shapeless maternity dress. the next day, which was on saturday, we had the rehearsal at 11am for the postgrads. the undergrads had theirs before us. yup, you can definitely identify the postgrads - they look more dignified and matured. the assistant registrar briefed us on how the event would take place, and where we're supposed to assemble. then they gave a demonstration on how to wear the gown. the PhD graduates' gowns look nicer, it has more colour and they get to wear the beret. well, ours are similar like degree holders, with a slight difference in the sleeves. they told us to be careful when bowing to the chancellor/pro-chancellor and where we place our feet. it seems that last year, some tripped over their heels, some forgot where they're supposed to go, and there was a tall gentlemen who dropped his mortar board. they even wrote this on the lcd screen "the success of the convocation depends on you". pretty scary. so i cancelled my plan to wear my 2 inch heels and headed to midv and bought low-heeled pumps.