Sunday, December 30, 2007

back to school

today we had our supposed-to-be-the-first-meeting-of-the-year-although-it's-still-2007 meeting. it was a boisterous affair, what with 134 teachers around.

with the new admin, the meeting was different. our principal just loves talking, and talking and talking. soon, i was yawning like there was no tomorrow. the other teachers behaved like the students they have in class - making noise.

after what seemed like an eternity, the meeting finally ended, with the distribution of the timetable. i checked mine. okay, english class, english class, english class.... PJ....what????? PJ class???? moi???? they must be crazy. i went to complain to Ramzu, who then told me to complain to Sifu Shafiai, the master timetable maker. and i was like, "how could you give me PJ???" but it looks like the timetable is here to stay, until they decide to change it again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

neighbourliness

one of the topics that students have to learn in English (in the old syllabus, that is) is about neighbourliness. it's a shame that such moral value has to be taught in classroom, because this should be taught by the society, to be practised in the society.

i have been living at my housing area for more than 30 years, so my neighbours have known me since i was a small, cute, japanese looking girl (ahem!). there's Pak Abu, the mechanic, and to whom my family are indebted to, for all the things that he had done. i grew up with his daughter and know all of his children. then there's Makcik Munah and Along, who used to entertain me with cookies and tea when i paid social visits when i was just 5-6 years old. Along used to smoke cigarrette and would cook on turpentine gas burner. Makcik Munah is a merry lady whose laughter would brighten the house (she still serves me with treats when i visit her!) and now spends her time taking care of her grandson, and cooking for her only daughter, Dr Yah, who has now become my friend, my briskwalking companion, my student in baking class (wah i've become a sifu) who gave me a lot of tips when i wanted to go to London and Paris. Along and Pak Abu had passed away, and now Pak Abu's son, Din, takes over the father's place. i'm very touched, because, despite facing hardship, Din and his wife have helped me in so many ways. since my mother was diagnosed with cancer and that i've to stay alone, my neighbours all gave me their contact numbers, and told me to call them anytime there's an emergency, but Din and his wife's kindness extended more than that...when i was small i often wondered why my mother has a soft spot for certain people, but now i know why. because we always have a soft spot for those who are willing to help us when we're in need, without asking anything in return.

this is what you call neighbourliness, and may Allah bless them always.

Monday, December 24, 2007

headaches, headaches and more headaches.

after god knows how many days, after frantic calls and visits to the TM Point, my fixed phone line has been restored half an hour ago. only now i know how dependent i am on my streamyx. to amuse myself when i'm bored marking the papers, i sit in front of the idiot box, watching nigella cook delicious dishes, noting how many adjectives she uses to tempt us to try the recipes out.

now that i've come to the end of my marking, i'm more relaxed, although i did have a headache 2 days ago when i doubled the usual daily script quota just to be able to finish by today. god, i do hope the lembaga peperiksaan will pay us ASAP. marking the papers isnt like smelling roses and listening to the birds chirping.

i do have the phobia of staying alone now, after my privacy was invaded by the blardy drug addicts. i sleep with lights on, and with my mother's walking cane beside me. because of the phobia i harrassed the tukang kayu to install the new door ASAP, but because terengganu folks are slow-paced people who cant understand the mad dash syndrome, the door was installed 4 days after i went to the shop. he installed extra latches, as i had instructed him to, and with a shrug he commented "if the burglar wants to break in, he'll break in, even with the latches". yeah right. so much for the optimism and security.

even the the alarm system people are making hard for me. i wanted their techie to come over to assess, which they said "against their standard procedure". they wanted me to fax over the floor plan, then asked for the extended version floor plan, to which, irritably, i answered "look, only my late father knew about the extended floor plan and because my house has been burgled, i dont know where it is. that's the reason why i told you to send your people here". well at least they sent the quotation, so hopefully i can sleep better after this.

and just now my neighbour told me that there was a snatch theft in town. dear god, is anything safe now? is everyone dangerous? have we become that corrupted? i guess KTrg is finally prepared to become a waterfront city then, what with crimes that can match KL.

notice that i've become cranky and disillusioned. that happens when your life seems more like a string of unfortunate events.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Had A Bad Day

here i quote Had A Bad Day by Daniel Powter

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I dont need no carrying on
Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around...

i didnt have a bad day. i had a bad week. talked about being unlucky. at the rate i'm going, i'm surprised i'm still sane.

there's cerekarama or drama minggu ini (those who grew up in the 70s n early 80s will remember this) at the house, and at the same time, i was supposed to mark the 1119 papers (supposedly in peace). and then, one day, at the LDP, my car was hit by a kenari, because some stupid car in front slowed down to almost a halt (at the highway???) and i had to do an emergency brake. the next day, i was called by my neighbour, who informed me my house was burgled by some stupid blardy drug addicts (sorry, i'm really mad right now). and today, when i was on my way back (alone) to KT, the toll girl told me to turn back as the highway is closed. what???i parked my car after the toll, where most bound to the eastcoast also stopped. exchanging info was crucial at this time. my team leader was telling me go back by hook or by crook *sigh*. after a phonecall to my sis, i decided to just go on ahead, and there was a detour that bypasses Lanchang (the affected area) . i arrived after more than 7 hours driving. i decided to have dinner outside since i didnt want to face the house yet.

well, here i am, in my messy room, thanx to the stupid drug addict.my mother lost her opal bracelet, i lost my society's money and my gold chain and my gold heartshaped locket... but what amuses me is that they took my cheap sabahan rice pearls. dont know how much they got for it.

no use crying over spilt milk i supposed.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Reality Bites

has anyone seen that movie? the one starring Wynona Ryder and Ethan Hawke? i'm not about to talk about the movie, but about its title.

Today, we brought my mother (for the 1st time) to the oncology clinic. normally, when you go to any clinic, you will stare at sick people because of their abnormality. and usually, the patient will feel so humiliated when eyes are on him, because he's different from the rest.

but at the oncology clinic, nothing is uncommon or abnormal here. i saw a cancer who tied a bandanna around her head, which means she had chemotheraphy before, there's one woman who's losing hair, and another threw up noisily at the hallway just before she started her chemo session. my mother felt pain in her body, so we requested a bed for her to lie down on while waiting for her turn.

this phenomenon is not normal in any other clinic, but it is normal at the oncology clinic. i was thankful that the staff there were very understanding (as they should be) as cancer is a disease that not only affects the patient physically, but also mentally and spiritually. the same applies to their caregivers and family members. a visit to the clinic is a humbling experience, as it teaches us that cancer does not know boundaries, races or social classes. it is about human compassion, at its core.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Break from Sittin' Down

it's that time of the year again, when i'm almost glued to the chair for more than 12 hours a day. it's paper marking time. while the prospect of getting handsomely paid appeal to every examiner, (esp. the 1119 teams, but last year's payment was only cleared in july) the torture is just beginning. it doesnt matter if you get good scripts, it pains when you get the bad ones. and worse, very long scripts at that. i really pity my eyes. plus my brain, because to those who're not in the know, we've to find mistakes and mentally rectify them. worse, to restructure the sentences. that's why grammar competency is a must for an English teacher. sadly though, there are some who're not, and sometimes i shudder at all the misinformation.

speaking of English, one of my pilot brothers told me that the pilots have to sit for an English exam, and soon it'll be made mandatory for every MAS pilot. what he's so frustrated about is that they're tested on general knowledge, and not on their skills. how would anyone know what one calls a baby kangaroo?(except for Aussies, i guess) i did tell him that the exam isnt valid, as it caters for native speakers, and MAS should have their own panel of question building, but he shook his head in dismay.

so much trouble over one language *sigh*

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cancer:A Life-changing Experience

when my mother was diagnosed with rectal cancer, my family and i was devastated. in one of my entries, i ve written that we dont bother about all of this until your loved ones or you yourself suffer from it.

most people think that perhaps by not thinking about cancer, it will not haunt them. believe me, at the rate all the Malaysians are eating, it is not impossible for it to silently creep and then launch an attack. we are not invincible creatures after all, we're just mortals.

my sister and i have read a very informative book, which is The Complete Cancer Cleanse: A Program to Detoxify and Renew Body, Mind and Spirit by Cherie and John Calborn and Michael Mahaffey. it is a must read for everybody, in fact.

this book informs us of all the food that we should avoid, which in fact, include all our favourites, which are all fried foods, peanuts and peanut products (because it gives out a substance which can cause cancer) and everything sugary (because, as the writers often repeat in the book, sugar feeds cancer), animal protein especially beef and also hormone-injected chickens and all canned, bottled and packed foods which have preservative. being a nation of great eaters, i know this doesnt suit well with our culture of eating. well, that depends on whether you want to be healthy, or to enjoy life now and have a shorter life span later and suffer in the process.

i've already talked about foods that we should avoid. here's the list of foods that are good for preventing cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprout.

Tomato and tomato products - raw tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato sauce. a substance in tomato, which is known for fighting cancer, is only stable when the tomato is cooked, while our body finds it hard to digest this substance when it is raw. it is advisable to eat cooked tomatoes and their products, although this doesnt mean that raw tomatoes should be avoided.

Beans, legumes and nuts- soya bean is the best of all the beans to fight cancer because it has lycophene. however, having said that, please remember that processed food isnt good because it has preservatives. traditionally prepared tempe is good, and the writers recommend homemade organic soyabean milk rather than storebought ones. in fact, last night i bought organic soyabeans and they're all sitting on the counter, soaked, waiting to be blended. but since in malaysia homemade soyabean milk is sold everywhere, this isnt a problem, only that it is watery. legumes include lentils (dhalls), chickpeas and peas, while nuts (except for peanuts) and seeds such as sunflower seeds are good for us.

unpolished grains - anything white isnt good for us, as it means it's been bleached. remember bleach is like chlorox, which means all the nutrients are washed off. therefore, white rice, white sugar, white flour are not good for us. the best alternative is to eat organic brown rice (which, despite my trepidation, tastes okay) and other grains which include quinoa, millet, organic oats, wild rice and barley. i use unbleached white flour for baking.

note: sugar consumption - for those who're watching weight, guzzling those sugar free fizz drinks is not the answer. aspartame, which is the sweetener, isnt good. i've stopped taking white sugar as well, and now taking organic molasses sugar, which is darker than brown sugar. having said that, it doesnt mean you can eat as much sugar as you want as sugar feeds cancer.

good healthy oils - good oils include flaxseed oil, olive oil and virgin coconut oil (VCO). among all these three, the most stable for cooking is virgin coconut oil. avoid margarine and palm oil (sorry, i know that this is the cheapest on the aisle, and the most available) and no, sunflower oil isnt going to make you invincible either. a year ago, my seri puteri exclassmates were discussing VCO in our yahoogroup email, but as usual, since i didnt see the use of taking it, i read, but never did anything about it. a few months ago, my sister, who is working in Kementerian Pertanian, extolled the benefits of taking VCO as her department produces VCO, (cheaper than the ones sold in health food shops) telling me how her cholesterol level had gone down after she took VCO. she gave my mother a bottle, which my mother refused to take. now, i'm planning to cook with it.

vegetable juice - fresh vegetable juices are highly recommended especially for cancer patients. this include tomato juice, celery juice, wheatgrass. however, i take more fresh fruit juices. when making the juice, use juice extractor and do not ever ever add sugar. last year, on the flight returning from my graduation, i met a friendly Chinese lady who told me that she is 60 years old. she didnt look 60 then, she looked younger. then she took out her pic when she was 40 years old. the woman in the pic had sagged and sallow skin! she had high blood pressure then. so she decided to take fruit juices only, and spent RM800 on fruits alone monthly. she hardly took rice and ate steamed fish.

it is highly recommended that we eat organic foods as this means no chemicals are used in planting them. yes, they are more expensive, but think of the benefits.

the book also tells us that our lifestyles and the products can cause cancer as well. too much stress which include anger, sadness, can contribute to cancer. our water has too much chlorine which can also cause cancer. our soaps, shampoos and facial cleansers have sodium or ammonium laureth sulphate (SLS) which also can cause cancer. even Johnson & Johnson has SLS. i know for sure that shokubutsu does not have SLS, and unfortunately, all shampoos have SLS including Himalaya products. finally, after a visit to the organic shop, i found an SLS free shampoo, I-green, which costs RM25.80 for 300ml (it has natural ingredients). those using feminine wash should also be on alert. i used Summer's Eve before this, and it has SLS as well. the ones that do not have SLS include Binari and Lactacyd. i'm now trying to find SLS-free skincare.

as you can see, i'm on the road of changing of my lifestyle by turning organic and shunning away certain products. as i was telling my friend what i read, she said "you'll feel more depressed after reading it". yes, we can feel depressed, even the writers of the book has mentioned it. but this is after all, OUR LIVES, and we still have time to change. would you prefer to live a healthy life and looking youthful, or to be in a hospital bed with wires and tubes, or even worse, going for chemo sessions??

i hope that after reading this, you will not forget it because you have a hectic life. i hope that after reading this, you will take time to reflect on your life, and how you want it to end. like turning evil, it is so easy to just be complacent and ignorant. to be able to change your lifestyle means you're doing something for yourself, because you love yourself.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

a gamut of emotions

i was told a few nights ago that my mother is now in stage 3. i was depressed, and i quickly called 2 of my friends who are a neurologist and a hepatologist to ask for their opinion. i called one of my brothers last night, and he gave me a very sound advice "no use crying over it. she still has it". we agreed not to tell her that she s in stage 3, as it d demoralise her. yes, in my tiny heart i still believed in fairy tales that my mother would get well again and that she'd be her usual self. but that's just a wishful belief.

i went to work feeling down, and my friends were sympathetic. some suggested alternative med., some just gave words of encouragement, which are soothing, and exactly what i needed. there's one teacher whose wife has colon cancer, and also in stage 3. he told me it's all about our food intake. he now buys organic veg and eats unpolished rice. that reminds me of a friend who is a breast cancer survivor. she ate nothing but veg and fruits when we were at a course.

i went to see my mother today. she was much altered than the last time i saw her which was last weekend. her complexion is pinker, but it's her attitude. she sat there in her wheelchair and i was struck by the resemblance between her and my eldest sister who is suffering from alzheimer, who had that lost look. my mother is a fighter, a woman who knows her own mind, and very opinionated. i didnt understand why she lost her gutsy spirits. later i found out that my mother was upset that she's going to be discharged. she's worried that she's going to be a burden
to us. it's very frustrating to see that she's quiet, and doesnt reprimand anybody.

this is life, it's a bed of roses, but with thorns.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

first day raya family communion

it is universally known that children always flock to where their parents are during festivities. we flocked my mother's ward room yesterday. she had been transferred to a smaller room due to the lack of staff, so that means not much room for us to hang around.

my mother, who was so used to being the queen of the house, had to wait for us to come. it's sad to see her thus, a strong woman who raised 8 children, to be so frail, with albumin fed to her through the tube. she is quiet, which is unlike her, but at least our presence helped to ease her pain.

in terengganu, we used to take half an hour to take family pictures, but this year, we brought the family picture taking to a new level when we took pictures beside my mother in the ward.

the first house to be attacked was my sister's house in ampang, which is near to the hospital. so it was a full house, full of merry making and laughter. then, we quickly tidied up things and left for my other siblings houses. we are now suffering from too-much-food syndrome: lontong at my sister's house, nasi tomato at my bro's house, and my other sister served nasi dagang (which i didnt take because i was too full). at my eldest sister's house, my bro in law served his famous extra fiery hot hot rendang (which i took only a little dot since i didnt want to invite gastric pain). today, my bro in shah alam will hold his open house, with nasi minyak and spaghetti bolognaise.

more food consumption.

Friday, October 12, 2007

balik bandar (as opposed to balik kampung) for raya

for the past 3 days, sympathetic friends took me out to buka puasa at secret recipe. it was fun to go out with friends, when you're all alone in the house, wondering what's going to happen to your mother, and wondering why KL is 400km away.

yesterday, unlike other people who balik kampung, i went against the conformity (with remorse, i might add) and came here to KL. the flight wasnt even full. my only consolation was anuar and elina's Suasana Hari Raya on my Sony Walkman hp.

at the hospital, my mother is still weak, she only talks a little, which is unlike her. but the surgeon wants her to sit on the chair so that she will feel alive once more. her protein level is still low, so the solution now is to increase her protein intake.

after the visit, i helped my sister to cook lontong for raya. this is a most excellent menu as i simply love, love, love lontong! especially with kuah kacang. my sister made a lot of it, since we're expecting the family members to gather here first after paying homage to my mother at the hospital.

it's not our typical happy hari raya with laughter, but what is important is we're all here.

selamat hari raya

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The hero that breaks many hearts


when the government first announced the 2 malaysian astronauts, my heart just melted when i saw sheikh muszaphar. and to my amusement, i'm not the only one!!! my colleague also has a crush on him, and now we refer to him as "our bf". one married friend was swooning over him on the phone. i had to remind her that she's married more than 10 times. and also reminded myself that he's taken *sigh*. as i was watching the interview on channel 588, i was back to being a 17 year old girl again, gushing as i saw him on the screen, speaking in that pleasant voice and laughing that throaty laugh, and i sighed "god he's so handsome, it's not fair".

he is, after all, the living embodiment of that handsome knight in shining armour, only that instead of an armour, he's clad in his spacesuit and and that big space helmet. it didnt help that he's an orthopaedic surgeon, a restaurateur, a model?!! and now he's a muslim observing all the ibadah. god, how can he handle being perfect?

all i know is, he's a heartbreaker, and his fiancee is the luckiest woman. yahoo news even recognised his good looks when they wrote "a bachelor who has become a national hearttrob"

*sigh* enough said.

Friday, September 28, 2007

when misfortune happens

few people would think of mishaps or misfortunes, unless these things happen to them. 2 months ago, my mother was admitted to GH after having bleeding stools. she was first admitted to the third class surgical ward. the treatment by the nurses there were awful, and to make it worse, the doctors misdiagnosed my mother - based on what i suspect as inaccurate reports from biopsy and ct scan. according to them, my mother has a benign tumour which is 15 cm away from her rectum. my mother was so happy she cried.

but in the aftermath of the results, she began to experience constant trips to the toilet, complaining about a pain near her rectum. i brought her to see a surgeon in kt,s private hospital,who told us the growth is 4-5 cm away from the rectum and to go for a second biopsy and scan because he suspected that it isnt benign.

a few days after that, my mother couldnt stand the pain anymore and told me she wanted to go to kl. i quickly informed my siblings, and we made arrangements to transport her by ambulance to ampang puteri. the surgeon informed us that the growth is 4cm away and that my mother has rectal cancer which hasnt spread to other parts yet. the options are either to undergo radiotherapy or surgical removal. tomorrow, the whole family will decide what course we should take.

we never think about all these things unless it happens to us, or to people we love. all i want is for my mother to be well again, and not to be lying there on the white bed.

please pray for my mother.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

what? a day care centre?

today, i entered the staffroom and was greeted with some outburst from the teachers. i asked my colleague, and she told me our PM has suggested that the school hours be extended until 4 pm!!! what????

and so there was an angry outburst, and i guess not only in my staffroom, but also in all staffrooms all over malaysia. okay, so we understand that this is the direct result of nurin's kidnapping and murder. but to extend school hours for more that 8 hours??? that's absurd. why should the teachers be saddled with extra work of being babysitters to the students? students have less attention span, and obviously the teachers too. the rest of the govt officers might say that they work for 8 hours. but they dont deal with teenagers. they dont deal with peer pressure or truancy. we deal at an average of 150 students per week. that can mean around 90 students a day. and we teach the students, which means using our brain - a lot of it. then comes the checking of the exercises - we still use a great deal of thinking. as for me, i have to correct the grammar of my students' essays, and this isnt 10 words of composition, we re talking about an average of 200 words essay for lower secondary and 350 words essay for upper secondary.

some schools have started extending the school hours until 3.30 (in what was supposed to be "pioneer project" but it was just an ambition of one PPD officer), but none lasted. if we, as university students, complain when we have classes from 8-4pm, can you imagine the children and the teenagers? if we have to extend until 3.30, i'm pretty sure we will still have school activities on friday and saturday (which is a common scenario here). and what about 2-session schools who have more than 2000 students? and where do we put our families then? we are not only teachers, but we are also wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.

the school is a place for seeking knowledge, and not a day care centre. what the authorities should do is to go to the root cause, and not burden us with this. nurin was kidnapped at night. does this mean the school should be extended until night time?

think. we're only humans. we need rest too.

what we need, after a 6-hour schooling, is some rest, away from the essays or math sums. we need time to regenerate, just like our students, who also need time on their own to develop into individuals.

what happened to this world?

the news of the killing of nurin shook the whole nation. many were appalled with what had happened to a little child of 8, and a lot more wish they could sula the killer. me included. what kind of a man who would do such a perverted thing to a helpless little child? probably this isnt a man, but a beast. but then even a beast wouldnt insert a cucumber or an aubergine into the private parts of a girl and then kill her. this is a madman who shouldnt be alive.

everytime we hear about tragic and brutal deaths by some amoral men, i feel there's no hope in this world. no hope for a child to live in happiness and later to become a good person. no hope for wishing for a good life, amongst good people in a good place.

but then, having said that, it doesnt mean that the evil has totally taken over this world. i was watching "Singgah Sahur" the other day, and i was touched, because there are good samaritans out there, (TV3) who take the time to visit the unfortunate families and show us that despite the calamities and misfortunes, life must go on, although with tears. and they shower some cheer to these families by giving them some hampers and money. i saw one father who lost his son in the bus crash, and i just cried when he hugged the tv3 representative. and i also like the idea of involving the audience to do some charity during this ramadhan by donating some money to buy quran, which is for a good cause.

there is still hope, let's nurture it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sepet: a review

i never had the chance to watch the film in full, even until today. but i did watch the beginning, part of the middle and the ending. i was crying and crying. okay so i'm a romantic junkie, but i could feel the pain when jason died (of course, who wouldnt?)

i see a lot of postcolonial issues being addressed here, which is a plus for yasmin ahmad. i was impressed that she incorporated Frantz Fanon's ideas on psychological impact of the colonialism in the psyche of the colonised in "Black Skin White Mask" in Orked's dialogue. impressive. not many know the theories of colonialism and postcolonialism.

the plot of the romance between Orked and Jason, a Malay and a Chinese, reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, only that Orked lives in the end. what yasmin ahmad tried to do is to re-advocate cultural hybridity which has been our national narrative. she does this by creating 2 characters who are tolerant and open for "newness" (salman rushdie's word, quoted in his banned book).

Orked is a blend of sweet innocence (wearing baju kurung with sneakers? some of my students have started wearing cotton baju kurung nowadays, without the sneakers) and a cultured, civilised intellectual. despite his coloured hair, jason is a sensitive romantic who writes poetry, and tries hard to be the one for orked.

and after i was crying buckets and buckets of tears (like i cried when watching cyrano de bergerac), there's a quote from the great rabindranath tagore in which he talks about love, which yasmin has taken from his collection of poetry, The Gardener, which he dedicated to WB Yeats:
Your questioning eyes are sad.  They seek to know my meaning as
the moon would fathom the sea.
I have bared my life before your eyes from end to end, with
nothing hidden or held back. That is why you know me not.
If it were only a gem I could break it into a hundred pieces and
string them into a chain to put on your neck.
If it were only a flower, round and small and sweet, I could
pluck it from its stem to set it in your hair.
But it is a heart, my beloved. Where are its shores and its
bottom?
You know not the limits of this kingdom, still you are its queen.
If it were only a moment of pleasure it would flower in an easy
smile, and you could see it and read it in a moment.
If it were merely a pain it would melt in limpid tears,
reflecting its inmost secret without a word.
But it is love, my beloved.
Its pleasure and pain are boundless, and endless its wants and
wealth.
It is as near to you as your life, but you can never wholly know
it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

when the colonised struck the empire:a postcolonial commentary in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th National Day

i'm now watching "rising of great powers" on history channel. as someone who's been exposed to colonialism and postcolonial theory, i'm much appalled by what i've learnt in this programme.

this episode tells of how the great powers during the rennaissance era, portugal and spain, coveted spices that would bring them more wealth. spain and portugal then signed a treaty which partitioned their control of the seas. spain took the americas while portugal, as we know it, claimed asia. thus, these two countries plundered and raped the other countries' natural resources which included gold and silver from the americas, and spices from asia. in later centuries, great britain decided to get her share too, and like a parasite, sucked india's wealth. that is why india was called "the jewel of the empire".

colonialism entails the power expansion of one country over other countries. this hegemony does not only mean territorial expansion, but also monopoly of the country's resources. they also brought western modernisation, and assumed that the "savages" need to be civilised and thus the whites carried "the white man's burden", of educating the "savages" to become better than their forefathers, but not in anyway better than the whites. in short, the colonial power is a parasite and a psycho. unfortunately though, this parasite and psycho still exists in the form of one country who tries to convince the rest of the world that they're doing justice when in fact all they want is the control of the oil.

for years, the belief that everything about the west is superior is imprinted in the minds of the colonised and also postcolonial societies. the rise of the educated from the third world countries, such as Edward Said (author of Orientalism), Homi Bhabha (author of the Location of Culture) and Frantz Fanon (author of Black Skin, White Mask) helped to produce postcolonial theory, which fights back the colonialism and seeks to redefine the position of power of the colonisers and the marginalised or the colonised. it also redefines the identity of a postcolonial nation.

from the perspective of postcolonial theory then, the Occident has no right in asserting its power over the East. true, the europeans brought with them modernisation, but it came at a great expense - the loss of our national treasures. the civilisations of the colonised are as great or perhaps, greater than the europeans - India's civilisation dates back thousands of years before, the Africans also had their civilisation just like we the malaysians had our civilisations hundreds of years before the Brits came.

so why do we prefer the western cultures then? why do asian women colour their hair blond or red? why do they wear skimpy clothes? why do we want to copy them, when we have our own values? this is another way of how hegemony works - the hegemony of the minds.

education is a means of freeing oneself from the hegemony.

we're a postcolonial nation which has redefined our identity. no one should tell us how to talk, how to eat, how to dress, how to act. we live according to our moral values.

be proud to be a malaysian.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

sweeping statements on health services

i have a colleague who does not go to government hospitals because in her opinion they give mediocre service. she prefers to go to private hospitals instead.

i, on the other hand, have no qualms in going to government hospitals. my late brother was a good senior medical specialist, and now his son and another nephew of mine are doctors. i believe in them. of course, we cant deny that in some circumstances, tempers will start to fly, but still, i think they're quite okay.

last year, i went to a private dentist and had my molar removed. unfortunately though, she removed the wrong molar. i still felt pain in my molar even after my other molar was removed. so, i consulted my oldtime friend, who's a dentist in australia. she asked me if the dentist took an xray of my molar. what xray?? after hearing my answer, she advised me to go to the government dental clinic. which i went a few days ago.

i went very early, expecting a huge crowd. but this is a district clinic, so in no time i was ushered in. the dentist probed here and there, told me to get an xray, and then proclaimed that my molar wasnt rotting, it's just the case of gingivitis and that regular flossing will do. still, she had some drilling to do. believe me, nothing scares me more than the drill and the sound it makes. i survived the ordeal, and was pleasantly surprised with their warmth and professionalism.

the moral of the story? you dont need to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of ringgit to seek medical care. the government hospitals are getting better in terms of their services. as for me, i thanked my friend for her advice which saved me from having another still-in-good-condition molar removed.

kudos to the dental clinic of jalan air jernih!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

on diet (again!)

now that i dont have anymore CDC or LPM courses, i am able to continue my lifelong project, which is to diet. the word sounds awful, as any woman can tell you, except of course, for anorexic looking models and those who can eat a horse and still look gorgeous.

i've been eating healthily, which means a lot of vegetables, fruits and nuts. and of course, the usual exercise. but the tragedy is that, from time to time visions of delectable food come to my mind - like secret recipe cakes...and roti canai...yum yum...i can still resist secret recipe cakes, because the topping can just kill my desire (hmm...on second thought) but today, after craving for roti canai for days... i succumbed to the temptation and had one. and to make up for extra calories, today i walked 2.7km, thanks to my neighbour, who pushed me.

well, i guess having a walking buddy (same kepala, same wavelength) helps. so hopefully this time i can stick to my diet (although one celebrity said you have to cheat once or twice in oder to make your diet work)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

tailored to your needs

although i sometimes believe in feminist theories (like equality and stuff), i'm much a conservative girl, which means the feminists wont like it when i say i like cooking and sewing (as they deem such activities as burden being thrust to the womenfolk by the patriarchal society).

i may be able to whip a tiramisu or make fresh croissants from made-from-scratch pastry, but unfortunately, much as i want to be good at sewing, i simply fail miserably. in short, i suck.

i was influenced by the presence of a mother who is the perfect housewife who cooked and sewed for the family. and that's not all. my sisters took ERT at school while i was the only one who took Commerce. so i had no basics in cooking or sewing.

but now that i'm a adult i find that i like to create something because it s therapeutic. however, unlike baking a cake which lasts only an hour, a sewing project can be tedious and time consuming. i still have an unfinished embroidery project and another unfinished very colourful quilted comforter (stashed somewhere in the mountains of cottons that i bought).

one of the legacies that my mother wishes me to have is her beloved Singer. it's an old sewing machine, dated from the 60s and to make it work, you have to exercise your feet (rock the foot pedal to and fro). when i was younger, she used to scold me for making a mess with the thread and the bobbin until the machine was stuck. so you see, i dont really get along with the sewing machine.

but that didnt deter me. i have this wonderful idea of cutting cost by sewing my own curtains. yep, you heard me. sew me own curtain (as jamie oliver might have said if he's a tailor instead of a celebrity chef). i had problems with the first set of curtains - which is for the dining room. the fabric is nice, it speaks volumes of drama. from afar they look like curtains, but dont get too close and scrutinise the stitches. buoyed with "success", i then decided to sew a set of curtains for my mother's room. the result? well...i guess mine would have been picasso's version of curtain. my mother gave her opinion, but nothing could be helped. she did say that if i ever want to change the living room's curtains, i should get professional help.

last month i had 3 days break, and i decided to sew a nightgown for myself. and because i had no basic knowledge of whatsoever in terms of sewing clothes, i bought the cheapest cotton so that i wont feel bad if i mess up. i did mess up, not once but many, many times. i already cut the cloth but then i realised that it wasnt according to the measurement, so i called my sister for help. she said that i must have a template and then started to get technical "you take your measurement then plus 2 inches..." i didnt listen to her after that. i did make a template, and despite my mother's warnings that the gown looked small, i boldly sewed it and was ready to try it on. only to find that i was stuck like a sarung nangka inside my nightgown. had to call bibik to take it off.

so now i'm back to sewing curtains, this time for my own room. okay, my sewing has improved, but still, dont scrutinise my workmanship.

well, i'm only human, after all.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

stuck in the rut

i've just finished marking papers and it was a big relief. i was procrastinating, and i knew that i've had enough of scrutinising students' essays....at least, at this time of the year. school hols is coming soon, but i had emptied my "coffer" for my summer tour, so travelling anywhere is out of the question. unless....hmmm...

and worst, my outlet for chanelling my creative energy has been temporarily suspended, since my microwave went haywire 2 months ago. the poor old thing (which has done a lot of "jasa") is now at the service centre. no baking....no more homemade breads....no more spur-of-the moment cakes...or pastries...so now i channel my energy into buying roses (as was my passion years ago).

and all this requires money, and in trying to be an organised person, and a more financially adept person, i finally keep track of my spending by jotting down every purchases i made [but so far it hasnt helped to curb my spending :o( ]

Sunday, July 22, 2007

harry potter mania

back when i started my MA, i pompously told one of my nieces that harry potter series was meant for kids, and not for adults. the writing was very british, and i couldnt understand the fascination.

until i started my dissertation. reading homi bhabha was very trying, and i needed a lighter read. and so my niece recommended harry potter and the sorcerer stone. which i devoured hungrily in a few days. then i read another. and another... until i became a fan (though not a diehard fan). i watched all the movies and believe me when i say, the movies dont do the books justice because so many parts were cut off.

when order of the phoenix was released, my niece was attached at the company who brings in harry potter series. she reported that things got ugly at kinokuniya as people jostled to get the books. some even spent the night there. the same happened at mph midvalley, although the purchase was done in peace. i spent 2 days reading the book, only coming out from the room to eat. i cried when sirius black died and could feel harry's pain (though he's a fictitious figure).

when half-blood prince was released 2 years ago, i had to go for a course, and i read between slots and at any available time i had. finished in 3 days. i cried when the beloved dumbledore died.

and yesterday, i got my copy at 8.10am. started reading the book in the afternoon, and finished this afternoon. i nearly cried when fred, tonks and lupin died. but i'm glad that harry, despite the burden he carried, came out victorious with such grace and maturity. most of the questions were answered, and my perception of snape changed. harry does become a great wizard, not because he is as great as voldermort, but like dumbledore, he's honest, brave and humble. i love the epilogue, although in a way, i feel sad, because this is 19 years later, and all of them are adults and married. this is exactly how i felt when the i watched the last installment of LOTR, the return of the king.

it's a peaceful world now for the wizarding community and the muggles, a time for laughter with friends and families. it's time to say goodbye now. there will be no more anticipations for more books on harry potter. and so i will relive the moment by reading, re-reading, re-re-readin the book...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

the french attitude

as i set yahoo as my default homepage, i usually scan the yahoo news. and i glanced at the headline a few minutes ago - and was (still am) greatly amused. the headline? "mayor wants parisians to be more polite". at last, somebody of their own flock finally noticed how things are in paris.

some are in denial, saying they are "nice". if you happen to be a bus driver and reply curtly "je ne sais pas" in response to a question posed by a tourist without so much of a "je suis desolee", then i'd say you ARE in denial. if you happen to be a person selling cheap printed reproduction of original paintings to tourists and you shout at them when they try to find shelter from rain at your kiosk, then i'd say you're heartless. malaysians are much more courteous than that. and not only the mat salleh french who are rude (and proud), it's also the asian french (or probably holding working permit) who are rude. this is exactly the scenario laid out by Frantz Fanon in his book Black Skin, White Mask - the black wants to be whiter than the white, in his every action and mannerism.

in paris, despite the famous landmarks, i felt alienated and displaced. totally unwelcomed, especially since i wear tudung. of course, there are some nice people, but it's not often that we meet friendly ones.

being rude is also a form of oppression. hopefully the parisians remember why their ancestors fought for their freedom and to really observe their motto.

Monday, July 09, 2007

my birthday

today's my birthday, and for the first time i didnt feel like celebrating it. well i did have a cake, but the heart's not in it.

my mother's been hospitalised. she's suffering from haemarrhoids and has diarrhoea, and it's sad to see her in that condition. it's even sadder to see the treatment they give her. in the end, i gave some of the nurses a piece of my mind, and i told them that she must be informed of everything (an unspoken message : my mother is not provincial or a pleibeian, and she's not stupid) at this time, i wish my eldest brother was alive so he could reprimand the nurses and the junior doctors, the way he did - as the senior med. specialist.

at this time, i recall what i used to think about people. when we're in our prime time basking in our glory, people will come to us seeking for help, fawn over us, and have smiles for us. but when we cease to hold the position, the power is gone. there are no more people asking for favours and no more smiles. it makes you think if sincerity still exists.

i am, stronger than i was a year ago.

a year ago, i was still reeling from a broken heart.

now, i'm more perseverant. and wiser. and happier (in a way). i'm glad i made the journey during the school hols, because it made me see life in a different perspective. certain rudeness still fires me up, just as a simple act of kindness is appreciated. just as wordsworth who sees the yellow daffodils through his inward eye, i see wild red poppies bobbing their heads in the english and french meadows and fields. so much so that i bought a painting of red poppies.

i am a daughter who loves her mother, a teacher who inspires, a writer with the soul of a poet, an art lover who loves arts and theatres and architecture, a foodie who appreciates the flavours of food, a traveller who savours the intensity of life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pass It On

i was watching oprah show a few days ago, and as everyone knows, oprah is a great humanitarian. most of the time when i watch her shows about giving to someone in need, i'll start crying. she has such a big heart.

her recent project was based on juan mann, an australian who wanted to cheer people by advertising "free hugs". she presented US1k to every one of her audience, and their assignment was to make someone happy with the money. the money, however, couldnt be spent on themselves or their family members. they were given sony dvd videocam (on loan) to record their good deeds. and so, last night i watched some featured videos of the audience. one woman chose a family with a father who has brain tumour. she not only gave them US1k, she successfully raised US72k (donation from the people in the area) and started a college fund for the kids. that got me crying. and what was more, the givers felt that fuzzy feeling of doing something good for the others.

such kind acts remind us that despite the war, politics and prejudice, there are still goodness and hope in this world. goodness should be done, and should be reiterated by the receivers.

pass the goodness on.

Friday, June 22, 2007

a holiday to recover from a holiday


the crazy antics during the F1 upih race
the participants of LCDS Summer Camp 2007
the camp committee

barely a week after returning from my trip, i was off to perhentian island with my LCDS children. i hadnt recovered from my jetlag, so that was an added "bonus" to what i got myself into. more of that later. on that morning when my children were dressed in the black LCDS tshirt, the board of school admin wasnt too happy and wore that grave look. you know, that you-'ve-committed-a-sin-and-you-ve-upsetted-us kind of look that was supposed to silent even the most degil boy. if you saw what the children wore from their waist to above, it was okay. but what they wore from the waist till below was what caused the frowns. they wore knee high boxers/pants/shorts. and worst, they waited for the bus in front of the principal's porch. at that time i wish there was a hole for me to crawl into.

nevertheless, the bus arrived, and we quickly started our journey. we arrived at kuala besut jetty, and there were 2 boats waiting for us. it wasnt a smooth ride like we had last year when we went to redang, the waves crashed against the speeding boat, so you can imagine the times when we literally felt like being in a car without any absorbers. when i was about to disembark from the boat, the guide said "kita tak takut sangat pasal cikgu lain, cuma takut pasal cikgu nora nak turun ni je". eh? were they afraid that i might drown?

the committee already said they wanted comfort this year, okay, thank god for the chalets...but the children were !@#% when they saw the dilapidated chalets. but, the food was gooood.... really good. there were hammocks everywhere, and the boys were soon swinging from the hammocks. i was very much afraid of the trees actually. one hammock
did come undone, but it was quickly re-tied. the beach wasnt the same as the marine park at redang, there were no corals, so that meant one had to go far ahead to see corals. the children had fun, playing the activities that my committee had planned. i suggested that they play the upih, hence F1 upih race was born. not to forget the ickiest stuff they had to eat in order to finish the race, or the ickiest burnt bread that they made out of flour, sugar, water with their sandy hands (and yours truly had to taste the bread to determine the winner...ugh!).

on the 2nd day, i woke up with an upset tummy. yep, it's official. i had food poisoning and made frequent trips to the throne room. missed the snorkelling activity (gladly, since last year i nearly drowned) but as my president requested, we made some sandwiches for the children going snorkelling, knowing well how hungry they'd be after the vigorous activity. tried to remedy my upset tummy by drinking pure coconut drink, not realising that it has a lot of
angin, so instead of getting better, i had gastritis and had to miss the children's performance. they're a talented and creative bunch, so i was really upset to miss it. on the last day, we made our way back to the mainland... and i still had the upset tummy. but despite all that, i went to work and suffered. and this weekend is the perfect time for me to recover.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Tales of the Wanderlust:The england and paris trips

roses, roses everywhere at hampton court manor, the home to King Henry the 8th
shakespeare's birthplace at stratford-upon-avon
big ben and the parliament house
the tower bridge
the tower of london
chateau de versailles, the extravagant Baroque styled palace of the Sun King, King Louis XIV
arc de triomphe
stonehenge - the mysterious megaliths that intrigue all
le tour eiffel at noir. very romantic. and damn cold.

ah london! paris! yes, a dream came true. but a journey which is an eye-opener. i've been longing to go to england since i was small. (dont we all? being colonised by the brits and all...) i wanted to see the big ben, shakespeare's birthplace and all the magnificent castles. and so, during the school hols, i found myself on a 24 hr flight bound to london. we arrived at heathrow at 6.25am on a cold, cold blustery drizzling morning. it was very cold, and i was wondering how i was going to survive there. anyway, that night i had a dinner of biryani rice, at an indian restaurant at earl's court. no dalca was given. hmmph....felt weird. a bit dry without dalca, but biryani rice was a comfort to me that night. the aromatic spice blend was perfect.

the next day, we took the national express coach to paris. when i saw the dover beach, i quickly snapped a pic of the white cliffs. and i kept reciting matthew arnold's poem, an attribute to the beach "the sea is calm tonight..". the immigration check at dover was horrible but it's something that travellers must go through *sigh*. along the way, we passed through many wheatfields, and saw farmhouses, chapels and scarecrows. i also noticed the slight differences of the french country house structure to that in england.

we arrived in paris in the evening at 7pm, and with our luggage, we took the metro and asked around for directions to our hotel. unfortunately though, one of our groupmates was pickpocketed and lost 500 pounds and had to freeze his credit cards. we arrived at gare du nord, and with the help of a very talkative frenchman (whom we had to pay) we found our hotel, which was five minutes walk fr the gare du nord station. hotel londres et anver is a charming budget hotel, the staff was friendly although at times there was a communication breakdown. i like our room, which was done in blue, with white plaster ceiling, and the long window was modestly decorated with dark blue draperies and very chic and so parisian looking sheer curtains. the bathroom was spacious.

anyway, on the 1st day of paris, we went window shopping at galerie lafayette. i said window shopping because this shopping complex features all the designer brands like bvlgari, celine, hermes bla bla bla and although we were salivating at the sight of those wonderful bags, we couldnt afford any of them. we had lunch of crepe with chocolate and it was nice on a cold afternoon. but it wasnt so nice when we wanted to go back. the french are generally very arrogant and rude, especially to muslims, so you can imagine our frustrations when the bus driver refused to cooperate and explain to us (i'm sure he's not that stupid and knew the hotel we're staying), only saying "je ne sais pas" which solved his problem. then, we found a cab. the cabbie was a vietnamese, and we thought that at least being asian he'd be more warm towards us. unfortunately though, some asians think they're better eventhough they're not exactly the authentic mat salleh french. so despite a light traffic jam, he dropped us 5 minutes away from our hotel, explaining there was a jam. we walked back and found there was no traffic jam there. i was, to be frank, very pissed that day.


anyway, although the people was a disappointment, the architecture was magnificent. we drove through moulin rouge at night (our guide, the morrocan jamal, told us that moulin rouge is not good for us the muslims). then we saw place de concorde, we saw arc de triomphe and eiffel tower at night, which were more magnificent and grand because they're bathed in yellow light. we drove through the famous champs elysees, and later saw the presidential palace.
the next day, we went to basilique du sacre coeur, and then we walked to montmartre, where i purchased a small painting from an artist. we then went to the louvre but didn t go in.finally, in the late afternoon, we went on a guided tour to chateau de versailles, the place i've read so much and heard from my sister, who inspired me to travel to see it. chateau de versailles is a big palace comprising of sprawling lawns and gardens. we were taken to the grande apartments and i was amazed by its sheer oppulence and magnificence. and i walked on the same floor as louis xiv and marie antoinette had hundreds of years earlier.

the next day we returned to london. it was like coming home, because the british are friendlier and nicer than the french. we saw the big ben, parliament house, westminster abbey, buckingham palace, had a guided tour by a yeoman at tower of london, went on the thames river cruise, saw tower bridge and the original london bridge. we also went to harrods where the rich shop. then, we extended our tour and went to places which i wanted to see for so long - we went to oxford university. i wanted to see the dining hall at christchurch which they used for harry potter movies, but it was closed at that time. we then went to cotswold, but i was a bit disappointed because when we went to the cotswold, the houses didnt have thatched roof. we later went to stratford upon avon, and i entered shakespeare's house. the next day, we went to stonehenge and i was awed when i saw the gigantic megaliths. it was a windy day, and at the same time the sun was shining brightly. after stonehenge, we went to bath and took pics of the roman bath. what touched me the most was that an old lady with a cane, who was crossing the street, saw us wandering around trying to find the baths and asked kindly, "are you looking for the roman baths, luv?" sweet, sweet old lady.

on the last day, we went to hampton court manor, and the rose garden was simply divine! later we went to windsor castle and along the way, we passed eton school for boys. i realised it as soon as i saw the black suits with long tails that they're required to wear.


the trip taught us a lot, and i feel contented because i went to the places i wanted to go. we met a lot of people, and learned to expect the unexpected.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tales of The Wanderlust:the preparation

when i was small, i could only listen to tales of my siblings' adventure abroad. two of them are pilots, and so they get to travel everywhere, up to a point where my brothers dont really go anywhere once they reach their destination -weary of travel, and already feel like they're part of the city. it's like going back to their homes in so many cities. the other sisters often travel as well, some on business, some on vacation.

i remember my eldest sister went on a european tour in the early 90s, and i remember looking at all the pics. she was complaining to me "your nieces were only interested in souvenirs, but not looking at the scenery". she was talking abt the their tour to the highlands of Scotland. she showed me the pics they took at Versailles, the palace of the great Sun King, or Louis the xiv. then there was a picture of tyrolean ladies dancing, spinning around. and in my silent heart i said to her "you should have taken me along, because i'm interested in all these".

with so many wonderful tales, how cant i be tempted? but as i was growing up, i was afraid of challenges, of the unknown. i embrace the routines and the familiar.

until the day i opened my mind to literary discussions.

i remember laurence sterne's A Sentimental Journey, Muhammad Hj Salleh's Si Tenggang's Homecoming, rushdie's Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh. i'm much influenced with rushdie's idea of cultural hybridity, of rootlessness - of not being rooted to a single place, but to be a traveller, and therefore, open to new ideas and cultures. that's the idea for a postmodern world. a borderless world.

a tourist is just a tourist, only satisfied with the commercial tourist attractions. but a traveller is more than that. a traveller seeks to discover new places and cultures with vigour and enthusiasm and learns so much more.

and so, armed with advice of friends and siblings, i'm preparing to be that traveller.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

copy cats, cheap publicity and pop culture

at first, there's only one. the one. the next thing you know, imitations mushroom everywhere. an original louis vuitton will cost thousands of ringgit, while it's inferior counterpart (made in siam) only costs less than rm50.

talking about imitations leads me to my next point, which is the wild fire spread of copy cat reality tv shows. i understand that some tv stations are only concerned with reaping big bucks and ratings, but sometimes it's just too much. please, 1 david blaine show is enough....and there're a lot of other copy cat shows as well. and that too much publicised wedding - frankly i find it vulgar to commercialise such a dignified and sacred event. which is why i respect raja nazrin for making his a small but closed affair. it's tasteful, dignified and very royal.

back to reality tv shows, they target the younger generation (reminds me of a malay proverb something abt sorong bantal pd orang ngantuk?) who eagerly lap it up and even have factions fighting over their favourite celebrities.

makes one wonder - is this what we want our malaysians to be? to be too absorbed with entertainment until that's all they can talk about. this is also one of the reasons why youngsters do not read as they spend their time in front of the idiot box. and the ministry finally has to force the students to read by introducing literature component into the syllabus. i was really sad once when i started talking about books that i read as a teenager to my students. as i read out the titles of the books, i was met with silence and blank stares. how are we supposed to produce critical minded citizens then?

yes this has become our pop culture. the culture of texting on mobile phones, watching shows, less reading, less contact with our traditional culture...

where are we heading to?

Monday, May 07, 2007

a wedding and the aftermath

a long time ago, i used to have hopes of getting married and live happily ever after (well, dont we all? read that in the dryest tone). there was once when i hit rock bottom, but that wasnt because of a wedding, but of a pregnancy of another person, and it happened after i broke up with my ex. felt like i was a failure, like the whole world was against me. that was when i did my masters.

when one of the nieces got married recently, my other single nieces and i hung out as usual, after the nikah ceremony. some of them were depressed. me? well, i m past the stage. what can i say? my niece found a nice man. that's all. and so we moped over a muffin and ice blended chocolate with whipped cream.

i'm reminded of an episode of sex and the city, when a friend of the 4 girls got married and she threw the bouquet. the flowers fell at carrie's feet. they all looked down, but carrie never bent to pick them up. instead, she said her goodbyes to the other 3 girls and went off. probably i've become carrie, disillusioned.

the journey of life is full of thorns which make you cry. in the end, you become tougher, although i must admit, there are times when a wandering thought can set off unstoppable tears. it makes you wonder if you'll ever be happy. my niece pointed out that i successfully completed my studies, i've ex students who still contact me after 7 years, and students who respect me, and i can travel. happiness isnt attained when you have a handsome or rich husband. happiness comes from within you because you love yourself, you have people who care for you, and you pursue your dream and succeed in doing it.

it's in your heart.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Song of the Sea: Collecting Shells

In the midst of the calm morning sea,
I left fresh footsteps in the wet brown sand.
The peach globe was radiant and well-pleased,
listening to the orchestrated waves.

I couldnt help myself but smiled,
And looking down,
I was a girl once more.
There lay a curved row of beautiful treasures
of pink, brown and white.
I bent down and picked one.
With each piece I was reminded
of visits with my father,
listening to his tales of fishermen
reading the stars to sail home with their bounty;
eagles would fly majestically to signify the end of monsoon.

To the South China Sea
I paid homage and re-lived the ritual,
collecting treasures of the sea.
This is my land,
And the shells bind me to it.

penned on 6th June 07.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Song of the Sea: Laments of a Heart: A Tale of Innocence

In solitude
I crossleg on the millions of granules,
witnessing the birth of a new day.
It's peaceful around here.
Before me spreads a priceless painting,
Splashes of pink and orange spice the dull blue.
entitled "happy colours of the innocence".
Strange as it seems, the colours that remind me of you
are created on this land.

As children we breathed the same salty breeze.
We frolicked under the same sun.
We watched the high and the ebb.
But I had strayed from our playground.
And you, with the gentleness of the lapping
waves in June,
brought me back.
We were the innocence.
We confided our dreams,
We laughed, and we shared.
But today there are only regrets and a sharp pang.

This emptiness in me will no longer be filled with innocence.
The waves still lap gently.
They come and retreat.

I'm sitting here alone
Realising I can never catch my waves.
Realising I will miss you a lifetime.

penned on this day, 29th June 2003.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

the football match



last thursday, when our beloved sultan mizan was installed as the 13th agong, my top lcds committee came for a meeting at my house (the president's idea, since his house is near to mine). when the children arrived (i'm very fond of calling them children, although obviously they are teenagers, i feel that there's a certain charm to it that i just cant resist), the smell of chocolate muffins greeted them, and they stayed for 3 hours for a meeting regarding our summer camp which will be held at one of the pulaus.

and just today, we had our annual football tournament, amidst the soft patter of a drizzle. i was there with another lcds teacher, and we stayed until 10 matches were played. everytime we began to walk down the stairs of the astaka, one of the boys would ask "teacher, where are you going?" obviously, we had to stay and we kept ourselves busy chatting (as all women do).

the final match finally ended at nearly 3pm, with the underground fc winning the title...amidst the sweat, lots of mud and empty mineral bottles (which i told them to pick up before the admin makes noise).

hopefully after this the next activity will be a blast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Climb


i hate climbing anything that is vertical. the last time i had a climb was in 95 when i was forced to climb a mountain in kluang. that was a torture. nowadays i spend most of the days walking on flat land where it seems more stable and i've no fear of falling.

then, a few days ago, my neighbour, a neurosurgeon, asked me to be her buddy for the hill climb. in KT, that only means Big Hill (direct translation, please). for a lesser mortal like me, the hill is precipitous. she already told me not to talk too much while climbing or i'd lose my energy. she's right. i couldnt even talk because my breathing was so laboured... i already told her if i couldnt go to school because of jelly legs, she's supposed to issue me an MC.

my neighbour takes the climb as a challenge because "the heart rate accelerates" and it's a good workout. so i was huff and puffing and we stopped a few times, watching some of the other locals with envy. while we were struggling, some men in their 50s were jogging and talking leisurely the whole way up.

when we reached the top, we could see a marvellous view of KT. nice. the descent was much easier, but it still took us half an hour. today is my 2nd day, and hopefully i'll do better.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

This Thing We Call Love

since time immemorial, both men and women have been plagued with this incurable sickness/madness/euphoria (choose whichever is applicable).

i dont know why it wasnt that complicated for my siblings - for my eldest brother, it was an arranged marrige; for the rest of siblings, well it was easy. but for me, as the youngest, living in a totally different era, it is a hurdle that is hard to cross. and my nieces agreed.

one of my nieces is back in KT, to recuperate. we went for walks on the beach...more walks on the beach...staring into the aquamarine sea hoping that the tranquility will heal the wound. and all the while, we talked about relationships and men, about temptations, expectations and the brutal reality.

of course, love is not THAT BAD. it's like chocolate. it tastes heavenly and you'll be on cloud 9 or 12 or 15. you ll be smiling for no reason, the earth seems a better place for you and you just want everybody to be happy for you.

but when something goes wrong, and i'm not talking about a minor glitch, but a major one that forces you to rethink; love, like chocolate, leaves its scar. only then you feel the pain of the fall because you ve fallen so deep that you cant possibly get up. you think that the world is unfair because some !@@#^& broke your heart, and while to some, crying is all they can do, for some others, stabbing that person or ram into his new beloved car seems a very sensible and justified action. he's hurt you, so why shouldnt you hurt him?

yes, and so the heart bleeds....but hell hath no fury like a woman scorned either.

i've had my fair share of heartbreaks. and from each breakup, although i was hurt, i learned. the process of healing is always long and arduous and there are times when i feel that life is unfair. i wish i can just let go of the pain, but it's not that easy. healing IS long, and can be trying but it is through this process that we know ourselves better, that we become wiser. which is why we make mistakes. people dont listen to advice when they're in love. they learn from mistakes.

and hopefully, the next time i'm in love i'll be wiser.