Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mahsuri the theatre

back when i was in bangkok in march, i received an sms from sharon who asked if i wanted to watch Mahsuri the Theatre at Istana Budaya. and, being a theatre goer myself, i said yes.

last night, we made our way to Istana Budaya to watch the theatre - with Vanida Imran as Mahsuri. of course, after watching Puteri Gunung Ledang, it is hard for any other local theatre to come close to it in terms of excellence, but it was a commendable show. except that i wish they had shown what became of Wan Darus and the baby.

i think Wan Darus' and Mahsuri's dialogues are too short and therefore, their courting and also their personalities are not highlighted and do not leave an impression on the audience. however, one character stands out. one can easily hate the evil sister in law - Wan Mahura - played by Sabera Shaik, which shows that she acts her part brilliantly. i just love to hate her - from the way she walks to her blazing eyes, and that haughty look of hers.

the setting is wonderfully done, if PGL only used limited props, Mahsuri the theatre makes use of Malay kampung element to highlight the story - the house with intricate carving, the courtyard with coconut trees etc.

an ok performance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Aftermath of the Outburst

it can be said that the hooligans have changed a little bit. it's not a 180 degree change, but there's a slight improvement.

my friend told me not to trust them because they are good actors. but i dont like playing games. it's too wearisome.

this week i decided that my other form 4 class was ready to start the journal writing (which all my ex students had to do, and which they never kept up, unfortunately). it was supposed to be a 10 minute writing, but it was extended to the whole double periods. they enjoyed it tremendously, i could see their eagerness as they came to the hooligans class (where i was at at that time) to take back their journals. the hooligans were eyeing the papers and wanted to write journals too. it was a sight to behold to see 3/4 of the class sitting down writing with full concentration! i realised that anything to do with their wanting to learn is good enough, and that's what i'm doing.

this is beginning to sound like one of those movies with exceptional teachers like in Dangerous Minds, and i really hope they will change for the better.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Day I Cried

in my whole 12 years of teaching, never did i once cry in class. never. but today, after 2 months of teaching the hooligans, i cried. cried not because i was timid. no, i'm not timid. i cried because although i wanted to feel noble by teaching these kids, they didn't seem to care. i was just a tree stump there, talking to the wall like an idiot.

i was about to break down and ask them if they knew how difficult it was to teach them and that they left me frustrated. at that time i remembered my ex students' comments in facebook : "come back to SS la teacher" where i was appreciated.

and remembering those wonderful times and how satisfied i was when teaching them, that made me cry.

i turned my back on them and kept my head down. i could hear them blaming each other " kau la ni yang buat teacher nangis"

slowly a few boys and girls came to comfort me.

i eventually turned around and faced them with my tear-stained eyes.

the class was quiet and sober for awhile.

on my way home i felt so emotionally drained, and so empty.

does this mean it's time to make changes?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Living in the Fast Lane

okay so i may be exaggerating. but in KL, life is like that. i'm so used to the laidback life in KT that it's hard for me to adapt. it's funny that when i first graduated for my 1st degree i was so into working in KL.

of course, i've to leave house early in the morning which is at 6.45 and take the highway and pay the toll, something that is an alien concept in KT. in KT i would take my own sweet time and then drove like a madwoman at 7.20am hehehe...

i don't know whether it's because i'm getting older (yes, i've to accept the cold harsh reality that i'm ageing) or it's a normal thing that KLites go through everyday. all i know is i don't have enough rest, because now it takes longer for me to 'recharge'. unlucky for me though, the past 3 saturdays i was working, which left only Sunday free. and only a day of rest isnt enough.

my friend shidah said KL doesnt agree with me. well i dont know. there are too many things in my mind right now. i wish i can slow down things a bit.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Tale of the Wanderer:Bangkok Trip, 16th-20th march 2009

my long time seri puteri friend, Anne, was gracious enough to extend an invitation to join her in Bangkok where she periodically has meetings. she extended the invitation in Dec, when we were on our way to our 5 ilmu gathering in JB. last 2 months, Anne reminded me of her invitation - and after mulling it over, i decided to give Bangkok a try and booked a flight - with MAS! and it's only RM451 for to and return tickets. i didnt have that sense of anticipation, because i was so busy that i didn't have the time or luxury to plan. there was the teachers debate (which i hated) and the tuition classes (i hate the SAT classes) and also Zek's grand wedding reception (this i love because it involved eating! hehehe). i didnt even check the list of halal restaurants that Anne's colleague in Bangkok sent. but come monday, i was excited to be on my way to Bangkok. Anne has been there countless of times and advised me on the dos and don'ts. the Suvarnabhumi airport is huge - it resembles a giant worm. the hotel car was waiting for us, and we were whisked to the centre of Bangkok and there i caught my first glimpse of Bangkok life. the roads are narrower, and the traffic is even worse than KL's. i saw tuk tuk, and also saw a man selling ironing board cover in the middle of the road. just to show you that the impoverished are really poor. we stayed at Silom area, and the hotel is just beside Anne's office. after checking in, she brought me to Lailai Sap, a street market almost like Petaling Street or Chow Kit, which is just a few metres away from the hotel. that meant i could shop like mad if i wanted to.

that evening, Anne's colleague, Nazmi, brought us around Silom area, and i saw that the Thais love street food. there were stalls everywhere - selling grape tomatoes, sweet and sour unripened mangoes eaten with chilli salt, and other meat stuff. the thais could eat anywhere, even amidst the fumes and smoke of the traffic. we dined at Deen, a halal restaurant, and i got my first taste of authentic Thai tom yam - and for my sensitive tummy's benefit,Nazmi told the tauke to make it less spicy and sour. it was divine. in fact, for all the dinners in Bangkok i sampled 3 types of tomyam - the clear tom yam, the red tom yam and the milky tom yam.

on the first day, i shopped at Lailai Sap with anne's colleague's wife. anyone can go crazy here, with all the cheap stuff (including the imitations). wafts of sweet scented jasmines can be smelled almost everywhere, as the Thais use them for their prayers. the sellers will weave the jasmines and roses into wreaths, almost similar to the ones we see here, the ones the Hindus use in their prayers. the roses are different than the ones sold in Malaysia, in fact i prefer theirs. i must say that even until the last day i was in Bangkok, i still couldnt get used to the big denominations of Baht. 500 Baht might seem a lot but it's roughly around RM50, and i was so confused that sometimes the sellers helped me by telling me which notes is which. even Nazmi sensed my confusion that he told me the colour of the notes that i was supposed to give to the seller.

anyway, after feeling hot and tired bargaining, we decided to take a tuk tuk and find a halal restaurant. that's when i met Nui, the ever so friendly tuk tuk driver. his English is dismal, and yet this friendly guy managed to bring us to wherever we asked him to, and on that first day, he was telling a lot of stuff to us, most of the time in Siamese. it's like hens and ducks talking together. he brought us to the Indian Muslim quarter, and was sweet enough to wait for us while we ate. we went to the first shop, and was informed by a sullen lady that they didnt cater halal food (even though the signboard did state they have halal food). we then went to another shop not far away. out of hunger, we ate whatever was available (because most of the food and the drinks that we asked for weren't available). i was very dissatisfied with my lunch. me with the tuk tuk and Nui the tuk tuk driver

we then went to MBK, Bangkok's biggest shopping mall. by then, the mall lost its attraction to me, because they only sell the same thing. i prefer to discover "hidden jewels" at the street market and bargain. with unsatisfied hunger still gnawing, i went into a supermarket and found pulut with sweet mango and santan, and also dried mangoes and cranberries and bought those.
on the second day, Nui promised to bring us sightseeing and also places for more serious shopping. he brought us to Chao Phraya, which i had been on the previous night when Nazmi brought Anne, Herbie and me for dinner at Klong San, which is next to Hilton. Chao Phraya at dusk, waiting for a boat to take us across

anyway, we wanted to see the famous water market, but that is 100km outside Bangkok, and obviously Nui couldnt take us there in his tuk tuk. the lady in charge of the chartered boats gave us time to discuss, and so we decided to take a laidback cruise along the Chao Phraya. the boat was very slow, so slow that all the other boats carrying tourists overtook us.
no this wasnt the boat that we took

there were temples everywhere on both sides of the banks.
occasionally, we saw a barge carrying cargo. one or two catamarans could be seen, feeding on fish, which from time to time emerged to the surface. after almost an hour and when we were almost lulled to sleep, the boat made a turn into the water village, and that's when we saw a few sellers selling wares on their sampans. i bought some souvenirs from one of them, and because they sell wares on sampans, they overcharge the wares. after the cruise, Nui took us to Pratunam Market, where he claimed all Thais love to shop because everything's cheap. Pratunam Market is bigger than Lailai Sap, but definitely smaller than Chatuchak (the market i didnt go to because it only opens on the weekends). you can find just about anything here, from bellydancing costumes to kinky lingeries. it was a hot day, and after walking and walking at the market, i was definitely tired. again, Nui waited for us as we lunched at a halal African shop. then Nui took us to see the sleeping Buddha at one of the temples. we were supposed to go to another temple with a bigger sleeping Buddha, but because of a pressing business, Nui brought us to another place. we met with the caretaker of the temple who said that he supplies thai silk to KL. we then went back to our hotel, and bid farewell to our favourite tuk tuk driver, who was clearly sad to see us go. the next day, i did my last shopping at Lailai Sap. while walking to the bank, i was mesmerised by the simple beauty of the lotus flower, just as i was mesmerised by the red poppies grown wild in profusion across the English and French countryside. i then went to have lunch by myself at Cilipadi Restaurant, a Malaysian restaurant, and it was a relief to be able to slide into the seat, watching Astro, talking Malay to a fellow countryman and eating Malaysian food. that night, Nazmi brought Anne, Herbie and me to Suan Lam market, a tourist haven. the four of us then had a foot and shoulder massage session that lasted an hour. it cost only RM25 or 250 Baht plus some tip for the masseuse. the next day, i left Bangkok. i was recounting the friendly faces of Thai people, the customary bowing and the way they put together their hands in greeting, when suddenly the ugly part of Bangkok came flooding in front of my eyes - old mat sallehs with long haired and long legged Siamese girls.

nevertheless, every time i return to Malaysia, i always feel relieved to be back home, and i always cherish the fact that i'm a malaysian.


The Battle with the Hooligans

i've written enough about the hooligans in my facebook. though it's a one-liner comment, my friends and my ex students know what i've to go through whenever i teach them.

in defence of the hooligans, i must say that not all of the students i teach in the current school are such. there are some nice and good students - those who listen to my instructions and obey them. however, there's one particular class which gave me (and still do) migraines whenever i think about them (okay that's an exaggeration).

i was just talking to my fren shima yesterday, and though at first it didn't seem hilarious, it tickled my funny bone when i remembered the students' antics.

to control the class is a challenge. let alone teach. they may have the physical attributes of a 16 year old, but their mentality is not so. not that i want to insult them, it's just i get frustrated whenever i teach them. in class, there'll be a buzz because there'll be a few groups talking. some will become nomads and start changing places every few minutes. someone suddenly bursts into singing. and one boy will be walking on the ledge outside the class (where there's no corridor) because some of the window panes broke. there's one boy who, whenever he wears songkok, will start finding ways to suddenly "disappear" from class. he's better when not wearing songkok.

so you can just imagine that this is a nightmare for me, after being in a good school, and also teaching good schools.

in an attempt to appease them, and turn them into obedient students, i decided to bake a chocolate cake. of course, they finished the cake, but minutes after that, sugar rush started to have its effect, especially since my class is during the last period, so instead of taming them, they start chasing each other in class!! disappointed, i went back to the staffroom, and saw the counsellor there. i immediately asked him how to tackle these kids. the answer?

"akak, budak-budak sekolah ni tak sesuai la kalau nak bagi chocolate cake"

i asked a few teachers on what to do. they told me to divide the class - those who want to learn and those who dont. the former must not make noise, but they can choose not to listen.

in desperation, i used the tactic, and surprisingly, there were only 3 students who chose not to listen. even those who usually made noise did not want to be the odd ones out and joined the large group (although i suspect the intention wasnt' so much to learn, but just to join the crowd). needless to say, it was the quietest time for me - "quiet" here means a few buzz, but at least i did not have to shout.

it's a victory, and i came out smiling.

i dont know whether they can do well in English, but all i know is they're taking tiny steps to listening to me, and that's good enough.