Friday, December 30, 2011

The glasses for the myopics

the first time i discovered that i was myopic, i was in denial. it was 2008, and my friend Anne jokingly suggested that i was myopic when i had to hold the phone at a longer distance to read a text message. months after that i found small printed letters becoming blurry. 

in 2010 when i went to change my long sighted glasses, i told the optician that my eyesight should be checked for myopia. his answer? "you're not yet 40, you're still okay". but this year, the myopia started to become a constant irritation. the distance at which i hold the printed text is getting longer and longer. a few months ago, i went to the same shop to have my eyes tested. the optician obliged. he inserted several lenses into the frame and asked me to read the projected letters on the wall, as the standard procedure requires. this time he exclaimed "Haiyaaa, you sudah ada penyakit tua laa" yeah right, thank you for saying that out loud. despite my wish to use a multifocal, the optician told me to wait for 2012 when my eyesight should worsen and the power increases. 

this afternoon, i decided to pay the shop another visit, as i knew that if i didnt have multifocal glasses, my reading would be hampered. that, and also because i discovered that because of my constant use of phone to log on to facebook, i've been having migraine for the past 3 days. so the guy told me that i didn't have to change the frame. haaah?? you've got to be kidding. ask anybody who wears glasses and he will tell you that when you increase your lens power that means you change your frame. most of the time, that is. but not this shop. the other guy did the eyesight test again on me and before he did, he said
" there is a cheaper alternative, there is this lens that relaxes your eyes. it's cheaper than multifocal but it can last until you're 40"

i wondered how the business is doing, because the opticians are clearly more interested in the well-being of my purse than the well-being of their tauke's wallet. so i voiced out my opinion
 "people do business to make profit and here you are asking me to get a cheaper alternative".

sheepishly, the guy said "the tauke is more interested in the welfare". well, that's a first...and yup, i have the multifocal glasses made for me. no reason to be in denial anymore. burned a hole in my pocket too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

From My New House

assalamualaikum, greetings from my new house! am logging in from my studyroom/guestroom, with all the books still tucked in the boxes and plastic bags strewn everywhere. yes, it's chaos in this room.

i haven't really unpacked my clothes, but i love my room - because it's all pink except for the furniture. like my friend daliey says, it's a "pink overload". i love my living and dining room too, it's what i've always visualised an English country decor to be. well, may be some wood panels and landscape paintings would do, but then it's a small house and i can't fit everything in. even then my contractor and the movers were shaking their heads when they saw the many boxes and the furniture. what can i say, i'm a hoarder. i can't imagine myself being a minimalist.

tomo and pixie were so shocked to be at a new place that the fat tomo actually flattened himself and crawled under the cage (and i thought it's impossible for a cat his size to do so). they were sniffing around on the first day, and last night while i was watching Princess' Man they were doing their routine of chasing each other. still, i can't get them to eat but that's normal for cats. as soon as they acclimatise and adapt themselves to a new place they'll be okay.

it was raining in the afternoon when i moved so the floor was cold. and my bare feet couldn't tolerate the coldness and i knew that i've to wear slippers at all times in the house. before this 3 people told me that there is no need for me to install the air conditioning unit. and now i believe them. 

it's still a bit strange to be in my own house as i was used to the house in ampang, but this is my house now, and insyaallah i'll have a good life here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last Day in Ampang

i'm feeling very tired now. i'm listening to Bruno Mars' sappy It Will Rain and it augments my tiredness (i love the song, though, and it's an apt choice for Breaking Dawn OST). since after subuh i've been packing and transferring stuff - my Kitchen Aid, my books, and all the spices and herbs.

the newly mopped floors are no more clean as the workers have been working here and there so i guess tomorrow i've to mop it again. the contractors' sons helped me in hanging the paintings. it has to be done today or else the neighbours will complain tomorrow if they hear any drilling sound. i've to be at the house again at 2pm to monitor the astro technician installing the satellite dish and to wait for my new wing chair.

i've never liked moving actually. i'm a person who's used to routines, unlike what Salman Rushdie proposes and encourages in his books - "to be uprooted". i've grown comfortable here, with convenience just a few steps away despite the notorious traffic jam. but change is necessary, and insyaallah i'll be happy at the new place.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Countdown to Moving Day

September and October has been 2 busy months for me. i had to be the chief invigilator for PMR and on top of that i've to attend my nephew's and niece's weddings. and i'm also busy with the new house. 

at last, even before the final cheque was released, the previous owner decided to give me the house keys and immediately i called the people - the contractor, the curtain maker, the insect screen installer (there are a lot of mosquitoes around, and also it serves as a barrier for Miss Pixie Lompat and Mr Tomo Debab from venturing out). when i showed the contractor what's to be done, words couldn't express my excitement as i conjured up the image of my finished townhouse. i excitedly told him that i wanted the kitchen wall to be painted in saffron yellow and the kitchen cabinet in olive green as i want it to be a Tuscan kitchen. well, my hope was dashed as the contractor told me that because of the kitchen cabinet was solid wood and sealer was used to seal the original wood colour, the paint wouldn't last long. oh well, i decided to retain the kitchen cabinet colour.

then i totally went crazy when i went to the lighting shop. months back, i bought a chandelier for the dining room. this time i saw a wall light that really says me. i had to have it even though i know it doesn't serve any practical purpose in my bedroom. then i saw another wall light which reminds me of Lord of the Rings - it looks elfish to me. i got to have it. the contractor had a case of pening.but in the end the elf wall light stands perched outside my doorstep and i just love it. 

there's nothing white in my house except for the plaster ceiling. all the walls have been painted yellow, green and pink (duh!) so it's a reminiscent of children's crayons. my theme will generally be English country, but mine will not be the typical malaysianised Vantage style. 

apart from being busy with invigilating and attending my anak sedara's receptions, i've been transferring stuff to the new house - mostly because i've too many things (i'm a hoarder from a family of hoarders) so i've been transferring my fictions, my dinnerware sets, my pots and pans and my huge collection of cake pans. so if you ask me, i'm nervous that i can't get them all transferred in time. 

today the cleaner will come to clean the house. the insect screen will be installed and hopefully the contractor will have completed the tabletop that i want in the bathroom. 

i'm so excited!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Busy and Fruitful September and October

happy eid mubarrak everyone! i haven't blogged in here for awhile. been busy with food (as usual) and school. i've been transferred to the morning session now, to replace a teacher who's now on maternity leave. it's a lot more different in the morning session than in the afternoon session, because the students are not afraid of you anymore and don't even hesitate to do "mischiefs". 

well anyway, September and October is a very busy time for me. for one thing, my nephew Zhaffri and and niece Janna will be getting married (not to each other). so that means i'll be busy on 2 or 3 separate weekends. then, there is the Lembaga thingy which teachers are well aware of, so i'm busy running here and there attending briefings and doing stuff. and today, well, today aside from attending some open houses, i'll be receiving my condo keys! yay! buying a house isn't the same as inheriting a house (okay, duh!), so when you finally get the keys you can't help but feel that pride and satisfaction and then you smile, because you'll be paying for the house for at least a quarter of a century. after months of dealing with lawyers and the bank, you can stand back, look at the rooms and finally say "my very own sanctuary". yep, my house in the city.

i'll be seeing the contractor and the curtain maker tomorrow, and hopefully if everything works out okay, insyaallah i'll be moving to the new house in the third week of October, when all the hullabaloos will have died down. i'll be posting the pics to the new house if i have the chance.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting for Eidul Fitri

when i was little, eidul fitri meant abundant food (usually nasi dagang), fireworks and duit raya. oh, and of course, new baju raya and shoes to show off.  eidul fitri is a time of joy for everyone, and i knew for one my late mother had this content and happy smile when she saw all her children and grandchildren coming back for raya. there would be queues to the bathroom, foods bought at pasar ramadhan would fill the dining table and everybody would sit to "chup" their eating place at any space available in the house.

now that i'm almost reaching 40, my perspective in life has changed, and because of this, eidul fitri also has a different meaning for me. in the past it was all about childish glee over meeting family members and eating wonderful food, but now eidul fitri doesn't mean that much to me.

no, i'm not depressed. i'm not disillusioned.

to me, there's a shift in order of importance in life. in my opinion, the one that we should celebrate and look forward to isn't the celebration of eidul fitri (although it is a day of celebration for our triumph against nafs) but instead we should celebrate ramadhan. in my previous blog entry i wrote that ramadhan is about repentance and the chance to increase our ibadahs. i feel at peace and tranquil. because of this, to me, ramadhan is beautiful.  actually i feel sad that ramadhan is ending.

it does not mean that i don't want to celebrate eidul fitri. i do have new baju raya and new shoes, and i can't wait till i meet with my family members again. it's okay to celebrate eidul fitri, but celebrate it sensibly and not to overdo it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be Thankful of What You Have

that was what my brother Abang Halim used to tell me when i needed his help in the past. back then, being the youngest, i was self-centred and oblivious to other people's suffering.

in this month of Ramadhan, the Panel of Islamic Studies in my school has launched a Ramadhan donation fund for the unfortunate students. teachers are welcome to contribute their zakat or fidyah to the fund. and some teachers, on their own effort, chipped in to buy groceries to some deserving unfortunate students. i wasn't informed of this until i saw the groceries all in boxes, and when i heard this story i was moved so deeply that i felt i had missed an opportunity to do some good. 

when i taught in Sultan Sulaiman, i didn't see all this scenario. my former students were all children of Tengkus, Datuks, business tycoons and who's who in Terengganu. because of that activities could be done more extravagantly and even my LCDS members were willing to fork out RM250 to pay for their summer camp at an island.

some of my Padang Tembak students are children of policemen or army officers, but most of  the students live in PPR or only have single parents to look after them. and so, the plight of my students in Padang Tembak taught me humility and the importance of charity and paying zakat. 

Fasting does not only teach us to discipline ourselves and guard our nafs, it also teaches us compassion and syukur which lead to stronger ukhuwah among muslims.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Joys of Ramadhan

Most people will associate Ramadhan with Ramadhan bazaars that suddenly crop up like mushrooms during this 1 month. most will think of their favourite foods. most shopping complexes begin selling kuih raya before Ramadhan. most hotels proudly advertise their Ramadhan buffet offers. raya songs are played everywhere. most people are busy buying raya clothes and raya furniture. but most people forget that this month is a month of ibadah and place it second to all the things (food, mostly) they like about Ramadhan.

Ramadhan is about ibadah and that's it. it is to show our devotion to Allah, to remind us that we're not invincible and that we've a lot to thank for. what is there not to thank? we have a roof to shelter us, we have food to fill our tummy, we still have air to breathe, we have freedom and we still have time to reflect, repent and become better muslims and muslimahs by performing ibadahs.some may find praying sunnah prayers tedious, but those who have experienced sakinah or tranquility will gladly do them for the chance of acquiring that inner peace and contentment.

last year i wanted to do everything properly, as i was preparing myself to go for hajj. after the life changing experience, i began to see life in a different way, as if in a different hue, or to be hyped about it, you can say i see things in HD. i began to learn more about Islam as i know there are so many things that i don't know. so i enrolled in Fiqh Ibadah class with my friend Zana. the class was an eye opener. i learned the proper way to perform solat, fast and pay zakat. and i thank Allah for giving me hidayah, as He gives hidayah to whoever he chooses. i began to appreciate the ilm that is given, and the more i feel calm and tranquil.

it is through Ramadhan that we learn humility. we understand the unfortunates' hunger and learn to be compassionate about other people. hence, the giving of zakat (not only zakat fitrah, but also zakat on gold and salary, which is wajib) and sadaqah. through tadarus and jemaah terawih prayers we instil brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam, and through tazkirah and any form of teachings of Islam we receive ilm (which is compulsory).

if you ask me now, i don't feel the excitement for raya. i'm only thinking of Ramadhan, and i will miss it when takbir raya is recited.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fasting Month

Despite my "fasting practice" during Syaaban last month, i was almost like a train wreck on the first day of Ramadhan. the naughty students joined me and couldn't even shout or do their usual mischief (which would make me scream afterwards) and were lying on the cool floor of English Resource Centre instead. the heat was almost unbearable. i had to tell myself to be patient and thought that it's even hotter in Makkah now.  

that, coupled with a few other tasks that the teachers had to complete this month, was really a test.

i still haven't moved into the new house, because the bank is really slow in processing documents and now i'm afraid that i've to pay the late charges to the house seller. truth be told, i already lost the excitement in moving into the new house, after the endless calls to the bank and the lawyer. why can't property purchases be simpler? i'll probably get the key next month. i hope the excitement will revive itself then.

for this fasting month, i only went once to pasar Ramadhan and even that was on a weekend, as the traffic congestion is really bad in Ampang on weekdays. i had a craving for karipap but didn't want to go through the tedious task of rolling and cutting the dough and the other tasks that entail it so i thought, well, may be i could just buy some. i remember buying a roti john (without the overly sweet chilli sauce and the too-much-mayo), karipap and some cara manis (even though making it is simpler). the only thing that was satisfactory was the kuih cara. the karipap tasted of overpowering curry powder and the roti john was a bit burned. after that i vowed never to buy at Param again, cooking my own instead, with some occasional trips to the golden arches.

in terms of ibadah, alhamdulillah, i perform terawih at home. my pengajian islam amali ustaz has told us lots of times that we should follow the Prophet's sunnah, so i perform only 8 rakaat, as the 20 rakaat  was done by the sahabahs. 

i remember what Ustaz Hj Ahmad Rosli (the Rayhar ustaz) told us when we were about to return from hajj last year. he said that once we go back, the challenges are even greater in trying to retain the mabrur. this is also true of Ramadhan. yes, terawih is done only in Ramadhan but the other ibadahs should also be done continuously even after Ramadhan - qiyamulail, tilawah, paying zakat and zikir, as they are not exclusive ibadahs for Ramadhan. 

let's hope that we have a good Ramadhan as what it should be - filled with ibadahs and repentance.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Furniture Hunting

now that the legal process of getting the condo is on the way, i'm now on the hunt for furniture. no, i don't buy the run-off-the-mill and cookie cutter furniture, on the contrary, i like my furniture to be of character with an interesting story behind it. and why, do you ask, do i bother to do all this? because i intend to decorate my house in english country style and my kitchen, in tuscan style. now, before you say anything about english country furniture being ubiquitously sold everywhere in Malaysia, let me point out that most of the white or green furniture with country roses on them adopt the shabby chic concept, and not strictly an english country concept.

so anyway, what i did was, i hunt for second hand furniture. i don't mind buying second-hands, so long as they are durable and serve their purpose. this means that i've to find real wooden furniture - made of teak and rosewood. i've been lucky so far, as i purchased some reasonably priced but lovely items. hopefully my lucky streak will continue even after i've moved into the new house.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Cats n The Scam

life with Tomo around is a routine now. Tomo is a dear, and i find that it's not difficult to take care of a cat. and because of that i've this yearning to find a persian, because i love a persian's short and stumpy legs. persian cats are walking carpets just waiting for you to cuddle them. 

and so like a madwoman bent on her sole purpose, i scoured the net trying to purchase a persian kitten online. obviously, the price is steep. then suddenly an ad caught my eye. this person, so-called Wayne Wright, wanted to sell his persian kittens for only rm200 each. that's really really cheap! even a kampung cat can cost i contacted him through email, and he responded warmly. i thought that he's a mat salleh, and he told me of the sad story of how his daughter who loved the kittens had passed away and he wanted to let go of the kittens. okay, emotional appeal established. then he said he's living in Singapore and will use a home delivery. i contacted a daughter of my friend who is also interested in cats so she also contacted him. i began to smell a rat after praying a few days ago. i realised that the pics that he sent me are taken in a studio and none in real environment. i asked him several times about the food given (as all true cat enthusiasts would do) and i even told him what i feed Tomo. when finally i asked him for the latest picture, he gave me another set of staged pics and seemed a little bit angry. and then to answer my question about the food he gave to the kittens, he repeated exactly what i had written about what i feed Tomo with. and that's when i knew that this is a scam. instantly i recalled some news in the paper regarding this - how unsuspecting women had to pay thousands and thousands to receive a certain item from overseas and i knew that was what this so-called Wayne Wright wanted to do. so i cancelled the order, to which he never replied afterwards and i called the police. the next morning, before i lodged a police report, i received several emails from an email add "" asking for fee to pay for the delivery of the phantom kittens. the content itself was a joke, because it was so amateurish and pathetic and i knew even i could do better than that. i guess it was his desperate attempt to make me believe the scam. 

yes i know. some of you would think "how could you be so stupid?" but alhamdulillah, Allah was there to save me.

anyway, in the midst of all this hullaballoo, i went to see the vet because Tomo has this recurrent conjunctivitis. the vet advised me to keep Tomo indoors and not in a cage at the patio. i wanted to buy Tomo a hooded cat litter tray, so that there will be no unpleasant smell in the house. and since i wanted to visit As, i decided to bring Tomo along in his carrier and later stop at the pet shop where i put Pixie up for the pet shop, i saw Pixie. and i felt guilty. how could i have this yearning for a persian when i already have another kitten (never mind that she's DMH) and i left her at the shop? pixie was well, but thin and her limbs were weak as she spent all her time in the small cage. i told the man that i wanted Pixie back and he was more than happy to give her back to me.

at home, i saw there's a vast difference between the 2 kittens. Tomo is confident, healthy and well-fed. Pixie looked lost and wanted to sit most of the time. today's the third day she's back home and the 2 of them have been scampering around the house. Tomo seems to be smitten with her, and was gentleman enough to let her eat from his bowl. 

yes, i still have this yearn for a persian, because it reminds me of Fluffy, but then i've 2 wonderful kittens in the house, and i want to shower them with my love and lots of food.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the adventurous trip to puchong

2 months ago i bought a second-hand Kitchen Aid mixer. never mind that it's secondhand, it's Kitchen Aid! Chef Wan uses it. Nigella uses it, Chef Michael Smith uses it. Anna Olson uses it. when the big names in culinary arts use it, you've got to have it. hello, Kitchen Aid, bye-bye Kenwood.

it's a heavy duty mixer and white in colour. wish it's pink though, but since this is second-hand, i can't complain. i didn't use the mixer straight away after receiving it. but to my dismay i found out that the whisk couldn't rotate. i was sooo disappointed. i called the previous owner but he claimed that the mixer was in good condition when he gave it to me. i decided to visit the Kitchen Aid service centre and guess what? it's located in Puchong. a place i'm not familiar with.

yesterday i asked Mozie to be my guide. actually both of us had a rough idea where we're heading, but driving in KL is different especially on the highway. so off we went, and i was confused most of the time that my car nearly scratched the others. that's what i meant being adventurous. and we got lost twice, and was in an unfamiliar area. finally, we arrived at the place safely. and guess what? the hand-in of the mixer took me about 5 minutes. the drive itself was an adventure that i was disappointed that the hand-in was anti-climactic and quick. they told me they would call me and the repair would take around 2 days. 2 days?? i could feel throbbings in my head, a sign of migraine which lasted until i returned home.    

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Recollection of the Old Days

i was driving to school this morning for the cross country race when i saw a crowd of people thronging the Mindef's field. i knew there was some sort of sports going on, but imagine my surprise when i saw rows of target butt ... and i was back to the UKM days once more. i saw many bows being rested on the tripods, and i saw archers walking with arrows sticking out from the quiver.

yes, i was once in the Archery Club. i couldn't remember what drove me to join the club, perhaps i saw my future teammates in action at the field. perhaps i saw this one girl bringing the Samick bow back to the kamsis every evening. 

archery is fun. it's an elegant sports which requires patience and i felt at peace when i drew the bowstring and let go of the arrow. i love assembling the parts, which probably takes 15 minutes, i guess. back then hitting a few arrows on days when i was stressed with the assignments was a reliever. not to forget the interesting characters i got to know when i joined the team. we travelled to a few tournaments together, and i once remember at the malaysian open, the most wonderful sound was the sound of arrows swishing as archers walked back (after counting the hits and pulling the arrows out of the target butt) to the line.

so you can understand why i was excited to see people with quivers of arrow and the bows with stabilisers resting on tripods. i was a part of that scene once.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Being Considerate

i think this is one of the most-talked about subject in the whole world.

what does being considerate mean? the defines it as "showing kindly awareness or regard for another's feelings, circumstances". it is not always that you find other people showing some consideration when doing things, and as for me, when i find it, i'm most pleasantly surprised and think that the person who shows it is a very civilised person.

take for example, when i brought Tomo for his first vaccination at a vet in Ampang. it was Saturday, so naturally, the clinic was packed with feline and canine lovers alike. since i'm a Muslim, i'm very apprehensive when i'm at close proximity with dogs, and will watch them carefully, hoping they won't suddenly spring on me (i once had a shock when the custom officers used a dog to sniff me out when i was at Dover Beach custom in 2007, going to Calais). when i was waiting for my turn, i saw 2 men with a huge Dalmatian. one entered the clinic and saw me, the only Muslim around. he exited the clinic and i saw him talking to his friend. his friend stayed outside with the dog while he came back in. only when i was about to go in did the friend enter with the big mutt and i felt very nervous. but he held him on a tight leash, and the poor mutt was struggling to find a comfortable position, all the while scratching the floor in order to get a firm grip.

even the staff at the clinic cleaned the examination table before i brought in Tomo.

i was touched by this show of consideration. Islam teaches us about tolerance, something that is easier said than done. having said that, it is not okay for us to demand consideration when we do not give it ourselves. think about the other people, and respect their life principles. do not adopt the "holier than thou" attitude, because this attitude will lead to hurt and anger. that is the reason why the learned Muslim scholars  usually adopt a gentle disposition and will not utter any unpleasant words lest they will hurt the others' feelings.and that is consideration for you.

i also have a lot to learn about being considerate. not to say that since i'm writing this piece, i'm a considerate person. i aspire to be a considerate person, because we always strive to become better today than we were yesterday.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Signing the S&P, the Kitten and the On-going Quest 2 keep Fit

last thursday i finally took the first important step in buying a house - i went to the lawyer's office to sign the S&P. signing a bunch of papers may not sound like a big deal to some people, but it was for me. a momentous occasion that marked another milestone in my life. i flipped through the contract and came to the last page where there was a list of furniture left by the owners. at least there are things that i don't have to pay people to do (and waste more money). i hope that everything will go well, insyaallah.

My mixed breed kitten of persian-birman is turning my life upside down. before Tomo, i had a quiet life. the house didn't smell of cats and there were times when i went straight shopping after work. now, the house smells of cats, i talk the feline lovers' talk (about food and stuff) and i come straight home after work, and before feeding myself, i make sure i feed him first! Tomo was fragile and sickly when i got him, but he is very loyal and affectionate (means he trots behind me, scampers around me, and makes sure that i stay in his field of vision). despite thinking about how to care for him when i move to the new house, my heart wrenches at the thought of selling him because i have  this image in my mind - Tomo has this pitiful look that makes you want to cuddle him. at the time i'm writing this, Tomo is at my feet. despite the illnesses, Tomo is strong and today he received his first vaccination, so that made him a little subdued the past 2 hours.

and lastly, is my on-going quest to keep fit. i don't know if i want to put the term "to lose weight". i guess i prefer the term "to keep fit". after the 2 months of gym hiatus, i was eager to return to the gym. but i pushed myself (forgetting that despite the hill climbing and the walking i did in Makkah and Madinah i was still out of shape) so hard that i hurt my back the first week. that set me out of action for 2 weeks. during these 2 weeks i fed myself like nobody's business because the new school canteen operator makes its own sausage rolls, pau and currypuffs and the cook is a Siamese lady who cooks the best tomyam! and not to forget those delicious teh ais and air bandung made by Bob who usually sends the drinks only after i finish eating or when i find myself nearly choked. yes, i fed myself happily until i saw myself in the school toilet mirror. well, may be the mirror stretches the image sideways, so that we appear to be shorter and heavier. then, i sat at this one teacher's table. she keeps a small mirror. again, i found my face to be bigger than it should be. so i called this one slim teacher to see her image in the same mirror. guess what? her image is still the same! only then i realised that i was in denial and that i've gained weight. and so this week, i went to the gym 3 times, as i usually did in the past. i realised that i lost my stamina and was out of breath after 3 minutes of jogging at 6.6kmph. unheard of!

to stand up and start all over again is a slow, agonising process. but this is my own making and insyaallah i will triumph. though i do realise that i need to do some drastic changes if i want to lose weight again.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Goodbye, Prof Lim: A Tribute to Professor Lim Chee Seng

my friend Iris, who was my M.A. coursemate, sent me a message via facebook that our dear professor had passed away. i was numb at first, then felt an ache, and finally i started crying. 

it's strange that some people who are not related to us by blood can have such an overwhelming effect on us.

Prof Lim Chee Seng was the most celebrated Literature lecturer in UM  when i registered for the first year of M.A. at the Fac of Arts and Social Science in June 2001. because of his Beatle hairdo, i secretly called his hair "rambut topi jerman". that was also the time when i met my M.A. friends Elison, Jaya Sree and K.Zainon. Iris and Nash joined a semester later. Prof Lim taught us Rennaissance Literature, and out of all my lecturers, i think my classmates enjoyed his class the most, simply because he was like a father to us, and didn't mind a bit if we loosen up (unlike the other lecturers' classes, where we had to be the examplary serious literature scholars that we were supposed to be). i remember on the first day of our class he played Rennaissance music, but we were busily passing papers around to write down our emails and handphone numbers. he didn't mind at all. in all of his classes when we discussed Milton, Herbert, Donne and of course, Shakespeare, we would be fascinated with Prof Lim's extensive knowledge, and would be struck with awe when he started reciting lines from Shakespeare or Donne.

i owe a lot to him because he was willing to write a letter to the Ministry to back me up when i had some technical problem regarding the scholarship. imagine, he painstakingly wrote the letter himself, in Bahasa Melayu.a great man who didn't feel it was beneath him to type and print the letter himself when he could have asked one of the clerks in the Eng Dept office to do it.

in my second year, Prof Lim went to Jaidapur U to become Visiting Professor, but when he returned, there were new courses for the junior M.A. students and i really envied them because they got to learn from Prof Lim. and because of the reason that Prof Lim was away, too,i never got him as my dissertation supervisor. back then i decided on post-colonial literature as my area of specialisation.

when i received my graded dissertation, i was pleasantly surprised to find out that Prof Lim was my internal examiner and i remember his words "i recommend that the dissertation of this candidate be passed and be awarded M.A." 

2 years ago before he left UM, i remember asking him if he'd become my PhD supervisor should i return to my alma mater.

so, imagine my shock last night when i found out that this gentle, courteous and very much civilised literature scholar had passed on. iris told me that his house was crowded with people. even his facebook page was filled with words of commiseration from his former students, myself included.

so goodbye, my dear professor. and thank you for your knowledge and kindness.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Trip Back to Terengganu

i decided to return to Terengganu for the Chinese New Year hols to pay settle matters concerning the house in Terengganu. i went back with Sazi, and since i had company, i drove slower than i usually do when i'm alone. the roads were relatively calm and quiet, so my guess was the out-of-towners would only hit the road on the 2nd of Feb.

i had informed Pak Din, my ever so helpful neighbour, that i would be at home. the house greeted me with the unkept garden and weeds everywhere. i talked to Pak Din about my plan to rent it out since i'm going to buy a house here in KL. he asked me if i wanted to sell it. i know that many are interested in the house, but now i've started thinking like the late Abang Aziz who told me that there's a reason why Father left it to me. and since i'm going to buy a house and know how difficult it is to get even one house, i feel that i can't let the Terengganu house go so easily. i keep picturing Father paying for the house with his pension. because of that, i begin to appreciate it even more.

i brought Sazi to my usual ikan celup tepung spot, and the fried calamari was still as delicious as ever. that night, i couldn't sleep well and i began to think of my bed in Ampang and wondered why is it that i couldn't sleep in my own house. the next day, i had to wake Sazi early. there was no water in the house!! the water pipe must be clogged then. we decided to stay at the hotel.

i paid the quit rents at DBKT and at the Pejabat Tanah. though i must say that for the past few years (and even till now) the staff at Pejabat Tanah really try my patience with their very unprofessional remarks. after that we checked out a few hotels and finally i got to stay at my favourite place, Batu Burok Beach Resort. after checking in, i went to Sultan Sulaiman to meet with the old friends there. it's nice to be able to drive past the big school arch, and to park at the enormous car park, and to able to see my ex colleagues. none of the students recognised me, as the last batch of students i taught in SS sat for their SPM last year.  i met Kak Fadilah, the Head of English Panel, who promptly asked "are you coming back here for good? do you want to come back to SS?" i wish it was so, as i love the school but the fact is, it won't solve the problem.

the next day, i cleared my room out. i threw the old stuff and found some that are worth keeping. i even threw my parents' clothes out, something that i wouldn't even dream of doing last year. i guess i've come to a realisation that i've to move on with my life and that includes making the matured and wise decision to rent the house out. 

after the clearing out, we had lunch with my SS friends Ah Chooi, Shima and Zawiyah. these 3 people are the closest people to me in Terengganu, and i truly treasure their friendship.

on the day i was to return to KL i visited my parents' usual, tears just flowed down my cheeks as i prayed for their souls. i miss them terribly. but life must go on...

Monday, January 24, 2011

money, money, money

now that i'm in the process of buying a house, i find myself literally scrutinising my payslip - the monthly income tax deduction, and all. i even had migraines after doing and redoing the budget, to fit in all the loans and payments to be made once i start paying the Government loan. it got so bad that i was even contemplating of switching from City to a Myvi. a big difference, huh?

oh yes, i sighed. and i lamented of how i'm going to miss all those lovely times when i spent money on unnecessary things. committing yourself to buying a property makes you think closely of where your money goes. i don't even know how i'm going to survive, since i'm buying a house at a later age, but then at least i should be thankful that i'm buying a house when i already have a nice comfortable car and some furniture. i should see the world as half full instead of half empty right?

but anyway, i'm excited as it is and hope that i can move in soon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

hunting for a house

now that i'm back from haj, the next on my agenda is to buy a house. unfortunately though, as anyone can tell, it's not easy to find one. and when you're living in the city, finding a house on a budget is r-e-e-eally hard, especially when really nice houses can cost a bomb.

it's my dream to stay in a nice single storey terrace house in Taman Melawati, because i love the quiet and peaceful neighbourhood and it's a plus that Shidah and As are staying there.unfortunately though, i was told by an agent last week that a single storey terrace house in Taman Melawati can cost up to 400k and is a hotseller.

i went to view 2 houses in Bandar Seri Putra and Bukit Mahkota last Sunday. the first house was a 2 storey link house, and it's cheap considering that they had extended the house. but i didn't get that feeling  of "this is the house". so i asked Abg Najib to drive to the 1 storey semi d area. there's a lovely house on sale, but the price is too steep, considering that the distance to KL is around 40km (one way). i abandoned the idea of buying a house there and decided to browse through PKNS new housing projects - which, i later found out, are located at all the ceruk ulu places like tanjung malim???? and the new Alam place at Shah Alam.

i received a call from Kak Dah on Tuesday who told me that it's cheaper to buy second hand houses from the developer. i told her that i decided not to buy property near her house as it's difficult for me to commute. so Kak Dah gave this as an advice "take it as an investment". i was thinking, if i want to buy a house, it's because i want to stay in it, not to invest in it! unfortunately though, i'm no money-maker and won't know how to invest.

i'll be viewing several houses this weekend and next week, and i hope i'll be able to buy a nice, comfortable house for myself.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

the first week of school

let's just say that when new year ushered in, i wasn't out celebrating. i did that in my 20s but then the only celebration i had was talking on the phone for hours i think. anyway, i was sleeping, and could hear the dum dum sounds of the fireworks. most of my friends of my age were also in bed.what does that tell you about people in their 30s?

well anyway, i only had a week of rest after returning from hajj before the official staff meeting. i didn't really suffer from jetlag, but now i can feel the aftermath of the 40 day stay - fatigue takes control of my body and i find it an ordeal to wake up early for tahajudd. going to the gym is out of the question. 

most people will ask "what's your new year resolution?" thank god nobody asked me the question, because i think new year resolutions are overrated and so blase'. you don't have to wait until the new year to change, and besides, most people don't act on the resolutions that they made.

anyway, this year i didn't get to teach the best class in form 2 which is a shame, since i know i've the skills to help them to be better speakers, readers and writers. oh well...

there's a new canteen operator this year and the food is good, which is bad news for me (in controlling what i eat). we want to hold a potluck lunch, but we've to postpone it before some people make unsavoury comments. at this time i miss teaching in Sultan Sulaiman - where organising a potluck is an art. i like having potlucks because it's the most sincere and natural way to bond with colleagues. and also you get pahala for cooking the dishes and sharing it with other people.