Monday, November 30, 2009

Lunch @ Tao Cuisine, Autocity

4 'aunties' (read that as middle aged), one young adult and 2 kids. We've been making plans to go for a makan trip for some time but somehow it never quite got off. So, at the very first break in my boy's SPM timetable during the first week, we gave it a go. Left my boy at home to do his revisions. Took my girl.
Tao Cuisine
And Tao Cuisine at Autocity was our choice. We also threw in a short shopping trip at Sunway Carnival as well.... Started early from Alor Setar as we wanted maximum time to enjoy the food. Lunch is from 11.30 to 2.30 p.m. We got there a little early and had to wait for it to open.
Tao Cuisine
But it was good as we had the opportunity to wander around a bit. Tao at Autocity is a nice place. Good ambience and decor. I've been to the one in E-Gate on Penang Island but this one is really nice.

We were the first customers for lunch.... our hunger pangs quite pronounced as most of us didn't take our breakfast. Being there early was good cos it meant a quick appearance of the first orders.
Tao Cuisine
Dining is ala carte buffet. This is scallop with cheese. I think we did 3 or 4 rounds of that! With 7 people, it was quite easy to sample most of the nicer stuff on the menu. You can order in as much as you want but make sure you clear all the food. Can see that the place is very popular cos there was a steady stream of patrons. It's best to make reservations if you want to dine there. And oh! Lunch is definitely value for money.... Eat all you want for RM36++ per person, minus the sashimi (RM46++).
Tao Cuisine
We enjoyed the cheese fried in crabmeat, scallops with cheese, steamed abalones, grilled lamb shoulder, a whole range of tempura, salmon teriyaki, chicken, mantis prawns, shisamo (almost everyone of them is filled with roe), steamed octopuses, sushi, fruit salads... we were stuffed to the brim!
salad bar
Then to allow the food to settle a bit... we went over to Sunway Carnival to do a little window shopping. I wanted to go to East India since sales are everywhere now. In the end, Shin Hui bought the most... LOL! The bargain was too good to resist plus she had the 3 of us to 'convince' her. Not forgetting also the kind of body of our yesteryears. Managed to get one really classy looking laced black dress.

So a makan outing which I think all of us enjoyed very much. Just the gals.... one one boy. But when we asked him whether he would like to join us again the next trip, he enthusiastically said yes... 8)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Games With The Wall...

I actually enjoy the wall games. What are wall games? Basically you can hit a ball to the wall and it bounces back to you... LOL! And these are my 'wall games'. And they have been a source of blessings and release for me!

Volleyball was my first 'wall game' (my version anyway) that I played in earnest. This was a couple of years ago. I used to do my digging with the wall in the afternoons to improve my skills. Plus because I was terrible at it, 15 minutes would work out a good sweat. It laid the foundation to a better game control for me! Recently I lost that ball I used to dig against the wall during our tournament. I was touched when my team mate bought me a ball as a replacement lately... My wall game has also given me the opportunity to see the thoughtfulness and generosity of a friend.... 8)

And then squash! Another wall game. You can play it alone or with a partner. But lately, we've been playing quite a bit of it... just hitting the tiny black rubber ball into the wall and keeping it in play for as long as possible. Quite, quite fun too. And the best part is, it takes around 30 minutes per session. Son is now getting the upper hand over his dad! The advantage of youth! But dad is fighting back... he's putting in more effort into honing the basic skills! LOL! Am trying to get my gal to play... my mission for this hols! She's progressing.... from just picking balls to finally hitting the wall. She can do a volley of more than 10 now, after about 2 weeks!

Then there is also tennis... started some weeks back but stopped for a while due to the volleyball season. But found that I can enjoy hitting the ball at the wall too... ha! ha! Not good at this game yet but hope I'll get somewhere with it....

So, wall games... just me and the wall... and walls don't make poor line calls, dump you at its whims, basically like a friend who lends a listening ear sometimes and passes no comments. However, walls can also be very unexciting but sometimes that's what might be needed.

Still.. wall games. I've discovered that at some points it can provide calming and settling effects.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Page From the Past Revisited

My page from the past was revisited recently; thanks to technology. I still marvel at how I've been able to track down old friends (and be tracked down also).

We were on different continents. Yet we were able to talk for hours! What I find amazing is the familiarity and ease of flow in the conversation made me feel as though we had just picked up from we left off. Feelings like this is good for the soul. Fond memories and stuff only an old friend can remember. Funny how over the years we still hang on to some memories.

So yup! This is something worth noting down. We've all changed - grown older. 8) And also in some other ways. But we remained the same still in so many ways. She said my voice has grown 'deeper'. That must be one of my occupational hazards... from shouting on top of my voices to be heard over the din of a class! And I've had almost 2 decades of practice. LOL!

Anyway, it was a good 'catching-up' session. My sensible friend is still very sensible.... her feet were very firmly planted in the ground back then... still are today. But she has mellowed somewhat too... time does that to most of us, if we allow it.

So yup! I'm glad for this blast from my past.... somehow as we grow older, being able to get reconnected with our friends from that age of innocence and idealism is one of life's bonuses. Through them, we get a glimpse of how the years have changed us (or not). They're like mirrors with the capability of a time machine.

Good friends are important. They are like the lighthouses that dot our paths, pointing us in the way to go and helping us keep our feet firmly on the ground. And this is one of them! And for that I am thankful! 8)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Got Myself A New Set of Wheels...

.. and driving feels smooth again. Been thinking about getting my wheels checked. And since I'm planning a trip with my friends, I thought I might as well have it checked. Didn't want to have the tires skidding because the grip is no longer good. Neither did I cherish the thought have having them burst - one of the tyres had what seemed like a gash on it.

Anyway, I took it to my friend's place. Told him to do the necessary. In the end all the 4 wheels had to go.

Driving back and the pocket lighter, I could feel the difference. Four new wheels, none more worn out than the others and all properly aligned. The ride was silent and smooth. Felt good!

But, I know in a couple of months... maybe a year down the road... when the tires start to wear out again, the jagged sounds will come back. There might even be some unevenness again. And the grip might somewhat loosen up also. Our bodies - it's kinda like that too. At birth, supple skin, fantastic complexion.... then we get worn out as we age. The wear and tear of the journey called life... it's inevitable! So, do we get a set of new wheels as we move on? A renewable set of wheels beyond this divide? .... And not those nip and tuck types.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Science Centre, Northern Region

This place was opened early Nov; soft opening. We took Daughter there last Saturday. Son is now house bound. The Science Centre is located behind the Muzium Padi and beside the Aquatic Centre, which now seems to be lying idly. Nearby you can also see a huge sign - Gua Gunung Keriang... looks like there is a cave complex opening up soon too!
Entry to the Centre is still free for now but I expect they'd be charging soon. It was drizzling when we arrived. A few cars were already there. The complex is huge. Lots of empty space on the ground floor. The gallery is upstairs. The first exhibit which greeted us was a Proton car.

When we got in, we were disappointed that it was only one floor. There weren't very many exhibits. But a few weren't too bad, especially the 'Disaster' displays. Found the earth shaking house quite fun.

There were workers still putting up some more exhibits but work seem to be progressing rather slowly.
Kedah Science Centre
However, already we could see signs of vandalism. And rubbish strewn in one of the exhibits.. this huge man made tree (on the left of the photo) which you can climb up into the Playland. Kinda like Th Magic Faraway Tree.. 8) Children would find this fun!
Kedah Science Centre
However, they should put more guards on duty. Some components of the exhibits were already missing. Many of the exhibits did not have any instructions. Wonder what their Science Officer is doing. It can't be that difficult to put up all the instructions.

The rain got slightly heavier while we were there and it was very noisy from the inside. I dread to imagine how it'd roar when it pours. Roofing seems to lack dampening material.. either that of the roof sounded like zinc sheets!
Kedah Science Centre
Street Smart is there too... one of the reasons for this 'soft opening'.
Kedah Science Centre
They have activities for the kids, which is nice since it's school hols now. It's nice to have another tourist attraction up here. But the relevant authorities better step up on the maintenance as well as enforcement.
Kedah Science Centre
On our way out, saw this dying plant. So many workers around, so much rain falling onto the ground outside, yet this poor plan is dying cos no one remembered to water it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Have A Little Faith...

by Mitch Albom... and that's the most recent book I've read. Haven't done a book for some time. My reading has turned quickies these days. Read it via the Ipod. It's got a screen that hardly taxes the eyes. A few pages here and a few minutes there, in a small and convenient gadget like the Ipod made completing it something quite possible cos it's like 'stealing' time to read. LOL!

It's always nice reading Mitch Albom's books. Have read The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Tuesdays With Morries and For One More Day. Enjoyed all of them and this latest one is no different. Always liked the way he puts life's experiences so succinctly in a simple narrative.

Preparing for death. The main character started preparing for his death 8 years before it came. And he got the writer to agree to do his eulogy. Thus a relationship was started... or rather continued as Albom had been with the Reb since he was a kid.

Have a little faith... yeah! Faith is the thing that gives us hope. Faith is all that will matter when we leave this world. I like the illustration from the sages that he wrote in his book. A baby comes into the world with his fist clenched; as if ready to take the world. A man dies with his fist unclenched, open; he knows he takes nothing with him. An open fist holds nothing. For all that we own or even achieve, we take none of those with us when we leave this world. I could draw parallel comparison from the words of the Philosopher in Ecclesiastes. But one of my friends says she believes that we live and die.... and that's all there is. If that is it, what is there to stop us from doing the things which go beyond the boundaries of good morals?

Have a little faith.... life is about taking those leaps of faith into what should matter. Relationships with God and man. We live in an age where we constantly seem short of time, short hellos, conversations via social networking sites; Facebook is just that... faces on a page on the digital screen. No face to face; the human touch....

I'd give this book a must read. Light reading but contains many gems of life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do Our Students Measure Up?

For the next 6 weeks, no school but this school related post was written earlier... 8)

Been teaching for almost 2 decades.. and I seriously feel that there is deterioration of standards from then till now. We are more technologically advanced, yet we don't seem any better from the generation of yester years. Maybe it's because I've been teaching in the mediocre day schools for the most part of my career but my observation also tells me that it's closer to the actual situation.

We get avalanche of A(s) but students with no better problem solving abilities. Sports is also dead in many schools. Actually I find most of our students disinterested in the matters beyond their small little cocoons.

Schools are generally equipped with computer labs, powered by wi-fi etc, etc... but we seem to be drifting no where. Softwares are available to aid with the teaching but we hardly seem able to arouse much curiosity or inquisitiveness. By the time students get to secondary school, they're are generally more inclined to go for rote learning - regurgitation being the mode of spewing out what is in their brain. Or worse still, no learning! And these while away their years (till F5) at school. They become our nightmares! You need a few in each class and they disrupt the whole learning process. Exactly like the old Malay proverb; kerana nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga. Whatever happened to the 'for the greater good' concept?

So, when you get news that a former top SPM student (Nur Amalina with 17As) flunked her 2nd year medical study in a UK university, you wonder why. Failing is not to be totally unexpected as there are always reasons beyond our control. But when many other JPA scholars also seem to struggle to pass in their respective courses in unis all over, then something is grossly wrong. Jaguh kampung... I'm reminded of that!

Today it is an accepted notion that many of our local grads simply do not measure up when it comes down to performance. Majority seem more like robots who need input, be told what to do than have that independence and drive that used to be the taken for granted before.

Decades of crutches, years of compromising quality for quantity and race - this is where we have gotten ourselves. On the surface we look good. But go beyond, the tell-tale signs of cracks are beginning to appear.

We seem successful on the outside. The recent release of the UPSR results - so many straight A(s). Successful kids aren't they all??? I wonder... Amalina was a very successful kid. Today I am reminded of this verse from Proverbs... "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Success as what we understand may come at the price of the way they should go....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Afternoon at the Dewan Undangan Negeri Kedah..

DUN Kedah
That's where I ended up last Tuesday afternoon, after work. A bunch of us from school went to the Kedah State Assembly to attend the tabling of the 2010 Kedah State Budget by the MB, Datuk Azizan Abdul Razak.

Being the first time, it was kinda exciting at first. We took our seats and the bell was rung at 3 p.m. The announcement of the entrance of the Speaker marked the beginning of the session.
Bajet 2010 DUN Kedah
Actually I had no idea that it was the tabling of the 2010 Budget. I was expecting to see some 'debates'. So it was kinda disappointing. Listening to the tabling takes a lot willpower to stay awake cos like the National Budget, the MB rattled off lots and lots figures.
Bajet 2010 DUN Kedah
Anyway, the first thing that came into my mind when I entered the hall was how small the it was. Noticed that the various Pengarah(s) had seats in the Dewan too. Makes sense cos they need to be at the forefront of policy making. The DUN is after all the state's legislative body. I noticed that only one seat from the State Gahmen was empty but a couple from the Opposition (which is BN) were emtpy. BN reps are well known for their ponteng habit. The High Court declared Seputeh seat vacant because the Rep went missing for two consecutive State Assembly meetings without the permission of the Speaker. The hearing for the stay of execution of the ruling by the Election Commission will be on Monday. The EC had earlier over ruled the Speaker. Sometimes the EC seems like the BN's running dogs.... A rep who keep missing the State Assembly meetings should be booted out.
Bajet 2010 DUN Kedah
Spot the sleeping DUN if you can. Many observers took their 40 winks also... including some of my colleagues! LOL! Anyway, the sitting lasted only around 50 minutes before being adjourned to the next morning. It was only to table to the budget and it was utterly boring. But it must be kinda fun being the MB cos I noticed that as soon the tabling ended, all the reporters rushed down to snap his photos.... like movie star only.
Bajet 2010 DUN Kedah
Anyway, we were given a simple tea after the tabling upstairs. Not bad. He! He!
Bajet 2010 DUN Kedah
This is a shot from the press vantage point. LOL! My friend and I were among the press people! We went down to listen to the press conference while the rest ate. The MB can talk well... that's one of their job requirements I supposed, else how to convince the people to vote them in!

My impression of the sitting.... nothing much! Most of the reps looked bored. Some of them looked 'tak larat'. There's just no 'oomph' from them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


.. was reading about exercise and its effects. Anyway, these are some of the interesting stuff that I learned. No exercise is not good for us. Guess everyone knows that.

3 groups of mice. First group was allowed a sedentary life. The second was made to 'jog' leisurely for about half an hour and the 3rd group gets marathon runner training, a 2-hour run; daily. Then all the mice were exposed to a flu virus. Guess which group had the most mice dropping dead like flies?

The group that had most survivors was of course the 2nd group. But this is where things start to get interesting. In the first group slightly more than 50% of the mice succumbed to the flu virus. In the second group an amazing 88% survived the flu onslaught. But the surprise is in the 3rd group - the die-hard exercise freaks. More than 70% kaput from the flu virus. Looks like the more and harder you exercise, the lower your immunity becomes and the more likely you are to succumb to infections or take a longer time to heal. Too much exercise apparently lowers one's immunity if this study is taken seriously.

The next surprising thing... brawn equals to not-so-smart guy; kinda like Big Moose from Archie. Gym workouts on the muscle does not seem to make you any smarter. You still have to go for those more endurance type ones, those that make you pant and puff. Cos when you do the latter, your brain gets a higher dose of oxygen and other stuff and that is supposed to help increase your cognitive abilities. How's that? LOL! But all these data are just research. There are many things which we still don't understand... I just read today that jumping up and down (despite it being on the high impact type of exercise) is good for the bones...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finally some breather...

A busy week... and I'm happy for the break from work. Been a 'maddening' year at work. And I learned this also, all you need to do is be difficult a couple of times and it'll negate whatever positive things that you've done.

Also, we have very short memories. Short memories are good and bad. The word 'merapu' took on its true meaning for me too this year! At work there seems even more of this now. One merapu when one tries to show that one is 'very good'. But the more you merapu, the more you show your ignorance. It's maddening that this seems the norm now. And oh yes! Confirmed!. The rot indeed starts from the head and can spread to the rest of the body.
Empty Folder
Also a brief respite from in-house training. To go for a course only to come back with an empty folder... it happened. We were given a folder and after sitting through 4 hours of listening and listening, our folder remained empty. That was how prepared each of the 4 speakers was. Or to have courses, where we only to sit and yak, then come back with a certificate of participation; that's the level of integrity we're exposed to. So, a resounding yes... break means no need to attend such shams.

And also a respite from the paper push. The teaching fraternity does a lot of that now. Count heads (Headcount), updating countless files (which incidentally are dotted with false information), beautifying the school which actually hides the lack of everything else that is supposed to matter. In the mean time, I see more of all sort of prayers and ceramah keagamaan going on at school. More of what is supposed to be good but no better results. I see more ustaz (and ustazah too) with less than exemplary lives, more teachers who keep saying that we need to make sure our deeds are halal but seem to me like they condone a lot of haram behaviours themselves.... yup, people need God. Now if only God can come down and give us a ceramah about what hypocrites we've all been... wouldn't that be good? It's good to have movies like 2012 to remind us that. And it was also discouraging to read that the rot which has set in the MOE has finally hit MOH.... from Berita MMA Oct 2009 Issue, go read pg 26. I've been hearing some of such things. But to read about the level it has gone to.... makes me reevaluate many things. I always thought the medical fraternity would tahan longer....

Oh yes! Exams are on. Flood victims are still camped at the school. Day before the Meteorological Dept declared the Orange Status, one notch up from Yellow. But today, things seem slightly better. Candidates are maddening this year too. And we are reminded that we are responsible for the candidates' absence for their exams. It's crazy! What are their parents for? Somebody even wanted to suggest that the students call the schools if they need transportation. Doubly crazy! Like that might as well tell people to go beranak more since the cikgu-cikgu will also double up as their parents. At some point, we must draw the line between the jobs of parents and teachers!

So, hols again.. I know many drool at the fact that we get so many weeks off but I think we need that break. Next year when we walk into our classrooms... at least we'll be charged rather than drained as it is now. But most of us still have to go back to school for a day or two; some more. There will also be those of us who are invigilating... Some of us will be spending a couple of weeks grading the exam papers. And there'll be those who will be jet setting around. Ah yes! The kenduri season is back on too...

But a break... that is still welcomed. I'm looking forward to working on my tennis this hols.... and also for the exam to end..... and also some time to clear out some stuff... and also moving on! Games is in Sabah this year but I'm not going. Volleyball not in the list. I mean I'd probably be called under badminton but the friends are not there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good bye Form Four Literature...

Next year we start with new lit stuff for Forms 1 and 4.. I shall miss these familiar poems.
  1. Sonnet 18 - I don't agree with Mr Shakespeare. Beauty is fleeting. Anyway, if 2012 happens, no amount of immortalizing in any forms will make any difference.
  2. Si Tenggang's Homecoming - my favourite line in this poem has to be this; "Travel makes me a seeker who does not take what is given without sincerity; or that demands payments from belief."
  3. There's Been A Death In The Opposite House - no one escapes that. Even a little boy has to witness it but death comes with its own 'festivities' too.
  4. Monsoon History - it reminds me of the good old days when the pace was slower and we had time to pause and look at the snails and flowers. I remember spending a long time, watching snails make their way in my little garden back home when I was young. I wonder whether kids still do that. Mine watches snails in the aquarium... and I think she sees more snails on screen and pictures.
  5. The Road Not Taken - all of us have that road(s) not taken in our lives. My favourite in class cos I can 'story-story' so much with it.
  6. If by Rudyard Kipling - this is all the ifs in one's life but too deep for most of them. I usually end up really tired from trying to translate it into BM for them to understand better. Majority of my students are just not ready to handle this slightly 'higher' level of thinking.
There are the Short Stories (The Lotus Eater, The Necklace, The Drover's Wife, The Sound Machine, Looking For A Rain God)... I shall miss them too I guess cos we see ourselves in each of the stories. But it's time to change cos I think they've run out of questions to set. They seem to have opted for something more local and contemporary but this time around, the MOE is quite slip shod as we've not been sent for any refresher's course. So, next year we start on our own, raba-raba dalam gelap ourselves. So very typical of the way things are done. Holiday assignments... to read up the Lower Form lit... Rumpelstitskin is in in drama Form I hear... At 13 and still doing fairy tales.... I dunno. Maybe 'To Kill A Mockingbird' or something along that line would be more suitable. Menjana minda kritikal in teenagers via children's fairy tales?

And holidays coming up... no enthusiasm like last year's. The skies are gray, the river water is up, water, water everywhere and my boy is sitting for his exam. Plus my faith in people got really dented this half of the year.... but like the lit thingy probably there is a life span.

But still hols are still hols! 8) And it's still a cause for celebration!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where to go for oysters in Alor Setar?

I'm in the mood for oysters now... We used to have oysters when we were younger.

Mom used to buy a packet of shelled oysters from the market and she would lightly scald them in hot water before throwing in cili padi and some vinegar. Those were small oysters, not the big ones that we see on television hosted by gourmet chefs. Then she would keep the pickled oysters in the fridge to cool. I used to love it even back then cos it was nice to be eaten with rice. But it was a luxury that I got to enjoy occasionally.

That was years ago... I stopped eating 'raw' oysters after I left home except for the occasional 'oo-chien' (oysters fried with eggs and batter). Anyway, oysters are not something you get from the eating outlets here.
But Kaede (the only Japanese Restaurant in town) serves them. It's located right in the centre of the town, at where the Stesen Bas Baru used to be. I tried some a few months back. Then I took some friends to try it. And there has been no turning back.... 8)

Just learned that there are 3 broad classifications: Pacific, Olympia and Atlantic. Oysters have good nutritional values but because we take it raw, there is always a possibility of bacteria being swallowed together. Ah! The price one has to pay for food that is liked!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SPM 2009

.... the awaited day for years, so one young man I know said. I guess it's quite true for many. Freedom awaits! A whole new life, even a new world may await... or maybe the same world. But whatever it is, it is another step forward, forced or willingly.

My boy will be sitting for his also this year. My hope? Of course like any parent, I hope he will do well, score as many A(s) as possible. He'd probably want that also.

But I guess what's most probably more important is this... that he wants to do his best. Doing well and trying to do his best I feel are two different things. To do well these days is slightly easier than before. They've lots of reference books to help them, lots of last minute cramming sessions they can attend at various tuition centres and of course buy all those tips going around now. Not forgetting the pushing from all quarters that seem unrelenting. I hear too there are some tips costing up to RM600 that one can buy! And there seem not to be a lack of buyers. Alleged 'soalan bocor' is always sought after. Everyone wants that 'A'.

To try to do his best.. that comes from himself, the drive comes internally and not externally. In wanting that, he'll himself, make time to study and work to remedy his weaknesses, etc.... at the end of it, he'll walk away from it probably with more treasures like being resolute, disciplined, organized, matured, etc, etc.... Cos I guess for me the crux of the matter will be whether he can live a life that is pleasing to God..... and we need all those 'treasures' to help us along.

So, SPM here they come... almost 500 000 of them this time around! And my life for the next couple of weeks will also be tied to this exam.... in more than one ways; mother, driver, teacher......

Monday, November 16, 2009

The things which should concern us but don't seem to...

  1. The famous VK Linggam's former secretary Jayanthi LG Naidu said that she used to withdraw large sums of RM100K to RM300K and then wrapped them in gift boxes to various judges. What have the authorities done despite such claims? They closed the investigation documents! Big names here...
  2. It seems Indians are more likely to be shot dead if they criminals or suspected. In a way, I feel sorry for many of them. There is no affirmative action for the poor Indians. Affirmative action (such as NEP) is only for one race. 1Malaysia? Takes lotsa convincing.
  3. The Negeri MB (Hassan) apparently transferred RM10 million out of the country via a money changer, an act that is against the country's law... so far no action. Maybe case closed also???
  4. The Bar Council has been ordered to pay RM70,000 in costs to lawyer VK Lingam in connection with the decision to set up a tribunal to investigate a complaint against him over an alleged vacation in New Zealand with former chief justice Mohd Eusoff Chin in 1994. That despite confirmation from his secretary above that Linggam paid for the holidays. I am no lawyer but what I understand from this is the Chief Justice got a free holiday......
  5. PI Bala is back... best known for... conflicting Statutory Declarations, both to do with the woman whose name cannot be mentioned and the head of an ASEAN country...
  6. PM Najib says he wants to bring back the Malaysian diaspora... our country long bled of her talents and brains. Now he says he wants to attract them back. Old news... we've been talking about this for years. Each time the same problem will happen - spouse's PR cannot be arranged, no meritocracy, cronyism, inefficiency... the list is the same! Same idea, stale problems.
  7. The death of 3 students in Kampar when the bridge collapsed.. where is the 1standard for 1Malaysia. Face it, the 2standards that we practise is responsible for their deaths. Teachers, organizers, local authorities, engineers, contractors.... all of them were responsible. Yet no one has been made accountable... if my child were involved... I'd probably be cursing them to hell.... I cannot imagine the anguish of the parents. I dare not....
  8. The Herald's publishing permit was renewed then revoked and then disclaimer of the latter as a misunderstanding.... the word Allah is one of the contentions. I thought freedom to practise one's faith is guaranteed under our Constitution. But the rights to build houses of worship for other faiths is under threat.... only we don't seem to see it.
  9. And it's cool what the residents of Subang Jaya are doing regarding the construction of an LRT route in their area. They've started a blog to gather feedback. We know how most government agencies work... their "We'll gather the necessary feedback.' and 'We'll be acting on it.' often sound hollow. And very often what matters to the people are swept under the carpet... There should be more of such initiatives to hold the local, state and federal authorities accountable. A blog (or anything that is online) makes information very accessible... very.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia

Taking a cue from Haris Ibrahim's initiative...

I am first and foremost a Malaysian. I've never pledged allegiance to any other country. But there have been many points in my life when I harboured intentions of migrating but those were brought on by moments and opportunities which I felt I was denied by virtue of my skin colour. But generally, this is my birthplace and so far this is where I've spent all my life.

I think my country is a blessed country. A country of sun and fertile soil. All it takes is some effort. Other Half's grandma used to say this... in Malaysia, you can throw a seed anywhere, and it will grow. She came from China, a land with 4 seasons and natural disasters. Winter months were harsh. Death induced by nature was not something rare.

Technically, I too am also a daughter-of-soil here. I was born here. My race should have nothing to do with the rights that should be accorded to a citizen of this land. Yet, my race has stood in the way of many opportunities afforded to those who say they are the sons and daughters of this soil. I've had to work doubly hard and very often pay more. I get no discount for house purchase too.

In this land, religion which is supposed to be the face of compassion has been used to divide and sow seeds of mistrust. Faith which we say guide our lives are used as tools to entrenched ourselves in the seats of power. We damned the principles of fair play and justice and replace them with skewed values; those that fit into our agendas. So it is no surprise that within that skewed values you'll find even more skewed ones like the Marina Undau plight.

Recently we had to fill in a HR form and in one of the columns we had to tick either Bumiputera or non-Bumiputera. I ticked both! I am Malaysian, no? Najib said so... 1Malaysia.. not 2Malaysia or 3Malaysia. In 1Malaysia, everyone is Malaysian. Everyone is supposed to have 1equal opportunity. But I am still hopeful that change for the better will come. I only ask for 1scale, 1yardstick, 1measure for everyone not the 2standards (sometimes 3) that we seem to be practising.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


...that's short for Sasaran Kerja Tahunan. And this is how gahmen servants are appraised. Appraisal is part and parcel of any jobs. Appraisals are important cos through it we canpick the right people to reward and identify those people with potential for greater responsibilities.

Tis the time of the year when we have to fill in the SKT forms. Throughout this later part of my teaching career we are constantly reminded that all teachers are the same... there can be nothing extraordinary from any individual (or groups of) teacher where classroom teaching is concerned. All of us are supposed to be same! Sama-sama mediocre or cemerlang, whichever way you want to interpret. Maybe the people up there think we are all like the ants... worker ants, warrior ants - semua can work and work the same way; with no brains of our own.

Our bosses never fail to remind us that to be awarded the APC one must have lots of outside involvement... (which makes up 5% of the total). That 5% is supposed to determine whether we are par excellent, not whether we are able to teach effectively, or whether most of our students do well in their exams... but how kaypoh we are in and out of the school... but if we look further I think it's lip service cos finally award goes to those favoured ones; those who 'jack'.

Being a good teacher doesn't seem to matter much these days. The business of teaching has taken on a different face, I feel. It's leaning more towards the art of hoodwinking others into believing that you have done exceptionally well when it's not so. It is also important that you learn the art of dressing up your SKT forms.... it's the content that will get you the recognition, not the actual work done. Some of us call it survival skills. And you wonder how the admin people fail to arrest that. And then realization - and it's with horrors of horrors; they got where they are now with the same modus operandi. A vicious cycle has now been perpetuated.

And oh yes! This year I overheard this from a very senior teacher who has been stuck at her max for 9 years. Apparently the second boss told her not to expect anything.... What a way to tell a teacher... your work didn't really make the grade. Then I overheard again, how the PK HEM wrote about 20 pages worth of SKT (leaves me scratching my head what's on it....) Wonder the outcome of this whole thing... since we've been about visits to the boss' house, etc, etc.... Well, looks like paper work is the way to go....

So mediocrity, cronyism and inefficiency; like the Chimera, a monstrous creature made up multi-animals and which has also come to represent the foolishness that we've brought upon ourselves, continue to be the hallmark of our teaching profession... at least from my standpoint.

The Minister of Education recently said that schools that perform will be awarded high performance standard...We already have so many different categorization of schools, so many awards like Sekolah Harapan, etc, etc... This latest effort seems to point to the fact that we are still trying to find a way to get ourselves out of this mediocrity pit that we've gotten ourselves into. Sinking... sinking... sinking... trying to grab hold of something....

Friday, November 13, 2009


The insects and us have more in common than you think... 8) A cocoon is a protective casing that is either silk or some other similar fibrous material that is spun around the insect during the pupal stage. Pupal stage is the life stage where the insect undergoes transformation before it becomes an adult. One of the most popular example is that of a butterfly... I always think the creatures enter the cocoons quite hideous looking but come out totally transformed into something quite beautiful.

Cocooned... today I just thought of how each of us cocoon ourselves. We have many cocoons that we build for different areas in our lives. From faith to friends to work and the way we lead our lives. From home to work place to worship places such cocoons exist. Within each cocoon we adapt an even modify those set of rules and way of lives which suit us... right or wrong defined by us. I guess the clear rights and wrongs are easy to set apart. It's the gray areas... in our little cocoons we justify such things. For example, it is common belief that in order to secure a contract with the gahmen, a company has to give 'gifts' (in other words bribe) to gahmen officials. So in our cocoon we justify by saying that it is a necessary evil to do business here. Corruption legitimized....

Or for those who deem themselves religious... their little cocoons might be places where they impose harsh laws and pass them as God's. As in one email that has been circulating about how an 8-year-old Iranian boy had his hand crushed by a vehicle for stealing bread. In such cocoons, the laws are harsh because the 'faithfuls' think they are being faithful for following God's laws. I'm sure God must be aghast at how easy we forget to be compassionate.

Then there are those cocoons whom we built to insulate ourselves from the morality issues. Living together before marriage used to be frowned upon. But in our little cocoon, we justify it by saying that living together provides a testing ground for compatibility. Or even things like social drugs...

In the cocoons that we spin for ourselves, we apply practices, indulge in rituals which sometimes only serve to satisfy the order that we create. We use rituals as excuses for our saving grace... to pay penance for our wrongs and say I've paid my debts and am now good again before my Creator. In our own little cocoons we spin casings for ourselves, away from the transformation that awaits us if we break free from its walls...

Cocoons allow us to insulate ourselves from coming face to face with what should be... But if you stay too long in such cocoons... you eventually die too. The effort must come from those who cocoon themselves to break free.... we have to struggle and work to transform for if it's done any other way, it might be a very short lived thing.

Dunno why I thought of cocoons today.... ramblings, rumblings...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Family Member Called TV

TV is undeniably part of most families in this country. It's hard to find homes without a TV these days... such is its prevalence.

TV started to make its presence felt in homes beginning from my gen. We had our first TV set while I was still in primary school and the colour TV (it was a big deal to have a colour TV back then) made its appearance in my home when dad bought a 20" Philip TV housed in a wooden case with 2 speakers by the side when I was in Std 6. It took up quite a lot of space in the hall.

The worlds of Giant Robot and Ultraman were what we waited eagerly weekly. We'd wait for 5 p.m. on those days Giant Robot was supposed to be shown. But mom never allowed us a free hand with it. TV hours were regulated... highly. It could only come on in the evening when we were kids. But by 6 p.m. when the door of the house was unlocked, we generally prefered to be out in the field beside our house to play... different seasons brought different focus - kites, tops, marbles, firecrackers, skating and games as we grew older..... On weekdays, the TV went off after the news at 8. My uneducated mom would made us listen to news in BM. Then it would be switched off. On weekends, we were allowed longer viewing hours... that was how we got our dose of P. Ramlee. We loved his shows!

As we grew older, my sis and I would occasionally sneaked out at night when we thought mom had gone to sleep to watch Peyton Place and Dallas. But we'd switch off in a hurry when we thought she was going to wake up. But as we entered into our late teens, the rules were relaxed, partly because by then we, more or less, could self-regulate. She would still nag occasionally when we 'over-watched'. But tv was something she never encouraged. Till this day, she still prefers to potter around the house than sit glued to the tv.

So how much TV does an average kid watch these days? I'd say quite a lot. I've seen parents put their toddlers in front of the box. I've seen kids who have not yet learned to walk placed in front of the box, eyes locked to the animated pictures on it. I see mothers and grandmothers with kids of all ages in tow, glued to the TV when the serials start. I've seen TV now being used as a baby sitter... The TV has evolved into a non-living family member which actually contributes something to the family... LOL!

It has come a long way; from those tubes housed in wooden boxes.. and then growing in display size to the super thin lcd/plasma screens that hang on our walls. It's gone sophisticated with all the HDD and what have you not tech jargons in tow.

But is it good? I think my mom was right... too much tv is not good for the kids. In the make believe world of TV, everyone is too perfect, even the villains. And way too much flaunting takes place... The real stuff in life becomes trivialized through the reality shows.... they focus too much on winning, too much on the rat race values.

As for me, I have a TV at home too but it sits in our room. Kids usually watch when one of us is at home. I'm trying to ensure that my kids grow up where the TV does not become their main preoccupation.....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gender Equality

This is the age of emancipated women.. I'd rate my life better than my mom's; most definitely. Her life was better than my grandma's. Going by that logic, there has been progress. But is it real progress? ... or one of appearance cos today's women are generally successful, they are everywhere in the corporate and political world. In many parts of the world, women play roles in legislation, judiciary and executive.

What of the men? Has Man's life seen progress as well? Man the hunter, man the breadwinner, and now man in the equation called gender equality. I'd say man's life has become much better also cos in a double income family, their burden is also lessened. Now some are even able to slot in a game of golf here and there. No need to be hunting and gathering all the time. Progress also! Win-win. But let's see who 'wins' more.

The quantum of progress with reference to personal choices is definitely very apparent in women. The ability to earn has brought forth a more confident and independent woman. There's no need to depend on anyone else for her own living. A woman's voice is heard in most part of the world now, except for those still shackled by extreme religious and cultural views. Women in the ancient world were basically deemed only good enough for the kitchen or 'owned'. Back then, tales of subjugation would be the norm. But today too cultural values remain... for the Chinese, the woman marries into her husband's family and all that. I see the reason for such a practice in ancient times but it does not work that way any more.

Let's take a look at progress in terms of responsibilities. Today's woman is an emancipated woman. What has changed for the emancipated woman? For many married ones, she goes to work, brings home an income, sees to the kids, sees to the maid (if any), makes sure the house is in order, makes sure food is on the table... etc, etc. There are housewives too and many of them have a good life as some of them even have maids to ease their chores. For the lower income, many of them work too as soon their children are old enough to go to school. The demands of today's world are many!

Those who choose to remain single has a great deal of freedom. It is now acceptable to remain single. The word social stigma attached to a spinster seems to have faded into the background somewhat. In fact many are choosing to stay single.

The modern man with a working wife? He goes to work. He comes home - maybe helps out a little. But most couples I know rarely talk about the husband doing the other stuff apart from work on their job. Their world has remained basically almost the same... if not better. The single man can probably be lumped with the single women now.

But what has the emancipated woman gotten herself into? She now has to be a super juggler, juggling between work, family and house. It's a crazy schedule she keeps and on top of it, she's expected to be on par with her male counterparts at work. In the mean time, the world at home remains very much her domain. Most husbands will just close an eye to the clutter and if there is a need to get the food ready, they'll just hop into any stall or restaurant they fancy.

The way I look at it... it's a win-win for men but a win-lose for women. Just my 2 sen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More on FaceBook

Earlier I wrote about the farming craze.... but if farming is not your cup of tea, you can always try to start a digital zoo full of exotic animals. LOL! One late night, I asked a friend how come she was still up and you know the answer?? Clearing her FB farm cos she was going to be away for 2 days... worried that the digital produce will go spoilt. The make-believe world has entered the real world. Most of the time we believe it to be harmless but I am also mindful of the Columbine shooting.

Then there's this netizen from Taiwan who is attempting to sue FB for making him pay for services he bought for his farm (on an apps called Happy Farm)... you know what he bought? Guard dogs! For his digital farm! You pay real money for non-tangible things! Why did he buy those digital dogs and then sue?

Lately I notice that there are more notifications I'm receiving on FB. I find them irritating as it clutters up my desktop with unnecessary info. FB, for me is a good way to know what's going on with my friends or have a round of good discussion on issues. Or even know what the young people are thinking. I find it a good way to keep contact. Sometimes the first signs of future trouble (and also good news) also presents itself on FB.

On FB people announce all kinds of stuff. I think for most part they're okay. Recently I told a friend happily that her uni going daughter had listed herself as being in a relationship. At uni level, that should be good news, so I thought. Guess what? She went private on her FB and my guess is I got 'booted' out for telling her mom. LOL! I'm taking this in good humour cos I now realize that there is this selective audience target thingy going on.

Now I know that was not meant for her parents' knowledge but only for her friends to note. Most parents are okay with their kids being in a relationship at college level, I imagine. That's supposed to be the normal progression. That's unless her parents have laid down strict no-no(s). Anyway, her dad thinks it's about time. Anyway too, if information is not meant for all to know, then better not announce on FB. Aiyo!

I notice too many posting pictures of themselves in all kinds of activities. It's fine to share good moments with friends. But I think many fail to take note the need to be careful about what is posted, especially the young people. Someday, when the sober years hit, you are going to wonder why you posted those pics of yourself. But then again, I always feel that if good sense refuses to prevail, then nothing like learning it the hard way.

I've had a fun time with some of the young people on FB. There was one night we chalked up 50+ posts on a single thread. Poor gal had so many notifications on her threads. While at it, joined another young friend I know in her tagging game... It was kinda funny. FB actually enabled me to fool around a bit... let me remain in touch with some of the people who come into my life.

But bear in mind also it is now very possible to build a dossier on one based on their FB activities.

FB can be a good tool.. but like everything else we must be responsible with it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gray Skies, Rising Waters

For the first time, I saw my work place being converted into a relief centre. Arrived at school this morning to find this... blankets, carpets hanging to dry on the raillings! Yesterday night 40+ flood evacuees made their way to our classrooms. This will be their temporary home until the flood waters recede. A whole floor had been cleared as makeshift 'home'.
A shirtless pakcik was seen walking around the school in the morning and it was rather amusing... to see impropriety co-existing side by side with strict dressing codes. LOL!

Water level has been rising and in some low lying areas, the river banks have burst. Many villages are now technically flooded. This morning as I was driving to work, I noticed that many of the areas beside the river are now inundated. And in the evening, as I drove back from town the river in town is also definitely higher than the day before. In some places it is near breaching point. Hopefully it'll subside.

In the morning, one of my colleagues said her house in the kampung was already surrounded by water the night before. At noon the water level was still rising. Places like Langgar now look like lakes. And the water continues to flow from 'upstream' unabated. It seems Hatyai is also experiencing some flooding now. The last round of a bad flood was in 2005. Then, Jitra town literally became like New Orleans as it also sits in a bowl. That year, the flood was without rain. In a matter of hours, the whole town was flooded.

Anyway, experts are warning that the worse may yet to come as the strong Siberian winds from the north are expected to blow in more rains.
This was lunch time. I feel sorry for the evacuees. The new toilets in this new block don't function properly. They broke down within the first year of operations.... speaks volumes about the quality of our construction work, especially gahmen related projects.
But this once, Sekolahku is indeed Rumahku. How can one tell? All along the stairways, I see a trail of biscuit crumbs. Small children and their trails.... LOL!

My Christmas Tree Has Gotten Smaller!

My soon-to-be-not-so-little girl put up the Christmas tree rather early this year.. on the 4th November, to be exact. Usually it will only come up once school hols begins. And school hols is not set to start for another fortnight. And Son is not in the get-the-tree-up mood this year as he's sitting for his big exam. She was down with flu and we kept her at home, thinking it would be a good rest for her. But when I came back from work, lo and behold, the Christmas tree was all up.
She spent the whole morning putting up the tree with her aunty. I notice that this year my Christmas tree has shrunken. Cos my little girl has grown much taller. The Christmas tree has been her domain these last few years... she'd be the one all excited about taking it and all its deco out. It gives her hours of pleasure just getting the tree up!

This year, she took it out early cos she wanted her teacher to enjoy the lights with her... Shin Hui has been good for the girls. Learning has been fun for her and my neighbour's girl. They look forward to her lessons cos she made the lessons fun, almost like play. I think they'll miss the hide-n-seek games with her. It's with a tinge of sadness that I write this as she is asking for a transfer home next year. It's been a good year for the girls..... They'll miss her for sure. And me too cos this friendship from the volleyball court has extended itself into our daily lives and as a result, also been a blessing for these girls.... but I am wishing her the very best for her future.

Coming back to the tree.. it seems so much smaller this year. Last year, it looked kinda big. The year before it looked kinda huge... but this year it looks small, almost like a 'baby' tree. My baby girl is growing up and soon the growing pains of teenage years will hit. But for now, we'll enjoy her just a little bit more.... and she's been spending every night sitting (and sometimes lying) by the tree with all the house lights off and the tree lighted up. For a little kid in her little uncomplicated world, blinking Christmas lights can still be a wondrous experience.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Makan-Makan @ 5 Utara in Jitra

This restaurant basically serves Thai food and they're quite good. They used to be located next to Lye Huat Stone Garden but relocated to Jitra town some years back.
jitra,thai food,5 Utara
Now it's located right at the junction of the main traffic light in town.

I occasionally go there for makan with friends and sometimes Other Half if we are in the vicinity. What is nice here. Well, the kaeng som for one. Had that with my volleyball (and badminton) friends the other day.

I was there again last Thursday... for lunch. It was a spur on the moment decision. So after school me and my 2 friends went there. It was already way past 2 when we arrived but there was still a small crowd there. Goes to show that there not that many restaurants in Jitra.
I had been thinking about the 'claypot' tanghoon with prawns since our makan the other day. The claypot is actually a metal pot. Anyway, the prawns were big and fresh enough. There were more than enough for the 3 of us.
ikan keli,phat pet
We also had the phat pet catfish (ikan keli) with long beans. This dish is rather spicy but appetizing. With hot rice, it's quite nice. The catfish was fried to crispiness before being stir fried in phat pet style.
spinach,kangkung,batter fried
And this.. kangkung (spinach) coated with batter flour deep fried. It's kinda like tempura style but not as light cos they can't seem to shake off the oiliness. But it's nice as finger food; to dip in the chilli or tomato sauce.

You can have coconut fresh from the fruit and also coconut jelly (as in jelly in the coconut fruit) for desert here. All 3 of us had both. I was greedier... I had a whole coconut jelly all to myself.

Two straight days of binging... the day before I took Son, Daughter and Jovaynne out for Japanese food cos I wanted to eat oysters!

One thing though... saw some Pegawai Penguatkuasa Jitra at the shop. They must be going after the proprietor for the awning extended behind the shop. But I always wonder why these Pegawai Penguatkuasa who seems so efficient in certain places never go after those stalls erected haphazardly in many of the housing areas in Jitra. They don't seem to be consistent in carrying out their enforcement.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thankful For Distractions

These past few weeks have been filled with enough distractions to fill a year but I am glad for them. At a time when I needed some breathing space, there were enough activities to keep me occupied, to the point of exhaustion if I may add. It's like a holiday for the mind. LOL!

It started with a whole week of sun and tan... it's a little crazy, I know but it gave all of us something other than just the 4 walls and students to face. Routine and boring.

And despite the best of intentions, things aren't what they seem. As a result trust suffered a big dent. I was naive on 2 fronts. So where I used to tread freely, I now know there actually exist clear boundaries. I wish I had known earlier but how could I when I was led to believe otherwise. But I see the good of knowing than not.

But then the excitement of the games... the adrenaline highs. And FB allowed the sizzles of the euphoria of winning to last a little longer. It made me appreciate that I can still do the things that I do... these things which I take for granted, but should not. Our time line is exhaustible.

After that was back to catching up with work; and there was quite a bit of it. I had to turn down a request from an old friend to go to Langkawi to do some writing for the coming week. Sorry, old friend. 8( Would have been great to be able to catch up.

Events out of the usual continue to pop up, and for that I am thankful cos it has allowed me to move out of my disillusionment and move on. Nothing is permanent and I've come to accept that quite readily.... Even life is temporary! 8)

I kinda liked what one of the young people wrote.....
.....the one true person you can rely on is none other than God. Of course, family and friends play a super duper important role, but nothing can beat having a someone who is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Someone permanent....
Distractions... never thought I'd be thankful for them but thankful I am! 8)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cakap bukan-bukan

Other Half has been asking how come so many titles with Bahasa Malaysia... dunno, flavour of the week, I guess... 8) Maybe I should start writing more in BM also. I am after all very at home with it also. 8)

Ever since I wrote the piece on say what you mean, I've been paying more attention to my own words as well as others. And it's been an interesting observation...

Many of us like to 'simply talk' or cakap bukan-bukan. There was this one day when a friend of mine said something she didn't mean... we were talking about dancing as a leisure activity and how it has wrecked many marriages. Anyway, she blurted out something which I know she wouldn't like but said would be okay with her. I took her to task and pushed for what was said and after a while guess what? My friend got annoyed... even in her annoyance, she continued saying it was okay. And it amuses me in the sense that we are often like this. Why do we do it? Say all these things we don't mean? Sometimes we want to show that we are in control or maybe boast a little... reasons abound.

We say (and sometimes do) a lot of bukan-bukan but only for as long it suits us or if we feel we can get away with it. It makes us feel good for various reasons. I see my students getting out of control in classes with many of my colleagues. Many of these start with the cakap-cakap bukan-bukan or merapu but they often get out of control because after a while, the words said take on a life of their own. Even a well-behaved student can get out of control. Simple reasons.. we begin to believe our own words after some time. Our friends believe those words too. Before long you become the words you mouth. Add that to teachers who also don't mean what they say... you have double jeopardy! Students go lagi sesat! I kinda wish we have Mr. Moses Tay's style of disciplining...

I've got watch more on what I say, I realize. It's not what goes into the mouth that defiles us. It's what comes out of it. Like it or not, we are held accountable over what comes out from our mouths. We will be judged by what we say.

In these last couple of weeks, it's become clearer that very often what comes out of our mouths portray us to be people with double standards. Cakap sama bikin... banyak susah!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ayahanda, oh ayahanda.....

There are school heads who refer to themselves as Ayahanda or Bonda to the students. You have one school starting and the rest soon follow suit. I don't know but maybe they find it chic. Schools also ape and compete with each other. 8) Anyway, this Ayahanda Pengetua or Bonda Pengetua thing is probably another attempt to project a caring image.

I don't quite take to the use of such terms cos I think they demean the concept of mom and dad. What does a dad do? The image in my head says this.... He goes out to work and brings home the dole to put food on the table, clothes on our back and whatever other things that the children need.

So, if you call yourself an Ayahanda or Bonda to the students, shouldn't you be doing that also? We are called Principals and Teachers principally because we are supposed to fulfill the task of educating those kids who are placed in an institution called school. Mom and dad?? They belong to the institution called home.

Moms and dads have their duties too... and I think we should not get confused over it.

I always wonder why they don't even want to use the term Ayah or Ibu (Bu) which strips the formality and 'nobility' out and probably make them sound more like your everyday mom and dad. Could it be maybe the terms Ayahanda or Bonda, probably also subtly remind us that like the orang istana, they have the orang suruhan to do the taking care of the students. Cos seriously, do you think a Royal would actually soil his/her hands to wash their baby's poo? Real moms and dads do that, don't they? But then again, with kakak (maid) these days, they also don't. LOL!

So, I wish they would just cut out the show of such terms and get down to the job of being heads. We need good, upright and principled Principals; not Mom or Dad to run the school. Else we might just as well home-school our kids. School is school... so is home, home. We should cut out all the pretenses and get down to the real business of educating and teaching....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Penumpang is Bahasa Malaysia for passengers.

Was at a shop the other day and listened in to a conversation between the proprietor and his customer. I was not privy to the first part of the conversation which was before I entered the shop. But he said something about us Chinese shouldn't get angry when being told that we're penumpang in this world. The tone of his voice caught my attention.. and I made it a point to listen to the ongoing conversation while picking up my stuff.

I guess his other customer must have insinuated something when he mentioned this penumpang thingy cos the next thing he said was, if the Malays (Malays are synonymous to Muslims to Malaysia) believe this penumpang concept to be true, then the corruption and all the mismanagement and poor governance also should not be an issue. Cos they too are penumpang in this world. They too have a destination. And how they act in their journey too will have an effect on which destination they end up.

Penumpang(s) we are, and that is undeniable. Where are we heading? Where is our destination? If we are clear about that, then we won't be seeing the left hand committing wrongs and the right hand giving out alms... but then again, this might be too theological for many to stomach. Used to be God, then family, community and self, in that order of importance. These days, it's Self, Family (???), Community... if possible no God in the order. So, everything boils down to self justification... so right hand bagi rasuah, left hand give alms.... both pun charity.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If we are not prepared to be wrong...

What does this actually mean - if we're not prepared to be wrong? I remember years ago, I was only a rookie in my job. One day my new boss came up to me and asked whether I knew how to use the computer. Back in the 1990s, most people were still computer illiterate. I said I was okay with it... 8) Actually I had a good back-up in my Other Half! LOL!

In the ensuing weeks, as he talked more to me, he started throwing ideas at me. Finally, one day he asked me if I could set up a media room using computers as the main teaching aid. I said I would go back and think about it. He came back to me a couple of days later and I told him I thought it was possible. But I needed money... quite a large sum in fact, to work with. I expected him to say it would be difficult but he surprised me and got a cheque written out for the sum that I requested. I spent the next few weeks procuring the equipment. And a couple of months later, we had one of the first media room with a LCD projector. He was prepared to be wrong with me... I may not have delivered. But instead of focusing on the possibility that I might bungle up, he chose to take the risk.... I owe him much of my professional development.

If he had not prepared to be wrong, I would probably not have gone into all these stuff to do with computers. This path led me to various courses at various institutions for the next couple of years and it gave me the exposure of possibilities beyond my wildest imagination... and he fought for me to be included, despite he getting stares from his own counterparts. You see, at most of these courses, there would be very few Chinese. He was truly colour blind! It spurred me on to pick up more related skills and today those skills have enabled me to do things which I'd never have imagined 20 years ago!

With our kids and the crazy number of tuitions that they are attending now, with our hectic family life, relationships in and out of the home, in matters of faith, at work... I think this same principle applies. If we are not prepared to be wrong, we'll never know what our kids can achieve or whether an idea we have will bear fruits, or even if our leap into faith will effect that sort of change in our lives.... if we are not prepared to be wrong, then very often, we'll never know. And sometimes that in itself condemns us to losing everything in the end.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ma, I Need Passport Photos..

What do you do when your kid asks for a passport sized photo? Go to the photo shop and get it done?

Son recently asked us that. And he had to be dressed in a coat and tie... for his school magazine, he said. School mags have also gone corporate. 8(

It was late.... My boy has this penchant for this last minute thing. What do you do when you need a photo so late into the night when all the shops are closed? Google to the rescue! Other half googled up men's formal wear, scanned an old pic of Son and we 'Photoshopped' everything. Armani suit, Giordano, silk tie to match, well pressed, suits fit for stars, bow tie if required... all possible with Google and an inkjet printer.
The photo was soon ready with an impeccable suit to match. Now I've a good-looking son in a good-looking body in a good-looking suit. ROFL!

We had a good laugh over it... technology and how it has changed our way of getting a photo taken.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

One more for the memory box...

This is another memory for my memory box... 8)
Played 3 games in one weekend - and came out tops in all 3! I don't think I'll equal this ever. Too many variables have to fall in the right places... look at how brown we've all become. LOL! It's going to take months to lose that 'browness'... if you look at the shadow line in the pic below, that's how crazy we were - played in the 11.00++ a.m. sun!

Played some of my best volleyball in recent years... and it felt good knowing that I can still improve. Teamwork is something I truly enjoy in volleyball. It's not possible to win on one person's skills only... we need to work together, etc. I used to be the player they'd cover. Three years ago, the chances of me sending the ball where I want it to go would be based more on chance than skill. Today, it's the other way round. In part because my team mates were willing to accommodate me and also because I was determined. I had friends who patiently did the digging with me through the years.... until I can hold my own game. This year, their patience finally paid off... 8) And it's been many years....

Life is like that.. every inch of progress that we carve for ourselves, it's got to come from us first... ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be open unto you... that's from Matthew 7:7. Notice, at every step of the way, we've got to act. Ask, seek, knock - they're all verbs; action words. A verb is one of the basic building blocks in a sentence.... In life, we need to be proactive; ask, seek, knock for guidance, truth, possibilities, etc, etc.... for those values that become the basic building blocks in our lives.

We had fun stuffing ourselves full too with good food. This was at PJ 5 Utara in Jitra. The kaeng som (sweet, sour, spicy) fish is absolutely good so everyone says. My personal favourite is the fried tanghoon with medium sized prawns. Their coconut jelly is very good also.

Oh ya! I was siao enough to play 2 games in the PSKPPK - badminton being the other. But the scheduling was kind. Though my first game is badminton, somehow life's lessons from volleyball has made the game more meaningful. Those moments we share on the court - they are priceless! How you depend on others and they on you and you just have to learn to trust each other's instinct; not blame each other for a spike into the net or a ball sent out... you just plod on together, encouraging and supporting each other. Sama-sama menang and kalah oso! That's what we get when we have a group of like-minded people together. I truly appreciate that. Life is kinda like that too, huh?

Then Mr. Wong (I think that's his name) called me up a couple of days ago to remind me of the squash tournament at the Club. Since he was so nice to remind me and rearranged my time, I said okay. So, after a short shopping trip out with Shin Hui, I went home, took my 40 winks and was off again. There were only 3 participants in the ladies' section! And I won! LOL! I played with one of the men though, and at least I won't be the worst player in the men's pool either.

So, 3 games, 3 winners' medals.... really one for the memory box. And I am a few shades darker. But probably the most priceless are the bridges of friendship that we built and got strengthened.... cos year in and year out, I'd see new and familiar faces from different teams from the different districts. Old familiarity gets reacquainted again... kinda nice! Foes in the court, friends outside.....

Die, die also hers....

It is mind boggling how selfish we can be at times these days... especially when it involves kids. I recently helped a friend's kid fi...