Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'tis the season to be merry

It's christmastime again. A season to spread love, peace and joy. A season to be merry. I had fun selecting presents for my family members. Though to be honest, by the third day of roaming the local mall near my workplace from 6pm to its' closing hour, I did feel a bit like an idiot. Buying gifts for over 20 family members is quite a nightmare. Not to mention boxing them. It was a lucky thing that I found this little shop that sells cute boxes and stuffs. And even luckier that the girls keeping the shop were very helpful. Feeling helpless, I asked them to show me how to tie the ribbons in such a way that they end up looking really nice. They did, and they even boxed some of the presents I had on my hands then with big smiles on their faces. So that explains why some of the ribbons on my boxes look nicer than the others, which my two girls, as expected, pointed out to me (one can never keep a little secret from one's kids huh?).

Anyway, Christmas 2010 was great, more so because it was celebrated with family members and close friends. It will be another year before the family will get together again, but the anticipation of a wonderful time will make the wait worthwhile. Merry christmas and happy new year 2011 everyone.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The sound of silence

I've got silence all around me. Post family bbq chaos. It's rather killing, being so used to bedlam. I rather miss the bedlam that is the kids though. Pre-christmas celebration, my mom has insisted that they be sent back to the family house in kampung. After all, all their uncles and aunt have already started enjoying their christmas break. And kids have been nagging me to be allowed to spend their remaining school holidays with the granparents'.

I thought I'd appreciate the few days on my own. I've already visualised myself being super productive and being able to finish all my planned projects in speed. Instead, here I am staring at the wall, feeling kind of weird. It doesn't help that the hubby is on a course far away for a few days. Oh I've forgotten how killing silence can be.

I wish I could say at this moment that silence is golden. But it feels anything but golden. Can't wait to be on christmas leave, back to bedlam again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

against child abuse

"...and mom, the cartoon will be your profile picture for a while", said my 12 year old daughter in her attempt to urge me to change my facebook profile pic in support of a campaign against child abuse. So that explains Rapunzel on her profile pic. Second daughter cheerfully said she's changing hers to Ariel, her namesake. "And which cartoon character are you going to use, mom?", asked a little voice, my youngest son. I looked at all of them, bewildered. Obviously I don't know much about what's going on on facebook. "Shrek", I answered quickly, earning the laughter of the kids. They know I'm nuts about Shrek 2. And then I forgot all about it.

But later I read up about the campaign. It seems that people are encouraged to replace their profile pic with a cartoon character pic for a few days. Seems that children jumps to response to the campaign whether or not they understand the purpose. It might be useless, to some people. But it works towards creating awareness among the young hearts, that child abuse should never happen. Bravo to the people who think of using various means to fight for a good cause.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Selling Maia-the nightmare

The nightmare of selling a car again. I thought I'll have Maia for a few more years before I have to say good bye to her. But then Harry Hilux came along (and we do need him to do the tough job of going to almost unreachable places with nighmarish roads and stuffs), and we still need Livvy Livina to transport the kids and their friends to school and other activities. So after about 11 months, it has to be 'good bye' Maia for me.

Because I wanted to be practical and not to have to renew the road tax and insurance by 31.12, I decided to place an ad in Mudah.com.my, half-heartedly expecting responses. (It is really hard to say good bye to 'a member of the family'...I wish I don't have to). But right after the ad was published, I started getting calls after calls after calls. Non- stop even until past midnight I had to silence my mobile. What nightmare!

I sought the help of my brother to show the car to some potential buyers yesterday (me having been too busy with staff sports and all). Promised two other people that if the first potential buyer decided against buying, I'll offer Maia to them first. And decided to delete the ad today. After 3 days. Am I not glad I deleted it. No more calls in the middle of driving, or worst when I am just about to drift off to dreamland. I'm still heartbroken over having to part with Maia. But this is just another reality of life, isn't it?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Korea vacation countdown

Phew...phew, phew...Finally done with marking, the nightmare season of most teachers. Can't say it's an easy thing to do. Especially with essays. But it's finally over and yours truly is so relieved. Now I can start my vacation countdown. This time around, to Korea. Yippee, taking off in 5 days. Not that my work file is cleared...but it never will. So might as well take a well-deserved vacation. 8 days in freezing Korea, including a night or two in the ski resort. Might even get to build a snowman and name it a fancy name...

Some say it's a bad time to go to Korea now. But, heck, it couldn't be that bad. The war is happening far far away from my destination. Correction, our destination (kids can't be left out, can they?). But my hearts says it's going to be ok, so ok it would be. I so want to believe that it's all in the mind set.

Counting the days. Getting really excited. First destination: Teddy Bear Museum...Happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Their Christmas Wish List

Christmas is around the corner. I bet children who are celebrating Christmas are busy making their wish lists. Some must be elaborated lists like a snowy vacation (like some kids in the home of yours truly), while some, are simple lists that may or may not come true.

I got this list yesterday from someone who is actively involved in the welfare of the members of a children's home in Sabah, and it moved me so much. These children wish for things that most people take for granted. Things that most children won't care about much, such as alarm clocks and pants, but to them, are luxury. Here's the list from the 68 children at the home.

Somebody decided to 'pass around the hat' to raise money to meet the cost of buying the items in the list. Amazingly, within a day, a lot of people responded with pledges of donating some of the items in the wish list. This morning, as I checked Roslyn's (that somebody who kindly volunteered to take charge of the collection) updates, I was grateful to see that the wish list had been met. Somehow, I know that the faces of some children will light up on Christmas this year. I'm glad that these children have anonymous families out there who care for them. May there be joy in their hearts...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Story of Appreciation"

Once in a while, we all receive this kind of forwards in our inbox. Some, like this one, touch our heart so, that we feel we have to share them to others. This one is from my cousin brother, Geyouse :):

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

He passed the first interview; the director did the last interview, made the last decision.
The director discovered from the CV, that the youth's academic result is excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never was a year he did not score.
The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarship in school?" and the youth answered "none".
The director asked, " Is it your father who paid for your school fees?" the youth answered, my father passed away when I was one year old, it is my mother who paid for my school fees.
The director asked, " Where did your mother work?" the youth answered, my mother worked as a cloth cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hand, the youth showed a pair of hand that were smooth and perfect to the director.

The director asked, " Did you ever help your mother wash the clothes before?" The youth answered, never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books, furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.The director said, I have a request, when you go back today, go and help to clean your mother's hand, and then see me tomorrow morning.
The youth felt that as the chance of landing the job is high, when he went back, he happily wanted to clean his mother's hand, his mother felt strange, happy but mixed with fear, she showed her hands to the kid.
The youth cleaned his mother's hand slowly, his tears dropped down as he did that. It is the first time he found his mother's hands so wrinkled, and there are so many bruises in her hand. Some bruises incite pains so strong that shiver his mother's body when cleaned with water.

This is the first time the youth realized and experienced that it is this pair of hand that washed the cloth everyday to earn him the school fees, the bruises in the mother's hand is the price that the mother paid for his graduation and academic excellence and probably his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hand, the youth quietly cleaned all remaining clothes for his mother. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director's office.
The director noticed the tear in the youth's eye, asked: “Can you tell what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"
The youth answered, " I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'
The director asked, “please tell me your feeling."

The youth said :
Number 1, I knew what is appreciation, without my mother, there would not the successful me today.
Number 2, I knew how to work together with my mother, then only I can realize how difficult and tough to get something done.
Number 3, I knew the importance and value of family relationship.
The director said, " This is what I am asking, I want to recruit a person that can appreciate the help of other, a person that knew the suffering of others to get thing done, and a person that would not put money as his only goal in life to be my manager. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates, every employees worked diligently and in a team, the company's result improved tremendously.

A child who had been protected and habitually given whatever he did, he developed "entitlement mentality" and always put himself first. He is ignorant of his parent's effort. When he started work, he assumed every people must listen to him, and when he became a manager, he would never know how suffering his employee and always blame others. For this kind of people, he can have good result, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement, he will grumble and full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parent, did we love the kid or destroy the kid?

You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plate and bowl together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow grey, same as the mother of that young person.

The most important thing is your kid learn how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learn the ability to work with others to get things done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

and with age, comes responsibility...

I turned 37 last week. It feels good to have reached this age. I'd love to say the extra inches around my waist represent wisdom that can only be attained through age...but alas, it's not true. Aging doesn't mean that one is free to be unhealthy, or that one is wiser than those who are younger...

Although it is indeed true that with age comes EXTRA responsibility. This year I really feel that at work. Gone were the days when my friends and I could go to have a hair cut or a facial on impulse at lunch time and always ended up having a long lunch hour. As a result, we always had to go back past office hours to finish our work. Looking back, I'd call it bad time management- just because the job allows flexi-hours, one shouldn't be too careless about time management. That, I realize now.

This year I attended 90% of the non-compulsory seminars at work, just because suddenly there are so many juniors in need of encouragement and feedback when they present their papers. Having been in their shoes, I know how it feels to present a conference paper for the first time. A little moral support from the seniors always helps to boost one's confidence. And so, in the spirit of solidarity, I find myself attending every presentation whenever I am at the office building. This sense of responsibility must be because of my age...

I am less impulsive; I am more appreciative of everyone and everything I have; I am less ambitious; and I like my job more and more...regardless of the extra responsibility that age brings :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

When loathe consumes...

I wouldn't call my workplace 'rosy', but nor would I call it 'horrible'. Having been working there for 12 years, I'd describe it as 'normal' with all its ups and downs, occasional frustration and disappointment, as well as good times. All because the staff is made up of people of various cultural background, experiences and expectations.

When I joined my unit, there were less than ten staff members. We were mostly fresh graduates with very little experiences dealing with life and work. Yet we survived. Those first years were spent building the institution, figuratively speaking. We had to deal with material preparations, admin work like finding and managing part time tutors to teach our students whose number grew every semester, teaching, apart from trying to live an academic life of doing research, presenting and writing the research. Despite all those, never once did I feel that we couldn't do our job. We've been a good team even though we were not perfect. Yes, we made our mistakes but we learned. And moved on...or so I thought.

Never once did I imagine that one fine day someone's past imperfections could be dug up, chronologized (almost) and paraded for the public in the name of loathe. But it happened. Somebody, using the pseudonym, Concerned Citizens, wrote a very venomous letter to the editor in one of the local dailies yesterday, vividly describing the failures of my unit in the year 2000. In short, the insinuation was that the unit staff members were (and still are) self-interested; mostly in making $$$ when they should concentrate on doing their job dedicatedly. No names mentioned, but a lot of little hints given, suggesting that the attack was meant for a certain person of the unit, although very strangely, towards the end of the letter the attack became more bizarre and the failures and names of the top management people were also included.

As I read the letter over and over again, I can only feel pity for the writer. It is obvious to me that the person is consumed by abject loathing. I could almost see venom oozing out of the letter. A person who wrote to the public to list other people's failings from ten years ago could only mean revenge. Perhaps they would never stop till their target, which is to ruin, is achieved. Perhaps the abject loathing is a result of insecurity and inferiority, or jealousy...I say a little prayer for the writer...may love shine in their heart, for when loathe consumes oneself, I imagine life must be a constant misery.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover

This morning my front tyre was running out of air. As I tried to pump it at a petrol station, I noticed that it looked very very flat, as if it has punctured. I tried miserably for a few minutes inflating it; to no avail. I looked around helplessly, realizing my biggest handicap of not knowing how to change a flat tyre.

I spotted somebody parked behind me. Quietly I observed him. He looked fierce...and unfriendly. I hesitated whether I should approach him to ask for help or go get help from someone else from the station's shop. Since he was closest, I decided that it had to be him (Thank god I had my sunglasses on, so if he were to answer me nastily, I wouldn't feel too embarrased!). I knocked on his car, and asked if he could tell whether my tyre was punctured or whether it could still be saved. He grumbled (and I braced myself for verbal attack...), went out of his car and headed to mine. He took the air hose from me, said something about the tyre not being punctured, and started adjusting the machine. Seconds later, he had my tyre fully inflated and I felt kind of silly. I thanked him proffesionally (or so I hoped), being careful not to smile because he looked like the kind who wouldn't appreciate an unnecessary smile. He responded accordingly, with a curt nod and went back to his car.

Well, I said, he might looked grim and unhappy but he did help me without question. So all in all, he was still a good samaritan. And I reminded myself again- never judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

guide to a better life

Found this in my inbox this morning. A friend took the time to share something wonderful, and I thought I'd share it too. Blessed be the person who wrote this for others to learn from:

1. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 2. Don't have negative thought on things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment. 3. Don't overdo; keep your limits. 4. Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does. 5. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip. 6. Dream more while you are awake. 7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. 8. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness. 9. Life is too short to waste hating anyone; don't hate others. 10. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present. 11. No one is in-charge of your happiness except you. 12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. 13. Smile and laugh more. 14. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Rubber Band andThe Wave

John Gray again :-) (Men are from Mars, women are from Venus). I find the comparisons a bit weird in the beginning but they made sense after reading his explanation:

Men = rubber bands

They can't love like women, which is basically "forever". In loving, men go through a cycle of getting close, pulling away, and then getting close again. This pulling away, according to Gray, is men's means to fulfill their needs for independence, them being the "in-control" Martians. Without the pulling away phase, they get depleted, and won't be able to give love as the women do. Why rubber band? Because when a man pulls away, it's like a rubber band that, when fully stretched away, will instantly springs back, and full of love again. When he has satisfied his needs for independence, he would be able to give his loving once again...

Women= waves

Their self-esteems rise like waves when they feel loved. The good feeling helps them to reach the peak, but like waves crashing down, their mood can change ocassionally. This change is temporary though. Once the wave hits the bottom, (i.e the woman feels empty, unloved and...negative...in short), it rises up automatically again. Gray says this stage happens around the same time that a woman has her PMS (no in-depth studies on this though)...and it makes sense.

Best advice Gray gives to women: Don't panic when your man pulls away. Give him time to regain his sense of indipendence, of being in control. He'll naturally come back when he has had his 'recharge'. In other way, trying to force him to be loving when he is not in the right mood will only suffocate him and make him stressed out.

And to men: when the wave hits the bottom, don't try to fix it, i.e by giving advice. At this stage, what your woman needs is a shoulder to cry on, a pair of listening ears, someone to unload all her worries and concerns. A man might get confused though, because most of the time it would be the same old issues and worries that make the woman feel down. But that's how it is. She just needs to 'unload'. When she feels that she has been listened to well, she feels loved, and she will rise to the peak again.

Hmm...complicated. When the rubber band needs to stretch and the wave hits the bottom at the same time? That's when fights occur. So, Gray says, it is important to realize this...the woman should find close girl friends instead to unload. Because who better than girlfriends that can understand a woman? Good advice...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Child labour: oppresion or humanity?

At this time of the year when Hari Raya is around the corner, the roads in Kota Kinabalu are almost impossible to pass through. Having spent an hour on the road from the office to my children's school (which, in normal driving time would only be 25 minutes) to pick them up today, (besides I needed to get the kuih rayas I ordered from the school canteen. In the spirit of the festive season, I feel like celebrating too), I decided to detour and took the children for lunch somewhere quiet, near Jalan Lintas.

I didn't realize it at first, but very soon I noticed that the restaurant was full of little servers, ranging from about 8 to 14 years of age. They look- sorry to say this- but they do look like illegal immigrants, which are abundant in Sabah. The boss of the restaurant had to shout orders to them a few times; obviously their mastery of Malay is still quite limited.

They scurried around together from table to table whenever one of them had to serve customers, looking scared and confused. Once I heard the boss say "mau ambil satu order pun mau beikut-ikut kah" (Even taking an order you have to go in group?). And they just stared at the boss blankly, perhaps not understanding what he said.

It occured to me that they might have been forced to look for employment in the name of survival. And I remember a newspaper article in a local daily early in this year about how children (teenagers) of illegal immigrants in the particular area are marrying and breeding like rabbits. I looked at them and felt so bad. Why oh why this phenomenon must exist in this world? People have to live in a place as illegal immigrants, make do with surviving day to day, deprived from education and the basic comforts of life.

It is generally believed that child labour is a form of opression, but in this case, is it really? It seems to me that there is an element of being humane in it...at least giving the hungry kids some food to eat, if not letting them earn some money, no matter how meagre for their family.

I wish the world doesn't have to be like this...

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The in topic in my life this week seems to be 'memory'. Last thursday, our reading class discussion was on memory. I think the students found it stimulating too. Even though this is a general topic, one would hardly think of learning the terms like explicit memory, implicit memory, and such. Everyone suddenly started analysing if they encode memory visually, acoustically or semantically more. Or if they use implicit or explicit memory more.

It occured to me that my implicit memory might be more prominent than my explicit one. I remember things that happened when I was very young, like 2 or 3 years old, but only the 'feeling' of what they were. Once, I got hurt by a nail when my grandfather's house was under construction. I somewhat remember that it was at night, and that I felt the pain, and I remember seeing blood. But I can't recall who were there, what was the occasion and what I was doing. At other time, I remember feeling happy to watch my grandfather's buffalo grazing on a deserted rice-field. And I was wearing a pretty orange dress made of chiffon. LOL. Weird. But that's the nature of memory.

The little one, forced to do his Bahasa Melayu home edition school work this morning got really excited when he 'listened to his brain' and got everything correct. He proudly held his book to me and said, "my brain says if there are two things, the 'penjodoh bilangan' is 'sepasang', if it is animal, it is 'ekor' and if it is something long, it is 'batang'!" And he went on and on on how his brain is always telling him correct things. Well, I said to myself, it's good that the little one has discovered the way his brain works. And most especially, that he's beginning to make sense of the 'penjodoh bilangan(s)'. Way improved from his last attempt :-). Memory is amazing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unleash the child in you

I've heard some wise people say that in each of us is a child. It's the child in you that helps you enjoy the little things in life. That prompts you to act on impulse on things that bring you a lot of laughter. That lets you feel deeply and sincerely. That preserves your innocence. And when you stop unleashing the child in you, you become 'old', too serious, unable to enjoy life.

That must be true. I keep finding myself learning a lot from children. Things that I have almost forgotten like being spontaneous, and honest, and forgiving. Most of all, they remind me that everyone needs a laugh now and then.

Having said that, I think it's good to unleash the child in us whenever we can. It keeps us youthful and it makes life such a joy to live...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

life's blessings

Counting my blessings again. Amidst life's busyness and the constant fatique, life is a joy. I may have to conduct night classes of 7-10pm because some people wrongly scheduled me to teach at night, but my students are a joy to have. I am thankful to see fresh, energetic faces every time I enter the classroom. They must be tired too- some started their lectures as early as 8am, but youth does make a lot of difference. Coupled with a positive attitude, these young people keep looking fresh even after a long day.

Coming home after to a wonderful husband and children, I can only say I'm blessed. Seeing their smiles, or peaceful faces sound asleep, I offer up my thanks to the powers that be. All around me are life's blessing, if only I stop awhile to look and feel them...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

shocking 6 year old

My little one has never ceased to give me heart attacks. Maybe a 6+ boy is meant to do that anyway. Just last week he got punched in school and came home with bloody lips. Then this week he tried his 'power' on a classmate, and got himself in trouble with the boy's mother (serves him right). When I asked him what he did, he said he jentik the boy on the hand :-). In return, he got a jentik from me, plus a ban to go to anyone's house for two days.

Yesterday he threw tantrum at his cousins' house, resulting in him breaking something, which, naturally gets more punishment from me. This time, it's a week's ban from visiting the cousins.

Of course when he feels like it, he'd be an angel. He'd offer to dry the dishes when I wash, or arrange his books neatly on the table. He'd speak sweetly to me and use all the magic words of 'please', 'thanks', 'good' etc. That, when he's fishing for compliments and rewards, or maybe to test whether he is still loved after being a naughty boy.

Today another shock awaited me at home. Since I wasn't the one who picked him up after school, I only found out when I went home. He excitedly announced "mom, I've lost my shoes at school!". I froze on the doorway, unable to believe my hearing. "What, how could anyone lose their shoes at school?" I said. He explained to me that during one of the lessons, they had to go to another room and were required to take off their shoes. When he went out of the room, his shoes were gone. Suddenly an image of a little boy walking barefoot in school gave me the giggle and I decided not to give him a long lecture of taking care of one's belongings . "I still have a sock though", he said, as if a sock would be of any use now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ya, ya, ok, so my products are not good?

I went to a reflexology center a few days ago, thinking that I could have a nice, relaxing foot massage while waiting for the kids to finish school. I've never been to that place before so I thought I'd be left in peace. How wrong I was. The moment the 'sifu' started my massage, the lady cashier started promoting 'her products', supposedly 'the best' in the market, based on years of research in a developed country.

The lady asked me what shampoo I used, to which I answered 'rejoice', and as expected, received the disapproving 'not good'. She went on to promote the products and her multi-level-marketing business. Hmm...I've experienced many MLM businesses before, blame it on my youth and ... the desire to always have the best. Now I can only conclude that yes, maybe the products- toiletries, supplements etc are good, but they are also really expensive.

I've quit buying those expensive products. Thank god I finally realized that life has to be lived realistically. Within one's means. If all the products in the supermarket are really that bad, then perhaps 3/4 of the world population or more would all be affected. Come to think of it, those are the products my parents used on me since I was born anyway, and touch wood, there haven't been any serious health problems in the family. Those products couldn't be that unsafe then. Well, I've got to live within my means anyway...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Durian! Durian!

Never been much fan of durians...all because my first memory of eating durian was that it gave me a chest pain (reflux?). That, and also throughout the years I've grown to dislike the smell. It's just too strong it could give me a headache sometimes. But yesterday was an exception. My family had a gathering with our friends that we haven't met for months. C and C have a fruit orchard so they brought durians and mangosteens for us. Instead of running away from the durians this time, I sat with them, too engrossed in the talking, and later admiring the way they all seem to enjoy the durian session. It gets more interesting when they talked about the different type of durians- the bitter durians, the honey durians, the 'teka' (or whatever it is :-)). Curiousity took over. I was tempted to taste a bit of the flesh of different colours, and waited for the chest pain to come. It didn't :-) Meaning I had taken just nice, not too much of durians this time. I am still not very comfortable with the smell...but around good friends, I am willing to bear it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Aren't we all both good and bad?

I heard the term 'muhasibbah diri' (self reflection) on the radio some time ago. Being me, I often listen to the Muslim's Friday sermon on the radio as attentively as I listen to the priest's homily at church on Sundays because I know I always learn something from them. The imam said that we have to examine ourselves before saying bad things about others, as sometimes the bad things we say reflect our own weaknesses.

How true indeed. It is often easy to look at someone's negative traits especially when that someone is not very popular among the community members, or the colleagues. And as opposed to that, one tends to view a popular person always positively when in actual fact, that person may commit some crimes once in a while.
It reminds me of something I read somewhere, that "most people are neither all good or all bad. Rather, most of us are in the middle of the two". I quite agree with that statement. In fact, I am extending it a bit more to say all of us are both good and bad. Of course, I have no backup in saying this. It's just a feeling. With this self-reflection, I hope I can remind myself all the time to look for people's positive traits even when I do not like them, or when they are not treating me right.

Well, I'll start with the grandmother next door, who scolded me yesterday for parking outside her gate :-) She lives alone, and after talking to her a few times, (mostly listening to her whine about how bad her relatives are), I made the wrong move of assuming that she didn't have any relatives with cars visiting her. Hence the occasional parking outside of her place. But ouch, I have taken things for granted a bit too much. Just as I flashed her a big smile when I stopped my car yesterday, she marched towards me and without a preamble, gave me a long lecture about not being such a nuisance by parking outside of other people's place. Because I parked there, her son had to park far away when visiting her a few days ago. Well I have only myself to blame this time. Even though she didn't give me a chance to apologise properly, at least by giving me that long lecture, she had been really honest. So one point for honesty for the grandmother. She might be grumpy, but she is such a good gardener. So two points for the grandmother...well well...one point for me for admitting my inconsiderate mistake...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Weirdest Assignment

My line of work is considered unexciting, if not boring sometimes. Well not many would think teaching, researching, occasional editing and translating exciting anyway. But last week I learned that it could be.

On Thursday somebody requested me to anchor a pair of Dusun herbalists in Ranau for a filming, apparently funded by some organisation affiliated with the National Geographic. When I asked what does an anchor do, the person said, simply assisting them in the filming, mostly translating what they say into English. It sounded interesting, especially that it would give me more exposure on over a hundred types of herbs. So I agreed.

On Saturday, hubby, kids and I drove off from KK to Ranau at 5am, something I had never done before, to join the filming crew at 7am. Still a bit drowsy from lack of sleep, I met the crew members and happily let them know I was ready to do the translation, only to be told that I was supposed to host the film. I was taken aback, but because I had come all the way from KK for that assignment, decided to give it a try anyway. After all, the producer told me if I wasn't good enough, he'd not go on with me.

He scrutinized me critically, decided that I needed to wear an overall to create a 'jungle girl' look, checked that I had the right hat on, and got me started. It wasn't easy at all. Having had no preparation, I met the herbalists, had a warm-up session of obtaining as many facts about them and their farms, and tried to memorize all the herbs they told me about. After about an hour, when the herbalists and I started to warm up to each other, the producer announced that it was time to get to work. They put a little speaker on me, and set up the camera. The producer briefed me on what he wanted done, and the herbalists and I started our acts while the kids had fun in the river on the herbal farm. I am most impressed with the herbalists; even though they are elderly, they acted naturally without any script for guidance. Taking cue from them, I found that words came easily to me, and being in front of the camera became exciting. One by one, the facts that they told me earlier came out, interwoven with our impromptu dialogues in Dusun. Giving a commentary on each selected herb on the farm became easy, instead of stressful as I thought it would be.

A few 'cuts' in the beginning of the filming gradually subsided. Halfway through, the producer offered me to host a few more of the series he was working on, which I unfortunately had to refuse because of my tight schedule. Apparently he found me easy to work with, which I was happy to know. And it was also fun to know that I wasn't camera-shy- at least I can do some other things apart from teaching. We completed the filming in about 6 hours (and it was going to be aired for a half hour slot only); dealing with 20 herbs and enjoying some break sessions. In those 6 hours I got to know and like the herbalists and the filming crew. I learned that chemistry is indeed crucial when working in a team. When everybody likes one another, the task becomes light and fun, and easy to complete. That was indeed a weird assignment. I still wonder how did I land on that...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Post operation, I'd like to blame my forgetfulness on the anaesthetic used on my. Like yesterday when I dropped by at the office to submit my mc, I promised Wan that I'd give her a buzz as she would be in a meeting. But when I arrived there I realized I didn't bring my mobile, or my office room keys so I couldn't even use the phone to give her a ring. And before that, I was supposed to be driving the kids to the tuition centre, and they told me they'd be waiting at my cousin's house. And what did I do? Drove past the house and had to make a u-turn. Luckily the kids didn't realize I did that or they'd be teasing me about it endlessly.

But I can't blame forgetting my passwords for many web accounts on anything, can I? To think that I only used a few passwords and still can forget them...It's kind of embarrassing. Two months ago I had to call my uni help desk for forgetting my library password, even the secret question that helps one to have the password sent via email. I got hold of it and I thought that's it. Then I realized I have forgotten my gmail password. When I did remember, there were hundred of spams in the inbox I almost lost interest in my gmail. Worse, I forgot my airasia login password, and malaysiaairlines' too, just as I was making a travel booking two weeks ago. I thought I jot them down somewhere, but even forgot where. The greatest blow is this morning when I was trying to open my student webmail account. It says "your credentials are not recognised"! Oh dear me...what is becoming of me. Maybe it's nature's way of reminding me to be more organised :-(

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The eye operation

I had a squint since I was young, but it wasn't prominent until a few years ago. Blame it on all the reading and studying :-) But seriously it was causing me a problem. One eye is short-sighted, and the other, long-sighted. My Dr say ideally that shouldn't be a problem, but since I had a squint, it became a problem. It caused my eyes to be unable to focus most of the times. Well sometimes they seem focused, but most of the times, I couldn't make them so. And my eyes got tired fast, making reading so not fun.

So my Dr suggested a corrective eye surgery for me months ago. She said she would fix the muscles to make them lax, since the problem was that the muscles were so tight. I thought about if for a long time- with mixed feelings. Scared, a little bit. Excited, also a little bit. I decided to give it a go during the kids' school holidays, and the semester holidays at the uni so I could have a good recovery period.

'D day' was yesterday. I admitted myself to the hospital at 10.30am. Thank goodness I brought my laptop so I could work while waiting for 2pm, the operation time. I hated it when the nurses pushed me on the trolley, even hated it when I entered the super cold operation theatre. When Dr Dayang, my nice Dr said hi to me, I told her I was feeling like doing a 100m sprint to get away from the miserable room. But of course I couldn't have done that anyway. So on I went with the operation, enduring the scary jab and was sent to dreamland in seconds.

When I woke up, Dr Dayang had fixed my eye. Oh thank goodnesss it was only an eye. I really need my other eye to do my work. She did a test this morning and told me happily it was a success. She has reduced the squint degree from 45% to 5%. Well I have a red and gritty eye now but surprisingly it wasn't as painful as I expected. Even the post-operation headache lasted only about 2 hours. I hope my eye would recover soon and I won't get tired too fast when working anymore. I do feel good actually. Thank God.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Old friends are like wine...

Ah, it's good to be back. Can't believe I've been that busy...preparing exam papers for the short semester, harvest festival with the family at kampung (and that always means some wedding to attend), attending a conference and...I think a lot more. But the conference which was in Kuching gave me a chance to catch up with my good friend, Lilly.

Three days spent at Lilly's was just heaven. Having last met her in 2004, we had so much to talk about that the three days seemed so short. As I was boarding my plane at Kuching airport, the adage "old friends are like wine..." popped up in my mind, and I suddenly realized how very true that is.

I remember how the friendship progressed...from being colleagues, to being housemates, to being soul sisters. We know each others' weaknesses and strengths, and accept each other as we are. We find comfort sharing each others' stories of pain and pleasure. We encourage each other to be strong and try to do the right thing. We understand each other without having to explain anything. Even from a distance, when we have stopped corresponding regularly, we know we are at each others' hearts.

Old friends like Lilly is definitely like wine. The longer they are, the better they become. I feel blessed, knowing that I have a few like her.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sekuntum kemeja, sehelai bunga ros

Finally the semester is over. Done marking students' papers. Done grading them. Spent a little time nursing my heartache over the failures. It always hurts to fail your students but it just has to be done sometimes. Especially when the students left a few pages of the exam script blank *sigh*.

And my own kiddies did their first Malaysian school exam last week. I've told myself to expect the worst. They've only been 5 months into their schooling and after the 4 years spent learning in a different environment, what could you expect but the worst?

So home came the littlest one today, bringing some of his marked exam papers from school. Ignoring the fact that he has failed some of the subjects, he proudly told me he has scored an 80 for his Bahasa Melayu paper. I congratulated him for having done so well. I looked at his paper; first to fourth pages-perfect. But on the fifth page, I had to hold myself from laughing out loud. Apparently my little one has no idea what
penjodoh bilangan(s)
are . One day I'll tease him about how in his first BM exam, he wrote ... sekuntum kemeja and ...sehelai bunga ros. Oh boy...:-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

of death

My daughters witnessed their hamster die while it was pooping. It was such a traumatic experience for them. The next day a bird just dropped dead on the road right before my eyes. Yesterday an ex-schoolmate died in an accident, something that was totally not his fault. Of course, all these moments of life being ended got me reflecting. (Coincidently I have been invited to contribute a chapter on death rituals among the Dusuns, in a book on the interplay of local wisdom with the cultures of the people in Sabah. It's kind of creepy actually but I wouldn't miss writing the chapter for all the world. The topic is too interesting for the cultural me to ignore.)

We can't choose the day we were born, nor the day we will die. These two things just happen. I guess that's why most people, me included, are consoled by the idea that there is a Higher Power aka God, that will take care of you after death. In that sense, death is not the end but the beginning of another life.
I quite like the idea of a new life. It might not be a life we know. But at least we don't just 'end'. We'd continue to exist, in the memories of our loved ones, and in another world which is always painted beautiful and serene, without pain. The ones left behind will suffer the most, naturally. In fact, in the case of the ex-schoolmate, my heart bleeds to know that his children are still very young, the youngest being only 5 months old. I say a little prayer that his wife and children would be strong in this difficult moments.
Death to me is the greatest puzzle...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Forgiveness will set you free"

Sometime ago I saw these words written at one of my friends' status in FB. I like them a lot. Once a while they come back to haunt me and I always end up in a reflective mode. At some point of our lives, we need to forgive. Sometimes grave sometimes light, the nature of the events that need forgiving vary, but the effect of forgiveness is always the same: it results in peace and joy.
We might not even realize that we need to forgive, until we are too weary we can't take it anymore. Then we start to be bitter, and resentful, and angry, and we'll start to age before our time, because all these emotions are heavy to carry. I guess that's why forgiveness sets you free, because letting go of these emotions means getting rid of the heavy burden.
Through the years I've come to my own conclusion of what forgiveness means. It simply means "being able to look back at the event without feeling the pain". There's a joy in that. And definitely peace...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So it's peace and quiet on Mother's Day; Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all moms :-). Being a mother is a blessing. I slept in this morning, just to give myself a little treat for being a good mom..ahem... My little boy woke me up at 9am, wished me a Happy Mother's Day, said he doesn't have anything to give, not even a card. I told him I don't need a card or anything, I would just love two things the most and he quickly said "peace and quiet". He left me in the room, beaming because he knows he has peace and quiet to give me on Mother's Day...

They say a mom is a rose whose petals are soft, a lilly whose stem is strong and tall. The person who will love you forever. The bank in which you can deposit all your hurts and worries, the cement that keeps the family together. They say that it would take a thousand workers to build a castle, a million soldiers to protect a country, but only One Mom to build a happy home. Well, maybe not entirely true. A mom needs help from the Dad too. But I guess it is true that a mom's love lasts a lifetime. Hence, the Malay saying "syurga di tapak kaki ibu" (Literally paradise is at the mother's feet).

I'm thankful for my mom and I'm happy for being a mom...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kuih Lapis again

The second attempt at making kuih lapis produced this result. It looks nicer than the first one because I've managed to position my steaming rack in the wok at a right angle that it was more stabil. I brought this kuih lapis to a pot-luck lunch at my mom-in-law's, alongside my signature dish chicken rendang. The comments I received? Haha, my sis-in-law says it's too healthy (very much unsweetened :-)) but most of the family members prefer it that way. I guess it is really a matter of preference.

The ingredients for this one:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 cups coconut milk from 1 coconut
2 cups water
2 pandan leaves

I put sugar, water and pandan leaves together in a pot, heated up till sugar melted. (This way, instead of boiling, it gets cool fast though maybe the pandan flavour doesn't really come out.) When the water turned lukewarm, I mixed it with the coconut milk. I add the liquid little by little to the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, making sure I mix them well to avoid lumps. Then I didvided the mixture equally into three portions; one is coloured green, one red, and the other is left white.

I put a drop of oil on the steamer, heated it up on the rack, and started the steaming process. Green at the bottom, wait till set, followed by white, red and kept on the process with alternating colours till the kuih lapis was done. Since I used a normal wok, I made sure I wiped the steam off the inside of the wok lid every now and then to ensure my kuih lapis set well.

Kids like it though they beg for slightly sweeter ones next time :-)

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

The amateur photographer and my kuih lapis

This is the work of the amateur photographer on my kuih lapis this morning. I finally understand that even a picture as simple as this takes quite sometime to produce. It involves things like correct lighting, correct this and that and whatever not :) And I can't even remember what they are called. Josh, the hubby is obsessed about photography but he never had the time to attend any professional course till last month. Well, finally he bought a nikkon that can satisfy his obsession. And it's kind of fun to see him playing with his latest toy, taking pictures of objects and people.

Anyway, I haven't made kuih lapis since a few months ago. This is my virgin attempt in KK at making kuih lapis using fresh ingredients, especially the coconut milk. I found that the product of this first attempt is a bit sticky; maybe because of using coconut milk that is too thick. I used the following ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar (and I think I need to reduce this next time)
1 tbsp salt
4 cups coconut milk (and next time I'll make sure it's not too thick)

I prepared a steamer, mix all the ingredients, divided them into three portions and put green and red colouring in two of the portions. I put a drop of oil in the steamer, and started the process. Green on the bottom, a little bit thicker, steamed it for three minutes till set, layered with white, again steamed till set, then red, and repeated the process till it's done. As you can see in the pic, my layers are not even, that's because my steaming rack is very old and moved a lot. (LOL).

I'm making my second after this. This time with less sugar, less thick coconut cream, and maybe with some pandan leaves for nicer flavour. There's nothing more satisfying than getting a perfect result after some trials and errors!
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Monday, April 26, 2010

"Luckily you are plain-looking"

My girls sometimes remember things they eavesdropped on and pester me for clarification. The other day we were talking about how our society is becoming less and less helpful. I told them a story of a friend of mine who was robbed by a motorbiker in broad daylight, dragged a few meters on the road and people simply stared at her without attempting to help. Worse, she had to borrow ten cents to make a phone call to her housemate. No one would volunteer to help.

Prompted by the story, they suddenly remembered one of their aunties whom, they heard, had been robbed thrice; twice at a bus stop when she wasn't driving to work, and the other time, just outside of her office building. They asked me what could the reasons be. Caught off guard, I said "maybe she looks "expensive"". What I meant was she is the type of person who likes to wear jewellery and fine looking clothes.

One of my girls said "luckily you are plain-looking, mom". I looked at her, pretended to be hurt and said "O....K...", to which she quickly said "it's meant to be a compliment!". Right, thankfully I am plain-looking. I only wear a ring on my finger and a necklace and I wear a baju kurung most of the time. If that wards off robbers, I'd be happy to be plain-looking forever :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

of baju kurung and living in Sabah

Being a Sabahan, I grew up without much awareness of the ethnic-stereotyping that is quite typical in Peninsular Malaysia. In Sabah, there's nothing weird about wearing a baju kurung and speaking Malay while eating pork in a Chinese restaurant because baju kurung and speaking Malay are not associated with being a Muslim. In Sabah no one thinks of others as being Malay, Chinese or Indian. That would have been difficult to do, considering that there are more than 100 ethnic groups here.

The most that people do to point out differences would be to label people as Muslims or Non-Muslims. It is only when it is really really necessary that people ask what your ethnic group is. It doesn't mean that people don't recognize differences. They do, quietly, because there's no need to be loud about it. Anyway, I think there are some exception to this. Like today for example, I met a friend's mom for coffee. I wore a baju kurung because I was working. We don't know each other that well, having met only once in Perth. She hesitated a bit then blurted out, "you are wearing baju kurung. Does that mean that you have become a Muslim? Because I'd like to invite you for a meal at home one of these days and I don't want to be serving you food you cannot take". Stunned, I looked at her then laughed my heart out. I explained to her that everyone wears baju kurung here, whether or not one is a Muslim. It is comfortable and easy to take care of so I often wear one. The aunty smiled and realized her mistake for generalizing.

That reminded me of the first time I got the same reaction. It was in KL, a few years ago when I was a student. I wore a baju kurung to one of the lectures at the uni and somebody actually congratulated me for having become a Muslim. It was a shock then, because that was my first introduction to the stereotyping, and back then, I thought the person who said that to me was kind of... rude. But that was before. Now I can laugh this thing off and do my best to explain my position. I live in Sabah and here anything decent that you wear is acceptable....to almost everyone :-).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No padicure/manicure on Tuesday and Friday?

I have my padicure/manicure once in every three weeks for the simple reason that my nails are very soft and unhealthy They break easily and are very difficult to take care of. The lady that does my nails is a Filipino who is very friendly and never runs out of topics. Since the four months that she's been coming to my house to do my nails, I find that I always learn something new from her. In my mind, I call her 'Informative Bea'- there's a lot of lessons to be learnt from her anyway. The best thing is she doesn't even know that she's very informative.

Bea talks about everything under the sun, from horoscope to business management to health. And I always find that the things she says are things that you can only get from good sources, or experiences. Some of the things are unbeliaveable but somehow still make sense. Coincidence perhaps, but still good to know. Like this morning as she was doing my nails, she reminded me that the last time she did them was on a Friday. Puzzled I asked her what's wrong with Fridays? And she pointed the condition of my nails that were worst than ever before. Even the cuticles were thicker, the skin peeling and they hurt quite a bit. She said from her 15 years of experience doing people's nails, she found that nails done on Tuesday and Friday always end up having this problem. "You must be kidding Bea," I said. She said she's serious. She has no explanation for that except that it's something like when it is full moon, people tend to become depresed. Wow...speechless. Could it be true? No matter what she reminds me not to call her for my next padicure/manicure on those days again...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making sense of Martians and Venusians (part 2)

Men are born with the need to appreciate power, if not to be powerful. That's just the opposite of women who need, most of all to feel loved. That's the second generalization I learned from the book. And with this realization, I know that my hubby made a tough decision to choose to come back to KK the first chance he got instead of waiting for the promotion that's due sooner or later.
As a person serving the country in the government sector, his chances of promotion are always better in KL, the capital city rather than in KK. But he has chosen to come back home to his family now rather than later. According to the perspective gained from the book, choosing love over power can affect a man's sense of 'manness', making him a bit lost. But my hubby chose us and for that I am grateful...His decision made me feel appreciated, loved, important. The next time around, I know I'm going to have to make some selfless decisions too...like get my phd done even though I've come to the point of 'almost quitting' because of the many challenges I faced and the duties I have to carry out now.

So when power and love are balanced, there's harmony...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Making sense of Martians and Venusians (part 1)

Yes, I've heard of John Gray's "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" most talked-about book since it was first out in 1992. But I couldn't be bothered to read it then. For one thing, I wasn't in a serious relationship- I mean I wasn't married. And I was young and silly...but I'm glad I had the chance to read it, finally, after all these years. Apparently being too idle since he has been apart from the family, hubby bought one, read it, liked it and made me read it. I'm glad I did because I have been much enlightened by the book. I thought I'd share some knowledge here...

The first point I learnt is that men and women deal with problems in ways too different that they often cause great miscommunication between the genders. Men, when they have problems, prefer to be on their own, while women want to talk and be comforted. Not just by anyone- mostly from their partners.

A girl friend lamented to me, "my husband has stopped talking to me. He works long hours, hardly ever sees the family, and yet when he is home, he prefers to watch the TV or read the newspapers. I feel so neglected. Like he doesn't care anymore, even when I'm not well. Maybe he wants me to die so he can marry someone else..."

If I hadn't read the book, I might have judged the husband in the same way she does, but I'm thankful that I have. I have learned that doing little things like watching TV and reading the newspapers are actually ways for a man to solve his problems. He has to be on his own until he finds the solutions to all his problems. This would be the most painful stage for his partner, because the man would be oblivious to the partner's need for caring. (Wives, tell me if you have never experienced this...) Once he has found his solutions, he would be back to his normal self, like nothing has ever happened. Hmm, annoying but it looks like we wives have to live with it. I am now deducing that if a husband doesn't talk for a long time, he might have great problems that he's trying to solve...and not because he has stopped caring.

Women, on the other hand, solve their problems by talking and expecting to be comforted. So when the wife talks about things like other people's problem, complaint about the mess in the house, how bad her day was etc, (which would definitely sound like nagging to the husband), she is in need of caring. A little hug and some comforting words will do the job. She doen't need the husband to solve her problems; just to listen.

I was amazed at how true these are. The next time my girl friend laments about such things, I think I'll know what to say. Most importantly, the next time my man goes to his cave, I'll remember his need to be alone, and wait patiently till he comes out of the cave, even though I know such time is always painful...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Reflection

I have this recently met friend whose smile reminds me of a bright sunny day. She's one of those people who can make others feel good even at moments of pain. Once I asked her what's her secret for being ever cheerful and pleasant, and she jokingly said "keep feeding the spiritual side of yourself. It will reflect on your physical side". Good advice. And so for Easter, here's some food for the soul:

1) Sometimes, God breaks our spirit to save our soul.

2) Sometimes, He breaks our heart to make us whole.

3) Sometimes, He sends us pain so we can be stronger.

4) Sometimes, He sends us failure so we can be humble.

5) Sometimes, He sends us illness so we can take better care of ourselves.

6) Sometimes, He takes EVERYTHING away from us so we can learn the value of EVERYTHING we have.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday reflection

Like any practising Catholic, I went to church for Good Friday mass yesterday. After four years in Australia, the super jammed traffic and super packed church compound at KK shocked me a bit. I thought coming an hour earlier before the mass time would get me a place inside the church. Little did I think of bringing a picnic chair just in case...and there I was, stuck outside the church under the hot sun. Like many others. It would have been so easy to simply walk away and forget all about Good Friday.

I looked at all the people-some loooking grim and tired, some chasing after little toddlers who couldn't understand why they had to be there, some obviously frail-but all seemingly so into the celebration. And their faith amazed me, as usual. How could I not be when just that morning as we were watching a documentary about Jesus, my little boy asked me, "why didn't Jesus use his power to get off the cross?" It struck me that many must have been asking the same question. Why indeed? The Christian faith teaches that it is because of LOVE that Jesus endured the crucification...which might be too abstract to some to understand. I guess that's why different religions suit different people.

It must be faith that brought all these people to the Good Friday congregation. Faith which is sometimes difficult to explain with logic. And as long as the faith makes you comfortable, and you feel that it helps you to lead a good life, then that is your truth...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The key word is BALANCE

As I was browsing through Dawama (the bookstore of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka) today, my enthusiasm of choosing books for my kids turned sour when I came across a certain book that promotes the Malay language as the SOLE language to be respected in Malaysia. Well, at least that was my impression when I read through the introduction section and chapter 1 of the book. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Bahasa Malaysia. On the contrary, I love Bahasa Malaysia. As much as I love English and my own mother tongue. In fact I love languages.

But it dissapoints me to know that people can actually write in such a way that makes it seems like using English and other languages in Malaysia is a crime. The author blasts the aspiration of certain people to encourage people in Malaysia to learn English more in order to obtain more knowledge. To the author, that is unacceptable (at least that's how I interpreted it when I read the sentences), unpatriotic, unMalaysian.

I wonder what's the author's agenda. If the author were an academic, I would have to say their writing style doesn't reflect a broad mind, unless of course, the author is an academic with some other agendas. I am sure his intentions are good, but to me, to write in such a way creates a bad consequent. It might corrupt the young Malaysians' minds (or people who are not used to thinking for themselves I might say), making them think that English shouldn't be learnt at all.

It saddens me that this kind of writing is being circulated in my country. Yes, I support the idea that Bahasa Malaysia should be given due respect, and that other community languages should be helped to thrive in this era of modernisation. But the key word is BALANCE. While doing that, it is wrong to give the impression that English should be left out. Even a primary school kid knows that without knowing English it is almost impossible to go on the internet!

My hope is that Malaysians (the extremists) will learn to be more balanced. There is a good side of everything. But then again, I am a Libran, and my middle name is BALANCE.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Has my Dad gone back to work"?

He finally understood that Dad is working far away for quite a long time. Upon coming home from school yesterday my little boy asked my brother, "has my Dad gone back to work?", and nodded his acknowledgement when he heard the answer "yes".

In the bedroom at night he said to me again that somebody's Dad in his class is also working in KL. So "it's ok that my Dad is also working there", he stoically said. But he's going to pray that Dad will get a transfer to KK soon. I smiled. Just a few weeks ago, he stubbornly refused to pray for his Dad's transfer. He cheekily thought that no Dad at home means freedom. No one will be strict to him (well, Mom yells sometimes but Mom is soooo not scary). But a full month without Dad must have made him change his mind. It turned out to be not so fun after all...especially because when Dad is around the family gets to do more fun stuffs, like stay in a hotel. And he doesn't have an ally when the girls do girly things with Mom.

My little boy decides that he'll pray for Dad's speedy return. After all, God listens to little kids' prayers, doesn't He? :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Earth Hour, another birthday...

My eldest daughter turns 12 today. (How time really flies. It seems only a short time ago that we celebrated her 11th birthday with friends in Perth.) We had a family celebration at Nexus Karambunai Hotel on Friday. A night stay, and a full day of relaxation, that's the birthday theme. She was a bit grumpy in the beginning. Her plan was to invite her newfound school friends, old family friends and all the cousins (and my, my, that would be about 50 people) for a merry celebration at home, but Mom and Dad were not into the idea. With the prolonged hot weather in KK, and the house still very much looking like a shipwreck, that was just impossible.

So Dad came home from KL on Thursday, just for his special little girl who's now not so little anymore. And off we went to Nexus. Having been treated to a special room shared with her sister, eldest daughter finally relented and enjoyed herself. A special surprise during dinner lifted her mood. Three singers appeared with their string instruments (and Mom doesn't even know what those instruments are called), to sing her the birthday song when the cake was brought to our table. That simple thing made her smile and forgot all about the unfulfilled wish of having a merry party at home :)

We went back home later yesterday, with the kids all ready for Earth Hour. It was wonderful to see three young ones all excited to give due respect to Mother Earth. We prepared our special candles, and went hapily into the darkness for an hour.

Today is her real birthday but the fun has been for the whole weekend. Many happy returns, Reiko (her Japanese name that she likes so much).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Treasure from yesteryears

Been decluttering and unpacking the whole day today and yesterday, and only halfway done. After that episode of missing stuffs from the shipment, I was a bit disheartened and put off unpacking, but I finally decided that I couldn't put it off forever. Besides, I really have to get rid of the junks all over the house or I'd go crazy...

I started with the book section, the one that never fails to uplift my spirit. I emptied the book cabinets, and lovingly cleaned them off dust. Next, I looked through hubby's old briefcases at the file storage. What I found made me smile. I found his old newspaper cuttings, those little inspiring quotes a few years before the internet made its way to this part of the world. I remember at times I'd sit by his side when he cut them out and be the one charmed by those words. I bet he has forgotten all about these cuttings, but here's one, just to make him nostalgic:

Make the moments count

Make the moments count

You've only one life to live!

Our days and years so swiftly mount-

Today's the day to give!

Why waste precious time
on empty foolish things?

For there are heights sublime to climb-
Attainment sweet vict'ry brings

(by Kathryn Thorne Bowsher)

Ah, wonderful little things. Now guess who's feeling nostalgic...

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