Friday, December 29, 2006

Year End

Hey everyone,

Yes, I have been missing in action yet again! (Many of you know that I have stuff to do so thank you for being ever so patient and understanding. Hugs!)

Have been helping mum and also have been catching up with lots of people. Of course, when there's catching up there'll be food la so yes yes, it does seem that I have not gone done in size or weight one bit. Sobs!

Today is the last day of orientiation (and pure madness!) over at mum's. Next week will be a killer week as it will be the first week of the year (and first of their lives!) for many of the kids. Crying, lots of crying, shouting ,screaming, tantrums and drama for sure. I don't blame them. Who would want to feel good in a place full of strangers?

I will be in Sabah this evening (yes, that anonymous message was me) until late Monday night. So buzz me or text me on my mobile if there's anything urgent. Until then, my thoughts and well wishes go out to the victims of the earthquake in Taiwan and the victims of the floods in Johor, Melaka, Terengganu and Kelantan.

Oh, and Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Peace

Grandma left to join Grandpa and Greatgrandma for an early Christmas this morning at 3:10am. All her 5 children were at her bedside, along with Mum, Bro and myself. I am glad that I managed to make it to see her breathe her last breath. It was a peaceful passing. Thank you for all your well wishes and concern.

I will be back in KL late Sunday night. See you guys then.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Grandma

Grandma was admitted into hospital at 1:30am. I was suspecting something as dad's mobile rang a few times throughout the night, which is unusual. He was speaking very softly and did not want me to know what was happening.

The doctors would not operate and told us to let her go. All the 5 siblings (my dad, uncle and 3 aunts) all also agreed to let her go. She is 72 and who's to say she did not lead a good life? Well, it depends on what good actually means to you guys.

Grandma is expected to leave today. She was given 24 hours. She's still sleeping peacefully and according to Dad, she's breathing smoothly and has a steady heartbeat.

Why must I have my IELTS speaking test today?!?! I'll be heading over to the hospital as soon as I finish and I honestly hope I will make it to say my goodbyes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2 Forms of Contentment (Shij Style)

Emma wanted to speak to me personally. I gave her a call. She was in her office. She wanted to let me know the situation of my marks for my thesis. One marker gave me a Credit. One gave me a Distinction. So now my status is still pending. Still have no news. But I'm happy. Distinction or not, I enjoyed myself a lot and I found my writing style different. I learnt so much from Emma and I am humbled by the vast amount of knowledge my lecturers have and their approachable persona. I am glad I decided to enrol in the Honours program.
------

Thom Son (9), Dickson (6), Wi Xi (5) and Wi Zi's (4) mum has not arrived. It was 7pm. By right, if mum implemented her OT strictly, their mum would've needed to pay qutie a large sum. But we're a service to the community and they've been coming to us for so many years now. Thom Son will be 10 next year. He's been coming to us since he was 3. Why bicker over something as trivial as their mum not coming before we close shop?

While driving them to their dad's mobile phone shop, this conversation took place:
WZ: Shi Jing Jie Jie, how come you only have one of that thing?
SJ: What thing?
WZ: Neh, that thing (pointing at the wiper).
SJ: What do you mean?
WX: She said that 'cause we have 2 of those things!
Dickson: Yeah, we do! Many cars have 2. Why do you have only one?
WZ: Is one enough?
Dickson: Oh, I know! I know! Hers is longer! Look, it's almost reaching the side of the windscreen!
WX: Yes, yes!
Dickson: They have to make it longer because her windscreen is bigger.

Thom Son was quietly observing. I smiled. They have figured it out for themselves - their hypothesising, their reasonings, sharing of thoughts. I am definitely in the right field.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Busy Little Honey Bees!

I'm back in KL! Well, I've been back for almost a fortnight now but I only found time to sit and type today. So sorry for neglecting this blog. I know some of you have been waiting for an update.

Well, logically, there can only be one reason for my negligence - business. And I mean really. Oh, and of course it's human nature to blame others so I'll blame TMNet and my bro. Hahahaha... nah, I'll just blame my own time management.

I've been busy helping my mum with training the kids. One graduating class needed to start afresh with new steps and all as their original steps were extremely simple. The fashion show needed narration and now we've just realised that we haven't printed out the invitation cards. Mum's still reformatting the program so I'd have to wait for that before retyping and printing that one. Dad's doing up the certificates and the folders. Tomorrow we'll have our first rehearsal in the Tadika. Tuesday will be a full-dress rehearsal at the hall.

And yes, studying at Honey Bee does make the children more active and hyper - they are so excited and can't wait for Saturday to come!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To Stand Up When It Matters Most

Something Petra sent to me earlier today. I think she did that because it sorts of reflects the person I am. =) Head to the NST website for the original.

05 Nov 2006
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar

I was recently asked what I thought motivated those who steadfastly pursued ideals and worked towards making them a reality, often demonised or put at risk for doing so.

This Aidilfitri I did not go for prayers with my father, to spare him the discomfort of having to confront the hostility I would have been exposed to. There are those who consider me an enemy of Islam, and there are those among them who have been unduly generous with their viewpoints.

This Eid despite my parents saying that it was all right, I stayed away from them so as not to interfere with their celebrations with friends; even as yet another do-gooder acquaintance of my mother advised her about my activities, making clear her unwillingness to consider an alternative view.

My story is not unique. I have heard it in one form or other from those who have tried to stand up and make a difference. In our history, there have always been those who have been called "anti-government", "anti-establishment", "anti-Malaysia",
"anti-Islam", "anti-Constitution" and a host of other names by those whom I suppose should be called "convenient anti-principles".

Through the years, I have been intrigued at how glibly the labels are thrown about as and when convenient, no matter the apparent contradictions. No matter the lack of sensibility.

But the question remains unanswered; why do they struggle, what pushes them? Some suggest the pursuit of fame. I think there are easier and more conventionally acceptable ways of becoming known. Money? I do not think so.

Many a believer in principle I know has forsaken a lucrative career in the belief that if we put our minds and backs to it, one day, this nation will be a place where all of us can be happy and at peace with each other.

What then, I am asked with some frustration. And I wonder why it is that it can only ever be about fame and money. Where do truth, justice, fairness figure in all of this?

Are we delusional for believing that these factors do have some significance? Are things so bleak that there is no reason for hope?

I do not think so because of the fact that there will always be Malaysians to whom truth, justice and fairness come first and who are prepared to act accordingly.

And as long as they do, and show the way to others who can be inspired to act in like way, there will always be a reason to carry on with the struggle.

In 1996, I was fortunate enough to have been part of a process that would ultimately show me that every so often one would meet the one person that mattered most at the time.

Many may remember that in late 1996, a conference called the "Asia Pacific Conference On East Timor II" was held in Kuala Lumpur.

The conference was broken up by a mob of about 200 people who managed to gain access to the private area where the conference was being held and terrorised the participants.

The police got into the picture and arrested more than 30 of the participants, including R. Sivarasa, Tian Chua, Ivy Josiah, Jacqueline Surin and Syed Husin Ali. The legality of the arrests is currently being challenged in court and I will not speak about that.

The 30-plus arrested participants were taken to the Dang Wangi police station.

A group of five lawyers who banded together purely from the spirit of wanting to assist, worked for the release of the detainees who had been remanded for varying periods.

I wish to record my deep admiration for the commitment shown by those lawyers: Sulaiman Abdullah, Datuk Dominic Puthucheary, M. Puravelan and Ragunath Kesavan (now secretary, Bar Council); I was the fifth.

The negotiations with the police were difficult, in part because they were reacting to the various civil society groups and concerned family members that had encamped outside the police station.

We, too, practically lived there. Operasi Lalang was fresh in people's minds and many feared that the arrests would be converted into ISA detentions.

The lawyers were anxious to get the detainees out as soon as possible. As they emerged to cheers, freed one by one and it began to seem that all would be released, the tension began to dissipate.

By the evening of the fifth day, only 10 more remained in detention. After discussions with the police, we were confident that they would be released at the latest by the next morning.

The next morning told a different story. The 10 were taken to the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court for a further remand hearing.

We discovered this by chance and immediately assembled, presenting ourselves at the court. It was a tense hearing, with the magistrate about 3.30pm ultimately dismissing our objections.

We had anticipated such a possibility and intended to petition the High Court judge for a review that very afternoon, as in our minds, the decision was wrong. We communicated this to the magistrate, asking for her grounds of decision and the notes she had taken.

These were necessary for our review. Despite our insistence, she told us that these would be available for collection in only about a week's time.

We rushed to the High Court as the 10 were being driven off in a police van, sirens blaring.

The sight strengthened our resolve. Getting there, we were ushered into the chambers of Justice Datuk K.C. Vohrah, then a High Court judge (he has since retired).

He took in the sight of the motley bunch in front of him and gently asked us to explain what we wanted. He heard us out patiently, his brow creased with mounting concern.

Then, with all the indignation of justice denied, he directed his registrar to get the magistrate's file immediately.

Turning to us with a look of anguish, recognising that every second more was a further second of incarceration, he told us that he could only allow for a hearing the next morning so as to give the Attorney-General's Chambers a chance to be heard.

As such, he explained, our clients would have to spend a further night in the lock-up.

I was struck with wonder at the way in which the process was unfolding. This was everything I had learnt the law should be; responsive, decisive and compassionate.

That night, the lawyers worked round the clock and by the next morning, presented an argument that would ultimately define and limit the manner in which the police obtained extensions of the remand period. About 5.30 that evening, Justice Vohrah ordered the police to release the 10 immediately.

It was an inspiring moment, and one I will never forget.

More than the fact that justice was served and the truth had prevailed, Vohrah had shown me that to get there, all it took was a firm belief in doing the right thing as conscience dictated.

Since then, I have had the chance of meeting other courageous judges, whom I cannot name since they are still sitting, and other men and women who have stood up and been counted when it mattered.

What other motivation is there a need for?

* The writer is president, National Human Rights Society (Hakam).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Clever Isn't A Dirty Word

by India Knight from The Sunday Times

I spent quite a lot of time on holiday cajoling my eldest son (he’s 13) to at least attempt to make inroads into his reading list for next year. He sat on the beach reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was encouraging, and then decided he’d done plenty and needed to devote much more of his time to surfing and hanging out.

What about Waugh, I cried. Greene? Siegfried Sassoon? Oh look, Selections from the Aeneid — I’ll pay you to read it. But he was gone.

When I dropped this same son off to go on a school trip to France last year, I was amazed to see one of his friends, who’d got there early, sitting on a wall doing the Telegraph’s cryptic crossword, if you please. I felt a stab of purest envy.

This paragon is no doubt spending his summer holiday reading Riddles in Mathematics by Eugene P. Northrop, also on our reading list and doomed, I fear, forever to gather dust in our innumerate house. I bet this child devours Virgil and can quote from Decline and Fall.

Whenever I order my son to be more like him, which I do at least twice a week, he smiles beadily and says: “But he’s a boffin.” So? So, being a boffin is a fate worse than death, apparently. The only thing that saves this child from gross unpopularity and ostracism is that he is also a) funny b) nice-looking and c) crucially, good at games.

I have explained patiently to my son that if he were to make a small effort academically, Stephen Hawking would probably still manage to sleep at night, but to no avail. Being seen as actively clever is now apparently socially unacceptable, and his friend is the lone and freakish exception to the overwhelming rule.

Last week, delegates at the 35,000-strong Professional Association of Teachers’ annual conference were told they should stop telling their pupils they are “clever” because it is “uncool”. They should instead use the more thrusting, businessy term “successful”.

Simon Smith, a teacher from Essex, told the conference: “A culture has developed that mocks being clever... I have talked to various pupils. They said being clever meant you were boring, lacked personality, were a teacher’s pet and other things not polite to mention in company such as this. With a few exceptions, including sport, academic prowess is in many eyes not ‘cool’. We need to change this, perhaps by changing the language we use.”

Another teacher said pupils often failed to turn up to collect their awards at prize-giving “because it is not cool”, and a third pointed out that achievers and Nobel prize winners were not considered celebrities, unlike people who’d made a virtue out of undistinguished academic careers, such as Alan Sugar or David Beckham.

Other teachers spoke of clever pupils deliberately making their work second-rate “because of peer pressure not to appear bright, clever or hardworking”.

Now, we all had a class swot, hand permanently up, panting with their love of knowledge, keen on double maths and given to a little light dissection of mammals in their spare time.

Nobody’s suggesting we need more of those: being the class geek, or nerd, or boffin, is not necessarily a number one priority when you’re 13, and a trip to the cinema is always going to be more fun than impromptu revision. However, there used to be kudos attached to cleverness, especially for those who developed the trick of making it seem effortless.

That seems to be a thing of the past: at school, as increasingly throughout society, thickness, or the appearance of thickness, is where it’s at.

It doesn’t seem to occur to David Beckham’s admirers — or Alan Sugar’s, for that matter — that working hard at school might have meant their hero was a clever football player, as opposed to a notoriously dim one, or that Alan Sugar might have made even more money than he has already if he had got a few qualifications.

Nor does it occur to them that for every Richard Branson there are a thousand undereducated miserable people, massively chippy more often than not (and with good reason), who wish they’d stayed on at school. Maybe they should take to heart the sobering statistic that 40% of criminals in our jails are illiterate.

We also heard last week that schools may soon no longer be required to teach children the difference between right and wrong, if plans to revise the core aims of the national curriculum are to go ahead. Teachers would instead be asked to encourage pupils to develop “secure values and beliefs”, though what those values might be is anyone’s guess. The draft proposals also delete any reference to promoting leadership skills, and remove the requirement to teach children about Britain’s cultural heritage.

Barmy, isn’t it. It’s bad — and loony — enough that we exist in a culture that encourages all school children to feel “special” and “equal” in terms of talent and opportunities: a really stupid lesson to teach them, given that it is a fact of life that some people are demonstrably cleverer than others, and demonstrably more likely to succeed, and some people, despite their best efforts, are just thick.

But no: all must have prizes and pats on the head, and the demoralised stupid children must be made to struggle terribly in mixed-ability classes while the understimulated clever ones yawn and look out of the window.

Never mind: in the instant gratification society we live in, every one of those children genuinely believes that success and riches are their due and will land on their lap by magic, either through reality TV or, well, just like that. We are raising a generation that is going to be massively disappointed.

The world of school increasingly bears little or no resemblance to the real world: no streaming, no competitive games, and now nobody being encouraged to develop leadership skills, to want to be clever, or to familiarise themselves with ethics. Instead we get ignorance and moral relativism for school-age children, who are too badly educated to even make sense of the concept. No wonder we’re dumbed down.

Victoria Beckham, who’s made a career out of being skinnier and more ill-looking than a famine victim — nice — has had her hideous hair extensions chopped off and replaced with a strange, studenty bob. Hold the front page! Many tabloids did, last week, to heap praise upon this most unlikely of “style icons”. Meanwhile, poor old Zara Phillips went somewhere wearing a boob tube — a green cotton strapless top — and got bashed for it all over the Daily Mail. Phillips is a super-fit Olympic-quality horsewoman, who dresses like an ordinary girl and has an ordinary, athletic shape. Posh is a pin-up for pro-anorexia websites and, according to Grazia magazine, has the waist-size of a seven-year-old girl.

Why does anyone bother maintaining the crazy fiction that she is any kind of role model, or that her slightly simian, emaciated size 0 looks are aesthetically pleasing and somehow worthy of being aped, and that anyone who’s a size 12 or 14 is a gigantic heifer? Is everybody mad? I mean, who is abnormal here? It’s certainly not Zara. But all this is just unbelievably depressing.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Children's paintings

I've been wanting to post some paintings up for some time now. I think I should get down to actually doing it this time. Pet, hope this is what you will see on the walls of my mum's place.

Ladies and gentlemen, the paintings you will see below were painted by children from 5 to 8 years of age. 'Art classes', as they are fondly referred to in Malaysia, are held on Saturday mornings. Mum stopped hiring so-called art teachers from external sources as they were too rigid. They would draw something on the board and say, "Ok, you follow that and then you choose your colours to paint in la"...... where's the creativity in that? You would hear phrases like, "How can you use this colour?" or "No, you don't draw that here. You draw that on this side" or "No, rub this off". Ring any bells?

Dad's approach is slightly different. His children do not paint while sitting down at individual tables. Instead, they paint standing up at painting easles set up in a way that allows them to observe and interact with other children.He arrives early (or else Mum would tell him off), briefs the teachers on what he would like them to do, and explain it to the children. He has two groups of chidlren. The younger group is taught the basics of colours, i.e. one week would be warm colours and another week would be cold. Once they get a hang of the concept, they then work with 2 colours like red and yellow. Dad only provides them with the primary colours of red, yellow and blue. Once they 'accidentally' find out how they make other colours out of all of that, they move on to more complicated things like brush techniques. Then, white and black would be added to their palette.


Yuk Khey used to tease me a lot. And he did that in perfect English! He'd go, "Shi Jing Jie Jie, how come you don't like to wear pretty skirts?" And I'd be speechless. Yuk Khey was 6 when he painted this. Dad wanted them to learn not to 'mess up' their work. And this painting was also to allow them to practice their waving skills. And they just learnt how to mix green and brown.


Another technique lesson, this lesson focussed on only 2 colours. Dad wanted them to learn that the paint brush is a powerful tool for evoking different emotions when used properly with the right colour combinations. Ming Suet's simple painting here shows you that with the right amount of guidance, children are capable of producing real paintings, not just cartoon-looking drawings and bright colour-me-in run-offs. Ming Suet is one child I am very fond of because she's been with us since she was 3. She is still with us and now she's 9!


Marcus speaks fluent English and was the star of our 2004 concert as he was in the English drama as the lead character. He has a cheerful personality and loves to talk in his high-pitched voice. It does seem strange that the expressions on the faces he painted are more of the negatives than positives. Wonder if this shows anything about life at home or outside of the Centre?

Dad also used real-life objects. His favourite are fruits and vegetables because all he needed to do was either grab them from home and from the kitchen.


Kien Hing was 7 when he did this painting. Dad put up a banana on the easle for them to follow and it was up to them to paint it however they liked. He came to us when he was 3 and his best friend was Dana. His family runs a wantan mee stall in an old coffeeshop in the middle of the wet market in the heart of Seri Kembangan. The teachers don't particular enjoy his presence in the room because he won't sit still but I find that if you make yourself and your lessons interesting, he WILL sit and listen to you.


Another fruit lesson was the apple one. Pretty straightforward. Wai Keat was 7 and his dad placed him in the lessons because he didn't want him to be lazing around at home. Good idea.


One of my lecturers actually thought that was a painting of a bird. But anyways, I'm sure you are able to tell what it actually is. Dad didn't prepare for this lesson so he went into the kitchen and grabbed a few onions and presto! Don't you feel amazed at what Jia Ern, only 6 at the time she did this, could mix the colours and differetiate between the inside and outside of the onion? She is now 8 and the last I heard, she is top of her class and Model Student of the Year.


Dad introduced the masterpiece to the children in reaction to the children's thinking that 'flowers are all in pretty and bright colours'. They are conforming to what is considered normal and I don't blame them for that. No one has ever taught them to challenge what is considered normal and Dad wanted to show them that it is alright to paint flowers in black or leaves in blue. It's art so have some fun! And fun was what Ming Suet had! She thought of the background on her own and the white and black dots, just unexpected!


Until today, this is still my favourite painting. When Hao Yan first came to us, she was rude and 'rough'. She was very stubborn and used to bite other children when she didn't get things to go her way. Her mother had just transferred her from a play-based childcare centre thinking that 'she's had enough of playing'. Parents sometimes do not realise that playing is actually learning. But yes, she transformed and just look at this sunflower! Look at the brush strokes, the interplay of colours, the balance. This was the lesson where Dad showed them the different sunflowers painted by Van Gogh and Klimt.

When you are confident and trust the children with your material, when the children enjoy your lessons and when you do not set boudaries for them, you will find that children have the most remarkable imaginations.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My prac

For those of you who didn't know, I was on prac for 3 weeks at a local primary school teaching Year One children. There were 19 of them in my class and they were comparably an easy class. My co-operating teacher was Nadia. Only 28 and she's been teaching for 7 years. Let me show you some of the things I did with the kids while I was there.

Oh, before that, I have to show you this:


Smart, don't you think? The blackboard/whiteboard functions as a sliding door as well! It goes through into the computer lab cum store room and then connects to the next Year One class.

Okay, now, the stuff I've been doing with the kids. As they were starting to learn about wetlands, most of my lessons were planned based on wetlands. One of my targets was to make sure that the children were able to differentiate between the different types of roots mangroves have. This way, they'd have something to look out for when they go to Bicentennial Park for the excursion. One of my lessons involved a game. The children were split into groups and they had to choose a few person to match the pictures to the labels. Of course, they had to decide as a team which labels are to which pictures before I said start.


Of course, after having gone on an excursion, I had to ask them to draw what they saw or remembered.


Okay, so we covered the plants of wetlands. We also had to learn about who lives in there. And of course, a familiar animal they could think of was the frog. And so we learnt about frogs for the next week or so. One of the things we did was to learn about the frog's life cycle. I used art to teach them about this. I used an idea dad told me a few years ago but instead of using only paint, I also used wobbly eyes. Look at the effect!


Notice how Max has drawn his frog and where he has placed the eyes! Haha!! Doesn't it look like that Japanese cartoon? Er, what's the name? Kero Kero Keropi or something like that...

We also made an origami frog. It was not easy for the kids, I tell you so it was great to see the frogs actually jump! Nicholas was so into folding the frogs, he could remember the steps and offered to fold more frogs for Friday Fun! We built a pond for the frogs to live in and the boys had frog races, too!


And when you have enough (or more than enough would be ideal) resources provided for the children, you will see that their investigating, curious, hypothetical selves will show. Just look at how Harrison and Calvin are enjoying themselves! Yes, they may not know how to read the entire book as it is way above their level, but the pictures will spur them to find out more.


We even learnt to draw and label the different body parts of a tadpole and a frog!



Not everything was about frogs and mangroves and wetlands. Nadia wanted to reintroduce patterns to the children. We used colour counters and asked the children to come up with a pattern of their own. Any pattern. Most of them came up with colours depicting their favourite football teams. Here is Calvin and the colours of the West Tigers:


Lachlan with the colours of the Parramatta Eels:


Martin and Harrison working collaboratively to get a long line of Sydney Swan colours:


We did lots and lots of other things as well. I spent a lot of my lunchtimes with the kids playing catch and just simply holding hands walking round the oval. I taught them a percussion item to perform for assembly and we became friends. At the end of prac, there were surprises. Maddy gave me a card and a bracelet:


Corey found a pinecone and said, "Here, Miss Voon. Everytime you miss me, just look at this pinecone and it will remind you of me.". Aw......


Rachel passed me a scruffy looking piece of paper which contained this:


On the day I returned to school to collect a book I forgot and to watch the assembly item, the class presented me with a special card they made:


I would like to thank the kids, Nadia and my advisor, Robyn for having provided me with so much fun. I have learnt a lot from the prac and I will work hard to ensure my next prac will be even better.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Freedom Film Festival

What is the connection between freedom, film and festival?

They all rock!

What do you say?

Say it at www.freedomfilmfest.komas.org

Sept 29-Oct 1, 2006 at Taylor's College, Subang Jaya.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Happy Days

The latest book I've read is Happy Days by Laurent Graff, thanks to the stupid cup of iced mocha I drank after dinner. Please click on the link on the sidebar to read a full review by some person who appears to be an avid reader.

I bought Happy Days from a book sale about a month ago. It was only around $5 so I thought why not? What attracted me was the part where the main character, Antoine, buys his own grave at the age of 18 and chooses to spend the rest of his life in a retirement home at 35. I was like, "Hm, I wonder if any REAL person does something like that?"

Reading the book didn't take too long as consists of only 99 pages - relatively short compared to other novels. Reading the book made me reflect on myself and my friends from high school. Mainly, my thoughts encompassed the differences between my friends and I.

To me, the biggest difference would be how SURE I am about what I want to do with my life. Unlike Antoine, I choose not to spend my life WAITING for the end. Neither do I choose to PREPARE for the end. I choose to spend my life living the now. It's like teaching children, really. Why do we teach children with the notion that teaching equals preparing them for school? In kindergarten, teachers plan their 'lessons' according to skills that will PREPARE children for Year One. Then when children are in Year One, teachers PREPARE them for Year Two. Why do we do that? I'm not saying that preparation shouldn't be practiced but I'm suggesting that it should be done in moderation, just like everything else.

Live in the now. Enjoy the now. You only get now ONCE. I know what I want to do with my life because I have a plan. It is a plan that I have wanted to adhere to for a long time. That doesn't mean that to realise this plan, I didn't enjoy my life. I did. Still am. I'm enjoying every NOW second of it. By enjoying the NOW, I pave the way to enjoy the future.

Going back to the kids. Teach them in the NOW. Or at least, that's what I think my philosophy will be based on (along with other things). If they are talking about getting along with a friend, extend on that NOW. Don't say, "Oh, they will cover this next term so that can wait" because you will lose that magical moment. Why would what they learn in the future be important when what they learn now isn't? And HOW can what they learn in the future be MORE important than what they learn now? To me, it's the foundation that needs to be laid correctly. Otherwise, whatever that comes after that will not fall into place properly.

My friends, on the other hand, are not sure what they want to do in the future because they are not very sure about the reasons behind what they are currently doing. Now, I'm not saying that ALL my friends are like this but many of them are. "Why are you studying actuarial?" "Er, hm, no one's ever asked me that before. I don't really know, come to think of it." "Huh? What do you mean you don't know?"

Typical response regardless of whether it's Actuarial, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Biotech, Psychology, Law, Engineering, Medicine or Economics. I've left out my own course because usually, people who study Early Childhood Education have a reason. However, those reasons differ from person to person. My reason, as everyone knows, is because I enjoy it to the max. Many others, think that it will help them earn tonnes of money. A big no-no for me. Children are to be loved, cared for, nurtured, not to be exploited to help you become rich a$$es. Sigh...

Of course, I have a handful of friends who are passionate about what they are doing. One worthy of mention is a dear friend currently nursing her health way past Down Under. Her knowledge and determination is astounding. She sometimes makes me feel like I know nothing. Her writing skills are impeccable - makes me wish I can write like her. She hangs out with geniuses from Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and the likes. She even has time to do volunteer work. I give credit to her mum. Seriously, it's the FOUNDATION that she put in place for my friend that has nurtured her brilliant mind into what it is today.

Why do people find it hard to accept that there are people (i.e. yours truly) who prefer NOT to CONFORM to society? I happen to enjoy wearing tees, shorts and sandals everywhere. I happen to enjoy cleaning the house. I happen to enjoy mixing with both my KL and SK friends. I happen to prefer Apple to Microsoft. I happen to enjoy listening to Chinese pop to improve my command of the language. I happen to think that there is no shame in being proud of my own country.

And my Happy Days would be the childcare centre/kindergarten where I will be teaching at because I happen to think that being a teacher is the most noble and satisfying profession there is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Melbourne Winter Adventure 2006 (Episode 6)

Days 5 & 6:

Monday passed by rather slowly. We had to return the car and Auds had to go back to uni for some work. She's on the MUISS committee you see and Orientation Week was happening. We woke up extremely late this time and we walked over McD's for brunch cum afternoon tea. We then took a stroll on Monash Clayton grounds. I acted as tour guide, naturally, showing them the student centre, libraries, the place where they have their graduation ceremony and their sports centre. And I'm not even a student of Monash!!!

The highlight of the day had to be dinner. Alan, Jordan and Auds, over lovely hosts, prepared a scrumptious meal for us. We invited Benito over, too, to introduce to Nic, Miow and Erin. Dinner was Shaun's Chinese cabbage and Alan's miso soup and er, some Japanese style meat. Delicious, absolutely delicious!

They taught us how to play BANG! and I'm not going into the details here because I'm going to confuse myself a lot more if I do. The night passed with a certain person drinking a lot of Coke and water. We had 4 types of drinks that night - Johnny Walker, Bailey's, Vodka and um... something else which I so cannot recall at the moment. We played Ducky Fuzz and Auds was the first victim!!! Shaun went Duzzy! and she was like .... ffffff...zz... ..f.. ?!?#$^@$%

We also played another new game whereby we aren't allowed to go to the loo for 2 hours. So everyone was trying really hard not to lose as losing entails more drinking and winning means a 2 in 12 chance of getting the toilet pass. Toilet pass=toilet anytime. That was a really good game.

I then had to hit the bed. Too much for one night. Auds nearly got drunk on Coke. She's one who doesn't get drunk on alcohol but give her Coke to go with her grog, poof! red and drunk Auddy.

This pic more or less sums the loud, funny and outrageous night:


Day 6:
It rained! And when there's rain in Melbourne, there will be freezing cold wind! Brrr!!! We had to walk in the rain to get to the bus stop. We had to go to the city for our last meal in Melbourne before heading back to Sydney. Alan brought us to a cosy Jap restaurant which served good food. And they were cheap! Nic was standing outside looking at the prices on the menu and he had this to say: I'm so gonna miss Melbourne prices.

All in all, it was a good trip, this one. Introduced Auds to yet another bunch of crazy people. You have to admit Auds, you love us for that. =)

I sat next to Nic on the plane. Shaun, Erin and Miow sat in the row of seats in front of us. It's nice to spend some time with Nic. Reminds me of the sweet and helpful person he is. It was nice to spend some private talking time with him, too. Nic, if you're reading this, although at times I hate you (mostly due to your taste in girls), I'll ALWAYS have a soft spot for you in me. =)

Wonder where will our next adventure be? Melbourne again but different places? Or Gold Coast? We'll see.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Melbourne Winter Adventure 2006 (Episode 5)

Day 4:

This day was a more sombre day. It started off with lunch (yet again). But this time, the guys had more to look forward to - my cousins. I put the idea of my cousins being hot and cute into their heads. Thankfully, they agreed with my views after seeing them in person. My aunt prepared typical Malaysian fanfare for lunch, consisting of chicken curry, taufu with bean sprouts and peanut sauce, some kind of fried noodles (which I did not get to eat) and er, I think that was it. Uncle Aaron was in as well this time. Didn't get to talk to him much, well, not like I wanted to anyways. I don't exactly share a 'loving' relationship with this side of the family. Haha.. only with the two girls. Oh, yes, the pics will show you what I mean by 'hot' and 'cute'.




Just to illustrate it better, the hot one is Pei Shin (in green) and the cute one's Pei Yiun (in pink). Pei Shin is 19 this year, doing her first year of Bank, Accounting and Finance in Monash Caulfield while Pei Yiun is 17 doing her Year 11 in Waverley Christian College.

We then headed over to Dandenong to have a look at the infamous Puffing Billy train. We were lucky that there was one black one returning to the station. Miow took videos and all that. Auds and I took a pic of the charming old-fashioned letterbox.




That more or less wrapped up our day. We went back home to laze around. Or did we head to the city? I think we did - to have dinner at King of Kings. Shaun wanted to let Miow, Nic and Erin taste the different chiffon egg rice they serve there. They preferred the one at A1. Haha.. and it was there at the restaurant that something happened to Auds. Attraction of some sort. Kenneth Ooi came over to catch up and we headed over to Crown Casino. Miow, Nic and Shaun signed up for a card to play on some pokie machines. Miow lost around $20 in a jiffy. I helped Shaun win $5. Haha...

Alan then came over to join us for a drink in Grecko's. Wah, we should have taken pictures of the cakes they serve. Humungous betul! And the coffee needless to say, aromatic. The guys then took to challenging each other to run across the fountains without getting wet. And guess who got shot in the face... Shaun! Muahahaha.... pandai, wanna run in zigzags. We waited to watch the fire without realising that the last train would have left Flinders by then. We ended up taking the taxi back to Caulfield. Cost us freaking a lot of money!

And so the day ended with more poker at home.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Melbourne Winter Adventure 2006 (Episode 4)

Day 3:

OK, I don't have to remind you how we usually wake up in time for lunch during the holidays. So, yes, we woke up in time for lunch. We, or rather Auds drove us to Box Hill so that we could have the infamous 'swimming-in-the-sauce" roast duck rice that Shaun can't get out of his head. And seriously, it was good, way better than what Eastwood's bbq one serves. It was literally swimming in sauce as they serve so much more sauce, a bigger serving, better service, more VEGIES and to top that off, super spicy chilli sauce! And no, it's not the cheesy chilli sauces you buy from Asian groceries but freshly chopped chillies with er, oil and I think garlic. Two thumbs up from me!

After lunch, we headed to our next destination - Phillip Island. Yes, we went to Phillip Island at the peak of winter. Yes, I hear many of you saying, "Wah, crazy ar? Winter you know! It's dead cold there now!" But hey, we're already in Melbourne, so we might as well go, right? So off we went in the opposite direction from the day before and we arrived the island in 1.5 hours.

As soon as we opened the door to get into the Tourist Information Centre, we had to quickly grab our jackets and whatever that we think would make us feel warm to put on. Yes, it was freezing all right. And we had this crazy idea of buying ice-cream to eat, as well.

As per the friendly lady at the Info Centre's advice, we forewent the bushwalking and Churchill Island and went straight to watch the seals first. And to think the Info Centre was freezing, The Nobbies was excruciatingly cold! The wind was so powerful, I was pushed sideways when walking! We were there to catch a glimpse of a colony of creatures on a small cluster of rocks just offshore. As it's name implies, Seal Rocks is where the largest colony of Australian Fur Seals congregate in Australia. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see any of them cute albeit vicious creatures due to a family so indulged in looking, they wouldn't budge from the telescope.


We did, however, take a group photo to remind ourselves of how freaking COLD it was there and how many layers we put on and some pictures of the raging sea (you can tell the wind was a killer).





Lady luck was with us, though. There was a small flock of penguins under the wooden boardwalk and of course, cameras started clicking away.


We ran to the car. Yes, ran. We then drove to a different side of the island, where the main attraction lie - Little Penguins. We paid $17 to watch them come home to their nests after spending 3 weeks at sea. We weren't allowed anything that could take pictures - digicams, phonecams, you name it. We weren't allowed to stand or to make a sound. We sat there waiting for them to come up since 5pm. The first tiny, cute penguin came on shore about 1.5 later. Ooooooh, they WERE cute!!! And as the guide said, they would only move from the waves up to the grass in groups to fend of prey and yes, they did wait!

It was then my turn to drive home. We had to go hunting for food. There was a restaurant along the way (on the island) that served steak on a hot slab of rock (or so they claim) but we had to decline as it was absolutely way over our budgets as uni students. So, I suggested La Porchetta, the Melbourne version of Borelli's, just cheaper and bigger in portions. And yes, the atmosphere had Nic smiling from ear-to-ear.

The night actually ended on a bad note. Well, you see, I'm not good with taking instructions, especially driving instructions. And I don't enjoy it. I am a pretty good driver, I think. But, I have to admit, I was very touchy that night. Something must've bugged me sometime in the day to have made me react in that manner. Oh, and the way some people talk to me, it's as if they think that I'm nowhere near as smart as they are just coz I'm doing a 'less prestigious' course than they are. Puh-leez.

Not so good, but I won my first ever round of poker. So it's all balanced out. No complaints now. =P

Friday, August 04, 2006

Melbourne Winter Adventure 2006 (Episode 3)

Day 2:

We woke up late, as usual. I stayed home to try to finish off my assignment to email to Emma before she left for Hong Kong. Erin stayed back as well while the guys and Auds walked over to a car rental place to rent a big car to fit all 6 of us. It took them a very long time to get back with the car. They rented an automatic Tarago (Estima to Malaysians) from Thrifty and people, please don't rent anything from Thrifty because they are anything but what their name implies. But, I have to say, the car drives very well. Smooth, quiet and comfy. So, we headed to McD's to grab a quick bite, bought a toll ticket from Shell and we were on our way to our destination.

Miow constantly entertained everyone with 'Are we there yet?'s and we took to looking out for peculiar names of towns. The journey took us 2 hours (I think). The drizzle had just stopped and it was freezing once we stepped out of the car. Yes, we have arrived at Sovereign Hill, finally. Bought our tickets and headed into the infamous gold digging/panning town. They claim that they are an original settlement but I think it's more of a touristy place. I reminded myself to get my ticket stamp at the old-fashion post office so that I'd get to come back in for free within the year. Who knows? I might be coming again.

And so, we starting playing. Yup, loads of fun playing I tell you. Posed with mannequins, pointed at things, tried panning for gold, took pictures with and of the 'locals' and we stayed for the last session of gold melting. It was pure gold in a big bar! Ooooooh, have never seen such a huge chunk of gold ever in my life! Not even at my grandfather and uncle's shop. Pity we arrived so late, otherwise we'd have been able to join the mine tour. It runs in a real underground mine where in the past, they mined gold. It would have been a first-hand experience but time did not permit. That would be the main pull if I were to return.











In summary, Sovereign Hill is a historic attraction. If you're not into historical stuff, don't bother driving all the way out here.



We had to rush back to the city to meet up with Alan and gang. We quickly grabbed dinner at Cili Padi, where Miow boldly asked the waitress her name and her ethnicity. I think it scared her as she didn't return to the table after that .Yes, I have very interesting friends. Wanna meet them personally? I think you'd love them. If you like Malaysian food, Cili Padi is not the place to go. Food is costly for Melbourne standards. And why did why have to rush back? The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest started at 8:30pm so of course we had to rush! I loved the show. Shaun thought it was so-so. He doesn't like movies that hangs in mid-air at the end. He prefers movies with definitive outcomes. I said he's traditional, not creative. Haha.. It's definitely one show I'd recommend to watch when you need a good laugh.

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