Saturday, December 19, 2009

When the going gets tough...

Definition of tough varies from person to person. For a taufu like me, tough means different things at different times, for different circumstances. In fact, I personally do not like using the term 'tough'. It has a negative ring to it, don't you think?

To me, everything we do feels tough when we do not want to do it. Just think about it. When we have set our minds not to do something, even the simplest things will feel tough. On the contrary, the hardest things will become easy when we have told ourselves that yes, I will willingly do it.

It is a mind game. It is a psychological hurdle that we have to jump across.

So when from the outside, we seem like we are not grasping our own situation, most people would assume that we are roughing it out. Yes, the going is getting tough for her, eh? My, she must be struggling to pull herself together. But hey, wait a minute. Does she FEEL like she is having a tough time?

Let us look at the other end of the spectrum. He seems like he is level-headed, like he has everything under his control. He seems to be having a ball of a time. Yup, life is easy for him. But wait, is it really? Does he FEEL like the going is great?

It may show more on some people than others. Some people may seem like they are not in control of their own life more than others. Some may seem like they know where they will be in the next 20 years. But before you jump to conclusions, think: perhaps this is the way they have chosen to take to their destination? Okay, it may be a tad different from the path you have chosen but who are you to say that they are wrong or right?

Yes, you have every right to tell them your piece of mind. But when they are totally confused of their own situation, I think it would suffice to just shut up and provide some emotional support.

After all, when the going gets tough, it is not necessary that only the tough gets you going. We are individuals with different genetic setups so be flexible with each other.

For me, when the going gets tough, I remind myself that there is always a box of chocolate waiting to be consumed...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wholeness again....

In less than 12 hours, my family will be like a family again - my baby brother will be home! The last time we were together as a family unit was during CNY. Since I wouldn't be around for CNY next year, hm, I guess it's like an early reunion for us.

I really am looking forward to his return, as I've not lived under the same roof as he for periods of longer than 2 weeks for a long time. Hopefully, I'd get about a month this time around before I leave for Sydney once again. Well, hm, I'd better not set my expectations too high, as he and I would have plans for the remainder of the year. You see, we are both social butterflies and the home is more like a hotel other than the times when I have to help with stuff from work and argh, work on my proposal.

He touches down early tomorrow morning and by mid-day, he'd be in another town attending some function. And yes, some of you are laughing already because you guys know that he's going to drive the Toyota away! ARGH! Okay, let's all pray that when i drive the Merc, it will behave itself. Otherwise, all of you would have to come to this traffic maze of a sleepy hollow to take me out for drinks, makan, shopping and movies.

Get the hint?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A November to remember


Plenty of happenings at school - Children's Day and the biggest event on our calendar, the Concert and Graduation, which was last night. I had a ball of a time and judging from the response of the parents, it looked and sounded like they enjoyed themselves, too. The children put up a great show this year and I am so proud of them!

Global warming seems to have made itself comfortable in recent months and more so during the eleventh month of the year. While it is blistering hot in the morning, it would be dogs and cats at noon and sunny again at 4pm. It's a wonder how the children at our centre are still well and healthy, not to mention us teachers, too.

Well, I'm down with yet another bout of cough and flu - a real bad one this time.

Weather is just one of the few things that made this month special. There were more reason, one of which was the little reunion with Mei Ann.


It was great to see her all lady-like and grown-up. I say grown-up because I felt like I was sort of stuck in the era of polo t-shirts and mini jeans skirts. It was great to hear that she did not bring her angmoh accent back to KL (I really dislike how some people feel that having spent 5 years abroad means needing to sound like they grew up there). With two years to go, we can officially call her Dr Choong!

I love reunions, no matter how often or rare they happen, with whoever. I love them because I get to reconnect with the people who has had a big share in helping to shape the person I am today. Friends, when you think about it, who can live without them despite all their imperfections?

Also, this month was when I found a new friend and fashion consultant in a young Penangite chap.


Introduced by a friend I made over half a year ago (who unlike him, is totally hopeless when shopping is concerned), he is a delight to be with. Maybe it is because of his 'younger' taste and happy-go-lucky nature. Or perhaps it is how both of us enjoy jabbering so much. But it is definitely due to how he gives his share on the clothes I choose to buy. For someone who did not finish high school, he is well-versed on a variety of other topics - take my hat off to him.

Of course, November is special because I was born on its 19th day.


With wishes from near and far, it was one day my phone would not stop vibrating. I celebrated my 26th year in existence over a meal at Sushi Zanmai with 3 crazy women. I also marked the occasion by collecting the album of photos from the studio.


November, ah... if only every month was a November month...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raindrops, rain storms

Pitter patter pitter pat
See the raindrops come
Falling one by one
How many raindrops make a stop?
One little raindrop?
No, no, no
Two little raindrops?
No, no, no
Three little raindrops?
No, no, no
Millions of raindrops make a stop!
Millions of raindrops make a stop!
Pitter patter pitter pat
See the raindrops come
Falling one by one


Well, it was more than pitter patter on Thursday afternoon. I would call it torrential rain. The children loved watching the plants outside the window bow down in command of the fierce wind. The teachers, on the other hand, miserably wailed as the wetness prevented them from making their way over to the other side to clock out. I, was absorbing the atmosphere to my heart's content.

We thought we saw a tornado at one point. Sheesh, scary.

For some reason, I was not worried about my internet connection. I did not bother turning the modem off. Neither was I bothered turning the computer off (the CCTV adapters are easily affected by lightning). I just continued doing what I was doing.

One of the many tasks I was carrying out at the time was talk on MSN with a dear friend who is in Sydney. He is one whom I would describe as sweet, caring, responsible, funny, lame at times, and serious when he needs to be. Okay, so, I put my MSN PM as "It is raining VERY HEAVILY" and this was his first message:

Raining heavily is good. Similar to here, where you are showered much love and care. The heavier the rain, the more the raindrops that shows how much I miss you...


=.=''

Wah, where the hell did you learn to talk like that?!?!?!?!?!?

Sweet talk or not, like the smell and sound of the rainstorm outside my window, it brings a sense of warmth.

Pitter patter pitter pat....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

独一无二专属的特别



每个人是特别的

都会有
属于

自己的美
自己的丑
自己的优
自己的弱

属于

我们专属的东西
很多

但我们却不觉得我们自己是特别的

自己的东西
为什么
需要
别人
告诉
我们呢?

别人的话
会比
自己的想法
更容易
相信吗?

要常记得
我们自己


独一无二
的存在

是再也找不到的
是再也重复不到的
是再也创造不到的
是再也模仿不到的

特别

Thursday, October 15, 2009

6 weeks worth of thank yous

My momentum did not return automatically. It took me at least 2 weeks to get it back - in my reading and writing. I finally understood how much pressure Mum went through while doing her disability course. I was seriously thinking: Do I really want to do this? It will be a long, difficult road to traverse but if I do not do it now, when will I?

It was definitely good to meet up with Emma and Manjula personally. It gave me more confidence, more sense of security. They made it sound like yes, it is hard but not that hard. It is a matter of keeping to your deadlines. Deadlines - since when do I work well with those?

It was not all work. I managed to squeeze in some time to enjoy myself, as well, which brings me to the essence of this post: to extend my thanks to the people I know here in Sydney....

Jenny, thank you for approving my application for PR at your George Street house. It is my official vacation home. Thank you for all the fun events. Thank you for coming all the way to my place to teman me when I was sick and depressed. Stay strong and you know we are always here for you.

Auds, thank you for just being around. You are always one I can count on to share a car with to go on impromptu roadtrips and expeditions. Thank you for going everywhere and anywhere with me in search of good food. Thank you for listening to things that you were not willing to. I will be praying for a smooth interview for you.

Xin Wen, thank you for your lovely sofabed, your healthy breakfasts and all the girly pillow talks in your room. I am glad that you and Justin survived till today because I believe that despite everything, with your determination and commitment, it will work.

Angeline and Chee Sing, thank you for spending time with me. You guys even came all the way up north just to spend extra time with me. How touching...... Thank you for the random times I crashed uninvited at your place.

Shaun, thank you for borrowing me your scanner. Thank you for your kitchen and letting Auds and I shower at your place. Thank you for keeping my letters. I promise I will get my furniture out of the place as soon as I find a new place. Hope the issue with the agent gets settled soon.

Jona, thank you for just being you. I love how you never fail to lighten up situations. Thank you for your willingness to drive us girls around.

Justin, thank you for letting me crash at your place so frequently. Thank you for all the free meals. Thank you for bringing me out to parks. I will be praying for your company.

Yu Sheng, thank you for the words of wisdom on choosing to continue studying. I will look to you for inspiration when the time comes.

Miow, thank you for attending the functions I have organised. I always enjoy your stories.

Nic, thank you for letting Jenny and I come up to your house unannounced. Thank you for that packet of Indomie.

Melvin, thank you for attending every dinner I have organised. It is nice to know that you bother to make time for me.

Michael, thank you SO MUCH for helping with the booking of Cargo Bar. Thank you for entertaining me over the phone. Look forward to next year...

Edison, thank you for walking me back to Chippendale. Thank you for understanding my 'emo-ness'.

Wilson, Vanessa, Ee Wing, Tze Xian, Kelvin, Kevin, Girish, Charmaine, Ananda; it was great geting to know you guys. Wish I had more time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

山脚下男孩-月亮圆



Okay, I know it is a tad too early for this and this music video is a little old but.......

Happy Midautumn Festival, everyone!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Graduation memories

Well, it depends on which aspect of 'life' you are directing this question at. If you are asking about the moments directly after the graduation ceremony, then it is more or less standard practice to do most of the following:

With your clumsy graduation robe and bouquets of flowers, you run around the ceremony grounds chasing after lecturers and 'important-looking-people' to take photos with them. In doing so, your friends chase after you to take photos with you.

Your family members would be on a photo-shooting spree, candidly snapping your every movement and expression. Then, depending on whether your family is the portrait kind of family, you would proceed to take professional family portraits that would cost you the sky.

You would then have a celebratory meal with your family. Perhaps, another meal with friends.

Then, the most enjoyable (and painful) part - the after party.

I had the privilege to relive all these happy moments yesterday when Han Wei graduated with his degree.


It was so delightful to have been there to witness the glowing pride of his family members. It was great to see the old DLC guys, too - Daniel,


Wei Foo


and Albert.


It was also eye-opening to see how drunk Han Wei was at night.

The 5/10 finger game and a free-flow of beer DO NOT go together.


Man, the amount of alcohol guzzled down at the rate they were going last night, we were lucky not everyone became as knocked out as he was. Wei Foo and Susan had a challenge going on, too, whereby if Foo got drunk first, he would have to make out with a guy and vice versa.

I, on the other hand, had a very sober night. So sober that I had to drive out to buy some Macca for supper, as I was starving!

Oh, and if after the drinks you still do not feel like sleeping, there would normally be another round of drinking at home. Either that or cards. For us (Wei Foo, Daniel, Susan and myself), we played Big 2. Well, Susan changed it to Strip Big 2 so the two boys went to their rooms to put on as many things as they could. It was hilarious! Susan had three of Foo's sweaters on while Daniel put two on, as well as socks and shoes!


It was great hanging out with them - reminded me of the carefree times in college all those years ago, which were filled with plenty of laughter. Foo insisted on walking us to the junction (so he could' offer' himself to the dogs first to 'protect' us from rabies). Still sweet, nevertheless.

The most exciting part of the night would have to be the part where I could not let myself in to my own room. Not funny. I kept swiping the card to no reaction from the door! It was so humiliating to call the RA on duty at four-freaking-A.M. to open my door for me! Even she had to try for 5 minutes before the door could read her card...

It sure was a long day. A long day of robes, drinks, cards and fish tofu.


So, someone please tell me why is it that I still woke up at 8 this morning!?!?!?!?!?!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back in college

Don't think I've ever mentioned to many of you guys that I spent my first 18 months Down Under in a residential college. No? Okay, let me briefly go through my time here..

It was in the month of July, 2003 that I moved into Dunmore Lang College as a resident student. My room, 437, was situated up in what they termed the Nunnery, as it was an all-girls floor. I had a sizable room, one that was bigger than normal rooms as it was in the corner and was actually meant for resident tutors. I had a view of the new wing and would poke my head out of the window every time I spotted a familiar face walk past.

I made many friends during my stay in college. Most of them were - no surprise here - Malaysians. However, they were from various parts of Malaysia and the majority of them were from up north. Hence, my understanding of Hokkien improved while we enjoyed our time teaching Manglish to other non-Malaysian friends.

One girl I was particularly close to was Jennie from Hong Kong. We shared the same wall for a year and I always had free karaoke sessions due to the thin walls! Sometimes, I had to knock the wall to indicate to her to keep her singing down! Haha, it was great having her around as she would come and check on me once in a while to see what I was doing, go for meals together with me or just for nothing. She learnt quite a few Hokkien and Malay words and she even sounded Malaysian sometimes!

Daniel was a fellow Malaysian from Sungai Petani I was comfy with, too. I used to head over to his room in the evenings to watch movies, to chat, to grumble or just to do nothing. Sometimes, he would ask me to help him with his assignments, which I still don't understand how I managed to as he was an actuarial student while I, an early childhood one. If he had classes in the afternoon, he would come over to my room just to check on me. I remember a few times when I was napping, he would pull the covers down slightly so my head would not be totally covered. He also checked on me whenever he knew that I was not feeling well.

Good memories, definitely. The nights when the drunk Dungeon boys would run around the whole college knocking on everybody's doors, the craziness of Conception Day, the camaraderie of the students, the feeling of belonging to a group of students.

I am now back here. Not as a student, but as a guest. I am now in a Corporate Ensuite in the new wing, which is more or less like a hotel room on its own. Well, motel la, not hotel la. Unlike before when we used the communal bathroom, I now have my own. I even have my own fridge and television, luxuries we students were allowed only after our 2nd year. I think the sound-proofing over in the new wing is much better, as I did not hear anything throughout the entire night. Either that or most of the students have moved out for the holidays or I was too tired to notice.

New or old wing, it feels good to be back. It feels a little weird, though, as although there is a feeling of familiarity, there is also a sense of novelty. The reception is now in the Almgren Centre, no longer in the old wing. We now do not need to pre-pay for internet access - everything is wireless now. I wonder if the food is still the same, though.

I will take pictures soon so make sure you keep an eye out for them in Facebook!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random #1

today
tomorrow
to stay
to go

thinking
feeling
shoulds and should nots

what will happen
no one knows
so step up
take the blows

your life
your say
your take
play it your way

today
tomorrow
what difference is there
if it is full of sorrow

life to the fullest
in all its truth
really is made real
by one person - you

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kindness is still here

By Petra Gimbad

I've been taking the bus from Brickfields to make my way home. For those not in the know, it's a predominantly Indian area located in Kuala Lumpur. I love it for its vegetarian food, temples, courageous Catholic priests and old buildings and trees.

It's also a haven for this budding photographer. My photography skills are seriously of shit quality. Snap anything in Brickfields, however, and you're bound to take something good. The last two days I've been zooming in on this wizened Chinese man (a contrast against the district's mainly Indian population) who rummages through garbage for aluminium cans and bottles to sell for income.

Yesterday he was alone. Today he had a friend, which may explain why he carried twice as much, in plastic bags.

Tonight I took the bus home and was touched by four acts of kindness.

The first: a blind man was helped onto the bus by a woman whom I initially took to be his niece. I realised she wasn't when he sat alone.

The second: I sat beside the man and asked where he was going so that I could press the bell when it came to his destination. The woman beside me, smiling, said not to worry - they were getting off at the same stop.

The blind man was Chinese. The woman who looked after him was Malay.

The third: an old woman - you know the kind, skinny and really elderly - she dropped her bags. She tried to pick them up as the bus swung and almost rammed into the door. A young girl grabbed her so she didn't fall.

The woman was Chinese. The young girl was Malay or one of the illegal immigrants you see around - I suspect Myanmarese or Indonesian.

The fourth: the bus stopped at a location I didn't recognise. It was not a bus stop and I wondered why. Then I realised: it was smack in front of a flight of stairs leading down to an impoverished group of flats. The bus driver, bless him, stopped where it was secure for its residents to climb down and make their way home.

I was touched. This has been a good night, and to be able to see these things, I feel truly blessed.

PS: It struck for a moment that had I stayed to do law, I may have never taken the bus. I would be in New Zealand or I'll be taking taxis or driving. Now that I have the time and my pocket money is rather limited, the 45 minute wait for the bus it is.

But as you can see, it is so, so, so, much well worth the wait. xx

Monday, September 07, 2009

Trying to settle in

Today is my 4th day back in Sydney. My take so far on things around here: nothing much has changed. Oh, well, maybe one or two buildings have disappeared la. Let's see if I can list some of them here...

> The Maccas at Darling Harbour has relocated.
> The beer factory opposite UTS has since been torn down.
> Shalom has opened a branch on Sussex Street. The Shalom in Broadway has upgraded.
> QVB went through refurbishments. They now have a glass roof that allows more natural light into the building, thus making the place feel wider.
> Macquarie University Station is now OPEN!
> There is this green bus called the CBD Shuttle that allows commuters to travel for FREE in the city.
> Oh, we MUST travel with a TravelTen during office hours.
> Michele's Pattisserie in Galleries Victoria is no longer Michele's. It is now a cafe called Couch.
> Mamak has expanded! They took over the shop next door and yet the queue is still as long!
> Jenny shifted the furniture in her room around to accommodate more stuff.

But it feels good to be back. Could not help smiling to myself while I was walking from Central, through the park, along the busy George Street to Jenny's place. Ah, of course, it was also the people I met up with that made it all the more worthwhile. So far, here's what I have done:

> Had brunch with Jenny at Pancakes on the Rock. Browsed through the flea market, as well, and got to know Yeak Ping Lian's sister who was manning her stall there.
> Walked all the way back from Circular Quay to Chinatown.
> Had dinner at Kura (yes, I finally get to eat my egg udon and yummy takoyaki!) with Angeline, Jenny, Diane and Melvin. Dessert was had at Lindt's Cafe over in Darling Harbour.
> Spent the night gossiping and updating each other at Jenny's.
> Went for yumcha (in this case, it was HK style yumcha = dimsum) at Palace Restaurant with Angeline and Chee Sing.
> Spent time chattering at Angeline's place until it was time to meet up with Edison at Fitzy's Cafe.
> Walked to the Quadrant and had dinner at Shalom with Edison, Jenny, Chee Sing, Angeline and Jia Lin, Edison's housemate and also Jenny's future neighbour.
> Did more walking from Broadway all the way back to Jenny's place.

I think I have still not converted back to Aussie timing, as I was tossing and turning in bed even at 12 midnight! I could not get myself to sleep at all! Gah, and the cold did not help, either! I mean, how do you get used to temperature half of that of where you were?

I will be meeting Emma in 1.5 hours. Hopefully, meeting her in person would clear some air on what will happen next year. Hm, wonder is XW is free for lunch.....

Friday, September 04, 2009

Back Down Under

After 7 hours and 15 minutes of torture, I have finally landed on this massive piece of an island called Australia (yet again). I have rated this particular flight back to Kingsford Smith International Airport the worst in my 6 years of flying to Sydney. Why? Well, one big reason is due to it being a night flight. Another is, a Saudi Arabian baby boy of about a year old would not stop crying! The only time he stopped was when he managed to threaten his dad using his cries to stand up and rock him! Unbelievable!

Just imagine how sore my neck and how heavy my eyelids are right now.

To rub salt to the injury, my money went missing. I only realised that my green $100 note was missing from my purse when I was paying for my train ticket. I was like WTF!?!?!@l#$#^ Great way to welcome me back warmly, eh?

The train ride back to Eastwood was smooth, though. Finally, I get to use the newly refurbished Eastwood station. After unloading my stuff at Aunty's place, we headed to Macquarie Centre so that I could buy my Vodafone recharge from Woolies. I visited the jewellery shop I used to work at and Ray was there. I was also lucky enough to bump into May, who was supposed to be away for the day.

Guess what I had for lunch... chicken laksa at F&L. And, I could not finish the whole bowl! Haha, I guess I have conditioned myself to take Malaysian portions well. I also met up with Xin Wen, who had lunch at the food court while I sipped on my chai tea latte. As usual, we caught up. Okay, more like bitched about other people. Haha...

Went home for a siesta (I so needed it!) and had fun trying to gauge how much hot water to mix with the cold while in the shower! Haha, I was like a popcorn, jumping up and down not knowing the temperature of the water...

Having freshened up, Aunty and I headed over to Newtown to meet up with Cousin Lik Shan (more like Uncle as he is one generation older). We had dinner at Kammadhenu and one er, half a murtabak was all it took to make me feel bloated. Aunty lagi hebat - she had two tosais! Amazing!

Okay, I am like totally zoning off now. Cannot even concentrate on my typing any longer. I will keep you guys updated with photos on facebook (when I start taking photos, that is) and more stories here. Until then, take care, my darlings!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Heading off again

I will be stepping foot on yet another aircraft tonight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Celebrate

The time of the year has arrived again for those red, white, blue, white and yellow pieces of patriotism to flow with the wind off rooftops and cars. Radio stations and television advertisements of black and white images and smiling faces of different races get more airplay time. Newspaper advertisements are getting more creative using food like ice kacang to describe the country.

It is the time of the year again - the time to celebrate.

To celebrate the diversity of our country;
To celebrate the comfortable life most of us live;
To celebrate the growing maturity in the way we critique our people and government.
To celebrate the funny way our people (including ourselves) think.

To celebrate our shortcomings and weaknesses.

We talk about having one dream, to be one nation and to become one people. But without the wisdom to celebrate being one, how do we walk our talk?

To celebrate.

When we celebrate our diversity, we accept that diversity. We accept and come to terms with the fact that it is because of our diversity in the way we think and function that makes us stand out. Despite being different, we still gel because we understand our differences and we learn to give and take, fill in the gaps in between.

When we celebrate the comfortable life most of us live, we learn to appreciate what we have and not waste resources. We learn to look at life optimistically and not take things for granted. We learn to ask less questions and think of solutions to problems. We learn that instead of pointing fingers at others, it may be better to first ask ourselves if it is our own thinking that is the cause of misunderstandings.

When we celebrate the growing maturity in the way we critique our people and government, we learn to stand up for our own rights. We try to put on different hats and try on different shoes. Having different perspectives is gradually becoming an acceptable thing, which means that we are developing a sense of humility.

When we celebrate the funny way our people (including ourselves) think, we are coming to terms with how our people are wired. We may compare our people to those in other countries but hey, we are all different so why bother comparing? We still think the way we do and though we may be able to change some aspects of our thinking, there are some primordial aspects which, not matter how hard you try, will be a part of you till the day you die. So accepting the way we are engineered will make life much happier.

When we celebrate our shortcomings and weaknesses, we realise that our imperfections make us special just the way we are. We nurture and tend to an imperfect garden more than a perfect one, don't we? With that realisation, we look up to greater heights and want to move towards betterment. Now, is that not better than thinking that we are perfect and remain static?

So yes, celebrate for we have lots to.

Selamat Merdeka everyone...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life #3

One of my three-year-olds sang:


Twinkle, twinkle, yi er san...


(yi er san = one two three in Mandarin)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Would the real Me please stand up?

The sunrays filtered through the toilet window while I brushed my teeth this morning. First time this week, as it has been cloudy the past few days. At least it gave a bright start to a busy Sunday.

As I flipped through the Sunday papers while sipping my mug of heavenly Milo kosong, I came across an article which struck a chord inside of me. The young female author, like myself, was a student overseas and felt that the 'greener pastures on the other side' were illusions of a better future. 'Better' as in? 'Greener' as in? Illusions?

Yes, the Other country has public toilets that are user-friendly. The people there are more civic-minded and greet you with a 'How are you?' even when they do not know you while they walk their dog. The rubbish there do not end up in waterways and drains. The public transport system is efficient and affordable. Cars do not get taxed to end up being filtrated elsewhere.

That country is more heavenly than the Milo I am drinking now. But, somehow, something does not feel quite right about the place still. What more do I want?

Financial stability? Check. Tranquil and laidback lifestyle? Check. Friendly and helpful society? Check. Clean and safe public areas? Check. Taxpayers' money well-used? Check.

All valid boxes checked. So? Why the void? Is there something wrong with me? I mean, other than my not-so natural local English slang, there is nothing that tells me apart from Them. Or so I thought for a few years.

A squirrel gingerly runs across my living room to reach the apple basket atop the prayer table. I watch it run and ignore it enjoying its blissful meal. A squirrel knows its a squirrel. Do I know who I am?

I know I do not fit in the culture of the Other country. But, am I able to say that I fit in the culture of my own country?

Do I fit in? I think the better question is, do I accept my own culture? What culture is it anyway? Which bits of it do I want to accept and which bits do I not?

I am confused to the extent that I do not even know what I am writing about anymore. ARGH.....

I need to figure myself out before I think about what the future holds for me. I need to find my own illusion of a better world with greener pastures.

Hm, I wonder where that would be?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life #2

One of my 3-year-olds arrived this morning with three bouquets of flowers. When his mother was asked, she said he just felt like presenting them to the three teachers who taught him. Hm, okay...

He gushed with pride over the flowers, showing them off to friends saying that he was giving them to the teachers. He was happy and so were we.

One of the teachers leave for home at 3:00pm, which was also the time he wakes up from his afternoon nap. He saw the teacher bring a bouquet up the stairs and he quickly got up from his cot.

"Miss Yong, Miss Yong!"
"Yes, what?"
"Miss Yong, you cannot bring back the flower."
"But you say the flower is for me ma."
"Yes, the flower is for you. For you to see ma. I want to bring home afterwards."

Five minutes later, he was hollering Miss Yong's name from the bottom of the stairs. He was there waiting for her to send another child off at the gate. When Miss Yong finally appeared at the top of the stairs, he had this to say to her:

"Remember ah, don't bring the flowers back ah. I want to bring home one ah."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Congrats!

I would like to dedicate this short post to two special people:

1) Dorothy Cheong, my high school partner-in-crime

Congratulations, girl! Okay, I think I should not say 'girl' anymore. Should call you 'woman'! So eligible to call you that now since you are PREGNANT! YEAY! Since your baby is due in Feb, and on the 13th day of CNY, it is a New Year baby! Congrats again!

2) Fong Chee Kin, ex-student and friend

Thank you so much for ringing me up. It was a great addition to my day. Feel so proud to have been part of your childhood and hopefully, you feel the same. Congratulations on attaining four As for your A-Levels! Hugs! We are so going out for Haagen-Das ice-cream!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fumbling accountability

This post was instigated by my time spent with my ex-students.

To me, two decades piecing together the building blocks of life is considered neither a short nor long period of time. Two decades to configure your future and to reflect on your past. Two decades to ask yourself, "What have I done? Why?"

As a typical young adult stepping into the real world, we would have realised that life does not go as planned. Well, most of the time. After taking a closer look, I feel that fumbling makes a good word to describe what we do best as human. Yes, fumbling. We have been fumbling since day one of our existence, do you not think so?

When we were learning to walk.
When we were learning to talk (yes, we fumbled with words to use, to pronounce, sentences to arrange and opinions to rebut).
When we stepped into the world of academia.
When we delved into our first relationship.
When we make friends and maintain the friendships.

Well, you get the idea. We have been fumbling and we will continue to fumble, as each new day brings new situations and perceptions. But, fumbling is good. To me, fumbling is a meaningful 'activity' if you make the best out of it.

One must know how to fumble, though. Some people do not even realise that they fumble and hence, not learn anything out of it. You see, when we fumble (and realise that we do), we ask the 'why' question.

Why did we fall?
Why did we mess up?
Why did I get angry?
Why did my emotions take reign?
Why did I take up the offer?
Why did I choose this car?
Why?

And when we ask why, we critically analyse. We unknowingly take into account factors we normally do not. We step out of our comfort zones and think out of the box. We try our best to account for everyone and everything.

More importantly, we make ourselves accountable for our own decisions. This, I feel, is what will make us grow as a person. This is what will take us through life independently, humbly and contented.

Fumble and be accountable. Stay true to yourself, my dear. Life is not always easy but hey, should it always be?

Friday, August 07, 2009

And I thought I could hold the record

What record? The record of being the only member of the family without a history of being admitted into hospital.

On Tuesday morning, this dream was no more. Sigh.

I was woken up by a weird feeling. The feeling of being under pressure and I started to experience shortness of breath. Soon after, my room (or was it my head?) started to spin. I tried to control it by taking a few deep breaths, thinking that my brain was lacking oxygen but it did not seem to help.

The dizziness was starting to really get to me, as I felt nauseous. Walking to the toilet took some effort and it was then that I recalled the incident in Christchurch. I started to panic and I tried my best to drag myself to Mum and Dad's room. First knock: I could not reply their question of 'What's wrong?'. Second knock: "I'm in agony".

They rushed me to the hospital and I was put under medication and was given a jab. Worse, they wanted to keep me there longer and I had to put up a night in a building with air-conditioning set at Sydney's winter temperature. Great.

Apparently, I had what they call benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. The doctor had a physiotherapist come visit me every now and then to teach me exercises that would help re-balance the liquid in my inner ear. They prescribed tablets that made me sleepy, supposedly to help with the dizziness. I thought it funny that they replaced the dizziness with sleepiness, though.

Within the short 30-odd hours I was there, I had 3 visitors: two colleagues and my dear friend, Max. You are such a darling la, how not to love friends like you leh? Many thanks to Miss Yong and Miss Teoh, who despite not having experience driving on a highway let alone drive to Sunway, made it to deliver a pack of Brand's chicken essence.

I managed to finish three-quarters of a new book my Dad brought and realised how uninteresting spending time in a hospital can get. Why did I ever think that hospital stays are fun?

So yea, I am the latest addition to the list of family members with a hospital admission history.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One down...

... and one more to go.

You have no idea how much is lifted off my shoulders. The feeling is of relief, happy relief, that is.

Judging from the response of the families and the children, as well as the staff, this weekend was a success. How can it not be a success when you have children bathing in sweat from running all over the school with their friends? Is it not a success when you have families bringing other families for great nasi lemak and not wanting to leave? What about the smiling faces and glorious laughter?

The crowd trickled in slowly from around 10am onwards. I mean, it is understandable as haha, how many of us bother waking up in time for a 9 o'clock appointment on a cloudy weekend morning? Ok, unless you are really pious, that is.

The children were really shy, as they had mummy and daddy to hide behind. The normally out-going ones were really introverted. It was so funny just watching them curl up into their little shells.

While some were not their normal selves, some were very much at home. They could not care less about what the teachers had to say about their progress in school. Neither were they bothered about how their parents reacted. All they could think of was, "I have to play as much as possible today as I won't get this chance again!" And play, they did!


It was good catching up with the parents, some of whom have been supporting us for a long time. One family have been coming to us for 10 years, another for 8 years. It was even better when ex-students dropped in to say hi. A big thank you and bear hug to Chee Kin, who came despite not having Jie Hui's company. Also, to the Lee-Tay-Chong clan of monkeys: Chui Mun, Li Xin, Jian Jun, Munn Yee and Shin Yee.


I think the 'it moment' of the weekend would be when Mum looked at Jian Jun and asked, "Who is this ar?"

Laughter.

Yes, Jian Jun, you have really grown! All of you have grown, really. Looking at you guys made me reflect on our teaching and also on my own up-bringing. I sure hope we did an okay job with you guys.


Many families stayed for a long time but it did not seem to disrupt the flow of people and cars. No major dramas in traffic. Although we panicked slightly when we saw that we may not have enough food to serve, it was all settled with the help of Puan Nisma and Puan Emi. Luckily, these two became instant chefs and whipped up more sambal for all of us. Thank you!

Most of the families came to collect their children's books and progress report.


Dad mentioned that the sale of photographs looked to be better than last year's despite having less than half the amount available for order this time round. We'll see when we get down to really sorting the orders out.

Now that this is crossed off the calendar, the next big item on the list would be the year-end celebration. I have started listening to songs and soon, I will be selecting songs to distribute so, my dear teachers, do not rest on your laurels too much, yea?

Oh, but I am sure looking forward to the Japanese buffet we will be going to next Sunday!

A big thank you to all staff! We had a great time, did we not? (Nods all around). Even the lilies in our pond concur...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are you ready?

Are you?
Are you sure?
How sure?
How do you know that you are sure?
What tells you that you are sure?

How sure are you that you will not change your mind?
Okay, what do you think will be the thing or things that will make you change your mind?

Are you not tired just thinking of whether you are ready or not?
Are you not tired weighing the pros and cons?

Why are you bothering with weighing them anyways?
Do you think it matters?
Why would they matter?
What difference does it make after you have made your decision?
Does it matter if the decision you make is 'right' or 'wrong'?
How do you know if your decision is 'right' or 'wrong'?

Well, you won't until you give it a try.
Nothing matters until you try.
Until you try your best.
Until you see for yourself both the pros and cons.

So, tell me, are you ready to face it all?

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's it all for?

As I watch the upload wheel spin on my screen, I recall the conversation I had with a friend on Saturday night. We spoke for some time over the mobile phone while he waited for his ride back up north at the bus terminal. I, on the other hand, had time to kill while waiting for my ride to Dreamland.

The wheel is still spinning. I think Hotmail must be experiencing some problems at the moment. I also wonder if my friend is still up north. He would either be undergoing some training of some sort or sitting in on a meeting right now. Oh, no, perhaps he is having lunch.

With what seems like so much to do with so little time to do them (especially now when I have what seems like a million things), watching the spinning upload wheel spurs me to ask if all this will come to something. Like my friend, the nature of his job requires him to travel four states to provide his services. He may be in Ampang this morning, Raub in the afternoon and Klang in the evening. After work, he is in the office till past midnight to do stuff.

He asked me, "Why am I rushing from one place to another all the time?" I was tempted to give him a literal reply - because your time management is not up to par, maybe? But no, I refrained.

"I rush here, rush there. All this rushing for what? It's not like I'd get paid much more if I get more work done - my salary has been what it is for a long time. If I don't continue with this job, would other people hire me? Sigh, all this for who? For the big boss. So, really, what has all this got for me?"

I asked myself the same question - what's it all for? Reflecting on my own life, I started to ponder if the rat race that we are all in is basically something to distract us from realising our true selves. We work, and work, and work some more. We 'aim' to provide our families and ourselves better, more comfortable lives. But how do we reach our 'aim'? By blindly joining in the monotonous hum-drum of life? By being birds of a feather?

The same came to mind when Dad asked me what I wanted. I kept mum and eventually asked him if it was fine if I didn't know what I wanted. Not knowing what I want made life seem simpler. Why?

To me, it boils down to the same question - would there be a difference? At the end of the day, it does not really matter if you do know what you want, and if you do not. You still have to make ends meet, you still have to carry on living, no?

The difference lies in the definition you attach to what is done. So, say, let me ask you something. What's it all for?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Much catching up to do

You must be thinking what is it that I have to catch up with. Hm, let's see. Heaps!

I have been missing in action for some time now. You would know if you have been following my blog and Facebook. Since returning from China, I have been trying to catch up with my Kindermusik work. I succeeded in the first two weeks. Third week onwards, sigh...

Then, there is work in the Centre. Why is work in the Centre never-ending? Gosh, I sometimes wish that we could close the Centre down for an entire week so that we could get things in order! And to make matters worse, we have our Open Day coming up net weekend. You cannot imagine the mayhem that is going to take place tomorrow onwards - the rush for the paint, the rollers, the brushes, the staplers, the hole-punchers, paper, markers, files, folders, ink, computers, printers, binding tapes, double-sided tapes, masking tapes, colour paper, crepe paper, cardboard, empty boxes, newspaper etc. Aiya, in short, the Centre will be like a war zone. Taska and Tadika staff, be prepared!

That aside, I also have to catch up with my reading. I have not been keeping up my reading of early childhood issues. If not for my decision to continue studying next year, I think it would be a long time before I would pick up a book related to early childhood. Sad. Gack, not just the reading, the writing as well! I have not written anything academic in two years! How am I going to churn out a research proposal? I so need to buck up. Sigh, you know la, procrastinating is second nature to me.

But what about all the previous blog posts? You mean you have time to play but no time to do all of the above? Haha, friend, if you have known me for a long time, I do not need to explain myself (unless you are my Mum, to whom I have to explain everything). If you have gotten to know me recently, you will get used to my style.

So, for the next week or two, please refrain from asking me out to dinner or for yumcha. I will also try my best to refrain myself from accepting your invitations. If you want to bring me out for dinner or just to spend time with me, you might like to consider sacrificing some of your time helping me out with stuff at my school. You would get into my parents' good books that way, too... haha...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fish Leong

I went to her concert and have no regrets admiring her.


Thank you, Jie Hui, for spending those few magical hours with me.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Study trip: Back to Shenzhen

The buffet was packed this morning. We were making wild guesses as to how many of the other guests were Malaysian as well. I did not enjoy the breakfast this morning for some unknown reason. Perhaps it was the thought of them ferrying us to yet another money-sucking factory that spoilt my appetite.

Bao An Tang was the first stop of the day. Despite being one of the two supposedly approved Chinese medicine manufacturers in China, I did not buy a single word they said. However, some other members of our group did and we waited 1.6 hours for them! We wasted so much time waiting for them to finish with their consultation, after which we headed to the statue of five goats or whatever it was called to have a quick photo session.


Mr. Chan did not even bother explaining its significance as he quickly gathered us for lunch, which was at the same restaurant as last night's dinner. That was where Steven joined us after handling our freight.

We had plenty of fruits as Mr. Chan bought two big bags of longan and lychee. It was on the journey back to Shenzhen from Guangzhou that the fruits became handy, especially the lychee. Steven was bullied to the max (we forced lychees down his throat - he hates them)! Ok, I did not particularly condone the act and was zoned out most of the time anyways.

Halfway, we stopped at a place called the Saigon House. I actually cannot remember the significance of this house but it served as a working museum, much like the Peranakan Heritage Museum in Melaka.





We arrived in Shenzhen at 5:10pm at Dongmen.


We were lucky to have a full moon on the night. Perhaps it was the 15th day of the lunar calendar. I headed straight to Sun Shopping Complex to buy the dress I saw a few days earlier and was so disappointed when they would not accept my credit card without the presence of my passport! In the end, I paid in cash, which I had to borrow from Miss Sik. After dinner, we skived off again to buy a pair of shoes from a local sports brand called Anta. I so love it! It was not only comfy and light, it was in the colour I wanted - yellow! Yes, finally a pair of shoes to match my uniform!

The last night in China was spent in room 1101, which to us was terrible. Oh well, it was our final day there so better not to complain. It was great fun traveling with people of different backgrounds doing the same thing.

The next morning, we bade farewell to the mountains that kept Hong Kong out of view.



We bade farewell to the mosque a few streets away.


We bade farewell to the wonderful people and new friends we've made.

Steven, when and where to will be your next educational outing?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Study trip: More serious business in Guangzhou

The breakfast buffet was good at Rosedale. Haha, I suppose it really does make a difference how many stars the hotels are rated. Here, have a look at the view from up above. Can you see the mixture of old and new?



As the weather was good, I quickly took a picture of our hotel:


After breakfast, we visited a kindergarten called JinBaoBei.


Also part of a big group of schools, this group is much bigger than the one in Shenzhen, as it encompasses education from the kindergarten level right up to secondary school level.

It was totally different to the one in Shenzhen, as they cater to a different market. Located in the heart of a village, their children do not arrive in flashy cars and they do not need to pay their fees bi-annually. Fees are paid monthly at a reasonable rate. All their teachers looked young, including the principal.


The visit was short as the principal did not have much to share. Hence, we had early lunch, after which we visited the stationery wholesale market. Boy, there were so many shops to choose from!



I only bought some photo paper and skived off with Steven in search of a place to sit down for a drink.


Next stop: Guangzhou Book City.


Fuah, you should have seen the size of this place. I purposely sent an SMS to Jie Hui to tell her that I'm in HER heaven. And I thought the place in Shenzhen was huge - this place was MUCH BIGGER! And, I was so happy to be able to use my credit card!

After dinner, I quickly went to the T-shirt shop to buy a few t-shirts as souvenirs. I flagged a cab to head towards 上下九步行街 to meet up with Kei Kei and her colleague for dimsum at a restaurant called 陶陶屋. Gosh, you should have seen this place - it was grand and even at such a late hour, it was full with yumcha diners. It was so good to catch up!


By the time I got back to the hotel, it was 11pm. Upon exiting the lift, I could hear the three Johorean girls still packing their luggage. I had to pack my luggage, too, so I hastened my pace...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Study trip: Going around Guangzhou

Our morning call was half an hour earlier this morning. We had the same brekkie and checked out at 8:00a.m. Before we headed in the direction of Foshan, we stopped by a silk factory where the Malaccans bought blankets and pillows. The three-hour journey northwards was bumpy due to the thick lines painted on the roads. I noticed that their roads are very organised and wide, used by many expensive cars! Their roads are well-manicured with plenty of fruit trees, mostly lychee, mango and jackfruit. Also, it seemed as though the recycling campaign is successful, as there were many people collecting recyclables and segregating the different materials.

We had lunch upon arrival in Foshan and boy, it tasted so much better than the food in Shenzhen. Why were we in Foshan? Well, to do this:



Yup, play with clay. Haha.. well, we visited the oldest ceramic kiln there is. The place is a heritage site, as the fire that's been burning in the kiln has not been put out for 500 years. Yup, amazing! That explains why the area surrounding the kiln looked like a distribution area for ceramic items of all sorts.

From there, we moved on to Guangzhou. Along the way, we saw a protest at the side of the road. According to our local guide, it was conducted by the local villagers who are protesting against the government taking away their ancestral lands.


We also saw this when we arrived at the restaurant we were to have dinner at:


Talk about spoiling your appetite...

Tonight, we stayed at Rosedale Hotel, room 2322. Downstairs, there were plenty of shops selling assortments of food and clothing. There was a shop selling T-shirts, which I particularly liked but with limited cash, I put the thought of buying on hold. We took a walk round and haha, ended up empty-handed. But, we did fill our stomaches with some super spicy Sichuan hotpot! I literally turned red from the spice! Yin and yang cannot exist without the other, right? So, we had McD's soft cone sundae as dessert. Haha, what a conconction!

And tonight, I spent a bomb on my phone bill answering a call from home.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Study trip: Serious business in Shenzhen

Morning call was at 7:00a.m. Brekkie was nothing to shout about. Well, I was comparing it to those I had in Taiwan and without salad and coffee, I would not even bother considering it breakfast. While waiting for our van at the entrance of the hotel, I quickly took a shot with our local guide:


On this day, we were to visit a well-known kindergarten in Shenzhen. Although the kindie was expecting us at 9:00a.m., we arrived earlier. The kindie we visited is part of a big group of kindies (similar to franchises here) called Jingjing Education Foundation. They have 20 branches in Shenzhen and its surrounding areas. They ferried us to another branch in a different suburb before they took us on a grounds tour of the main Shenzhen branch. I found the principal of this branch helpful and appreciated her willingness to share:


Like any other typical kindie in China, they have the facilities and not to mention ample space, both indoors and outdoors. It certainly helps to have a government that channels funds into the proper development of early childhood education, one that takes education at that level seriously.


Jingjing's main selling point is their special class of arts. When they say arts, it more or less means a separate class of children who go through intensive dance training (an hour each in the morning and afternoon). They get invited to perform at public events, as well as for CCTV. The children are able to execute stunts such as fold their bodies in half, bend over in a full arch etc. Although they also have specific Montessori classes, their main framework is based on the thematic and High/Scope methods.

Personal observation: I wonder if it creates a gap between the classes of children. I mean, they have say, three classes of 6-year-old children. One class is a normal class, one is a Montessori class and the other is the Arts class. I wonder if there is a comparison between the children, if not the teachers. Would they not wonder why they do not get to participate in the extra dance classes? Would they not wonder why they do not get to use the attractive shape sorting apparatus? After the discussion session with the company's director, it became clearer that it is about business expansion. They were talking about buying another kindergarten in another suburb to convert into their own. I guess it boils down to your own philosophies and motives, ey?


I made another observation during lunch: they like to serve celery and also use plenty of salt in their cooking. We made a short stop at a jade factory before proceeding to the Shenzhen Book City. It actually is a shopping complex that sells only books and reference material in audio-visual form. So, you'd get things like the electronic dictionary. I bought RMB607 worth of CD/VCD/DVDs and RMB344 worth of books. Too bad they did not accept credit cards issued by non-local banks. Otherwise, I'd earn more points and would have more cash.


After dinner, Miss Sik, Miss Cheong, Miss Liew and myself ventured on our own to Dongmen.


It felt like the Chinese version of the Taiwanese Ximenting. Inside Sun Complex, I found a sweet English-style dress that was going for half price. Too bad they didn't have my size.

It was pouring by the time we headed back outdoors. Good thing Miss Sik brought shoe protectors (the water that flowed out of the drainage systems was black in colour!). That night, I went to bed with the dress in mind...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Study trip: Welcome to Shenzhen

I've not slept for so few hours in a long time. I think the last time I did not have any sleep was when I was doing my Honours thesis. I left the house at 4:14am so take a wild guess as to what time I woke up.


The plus side of a flight at that hour would be the empty seats on board. I went all the way to the back to be by myself. Er, ok, nearly by myself, as the air steward stationed at the back spent half the flight talking to me. He was helpful and friendly, sharing his flying experiences with me:


AK80 touched down at Shenzhen International Airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule.


We were delighted but the health officers came aboard to take our body temperatures and that took a long time. They were very stringent, even prohibiting passengers from taking photographs of procedures.

One member of our tour group had to be quarantined because she had a slightly higher than normal body temperature and had prescribed medication for flu and cough. So, I took the chance to meet the other members of our tour group while waiting for her. We also warmed up to our local guide, Mr. Chan.

We had lunch at the restaurant below when our group member was released.


Then, it was off to Splendid China and China Folk Culture Village. These two places are connected to each other and is set up like an amusement park. It reminded me of Formosa in Taiwan but a much bigger version. Here's a picture of Miss Liew, my roommate and myself in front of one of the many stages in the park:


I toured the place along with the two teachers from Seremban - Miss Chong and Miss Sik. I enjoyed my long conversation with them, exchanging our experiences and backgrounds. I finally understood why Mum said that I will learn lots just by getting to know the people in the group. Here are more snapshots of the place:



One portion of the park showcased the lifestyle of the many tribes of China. Some of the different architecture and agricultural activities were also presented such as drying corn...


... and cultivating tobacco plants (which we embaressingly thought were gigantic vegetable leaves)...


There were also dance performances. One resembled the Taiwanese aborigines very much.


They were actually from the south, bordering Vietnam, explaining their dark complexion. Curious with the skulls hanging from trees, I had my queries answered when they explained that the skulls of the buffaloes signify the status of a family.



After dinner, which was literally just next door, we re-entered the park to watch two musicals.


One word - breathtaking! Gosh, the costumes, colours, the stage and choreography were out of this world! Particularly noteworthy was the design of the stage. I was imagining the amount of money they poured into the place. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed so I had to rely on memory to recount the details.

Chang An Hotel was where we checked-in for the night.


After a quick shower, we headed out to scout for food and phone cards. We found out that it was not worth the money to purchase a phone card, as with RMB85 you'd only get RMB30 worth of calls. We stopped at a chee cheong fun cafe to have char siu chee cheong fun, porridge and ramen. We nearly went the wrong way when returning to the hotel. Haha, funny but dangerous.

After such a long day, we slept soundly in Room 804, opposite Mr. Chan and the van driver.

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