Sunday, August 30, 2009


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...

Tuesday, August 18, 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


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?

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?"


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...