Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I Did Today

Well, I don't often get to wake up late - lazy me - so today, I woke up at 8:45 AM. Yeah, I know there are many record holders out there who wake up beyond 10:00 AM on a weekend. :-)

Had breakfast. Usually I'd stay on at my parents' home on weekends and then go straight to work on Monday morning. Today, I decided to go home for a while to do my laundry and then mop the floor. Yup, that's a 20-minute drive to do both.

Mopping came first. Midway, I sweat like crazy - that's 3 days in a row. You know the feeling of water drenching your body; you could actually feel beads of water flowing along your body as you work! Then came laundry. There were only a few pieces of clothes to wash but I didn't want the house to smell of dirty clothes. So, in the washing machine they went. I watched TV while waiting for the machine to beep. After the beep, I dried them upstairs. It was darn tiring...

And now I'm back at my parents' home. I'm gonna nap now. HELP WANTED! A wife who will not be treated like a slave but a human being. Prior experience is not necessary but ability to assist in household chores is a must. Good culinary skills is an added advantage but not mandatory. Preferred qualities include loving, caring and independent of parents. If you're interested, please leave a message. ... hahaha.

Don't take me too seriously OK? But the chores were real.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Wesak Day

Firstly, Happy Wesak Day to all. I'm not gonna post about this festival; you can get that info from my Blog to Learn. This post is more about what I did on this holy day.

As with previous years, I went to the Seck Kia Eenh (SKE) temple in the morning with dad. The first we did was we joined other devotees along the streets to take part in the "pindapata", or offering of alms to the monks. This act is considered very meritorious. Here are some pictures:

Donating and getting the rice for the monks
The head monk leads. Devotees kneel with rice to be placed into his bowl.
There were 10 monks carrying silver bowls. We had to make sure there's enough rice for each monk. The last monk almost always gets the most - lucky fella :-) I didn't hear them say thank you, but I guess they did in the Pali language and in their hearts. Maybe I was too excited to hear them say it!

Immediately after this, dad and I walked back to the temple under the scorching morning sun. There, we waited for the monks to return and receive alms from the rest of the devotees. I'll try upload the video clip a little later.

The night before, there was a procession. I was there with the Tzu Chi organisation (more on this in another post). There were floats - you can see some photos of the procession in Blog to Learn too. I've never been this close in a procession. This time, for once, it was well worth the wait...

The head monk on a float blessing everyone with holy water.
No, Shell didn't sponsor the monks or the float :-)
We were allowed to approach one particular float as closely as we could. When this float arrived, it stopped, and showers of blessing were sprinkled on our heads. No, this act doesn't cleanse our sins; it's a symbol that we've been blessed and hopefully we will be better people with such blessings.
It was a very sweaty day for me. I don't know how much water in my body was used up as a result of the terrible heat. It was the same the previous night, too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Wanna Watch Toy Story 3

OK, I've to admit that I'm a fan of not only sci-fi movies but also animated ones. I'm just so mesmerised by what technology could do in movies nowadays. I've watched Antz, Cars and Monsters Inc. I've also watched Toy Story 1 and 2. Guess what?

Toy Story 3 is coming, and it's gonna be in 3-D!!! I didn't get a chance to watch Avatar in 3D, so this time, when it comes to Malacca, I make sure I get a pair of 3D glasses. You're gonna see new toys in the movie. My favourite new toy would be Latso, a cool pinky bear on a walking stick. Nah, I'm not gonna buy one of those toys... err, on second thought, maybe I might put the toys in my car as ornaments.

Am I a kid? Not really... but all of us have a child, parent and adult in us. So, don't you dare claim that you're an adult, and therefore you don't behave like a kid. You do, it's just that you don't realise it - some of us are more kiddy than others :-)

So, anyone wanna watch Toy Story 3 in 3D with me? Raise your hands! Watch the TEASER trailer here (please silent the background music before you watch it). Enjoy!


The final exams are over, and I've already entered all marks into the computerised system. I believe there aren't any mistakes as I've double-checked. Over here, there is NO ROOM for error when it comes to exams. OK, that's done.

I've another 10 days of break before the new trimester begins. I'm supposed to go to Sabah this weekend but my friend is too busy, so maybe next year. The entire corridor now has been deserted for days as staff have taken leave. I still have some stuff to settle. Once that's done, I'll see if there's a need to take leave.


Filing for the ISO:9001 is complete. What a waste of papers, and we're supposed to have the Go Green culture. Had a good lunch with the same colleagues I went out with yesterday. On normal class days, we go our separate ways, so there's no chance of eating together. Then I did some window shopping while waiting for the others to buy something from Parkson. Yeah, I enjoy window shopping occasionally - not too long though. I'm now back at the office after lunch, waiting for time to go home.

"Oh, your life is so easy going" you may think... yeah, for now. If it's so darn good, then everyone with the same qualification would want to be where I am now. Nevertheless, it's better than in some other organisations. I can't deny that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom (Part 2)

As promised, here's the post on my mom's birthday celebration. We had to celebrate her 70th birthday a day later to accommodate those who are not from town. I had two surprises for my mom. First, I got her a flower-cum-fruit basket, specially ordered from a florist to be delivered on the day of her birthday. I've never done this before, and she never expected her rebellious and stubborn son to do something this noble. I figured, she's been there for me from the time I got the divorce (especially) till now, and she's been suffering emotionally too. Therefore, I did what was right. I made that choice to make her happy on her birthday - and she was happy to receive it.

Flowers and fruit for mom
Meaningful words carefully chosen
Here's the second surprise. My siblings and I wanted something special. What I did was I tried to insist that all her sisters come for this celebration to give her a surprise. Well, only one could make it as the others had to be away that day. To fill the void, I included other relatives from KL and Seremban. They came just before dinner. There were a few exchanges of phone calls between me and my aunt to ensure they arrived before my mom did. It went well. I didn't want to have it at a hotel - that's too common, so I made reservation for 14 pax at a bistro instead.

The Chosen One - good ambience
The birthday girl finally arrived at about 7:15 PM, and was so surprised to see her sister and relatives there. There were hugs and greetings. It was nice :)

Arrival of the birthday girl, hugging her youngest sister.
It was a big surprise for her.
I also instructed my brother to get her a birthday cake a couple of hours earlier.  Gosh, I almost forgot about it as my mind hasn't been stable lately with work and other personal stuff to think of. My brother got a cake and I told him to get seven candles to represent her age.

The Food

We ordered ala carte, so it took a while for all of us to decide what to order, but I agreed to have the chef's recommendation (below) for all of us:

House Specialty
Seafood Platter: lobster, oysters, slices of salmon etc.
There was plenty of food in the end till we filled ourselves to the brim, but there was wastage too because I "cleverly" ordered two seafood platters; I didn't expect the others to order heavy meals too. Never mind, as long as everyone's happy there.

The Atmosphere

One word sums it all: electrifying. Everyone was chatting and playing with my little nephew, and I was busy taking photos and experimenting with my camera (missing some good shots in the process). The waiter was helpful too, and he helped us take a snapshot of the entire group.

I call this eating to order - let's eat!
The in-house entertainer singing the Happy Birthday song
That's a surprise to me too as I didn't ask for it :-)
The whole gang - all 14 of us
(I'm somewhere there)
The Verdict

It was a first for me organising a birthday event almost all on my own from making the reservation to making sure that guests arrived before my mom did. Credit goes to my brother too for reminding me a few things and helping out a bit. I'm glad it turned out well. Food was abundant, but not everyone liked the taste. A bowl of "laksa" was wasted. My heart sank a bit when I saw wasted food. Either the guests had a very small appetite, were too picky or the food was just not up to the mark. All guests went home after dinner including those who came from out of town. The price? That doesn't matter. What matters most is that mom had a great time.

Let's see what we have in store for my parents next year.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom (Part 1)

I went to work early today like I always do, but it's a special day - not for me. At approx. 8:00 AM, I picked up the phone to wish my mother a Happy Birthday. Dad received the call, and as usual, he assumed it was my brother who called. Mom thought so too until I told her that I was on my way to an invigilation duty. "Oh, Kevin... I thought it's..." :-)

Never mind, that tells a lot about me, huh? Anyway, it's really common for people on the phone to mistakenly think that my brother's voice is mine. Even when they see my brother, they'll ask him "You're still working in KL?" or "You were in Sarawak last time, right?" Gosh, we're not even twins, though both of us wear glasses. Just look for my dimples - would anyone like to kiss them - and right away, you know it's me!

We're celebrating mom's birthday tomorrow when my sister comes home from the BIG CITY. I've a surprise for mom today, and tomorrow. So, I shall tell you more a few days later. Keep your eyes peeled for the next post! By the way, I'm unable to blog for a while as my notebook is out of order.

Poetry in Motion

All of us started with "Twinkle-twinkle Little Star" - a nursery rhyme, the most fundamental of all poems. It basically illustrates the beauty of the stars we see, and to appreciate them. How many of us go beyond that poem to express our thoughts? Well, I do.

I'm not bragging, but I've actually got one of my poems published in an anthology of poems. Here's one entitled "Weather Change" which I wrote this year. It's a not a happy poem... [ahem!]:

Raindrops fall from the grayish sky
Struck the earth where I walked by
Fully drenched as shelter I seek
With each step I feel so weak

Coldness bites I just can't bear
And then you came in my despair
Over the fire you kept me warm
Shielding me from the fiery storm

We chatted and smiled so comfortably
I wish you're here, forever for me

From a distance you touch my heart
Here we are hundreds of miles apart
Though so far yet eyes can meet
Let's get up on our own two feet
Walk along the slippery street

I see the sun shining yonder
What lies beyond, I wonder
Gloomy gray skies crawl to disappear
Bright blue skies will shyly reappear

Will the coldness end for good
I believe it eventually should
A storm still lurks in the horizon
It all happens for a reason.

I wrote this poem when I was down recently; it took me days to get the right words. In fact, I write poems only when I'm severely unhappy about something or someone. OK, I've to admit that I'm a "highly-charged" emotional person :-)  Sometimes, writing a poem could possibly like showing your middle finger or uttering the F-word, but safer as it puts the message across without any physical damage.

Am I a diehard romantic person? Gee... I dare not admit that I am, but you can put me to the test. If I fail, don't blame me :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Diary Today

Today's a fun day but a darn tiring one, too. Here's what I did:

6:00 AM: I woke up
6:30 AM: I drove up to Cyberjaya campus to checkout the classrooms where I'll be teaching next semester. My 15-year-old car was chugging away as I watched other big bullies zipping past me. Never mind; as long as I'm safe.
7:30 AM: Stopped by the Seremban R & R to pee :-) I took the Sepang-KLIA exit instead of the Nilai exit which is a few miles shorter. That extra distance cost me RM17.50 - never mind, at least I'm not lost.
8:30 AM: Arrived near campus. My colleagues were still on their way up from Melaka campus. Had "roti canai telor" and a "teh tarik" as I waited.
9:00 AM: Arrived at the campus - waited. Oops... bumped into my Director and her Deputy. Found out that I'm gonna get a temporary office there.
9:45 AM: Colleagues arrived, and we chatted at the cafe upstairs. A former colleague came by, and continued chatting till we forgot what we were there for!
10:30 AM: Campus tour. We walked from one building to another, getting acquainted to the classrooms. It was a real good exercise... in the searing heat. Natural sauna.
12:45 PM: Lunch at SABA, a Middle-Eastern restaurant. Patrons were already waiting before it opened! We all ate "khabsah" (fragrant rice with meat and salad).- sorry didn't think of taking photo of it.
1:45 PM: Left for Melaka. One of my colleagues came back with me. I was god-damn blurr throughout the journey. I guess I was exhausted after all the driving and walking. Fortunately my passenger talked to me.
3:00 PM: Arrived in Melaka campus and went up to my office to do work.
3:30 PM: Someone had a birthday celebration, so I joined and chatted with other colleagues.
4:30 PM: Came home after packing my dinner.

At night, I did laundry and then I ironed two pieces of my office wear. So, that's my diary today.

For a Friend

A friend of mine, who has been giving me strong emotional support from the day I was divorced till today, is now at a point of depression when she discovered today that her son has been diagnosed with Influenza A. Further tests had been done for possible H1N1 infection, but results will only be known in about 24 hours.

I don't know what I could do to help alleviate her distress now as she awaits the results, but I do know that I've to reciprocate the kindness and care that she has shown to me for almost half a year. She's the most wonderful friend to have, and I will have her and her son in my prayers so that she will gain strength to go through each day, and that her son would recover from this illness.

Although she has her husband to care for her, she needs all the emotional support that she could get right now... from all of us who know her.

Culinary Fun

When I was a teen, I used to watch my mom and my late grandma - I called her "Mak" - cook. Occasionally, I'd boil rice for the family using an electric rice cooker. Being the eldest in the family, I've just got to learn those little things, I suppose. Little did I know that these little things were vital later when I started work.

When I was posted to the rural school in Sarawak, it was the first time ever that I had to cook on my own. No mama, and certain no Mak to guide me as to what ingredients to put into the wok. I still remember having to use a kerosene stove to cook my first plate of rice. There was no electriciy in the village. The rice turned out half-cooked as I was unable to gauge the amount of water to use - hey, it's not an electric rice cooker, ok? And the rice was somewhat different. Nevertheless, I still ate the rice with a can of sardines. I survived. No stomach ache :)

Later, I learnt to fry vegetables using edible ferns which the locals call miding. I got more creative and fried them with sambal ikan bilis, and an egg. It wasn't long when I became an expert in cooking rice using the kerosene stove. I got so good at it that I could just leave the pot on the stove, go to class, then walk back to the house just in time to see the rice being almost cooked.

When I got married, I went much further. With the help of my ex-wife, I picked up recipes for nasi beriyani and chicken stew. I also got more creative by adding a concoction of sauces in the dishes that I cooked. Of course, I never inherited the culinary peranakan skills that Mak had, though. Still, for a man, the skills that I have is sufficient to please my FORMER parents-in-law. They tasted the nasi beriyani, and they liked it. Well, they can now have nasi beriyani at a mamak stall or an Indian restaurant if they want.  Bad me... hehehe.

The nasi briyani (taken from my other blog)

My chicken stew (also taken from my other blog)

Anyway, now that I'm all alone again, I've stopped cooking. It is more practical to pack food from the economy rice stall nearby immediately after work. Sometimes, it's cheaper that way. I spend an average of RM3.20 for three dishes per dinner, while on weekends, I'll stay at my parents' place to have home-cooked meals. If I'm just too tired or lazy to buy food, I'll cook instant noodles with eggs and vegetables. On some days, if I'm tired of Chinese dishes, I'd opt for "nasi kandar" from a nearby Indian-Muslim (mamak) 24-hour eatery. It costs about RM7.50 for meat and two types of vegetables like the one below which was  taken out of the microwave oven.

 This is what I eat sometimes - nasi kandar

Have to get used to being single once more.'s a secret. I don't know how to buy the ingredients but I could somehow visualise the taste, though not 100% accurate :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simply Write

"You can write well." - that's what a couple of friends have told me about my blogs. Yeah, I've more than one blog. The truth is, I just enjoy writing... e-mails, blog posts, articles to the Editor, poems. I don't get paid, but it doesn't matter because I love doing it.

Lately, I've been looking for ways to get money just by writing so that I could earn some pocket money. A prolific online writer showed my blog to a magazine which she has been writing for, but the publisher didn't like my style. My style is, anything goes. It's mostly informal, and I use real simple English language because I don't know how to put spice into words... not yet.

Writing is an honest living. Who knows, one day, I might just be a freelance writer - perhaps after I retire, or earlier. So, if there's anyone out there who want me to write something for a fee, let me know :-)

A Hobby Rejuvenated

When I was younger, I liked taking snapshots. I got my first camera when I was 6 years old ; I believe it was a toy camera that looked real. When I went to teacher's training college, I got my own camera, but it was stolen by an idiot - also a trainee teacher. I never got it back. Then came the digital camera era. I had a hand on a Sony 10 Megapixel compact camera, but I didn't like it because it was too slow and didn't allow much room for creativity. It wasn't mine, anyway.

For me, I'd rather go for scenery and buildings. Unless someone asks me to shoot a portrait, I won't do that. I'll not take a photo with me in it because I'm not photogenic.

Only recently I decided once and for all to invest in a digital SLR (DSLR) camera. I'm still learning about it, and about taking great pictures. I managed to take a few just before dinner at Holiday Inn two days ago. Well, I didn't have to foot the bill for the meal; my aunt volunteered to pay for the four of us. So, while waiting for the food, I rushed out to catch these scenes:

Sunset just outside the hotel.
The Eye of Malaysia is on the right - not in service anymore.
This scene was taken from the right of where I stood
The Melaka Jetty. You could walk right to the end.
It was an interesting evening with my Canon 1000D. Nah, I'm not gonna be a professional photographer. I'm doing this just for fun... for now, at least. People say that photography is an expensive hobby. Yeah only the equipment is, but you don't have to buy the entire range of lenses. I'd probably invest in just one more zoom lens, if I've the cash one day so that I could take snapshots of distant objects. The one that I have now is an 18-55 mm.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Watching Robin Hood

I was doing some work in my office yesterday evening when a colleague opened my door without warning: "Hey, wanna watch a movie?" - well, I had actually promised another colleague that I'd be dating her to dinner. Anyway since she's also joining for the movie, what the heck. I said YES... two's a company (minus me).

I like watching movies with someone (at least one), and I generally go for sci-fi and comedy ones. A bit of romance is fine - tell me which movie doesn't include some kissing scenes in it? :-)

When was the last time I went to the cinema to watch a good movie? Last year, with my ex-wife. How pathetic! But I'm truly grateful for having these two friends who don't mind having an almost grey-haired man watching Robin Hood with them. One of them is single, while the other is single-on-weekdays only :-) You go figure out who is which.

At 4:58 p.m., I got a text message asking me to get the tickets for the 5:15 p.m. show. Arrgh! Why me. OK, don't complain... I had to get a parking space, then walk across the road to Melaka Mall, then take the escalator up, then walk to the other end to reach the MBO Cineplex. I got the tickets, and good seats too as there were only a few patrons.

The movie was quite alright but you sometimes need to make sense of what Robin Longstride a.k.a. Robin Hood (played by Russel Crowe)  is saying because he appears to murmur - thank god for the subtitles. Well, I'm not gonna do a review of this movie but I'd just like to say that I love the battle scene and there are some breathtaking views in the movie, too. Go watch it for a bit of excitement, humour and romance.

My Precious Job

Solve this riddle: "It was once highly sought after, now it's almost bottom on anyone's list." - so, what's my job? If your answer is "a teacher", then you're absolutely right!! Too bad, there's no prize for making a correct guess.

I joined the education sector in 1990, and my first posting was to a rural school in Sarawak, in a small village called Nyelitak. I wonder if that village still exists. The school definitely isn't there anymore due to under enrolment - there were only forty students when I was there. It was a wonderful experience, though scary initially. I didn't know anyone, yet I had to mingle among the natives; I found that they were really good people. I came back to Malaysia (civilisation!!!) 3 years later, and had to re-adjust my brain to suit the "new" environment.

Sekolah Rendah Kerajaan Nyelitak, Simunjan (background: school building, foreground: canteen)

I continued teaching till 2000, and then I decided it's time to move on. Never mind that I'd lost all the benefits of being a government servant; I wanted something new. So I left Malacca and teaching, and joined a private firm in Petaling Jaya as an Educational Consultant. Wow... really great - a consultant, huh? Actually, I was more like a Training Executive for the company's educational software sold to schools. I met a couple of new friends there, two of whom I'm still in touch with. I wonder what happened to my really cool boss. Anyway, I didn't last long there as I'm never a city kid, so I seized the opportunity to return to Malacca when there was a vacancy at a newly established college here. I joined late 2001 as its pioneer language instructor.

Things went smoothly, I got to know more friends. Then there was hanky-panky in the management and heavy internal politics that had affected the staff. Finally, after securing a new job, I left that college early 2005 and joined a private university. The pay was much lower, but who cares. I knew I made a good move. Here's where I met my wife who dumped me 3 years later. The colleague who introduced her to me has now gone into hiding. Gosh, she must have thought I'm the bad one. My ex-wife's good; I'm bad... as always, men get the blame.

I've learnt a lot in this university. I've got great, helpful colleagues, and a personal office (with a room mate), so there's kinda privacy. There are lots of stringent policies to adhere to, but never mind - it's a small matter. I'm happy here but like many other private sector employees, there will come a time when I've to leave this place with sweet memories.

In my humble office

Yup, there's no pension for me when I'm 55 years old, which means I've to keep working till I can't breathe anymore or till my future wife (if I'm lucky enough to get one) tells me: "Hey, old man. Enough of working la." :-)

That's life at work for the time being.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A New Beginning

I became part of the divorce statistics in early 2010. You know what? Both of us didn't want it to happen, yet it happened. Yeah, it was partly my fault too. However, I am not gonna put all the burden of this divorce onto my own shoulders, as in a relationship, it takes two to tango. Whatever it is, I'm not a womanizer and I don't rob wives from their husbands. And, yes, it could've been reconciled, but I just let her go in peace since she and her parents (yeah, they came over with her to announce the divorce to my parents) don't want me into their life anymore. So be it.

How's life been after that? A simple answer: Very traumatic initially.

The first two months especially were excruciatingly painful for me. I was absolutely lost, and I felt like a zombie. I didn't know what the heck I was doing at the office, and each day I wondered what had actually hit me. I talked to friends, relatives and online buddies. They gave the same advise..."Move on with your life" - and that's about it. They then left me all on my own. Mom and dad advised me to start socialising and meeting more people. Only one person has been around till today to try lift me up back on my feet. The attempt has been quite successful.

Here's a list of what I did to try get back my sanity:

  • subscribed to online MSN matchmaking (wanted to look for new partner)
  • joined Tzu Chi (wanted to meet more people)
  • played badminton (to get some exercise)
  • bought a new Digital SLR (to relive my former hobby) 

Did doing all that help? Very little because till today, after 6 months of being single, the painful thoughts recur. I realise that I have been too quick in trying to solve my traumatic experience. If you pour boiling water into an empty glass immediately, chances are, the glass will crack or even break! But if you pour it gradually, it won't. That's the analogy of my life then. I was too quick in trying to get out of the cell, and it nearly cost me my own life. My blood pressure (BP) shot up to 169/80, and that's really bad. I checked my BP again yesterday morning and it was down to 128/80 - almost normal. My BP has been fluctuating over the past months. Only now, it's beginning to stabilize.

Lessons learnt:

  • never start looking for another relationship immediately
  • get involved in an activity or two but don't overdo it
  • the emotional pain lingers for a certain duration
  • some friends are not friends at all
  • do whatever you can, but let Nature take its course
  • expect nothing, and you'll probably get something

I've written an article. Read it here. It was published in the New Straits Times recently. You'll get to know more about me in my future postings.