Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Guidance Class

Yesterday, 28 June 2010 was a historical day for me. I held my first guidance class for MUET. I don't wanna call it tuition because I'm not here to make big bucks like some teachers out there. I just want to guide my students to get them to know MUET and practise so that they're able to achieve the minimum Band 3 set by the university in order to proceed to Beta level.

Any kind of service comes with a fee, and this guidance class is no exception. How much I charge my students? Well... very minimal because my students can't afford to pay too much unlike city kids. Pity them la... they want to learn, but if I charge them too high, they will be discouraged to have that opportunity to learn. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm getting a bit of pocket money which is sufficient to pay my utility bills while helping students who need help. Part of my earnings will go to charity, too as they need donations - this is my pledge to society.

I planned to have such a class years ago but somehow it didn't materialise. It takes something bad to happen to me to realize that I've got to do something with my life or else I'll rot forever. So, I decided it's time to start this guidance class - I did it... and I got my first batch of five students last night.

Start small but aim big. I won't be greedy yet, but I've plans over the next few years to expand (not sideways) but it all depends on how I handle this first batch of students.

Wish me luck that I'll succeed this time... for once.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A 6-hour Torment

At dawn, while almost everyone else was still fast asleep on that "fateful" Saturday morning on 26 June 2010, my phone alarm screamed at me. It was 5:30 AM, and I was supposed to wake up to get ready for an event - The Writers' Workshop - at Cyberjaya. We were told to get to campus by 6:30 AM as the bus leaves at that time. We departed almost 7:00 AM in a typical Malaysian style. OK, so here's what I captured with my 3.2MP smartphone ... ain't that smart, you know:

Catching up with lovely sleep
Cyberjaya campus: The venue of our workshop
Generous breakfast spread, tea breaks and lunch for us
Thank you, we're starving. 
Some of the participants - teens!
The man who could talk for 6-hours
He really knows his stuff.
Practice time: Mock press conference
Despite having to listen to Willie (the only facilitator there) for 6 hours, I didn't feel too bored, but I must admit that I daydreamed quite a bit, while I saw someone snoozing away. His lecture was intermittent with five activities that are tied to each other.

The participants were 99% students from both campuses. There were only two staff members as participants, me and another guy. Basically we learnt a lot of journalism and reporting. The skills are useful as I've plans to be a writer some day ... perhaps make that as my full time job.

Well... it was worth the early morning wake up call. By the way, my hands are lousy when it comes to taking snapshots... see the blurry pix?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Karate Kid

Yesterday evening, I watched a movie - Karate Kid. This is the remake of its predecessor shot in 1984 with Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio as the main characters. In this 2010 remake, Jacky Chan (Mr. Han) and Jaden Smith (Xiao Dre) play the respective the roles. How was it? It was great!!!

When my colleague asked me to watch a movie, I thought it would be Toy Story, and I was sceptical about this kung-fu movie. Since there's Jacky Chan in it, and I've watched the trailer some time back, what the heck, I decided to go. No regrets. What I like most about this movie is the kid himself, a carbon copy of his dad, Will Smith in terms of the way he talks and moves. He's so darn cute, so go watch him even if you dislike violence.

I'm not gonna spoil your interest by revealing too much, but you know that if there's Jacky Chan, there will be plenty of action, humour and moral values - his movie trademark. He didn't direct this movie, though. There's a tiny touch of romance too. Oh by the way, I was actually moved to tears toward the end - now how often do you see tears in a man's eyes? Or was there another reason for those eyes to be wet? Hmm...

There's one particular statement that Mr. Han said that struck me: "Life sometimes brings us down; it is up to us whether or not we get up" - roughly that's what he said, but the message is clear. It definitely applies to me. See? Even watching movies can teach you a lesson or two.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Bash

We celebrated Father's Day yesterday, 20 June 2010 (Sunday) in the capital city. After going round and round, we finally found the restaurant - Tenji Japanese Buffet - at the high end Mont Kiara area.

The front of the restaurant
As you enter the premise, you're transported into a different world - the world of Japanese culinary. The landscaping and interior design were fabulous! See the photos:

The rock garden that greets customers

A garden in a restaurant

See what you like, and drop your clip in the bowl

Another area

Kids' favourite: The chocolate fountain

Tea lovers: Drink as much as you like

People digging into Haagan Dazs. The chef looks worried.

Baskin Robbins and sexy girls galore

The mini bar. Try their fresh coconut.

Oysters with cheese toppings - a "gift" from Tenji

How's the food? FANTASTIC!! How's the price? FANTASTIC too, as it was half price for lunch - that's RM48++

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Flashback at a Wedding

I attended my cousin's wedding dinner in KL last night. The food was good, the company was alright. I took many snapshots, and my relatives wanted to have their photos taken too with my camera. The menu was something extraordinary - something which only Tai Thong Restaurant could come up with. At RM1,000+ per table, this was the menu:

The menu: Click to enlarge

A Toast - red wine.

However... despite the company, the noise and the happy atmosphere, I felt something missing.  When I saw the video presentations and the atmosphere, I had flashbacks of what I had gone through three years ago. Every one was happy for me - finally I'd ended my bachelorhood, they thought. Now, I'm a bachelor again - though not exactly the same anymore.

Next month, I've to attend another cousin's wedding. I can't escape... I need to be brave and face reality. I shall just go blindfolded.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ouch, My Back Hurts!

I'm now in Week 2, I travel twice a week to Cyberjaya either in a van or a bus. Whichever mode of transportation I use, the result is the same - pain. Sitting on a bus is more comfortable though as there's enough leg room and the seats are more cozy.

But each morning I wake up, my back hurts. Just before it recovers, I've to travel again because I go to Cyberjaya on alternate days. It hurt bad this morning ... sigh :-(

Don't know what's going to happen by Week 14. I jokingly told my colleagues who travel with me that at the end of the semester, we would have to use a walking stick - yeah, they laughed, I laughed - but then... jokes aside, it's bad for all of us.

Partners of Different Religions

I had a virtual chat with a netpal a couple of days ago. Then the issue of having partners of different religions was brought up. "I'm a Christian, so I must marry another Christian." - strange, you know. And when I asked the reason, she said that she wanted someone who shares the same values. Before you have any thoughts in your mind, let me clear it for you - we're NOT dating... hehehe. We were merely discussing.

We have the right to choose our own partners, and we have the right to embrace the religion of our choice. Fine, thank you. What if you've found a great person, but you refuse to make that move due to religious differences? In addition, what if that person decides not to convert to your religion? Easy answer: "Let that person go, la. After all there are many fish in the sea. If not, then being single is also not bad anyway."

As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't mind marrying anyone from any race as long as I get to keep my religion, and I will let her keep hers. The other thing is that I do not have to change my name or add something to it because my present name was given to me by my parents. People tend to believe that by marrying someone of the same religion, things will go smoothly as they will understand each other better. True, to a certain extent. However, marrying someone of a different religion has its benefits too. You get to learn and understand another religion, not only your own. You will also learn to tolerate other religions better. Isn't this what being a multi-racial country is all about, too? A good example is my parents - my mom is a Christian, dad a Buddhist. My brother chose to be a Christian, while I chose to be a Buddhist because we siblings have our own beliefs. Well, nothing's perfect. There have been some minor differences but nothing keeps my parents' love for each other going for close to 50 years despite that difference in faith.

If we respect each other's religion, that would be great, wouldn't it? The problem with us is that we think, or have been indoctrinated by people that our religion is better than others; some people make a mockery of other religions. This is when trouble ignites, and later turns into a full blown explosion.

I think we should all be open about having an open-religion marriage. There's no superior religion in this world because God has never taught us to think that way and all Man are equal in His eyes. The bottom line is, we all do good, be good and see good always, and life will be alright - regardless of whom you marry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Birthday?

"Oh, birthdays are very important to me."
"My husband/boyfriend must remember my birthday."
"You must be kidding if you think birthdays are not important."
"It's the man's job to remember his woman's birthday."

Hmm... so what do you think? This post focuses only on two people - the husband and the wife. What do you think of husbands who believe that it's not important to celebrate their spouse's birthday? You may be screaming at me: "Horrors! What nonsense are you talking about?" - let me just say this.

In a marriage, celebrating birthdays is just one of the ingredients to make your marriage taste sweeter. It is not the primary ingredient. Without it, your marriage would still be sweet. There is no point pouting, showing tantrums or arguing when your hubs doesn't remember, or take no notice of your date of birth. It doesn't mean you are insignificant. What matters most - and is paramount - is that your husband is able to provide you security, has long term plans and you're assured that he'll be there for you 24/7/365. What matters most is the fact that he cares for you in his own unique way, and that he is around just for you.

I remembered my ex-wife's birthday each year; every year I gave something to her and I gave her a treat. However, last year, her parents stepped in and wanted to have things their way - I didn't like it, and the issue of the birthday cake cropped up. It became one of the trivial issues that was brought up when she asked for a divorce. I would like to say this: as far as I'm concerned, I'd like to celebrate birthdays (mom's, dad's etc.), but if I don't get you a cake, or if the date just slips my mind for some god-forsaken reason, don't make me look like a criminal who has just murdered someone. Not every husband is into this birthday celebration thingy - and it doesn't mean they love you less.

"He loves me, so he must know my birthday." - not necessarily true. This is one of those unworthy expectations that could cause arguments. Don't expect, and you'll not feel disappointed. Your husband has his own ways of showing his love to you, and celebrating your birthday may not be on his list.

So, people... no birthday bash? It's alright. Don't frown. Be happy that you still have a husband (or a wife, to be fair) who is there by your side to care for your every need - you don't need a birthday cake to remind you of his (or her) love, do you?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Take this Quiz


What would you do if you see a stationary car with its lights on?

A. Tell the security officer about it.
B. Ignore it because it's not my car.
C. The owner is my enemy, so forget it.
D. Call the owner immediately to inform him/her.
E. None of the above - the car's mine.

There will be an answer for each of us. I'm writing this post because early this morning, I received an SMS that reads: "the lamp inside your car is on". It was from a colleague who travels with us to Cyberjaya each week, and she knows what car I drive. This is not the first time a colleague saved my ass. The first time, I parked at a reserved spot, and a different colleague called me up to inform that the security was calling out my registration plate over the walkie-talkie. This is a good example of me trying to be funny and not making people laugh. OK, follow the rules from now on.

The point is, it is good that your colleagues know what car you drive. It doesn't matter if it's a Beamer or a Kancil. Chances are, as long as they recognise your car, you'll quickly know if something has happened to it... if they see it, of course. There are still good people on this planet.

(p/s: You don't drive? Well... thank your lucky stars that you've a chauffeur who takes care of your travelling needs.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Harith and Jezamine

Does age difference matter in a marriage? Well, from what I read in the papers yesterday, it certainly isn't. There was a column to announce that local comedian Harith Iskandar and model-actress Jezamine Lim are getting married. They'd already be married by the time you read this.

Harith is 44, while Jezamine is 27. That's an age gap of 17 years. It kinda reminds us of Siti Nurhaliza when she married businessman Datuk "K". What I find unique about Harith's love is that he first met Jezamine in Facebook! Did I read the papers carefully? I think so. Yes, it's the same social networking site that all of us are familiar with. So who says you cannot find love on the Internet, or online love doesn't work? Although it is quite a norm nowadays to find love online, not many are reported or known...well, there's no reason for us to know anyway.

My mom commented that Lim is a doctor, and Harith, a comedian - how could both match? I suppose laughter is the best medicine, if you know what I mean. So that matches well. I would also like to add that it all boils down to luck and fate as well. If Harith did not have a Facebook account, he might not have met his attractive bride and end his bachelorhood.

Luck and fate ... and prayer play crucial roles in our lives. True, age doesn't matter. Men can still perform at 40, 50 or even 60 ... you know what I mean; so can women. The only difference is, the older we get, the lesser chance we have of bearing a child.

A photo of the "akad nikah" (solemnisation) of the marriage is available here. Best wishes to the new couple.

Health at My Age

For breakfast today, I ate bread with home made fish floss. Since I'm still a grown-up kid, I get hungry quickly; therefore just an hour later, I went to the cafe to get some "kuih" - again, I didn't take photos of them before eating...

Anyway, then I realised (after buying) that all the three kuih that I bought were sweet ones. Well, I'm not a health freak, but I don't want to fall ill either especially when I'm alone at home. Too much sugar causes diabetes, and diabetes - depending on whether it's Type 1 or Type 2 - can cause death. My maternal grandma has diabetes, so I probably have her genes too. So, like it or not, since I've already bought the kuih, I ate them all. I'm gonna stay away from such "kuih" for the rest of this week at least.

A friend of mine just found out that he has high blood pressure, and he was so depressed that he sent an email to his friends to show how sad he was. We met up with him and cheered him up - hopefully... but knowing him, he will not change his habit. When you reach a certain age, food is a very important factor to look into in order to live healthily.

Reduce sweet stuff (diabetes), reduce meat intake (blood pressure), reduce fatty food (cholesterol).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

At the Clubhouse

Today, a weekend, I met up with a few of my ex-schoolmates who are now doing rather well. Two whom I've not met for at least 20 years. We met at the Malacca Club, a place where yuppies hang out with friends to while away their time after a hard day's work. I said yuppies because it's an exclusive club which membership is possible only via introduction by an existing member. I dare not ask the membership fee, but I know it's high.

It was my first time in there since my friend is one of the major shareholders of this renown club. There were slot machines and private rooms to play one arm bandits, too. We got a room, and chatted in there, occasionally interrupted by the music from the sole slot machine in that room. We drank Shandy and beer (I didn't drink beer - not because I'm a holy person) while one drank coffee.

Generally, we had quite a good time chatting. Sorry, I didn't take any photos and I'm not what people call "camwhoring" :-) I spent about an hour in the clubhouse while the rest continued since their wives didn't bother about them, their kids are all grown, and they're really free to do whatever they want.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The First Assignment

Today is my first assignment to the Cyberjaya campus. I've been to this campus before for meetings but I've never taught there. This time around, six of us were the "Chosen Ones" to be there for 15 weeks.

The place

It is a very big campus, though not as big as public universities here. That's more than enough to give your legs and your heart a good exercise since we're required to teach 4 hours with only an hour break in between per day. Classes begin at 11:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM for us.

The Students

I had only 8 students today. Being Week 1, many have yet to turn up, so classes are almost empty. The ones I had today were generally alright. At least they could converse quite well. I hope the rest who are coming later will be more or less just as good.

The journey

We began at 8:15 AM; we boarded the university coaster. It was helluva ride to hell most of the time. It was raining real hard midway, then there was no rain later. The driver drove at a neck-breaking 140 km per hour. I've been through this before, so I know the speed. I was seated at the back, and along some stretches of the highway, I felt like I was riding a horse! No kidding... my precious balls between my legs were slammed to the seat many times. It wouldn't be long before I lose both, or  grow another two somewhere. All the 10 of us (there were 4 additional passengers from other depts.) held on tight to our seats. We arrived safely at 9:50 AM. The trip home was just the same. This won't be the only "adventure ride" for us. We have to go through this twice a week for 14 weeks - you do the math. Our backs would hurt like mad.

Gosh, I ain't looking forward to Thursday. Pray that we all reach our destination in one piece.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bad Gardener

I visit my parents each weekend since I became single again. Each time I pay them a visit, my house would be somewhat neglected. If my house has a life of its own, it would cry each time I leave because now there's no one left to care for the house, which was once home for two. Anyway, I'm doing my best to cope with  office work and house chores.

Look at the condition of my plants below. The potted plants merely appear to be green:

 The plants are left to wither - especially the one on the right.
You'd also notice that I've quite a moderately large lawn (in the background) to upkeep. Often, I feel like puking when I see the carpet grass growing so long - it shouldn't grow long. Maybe it's the wrong species or I didn't know how to look after it, or both. Well, there's no point crying over spilled milk now. After spending RM1,000 on the grass, I've to live with it, trim it as and when it doesn't rain, not too hot, and on any available time. Thank goodness I've a machine to cut it, so that saves a whole lot of time.

I often wonder why the heck I bought this house. I'm not able to maintain this Semi-D double storey forever, you know. One of these days, I'd just sell it off to a prospective buyer and move back to live with my aging parents. Nevertheless, it's only a plan - I can't see the future; but if the future doesn't want to reveal itself to me, then I'll just do what I believe is the right thing to do for me.

Well, I don't have green fingers... maybe just green eyes :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recycling, Vegetarianism

I joined Tzu Chi approximately 3 months ago after the divorce, with the hope of getting new acquaintances and hopefully be a better person. Well, three months have passed, and I'm still the same but I've gathered enough courage to participate in a couple of their activities despite being linguistically handicapped. You see, I can't speak their lingo - Mandarin, but some are able to speak English. Ya la, I'm a "banana man" - yellow on the outside, white on the inside... in short, a Chinese who speaks only English.

Their latest activity was the recycling and vegetarianism campaign held on the eve of Wesak Day. I was stationed in one of the locations in town. I was there with my colleague at about 6 p.m. Here are some photos:

The seniors arrived early to set up the station
Briefing. The ones in grey are generally juniors.
The recycle boxes. Later more boxes were brought in.
Promoting vegetarianism
Our stuff had to be hidden from public view. 
It looks neat too.
The public buying some organic stuff
A member of the public pledging to be a vegan
for a certain duration.
A prayer before you leave
Time to clean up the mess
So, am I a vegan? The answer is NO (not yet) - it's good to be 100% vegan but I just wonder what would happen if there are just too many animals on this planet because all of us have become vegetarians? But I will definitely consume lesser meat from now on, for health reasons too.

Perhaps one day in the future, I'll not eat anymore meat.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Break? What break?

The final exam's over, and I get a two-week break. "Hooray!" - but not just yet. It is indeed a fallacy to believe that the management would allow my colleagues and I have a nice vacation in the Bahamas till the new trimester opens. Fat chance, people. If I'm lucky, I might be left alone for a day or two to do my personal stuff (in the office), but that's about it.

There are workshops, meetings and conferences to attend, researches to be done, planning for the new trimester and some other administrative duties. Don't forget that in the academic line, I've to mark my own answer scripts or help others to mark them. On top of that, break time is also the time when I've to run errands rather than sitting home watching TV with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, or just hanging out in the nearest shopping mall.

Before I could even wink, it's time to say hi to the new kids already! So, people... a break is just a break from teaching. I'm not entitled to be away from office at all unless I apply for annual, medical or emergency leave. If there's an urgent meeting, the management has the right to call me back to work. "I'm on leave today" is no excuse for not attending a meeting. My former head of department once warned us: "Your leave is only a privilege, not your right." - the message is loud and clear.

So, it's not really a clean break. I've heard with my own ears people say things like: "Teaching is good. You get a lot of holidays, very relaxed, easy - just go and teach, come home." - decades ago, they may be right, but not nowadays.

Thank goodness I still have my weekends.