Thursday, January 31, 2008


I need a bit of info on living/studying in Australia. From the net, i found out that the cost to rent a 2-bedded apartment is Aust$350 per WEEK! And school fees can be Aust$450, not sure if that's per month or what. Daunting figures, to say the least. Even if those figures are in RM, they would still intimidate me. In Australian dollars? Sure Die Hard One!

If there's anyone out there who can help me gauge the Dollars and Ringgits better, please help?Of the whole entire continent, which part of Australia would offer the most reasonable cost of living? I spent a few days in Paramatta some years back. Few days only but enough t0 leave some long-term damages to my pocket. Imagine a long-term stay.. So maybe, Sydney should not be considered. maybe other towns are cheaper. Advise, anyone, please?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sizuka the Hole-ly Cow


I) 27 March 2008

The third one will be delivered via caesarean. And because of that, I get to choose the dates. Yey! And what a coincidence it is that the most suitable date would be 27 March, aruah Mak’s birthday. Yes! Yes! Yes!

The ObGyn said it probably will be a girl. More ribbons and hairclips, yey!

II) Hole-ly Cow

Yes, I am back at the office after a month of absence (mountains of work await me, a whole banjaran titiwangsa! Thus why i have shied away from the internet). Colleagues and boss alike look at me and swear that I must have faked my medical cert as they could see no tell-tale sign of chicken pox on my face. And I seem to have gained weight too. Sick people can’t be gaining weight, can they? I told them, I put on many layers of make-up to cover the holes on my face and body. The extra layers of make-up – at least 3 inches thick all around, are what makes me look fat. Look only, but i really am not.

Quoting Former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz, ‘it’s all fabrication and slander'.

I am no hole-ly cow!’.

III) MC Sizuka

We had a dinner function a few nights back. The boss decided to have the dinner, we were to invite more than 200 companies to it, and the date was 5 days away. It was a wee bit too short-notice to ask the Corporate Communications Department to organise it. And so, my department organised the whole thing. It made sense because the 200 companies to be invited dealt with us and only with us. We had the database and we were always in communication with them. They made me the MC. Ok. Not a problem.

The dinner went well. Everybody seemed to have fun. Our guest-of-honor, some hot shot dato’ from one ministry even whispered to our CEO that the event was to be made the benchmark as it was very-well organised. I myself felt that the event could have been better but considering the time constraint, it was not a bad job at all.

In between having to stand and introduce yang-berbahagia-dato-this-and-that, I went around the ballroom meeting acquaintances and friends. I saw a certain Dr Rosli from one research institution. I went to Korea with him. And you know lah, once you have travelled with someone, you know a bit more about him and either that makes you closer or otherwise. I kind of like Dr Rosli. Nice chap, tells jokes with a straight face and he laughs at my jokes too. He commented that the rostrum is too tall for me, that I should complaint to the hotel management. He could hear my voice but couldn’t see me. My makeup all wasteful, he said, hidden behind the rostrum. But he could recognise my voice anywhere. And he said I sounded like one Digi advertisement on radio. What ad? She must sound horrible, I said. He said, no, go listen to the ad. And then I added, that I think I sound like Sizuka from Doraemon. He said, no way, i am not THAT cute. And we both laughed. This was at the dinner table and there was one representative from Corporate Comm. department sitting there too, right next to Dr Rosli. Ha-ha-ha, we all laughed.

Today at Management meeting, my department was blasted left-right-centre for organising the event without help from Corporate Comm. Funny thing is, Corporate Comm said the flaw of that night was the MC, because her voice was like that of Sizuka. Said who, my boss asked. Said a guest at my table, answered this lady. She was the one who sat next to Dr Rosli. Weird as I thought I was the one who said it.

All in all, I said to to my boss, if my voice is the only thing wrong with the night, then the night is a success lah. They could have complained about a lot of other things, and for them to pinpoint on something as petty as my voice, ok lah tu. It’s a good sign. The glass is half full. The content may be dense, but it half-fills the glass.


Monday, January 14, 2008

An Evening with Awang Goneng

I was at ‘An evening with Awang Goneng’ yesterday.

The title reminds me of a Hindi movie of yesteryears, ‘An Evening in Paris’. But yesterday was at modest UIA, not anywhere near Paris. Not at all. Yamtuan was at work and so I had to go alone. I took Putra from Taman Jaya and discovered that it took me more than an hour to reach Terminal Putra. So far! Paris would be farther, I know, but still! Dr Bubbles said, all I had to do was wave my copy of GUIT at the gate and some motorbikes would give me a ride. First, I DON’T have GUIT to wave, plus unless the bike is a four-seater, I wouldn’t be able to fit on it. Try the bakul, he said. Ayoyo brudder, I haven’t worked for the circus for many years now, ok?

I took a cab instead. Driven by someone who looks very much like Mr Os. You know, Mr.Os of oh-kome-deghoyan-dah-bebunge? A big hit in 1980s I think. I itched to ask him whether he was Mr Os, but I didn’t want to offend him. Many years ago, while in a train on the way from Kluang to KL, there was an Os-like guy who chatted me up. He asked me to guess where he was from. Because he looked so much like Mr.Os, I guessed Perak. And he got insulted to be likened to Mr Os. Learnt my mistake. If the guy looks like Mr Os and speaks in thick Perak accent, do not assume he is Mr Os. He could be Mr Oz instead.

Ke mana? Asked Mr-Cant-Be-Os.
Bangunan ‘Human Sciences’, UIA. I said.
Cakap Melayunya apa?
Err… Sains Manusia kot?
But in the end, we had to ask the Security Guard. Mr.Not-Os said Bangunan sains Manusia which the guard couldn’t understand so I said Human Sciences. Ohhhh… HS Building, he said. Hah, Malaysian and our abbreviations!

I reached Seminar Room 3 of HS Building (not easy to find, HS is a maze) and realised that I was the odd one out. The Ood one out. There, all 100++ of them, were students and staff of UIA. I was the only outsider. Thank God, I arrived with Tuang AG and his entourage! And Kak Teh was kind enough to sit next to me. Otherwise, all my kutu, my fleas would have died. Mati Kutu, I tell you.

Oh, Kak Teh had to look at me twice before she could recognise me. And as we hugged, she whispered, ‘why have you eaten so much?’
And Tuang AG later asked me, how are you. I answered simply, fat. He replied back, of course. OF COURSE, Tuang AG? Sigh… soon, I will have to start kempiskan perut.

And soon the ‘evening’ started. Tuang AG was given the microphone and he started talking.

I thought he was going to talk about the book. But better, he talked about writing, the power of words, difference between literature and thrash, the importance of having role models (and how sad it is that we look up to Mawi and Siti as role models), the evil of tvs, the beauty of books, bibliotherapy, rhythm and all things motivating. He sang too. That singing melted Kak Teh all over the floor. And then he said a tasbih. Kak Teh swooned! Hehehe… They are so into each other!

The ‘evening’ ended at 5, there were some refreshments served for Tuang AG and his troop. I wasn’t in the plan, but since the Guest-of-Honor said it would be okay to crash the party, I did. Yum! Kuih lapis, mee hoon, kerepok lekor and karipap pusing. Teh tarik, teh o and kopi. Yum.

Later, I was sent to Putra station by Tuang AG’s niece.

I had to stop mid-way, jumped out from the train and had the barely digested keropok lekor-karipap-mee hoon vomited all out on the platform (sorry, Khairy Jamaludin, sorry RapidKL). Gombak-Taman Jaya was too far a journey for me to stomach! Had Yamtuan pick me up at Abdullah Hukum as I was too sick to board the train again. Hehehe…

I had a great time, really. Despite the vomiting.

But I must say this. First an analogy. I could never cook on my own if my mother was in the kitchen with me. I would ask her for everything, even to cook rice, is the water enough? And then, how many/much garlic/ginger/salt/all? Everything I would ask her.

With Tuang AG, I would be awfully conscious of my language. And not just English too. Being around him, I would be ill-at-ease if I use English. Everything I said would sound so wrong and lame. I would prefer to speak in Bahasa, but even my BM would sound foreign to my own ears. Of course, he is too much of an Englishman to ever point out my wrongs – he’s too polite, but still!

I must find my Betty Azar book. I must learn the basics of English grammar again.

By the way, Tuang AG said, the function should not be called 'An Evening..' because it wasnt evening yet, it should be 'An afternoong with Awang Goneng'.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Barbie Doll

Dot and I discussed Barbie this morning before school. She has 3 Barbies. I bought them not at Toys R Us or any departmental store, they were all bought from Jualan Gudang Mattel. One of the perks of living in an industrial area is exactly that, you get loads of stock clearance and factory outlet sales. So, i got them at maybe 80 to 90% cheaper than they would at Jusco and such. I know some of you disapprove of Barbie Dolls but really, I have to approve because err… Dot says Barbie looks like me haw-haw-haw. She may be a politician in the making, but allow me to bask in the light of perasan for a while (by the way, Sun thinks I look like Panacea from Asterix Omnibus cartoon, hehehe. Kids only worship you before they discover that teachers are better, kan? So I am enjoying it while it lasts).

Dot pointed out that her cousin; Dek Ya has no Barbies at all. Dek Ya and Dot are about the same age. They are both into Barbies and colourful Ponies and Polly-ies. It is not that her parents couldn’t afford it but they have their priorities. The mother works as a production operator at some factory in Shah Alam and the father drives a lorry. I am sure they can buy Dek Ya a Barbie doll or two but, they have more common sense than me, what can I say.

And so Dot told me that maybe Dek Ya can have one of her Barbies. I thought that was so generous of her to offer so I said maybe we can get Dek Ya a new one. Why not, a birthday treat. Her birthday will be in April. We can get her one.

And with that, Dot and Yamtuan said goodbye and left the house for school. But just as I was locking the door after them, I heard Dot shouted asking me to open the door again. She sounded extremely excited.

Apparently, the neighbour downstairs was spring-cleaning too. She found two Barbie dolls. Her daughter has graduated into Hannah Montana and High School Musical and doesn’t want Barbie Dolls anymore. And so, they gave Dot the two dolls.

Just for the intention to give others one of her prized Barbie Dolls, the powers that be gave Dot two more.

I am delighted for her.

Dr Bubbles is working on a new mini project of mini libraries at orphanages. If you are looking for a good cause to spend some money on, check out his work.

Our RM50 maybe for one dinner of peri-chicken at Nando’s but for some others, it might mean that they can have rice three times a day for the whole family for a month. When we say we don’t have money, that we are broke, it might mean that thre are still RM20,000 worth of unit trusts somewhere and RM200,000 worth of insurance or some cash in the bank. Maybe we say we don’t have money because our wallet is empty and we don’t have time to go MEPS yet. But when some families say they don’t have money, it might mean that they have not a single cent to their name. How we value money differs and very much dependent on how much we bring home each month – I think.

There was a time when I was very sceptical of where donation money really goes to, heck, I still don’t give money to beggars. Just because you have kudis buta the size of Australia doesn’t mean you cant go find a job kan? I agree we have to be careful and there are lots of con-man out there, but the little money that we give away we meant it well and for good reasons. If it gets abused, it should be their worry, not ours.

Someone once told me, the moment the heart is moved to do something charitable, something unselfish, just do it. Don’t let the mind starts reasoning with the heart. Because, the mind might be influenced by nafsu and iblis. There are signs and lessons everywhere if we care to look. Even in something as err... tacky as Barbie Doll, dont you think?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Sesungguhnya, demi segala yang baik dan mulia di dunia ini, aku mengakui setulus hatiku, dialah orang yang paling aku sayangi.

Ku kira, sejak hari pertama aku dilahirkan lagi, malah mungkin juga sebelum dari itu lagi, hatiku telah dimilikinya. Setiap hari, setiap kali wajahnya ku pandang, terasa betapa seluruh kasih dan sayangku tercurah hanya untuk manusia istimewa itu.

Ya, dia memang istimewa. Entah keistimewaannya itu dimana, aku pun tidak pasti.

Cantik? Dia memang cantik. Kulitnya halus, putih dan bersih. Tahi lalat pun segan untuk mencemar kulit yang sempurna itu. Tanpa bantuan warna warni alat solek sekalipun, wajahnya tetap cantik dan berseri. Benar kecantikan itu sesuatu yang relatif, namun biarlah jika orang lain pendapatnya berlawanan dengan ku. Di mataku setidak-tidaknya, dia ratu dunia.

Cerdik? Dia memang cerdik. Tanyalah apa sahaja soalan kepadanya – biar tajuk ekonomi, politik, sains, matematik, sejarah, malah apa tajuk sekalipun, ratu cantik itu pasti sudah bersedia dengan jawapannya. Walau jawapannya mungkin tidak sama dengan buku teks atau bercanggah dari yang lazim dan diterima akal, namun dengarkanlah hujahnya. Sesiapapun pasti akan terpesona dan terpengaruh. Jika dia berhujah, bumi adalah bulan yang mengorbiti bulan, pakar astrologi sekalipun akan tergoyah keyakinannya. Begitulah hebatnya dia, hujahnya tegas sehingga mampu menukar paksi seseorang. Kadang-kadang aku menjadi curiga – berkata benarkah dia atau sekadar menduga peganganku?

Baik? Dia memang seorang yang baik hati. Barangkali nombor teratas dalam keutamaan hidupnya adalah menabur bakti dan budi kepada orang lain. Tidak ada beban yang gagal diringankannya. Tidak ada air mata yang gagal disekanya. Rungsing dan duka terhenti bila mendengar rasional darinya. Senyum dan bahagia bagaikan tidak pernah putus jika dia ada. Kadang-kadang terlintas di benak fikiranku, dia dan kebahagiaan bagaikan sinonim yang pasti. Ratu dunia pintar yang berhati mulia itu, benar-benar seorang insan yang bahagia dan membahagiakan. Jila layak bulan kujadikan bandingan, nah, dialah itu. Malam yang fitrahnya gelap, sunyi dan hiba menjadi ceria, berseri dan indah bila bulan ada..

Tuhan, bertuahnya aku kerana mengenali dia!

Aku malahan tertanya-tanya sendiri, apalah layakku sehingga dianugerahkan pertemuan dengan insan sebaiknya. Entah tuah apakah ini, ya Tuhan, namun aku amat-amat bersyukur. Berdosa lah aku sebagai anak jika aku lalai dari mendoakannya.

Tuhanku, jika adalah, walau satu, walau sekecil manapun kebajikan yang pernah aku lakukan selama hidupku, Kau kabulkanlah permintaan ku yang satu ini: panjangkanlah umur ibuku, berkatilah setiap detik kehidupannya di dunia dan akhirat.


I spring-cleaned the house and found the above hidden forlorn between sovenir booklets from Simak Dialog and Anoushka Shankar concerts. I wrote it many-many years ago,at least 7. Dont know why i did, maybe it was Mother's day, maybe it was her birthday. I never showed it to her, i couldnt make myself to. Besides, it was never good enough. I think my doa was in a way makbul too, she did live to be be 57. From 57, 36 years were dedicated for us, her children.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cikgu Fendi at the Morgue

Cikgu Norafendi was no ordinary teacher. He was my class teacher for three years, from Form 1 all the way to Form 3. At the end of each term, Cikgu Fendi would put his wallet on his table and offered money to us who didnt have enough to go balik kampung. Those days, my father was already a pensioner. His pension was less than RM200 per month after deductions - loans and such. I had scholarship of RM30 per year, and the school (Muar) wasnt that far away from Kluang, but even RM5 was money i didnt have. His generosity to us was a huge help. He even loaned us some money, so me and some friends could set up a little stall selling burgers in the school compound.

And he guarded us like a mother hen too. There was this group of boys from other class who were perhap more than just a bit naughty back then. After the night prep, they would be hiding in the shadows looking for a chance to tease girls. Sometimes the teasing could get out of hand, some girls got molested. If those boys even lay a finger on us, Cikgu Fendi would call them to our classroom, removed his rings one by one, and then hit the hormonal boys. He earned quite a reputation as our guardian that none of us were ever bothered by those boys. He would probably be sued now, for hitting the students. You know how parents are like today. He meant well, and his education method, as barbaric as it may seem today, worked wonders on those boys.

He was also a very dedicated teacher. He taught us Maths and would call us 'anak toyol' if we kept repeating careless mistakes. But he would arrange for night and weekend classes, for free, for those in need of extra coaching. I was one of those.

When the education system was overhauled, he was transferred out from the school. Because he was a teacher's college graduate, not a degree holder, he was transferred to a primary school. Certificate or degree, i think he was selfless and a fine teacher. But the powers-that-be decided that college teachers are fit only for primary schools. So out he went.

I bumped into him some years ago, more than 10 years ago actually, in a mini bus in KL. I was then a student at UTM. He told me that he was teaching at some primary school in Kajang and life was so easy. Nobody asked any question in class, he said. And nobody wanted extra lessons too. He said it with a smile but i think he missed teaching secondary students at a boarding school, he missed the challenges.

He invited me to his house. I went and had lunch there. He was married and had maybe 2 kids.

And then he disappeared, or maybe i disappeared.

When my school had its 25th year celebration, the alumni turned to me for help in locating Cikgu Fendi. I was the last 'witness', the only link, even though the link was more than 10 years rusty. And not exactly reliable.

You see, i have problems in telling directions. Even if it was yesterday that i was at his place, i probably wouldnt remember it. More than 10 years? A lot happened in 10 years! Malaysia changed its PM, Saddam Hussin was hanged, the blue light was invented, hell.... vaccination against chicky pops passed FDA tests! Plus, he could have moved from Kajang, he could have moved house. Even if all factors remained the same, i wouldnt trust me for directions!

But how to say cannot when i havent even tried?

I scoured through the phone directory for his name. Negative.

I went through all Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah for his whereabouts. Negative.

Day of the dinner, two friends were assigned to drive me to Kajang to look for Cikgu Fendi.

What taman? They asked me. Dont remember.
Well, there was this jambatan before Kajang town, the taman was on the left. Or maybe right.
Kajang town is behind us, jambatan is infront, left or right? O-oh. confused. Not sure. Can we try both?
The house single storey or double?
Cant remember. O-Boy.

The first taman that we arrived at, i asked them to stop infront of a terraced-house. Any house. With primary-school age kids infront. We stopped at one.

Dek, kenal Cikgu Norafendi tak?
Tau tak kat taman ni yang mana satu rumah cikgu.
Ayah saya cikgu.
Oh ye ke, panggil ayah sekejap.
Ayah tak ada.
Tunjuk rumah cikgu yang lain, boleh?
Rumah sebelah saya, kiri kanan semua cikgu.
Oh okay. Terima kasih.

Went to house next door.

Cikgu, saya nak tumpang tanya, cikgu kenal tak Cikgu Norafendi?
Norafendi Sahri?
Dia Guru Penolong Kanan sekolah saya. nanti saya ambik nombor dia.

THAT easy peasey. Wasnt an impossible mission after all.

She gave me his number, i thanked her profusely and immediately dialled Cikgu Fendi's number. Cried a bit when he answered, it was him! But he was at the morgue at Hospital Kajang.
Tak apa, i said, kami ke sana.

And off we went to the morgue. It was his maid who died.

Cikgu Fendi was very much grey-er and older. But he was as cikgu-fendi as i remembered him to be. He couldnt attend the dinner, of course. Even if he could go, he wouldnt have transport.

Tom would be coming from Kajang, Cikgu. He could give you a ride.
Tapi saya pernah tumbuk dia. Hehehe.
Oh ada sorang lagi, Tonet will be coming from Bangi.
Dia pon saya pernah tumbuk. Hehehe...

And so, that was it. How i found the long-lost teacher at the morgue of Kajang Hospital.

Told you it's boring.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chicken Pops

I first saw chicken pox / cengkering / campak i think, back in 1979. Both my father and sister got it. Bad. They had spots all over, and they looked absolutely hideous! Mak protected me against it by making sure i never come into contact with them , not even to tread on their path. She dragged me by the collar to RSAT and demanded that i was given vaccination against it. But alas, it was 1979, vaccination for campak was only introduced in mid 1980s. But thanks to Mak's strict quarantine program, i was spared from the disease. I managed to evade the childhood disease until 3 days ago.

Dot had it two weeks ago and Yamtuan played nurse throughout her isolation. Hers was very mild, maybe about 20 spots and no fever at all. Apart from the itchiness, it didnt bother her at all.

On new year's eve, a spot appeared on Sun's shoulder. The next day about five more spots appeared and the GP confirmed that Sun has the chicky pops too. No fever.

On new year's eve, i had a slight temperature and felt so very lethargic. The next day, body aching all over, i have hundreds of thousands of millions of chicky pops all over me! They were everywhere and i mean EVERYWHERE! Think of the scars! How to wear micro-skirt and baju-tunjuk-pusat after this, i ask you?

Moral of the story is, get childhood diseases in your childhood.

Want a hug, anyone?