Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Filling up the long school holidays

Whether we like or not our life revolves around the school breaks. All of the sudden the roads seem empty and not as busy as they always do. And the kids are every where, doing nothing. They play along the busy road, waiting for the bus that is nowhere in sight or filling up the parks doing everything other than jogging. The rest would be sleeping at home.

My kids’ school break whereabouts will be as follows :

#1 : Away at the college until Dec. + her own trip visiting friends + BTN.Settled
#2 : Busy with SPM + PLKN. Settled.
#3 : still no plan; refuses any tutorial.
#4 : Math tutorial twice a week; Tun Uda Mosque program also. Settled
#5 : a one-month program at Tun Uda Mosque Shah Alam + swimming at weekends. Settled.

School break Trip : Singapore.

Hopefully by next week they will be fully occupied.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Beast, The Girls and The Arab Ladies

My new task as a Coordinator is getting dull and boring. For a few short months I was scolded , bitched and bossed around. At this age I think I could no longer have the energy to absorb, pretend nothing happened and things would get better tomorrow. At times I was stunned to know that “minah mulut tak ada lesen” really exists among us. They would smile at us in the morning, give that bitchin’ look right after lunch and attack you before the day ends. As the new kid on the block, I have tried to be nice and all but you know what I am getting tired of it. Tired of being nice already….hmm.. I guess my patience is running thin already. But you know one thing about me is that I am not good with the ladies. I don’t know how to be “a friend” to a lady. A relationship which is limited to a handful of vocabulary. No touching. No emotional attachment. You can see but you can never get it. I don’t know what has become of me because when I was a child I like to befriend girls and played what they play like hopscotch ( “dek chok” what we used to call it back in Kelantan) or “main selambut” etc. Too much of it until I became so “lembut” like the girls…or that was what they called me..well maybe the boys were so jealous of me I don’t know. But being called names was not good at all and I started to be like “boys” and all played “guroh” and looked for “buah getah” to collect and compete. So from then on a lady was a No-No. But now things are different. Sometime we made a decision and it is not on their favor and you get scolded, or even when the mistakes happened which was not your fault at all, you get scolded. For reasons that beyond your comprehension or common knowledge. Where did you get that, bitch?! I said…silently…..to myself. The rage in unbearable but I don’t want to lose my anger. I have been angry all my life and decided to do away with it already. A grumpy old man does not have a pleasant face at all. So I worked to control my anger and put it on a permanent leash. Many people from Kelantan especially, including myself, have this behavior….called “pongoh”—an explosive anger that will ruin civilization within its reach when it detonated. An ugly beast within the soul of a man that makes a man of what he is---so I believe.

During my recent Umrah trip, our Ustaz said to leave your anger at home and never bring it with you to Makkah. I pledged to myself that I will be a nice little boy and whatever circumstances there might be, I would not get angry. For the most part of the trip I was OK and the beast was under control. Then one time I was waiting for the elevator to get to my room for a bad grueling stomach ache like your ass was about to explode and shit all over the floor, a big-ass Arabic lady came along. I pulled the door open and looked at her. I did not ask her to go in but she went in anyway. The elevator was so small and she was sooo big I could not squeeze in for the ride. You know what.. I did not know Arabic so could not ask her to come out or argue of what happened. All I could do was to slam the door hard…too hard that the sensor broke and now the elevator could not go up. It kept still and opened the door. Now the lady was screaming at me and from what I could make out from her voice was that she was mad like hell. I heard the word “haram,haram” a thousand times. I let her in and now she’s bitchin at me and all. But I left my anger at home so I don’t know how to get angry. Quite frustrating.

In another incident, I was queuing for zam zam water at a fountain along the place of Saie in Masjidil Haram. The time was about 6pm which is less than an hour from Iftar. The crowd was getting bigger and bigger. I squeezed myself in and found a good spot. Then out of nowhere a lady cut in. A beautiful nice looking Arabic lady cut in front of me for the water. She was beautiful so I don’t see any reason for not being nice and courteous. I let her. So when her turn to fill up, she took out two small mineral water bottles. I said OK no problem what a nice lady. Then she pulled out from underneath one big-ass two gallons empty bottle to fill up. I said What?! Excuse me! You can’t do that miss it will take forever……. Apparently she did not speak English and said something back to me in Arabic. She sounded like a mad old lady right before a menopause. After that she called out her friends from the back to hand her their empty bottles so she can fill them up too! I was furious! Angry! But you see I don’t know Arabic, so there is no way to unleash my beast. I have no way to communicate my anger. I was so disappointed. I hate Arabic ladies…they maybe pretty but their mouth have no brakes, no attitude…(or “mulut tak de lesen”). In the end I got my zam zam water after all; but I learnt also to dislike a species that I admired so much!.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shockers Reunion 2010

It happened last Saturday Nov 13, 2010. What can I say ? Chaotic. Noisy. Deafening. Everyone was trying to say something all at the same time. I guess the 20-odd years being apart is just too much for everyone. Too many stories to tell, too many confusions to explain and too many wrongs to be corrected. We wanted to nod more than what to agree, or laughed louder to the jokes than what they deserve. Being friendlier than what it used to be. We missed each other a lot, I can say that for sure. I saw many familiar faces, some were not so familiar and a few that I never knew existed in Wichita. But it was great fun don’t get me wrong. It’s always good to know someone especially your old friends. Friendship binds people in a very unique way; transcends who we are and where do we come from. Sometime we depended on each other more than anything /anyone else. We learnt things with each other and from each other. Very often we made mistakes together and now realized how stupid we were to even been thinking about it. But as friends we did not get on each other’s back so to speak for the mistakes that we had done. We survived through it. For a few days after the reunion I was trying to absorb all in; putting every single face into my mental compartments and relate them with a story, now and then. I must say that I was speechless the other day; just did not know where to start and what to ask. A usual me that I think will never change. I just did not want to spoil things, that’s all.

Ironically, everyone does not change that much. The second look will see that old face again. The body gets blimp up here and there, of course, but basically I saw my Wichita friends like we always do day in day out some 20-odd years ago. The MC asked, What was your most memorable moment in Wichita?—a very hard question for me to answer because every single moment was so memorable to me. I talked about some of it here, here and here. I am indebted to each and everyone of you guys for being there in Wichita with me. Maybe after the excitement has settled down a bit, we could think of how we can help each other now. Or is it a little too late for that? I hope not. Having family and all plus the burden of keeping own self healthy, we can use all the help we can get.

But the important thing is that we have done the first step; and everybody seems to be happy. In the next event, if we could get a bit more people to join in, it would be another great success.

Behind those smiles and laughter ,we keep within our own little secrets. Maybe it was not time to revisit those secrets but when we do, we will be in another level of reunion- the one that redefines our present. But there is nothing to be afraid, it might be more fun than we thought.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The time we were …

 (posted by Azlynah Abu Bakar(sitting next left from the teacher) in FB)

Someone posted this picture in FB and I was stunned to find that most of the kids in there were my friends from Sek Rendah Sultan Ibrahim (2), Pasir Mas.The picture was taken around 1973-74. I guess it is a class picture from the school; ironically I could not find myself in that picture. I am very certain that I can identify most of them and they were my classmates but where was I ? maybe it was before I joined the class. I think they were from the batch one year older than me. During that time there was a program called “express class” introduced to give a chance for some kids to “skip a year” ( by doing 6 months year 3 and 6 months year 4)and took Penilaian Darjah Lima in the following year. I think in year 5 some of those kids were my classmates. But I like the picture because I want to show you the meanest teacher that I ever had---Mr Salim, that one sitting right in the middle of the picture ( I talked about him here and here). He had no reason to be so mean to the kampong kids in Kelantan who could not pronounce an English word like the Queen of England. It’s just not fair. I am not sure I like him much until this very day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Day of Celebration

Today is Deepavali. Shah Alam is quiet as people taking the long weekend to go on a short holiday or balik kampong. I will be here as my kids will come back to Shah Alam for their short break. In fact I won’t be going away for while as long distant driving is no longer my cup of morning coffee anymore. Aging is catching up very fast; so my life has to slow down a bit. But today is the day of celebration, with the spirit of 1Malaysia we are happy for our friends. And that’s about it I think we should not go any further than that and join them in the festival. We respect what they are doing , happy with the occasion and let them do whatever that they have to do on this day. As a citizen of this country we owe everyone that much and try to avoid any conflict that might lead to something out of proportion. At the same time, there is a limit where we draw the line because we have our principle; as stated in the Qur’an :

1. Say (O Muhammad (Sal-Allaahu 'alayhe Wa Sallam)to These Mushrikûn and Kâfirûn): "O Al-Kâfirûn (disbelievers In Allâh, In his Oneness, In his angels, In his Books, In his Messengers, In the Day of Resurrection, and In Al-Qadar, etc.)!
2. "I Worship not that which You worship,
3. "Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
4. "And I shall not Worship that which You are worshipping.
5. "Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
6. "To You be Your religion, and to Me My Religion (Islâmic Monotheism)."

So it’s clear how to perceive this festive season.

I was married on Deepavali day some 20 years ago. The date has changed as it is determined by the moon; but with the mentioning of this day I would remember the occasion that has changed my life forever. When I got married, I promised to my wife that I would quit smoking. Easier said than done; so I learnt it the hard way. The first few weeks were the hardest. You can’t do it in an instant but still you want to keep your words to the lady. I was torn between love and lying. Every time the nicotine-craving came; the mouth drooled, the head spin like the wheel of fortune and you were drawn to the inevitable. I would sneak out like a teenager buying the loose cigarettes from kedai kopi and eased myself somewhere in a hidden place. That time I was in Dungun so the secret place would be the open beach at Telok Lipat or somewhere along that coast line. Sometime I rushed to my parent’s if we were back in Kelantan. My arwah Ayah smiled at me as I battled for the toilet from my brothers. I needed the smoke badly. Ayah said “jangan hilang punca kita kan orang laki!” meaning that to take control of your lady and smoke as you please. Don’t be a coward, full stop. It hit me like a brick. What has become of me? I asked myself. How long am I going to sneak around like this? Remember the pledge to quit smoking…so you will do this for the rest of your life if you have to. I reasoned with my inner thoughts. Once I visited a family during Raya and he offered me a puff. I don’t smoke, I said nervously. “Haah!”, he said sarcastically. With my bluish lips, no one will believe you are not a smoker unless you are an ass trying to play angel in front of your lady. I swallowed it bitterly. I did hang on to my words, although very thinly, until I was completely out of the woods. Now that after 20 years, the mouth still waters for the nicotine. But if I tried to smoke I could not even finish the second puff. The body has completely rejected the smoke.

The point is that quit smoking is not an easy task but it is possible. If you are serious about quitting than the first thing you should do is to get away from your “smoking buddies”. Run away from them as you run from a debt collector. But for men , friends are everything. That’s why the pledge to quit smoking cannot survive for long. But I did that with the help of my wife and my children; because they have become my new close friends.

The second thing is that you will gain some weight. This is also hard to accept. But I am happy with it; as you grow older you don’t really care that you have a big fat ass. Don’t let it drag for long though, work it out as you think that the weight is going out of control.

Overall the suffering and craving will be overcome by healthier body and fresher breath. You will be much more happier and contented.

Good luck if you are thinking of quit smoking. Do it today. Right now!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Art of Exam-Cheating

Now that the examination is in full swing; students are scrambling for anything that they can get their hands on to release the tension. Sometimes exam can be very stressful and for the unprepared desperation leads to a serious academic crime called cheating. It is a serious offense but for some it is just nothing. Because cheating maybe has been part of the learning process since the day they stepped into the classroom. For so many years I have been in this field, I encountered a lot of cheating cases. Even at one point our own lecturer who took a degree course was caught cheating in a final exam. Can you believe that your teacher was caught cheating red-handed? Unbelievable. In the end she got away with it—no harsh penalty. Anyway I list a few techniques here that have been favorite with the students; maybe there are other technique that I do not know of, please comment.

1. The note-smuggling technique

This is one of the classic case to serve your last minute preparation for the exam. We, the invigilator, do check each and everyone of the students coming into the hall but somehow the notes can be so invisible. I salute one effort at Inst Prof Baitul Mal where the students have to go through a body check before the exam. They really check each and everyone for anything suspicious. Usually the notes will go under the exam slip, strapped to the calculator or hidden inside the pencil case. But this technique is a kamikaze one because once caught you are dead, my dear. The notes will be a hard evidence of your mischief and will be used against you in the trial.

2. The long-neckers

This technique is awesome if you can find a good friend who is smarter than you. Sit him in front of you and signal him when the coast is clear. He would raise the answer booklet a bit and you just prolong your neck like a giraffe and get the answer. The invigilator could not do anything other than a good stare for you to stop.

3. The toilet-going

This is a serious step and students do it for the paper that is very important to pass. The notes will be left somewhere in the toilet and when the time comes; they will go for it. At one point this technique was very popular among students until UiTM has to come up with a procedure for going to the toilet. 1) they have to write down their name in a log book. 2) one of us has to accompany him to the toilet. Check whether the toilet is clear or not. So question like …adik nak berak ke kencing?...is not uncommon. See how pathetic the situation is when people are desperate and out of control.

4. The palm-top

This is to write everything on your palm. I don’t know how much you can put on that tiny little space; but it happened. Some was caught in the act. But the problem was how do we keep the evident..it is on the palm. Believe it or not, they photocopied the hand just to show that the notes were really written there.

5. The leg-painting

This one is where the notes are written in on the legs. They would excuse to the toilet and read it there.

6. The conspirator

This is a desperate case at one private college where the lecturer would go into the exam hall and guided the students on how to answer the exam. So stupid. That would mean everybody will have the same answer. That’s how we spotted the problem. An investigation was carried out and the students told the whole story.

7. The wireless talian hayat

This is the latest technique to use the handphone and a bluetooth speaker.He was caught in the act but everyone just could not believe what he has just pulled off.

But please remind yourself and your friends not to be so creative in committing crime. It’s not worth it. Be honest to your self for a change. Your effort will be blessed and your success will be much more meaningful.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thinking of Family and Friends

The rain came early this year. My concern goes out to family and friends in Pasir Mas, Wakaf Bahru and all over Kelantan. The heavy rain will come with devastating flood and agonizing days of glooming weather. I pray for their safety and strength. Flood is very common in Kelantan and the neighboring Terengganu as it is the end-of the-year event. But ironically I don’t see any massive effort to minimize its consequences. As if every year as fate has it, the people of Kelantan and Terengganu will face this disaster to wrap up the year. The rescue efforts will pop up during the prime time news bulletin to show some big people riding the speedboat like some tourists from a foreign country. But the people are used to all these and never expect anything more to come and give them a sincere help. We moved our cars, cows and other animals to the higher ground and hope for the best. That is our solution to the problem which is not very good at all but what else to do. They want to build a 100-storey building that costs billions of ringgit and despise the agony of the people; what a schmuck! This is one of the reasons why the people of Kelantan never trust those politicians from KL.

I was shocked to find out that my friend Abd Latif has passed away. He was my colleague in UiTM Dungun as well as my student in an MBA class. He was very friendly and easy to get along. May Allah accept him among the soleheen. Good bye my dear friend!

Yesterday we were delighted to receive the news that two of my colleague from FSKM have been promoted to professor. Prof Dr Nor laila and Prof Dr Azlinah Mohamad. What a great news! They both deserve the new title. Both of them work very hard and have contributed a lot to the academia. Congratulations!

Many of my friends are also going for hajj.Alhamdulillah. It’s not an easy thing to do so being chosen to have such opportunity is very lucky. Many of them are among the million Muslim converging in Mecca. They will go and come back with thousands of tales and stories. But the most important thing is whether they learn from all those stories.