Thursday, October 31, 2013

I wonder ...

This week marks the end of October; thus, the beginning of year end. It has been quiet at home with most of my children are away at their school and universities. Life moves very fast with one thing led to another and before you know it you are at the end of it already.  What else is there for you to do? Am I waiting for something? Are you waiting for something in your life? At 48, I have little options. The waiting game is so agonizing, it builds up your stress and makes you “demam” at the end of the day.

Now everyday has been a complex array of decision making process. Sometimes I see it as an opportunity or “ a power bestowed upon me” to make people go or stay; but at the end of the day, when the dust settled and the ego resided, it is just another burden that I will carry with me for the rest of the time. When that happened, the feeling of unfairness  creeps in. It is just not fair and not worth it to play around with people’s life and their future. Paper work is easy and data with figures and all can mean a lot of things. But when you need to translate that into human capitol things will become complicated. But I guess life is like that and my life has been like that all along. One big mess that I have always found myself to be in and trying to get out. I know I am not a risk taker---just found out that I could not jump into the bloody pool in a water confident training test---but somehow exposed myself to it all the time. The good part is –I always find a way to get out and survived. Tadaaaaa!

The point is-- this management job has opened up a whole new world that is both interesting and risky. Sometime it is interesting but at the same time it is risky business. I am afraid I just could not handle the risky part---well so far I still can alhamdulillah. A lot of paperwork came to my desk today; mainly they need to be read and commented. Those documents represent performance of people struggling to make something good out of life. I used to be one of them. Those were the days that have remained close to my heart for good time and bad time. The time I struggled to get a PhD.  I understand them all too well ; the reasons and justifications of things that happened. Some are doing okay with a few having troubles here and there. Put down my comments (my sincere comments) and hope they will be understood and taken action upon.

At the end of the day you just could not help to get down on prayers and ask God if this is it in life that He wants me to do? To manage people so  that they can have a better life. To be blamed for things that are out of your control. To endure the pains so that things will not go wrong. To be the face that people spit on because they hate your guts. Can the tears wipe my soul clean?
I wonder …..

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hazwan : One fine lad

at Pusat Sukan today after he won an orienteering  event

This is Hazwan. He is leaving us today for a better post in another department in UiTM. he reported duty at the faculty eight years ago; about  the same time I came here from Dungun. He has grown from a cute young kid to a one fine lad. He fell in love with one of the staff here also; got married and now living happily with their kids somewhere in Klang. I am amazed on how life has passed in front of me and even more so glad that I am part of his life.

He has been very important to us all in the faculty as the one that will help you find a classroom for your extra classes, fix the projector when it went off during your lecture,  turn to when the sound system went silent during an important event and lock everything down at the end of the day. He never turn me away or hush me off when the request was difficult for him to deliver; he just smile, his eyes glittered and that will tell you he will take care of things. Don't worry I will work something out, and he did. It is hard to find someone like him around for tasks at the faculty are endlessly taxing, tiring and challenging; but he never complained.

As we started about the same time at this faculty, we kind of "grew up" together in this place. I supposed he is lucky to have a better opportunity after his eight long years here. I don't know when I will be out of here or have a better chance in life as him. I guess we all have our own path driven by our own passion and expectation. I am glad to know this person and see him develop intoa fine young man.

He is also bright with new ideas and practical suggestions. I know that he is  working towards his bachelor degree taking weekend and evening classes. I am sure he will make it through. His future seems to be shining as reflected in his hopes and expectations. He wanted to be an engineer;one day, insya Allah his dream will be a reality. As you read this entry, you might wonder whether this is a letter of recommendation for some job application. Well it is not. It is truly Hazwan and he will be who is wherever he goes. I pray for his success and good life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back To Nature in Kg Pasir Raja, Dungun, Terengganu

OPKIM (Operasi Khidmat Masyarakat) has been UiTM’s mission to close the gap between students and the community outside the campus. This year we picked Kg Pasir Raja in Dungun Terenganu to be the location for OPKIM2013.  It has been our annual event (in all of UiTM’s faculties and branch campuses) for as long as I can remember. And I have been with UiTM for more than 20 years already. We would go out and meet people in the remote areas of Malaysia. Experience life and learn how to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. About 12 years ago when I was a lecturer in UiTM Dungun, I had the opportunity to join a program to create awareness of ICT among the kampong-folks in Kg. Pasir Raja. I jotted down a note below :
Have you ever been to Kg Pasir Raja in Hulu Dungun ? I am not surprised if you don’t. It is one of the remote areas in Terengganu where communications are difficult. The access road is off the Jerangau-Jabor highway about 40 km into the tropical forest that hides the highest waterfall in SouthEast Asia, the Cemerong waterfall. Just before the Kg Pasir Raja settlement this waterfall can be seen majestically tuck away in the nearby forest.  I have started to question myself on how to put my message across about IT and all. I mean would it make any difference if this people know IT or not because they are not going to use it anyway. Is there a way to bring it over here one way or another? I was asking all sort of questions just to justify my presence in this remote jungle of Hulu Dungun. The Penghulu (Ayah Li) greeted us with a big smile and firm handshake. I looked and nobody seems to be around. It was 10 minutes to the scheduled talk that I was supposed to give and no one seemed  to come. As I looked nervous and uneasy Ayah Li said don’t worry they will come ,it is Friday, come join us to the market. Now I come to understand the situation. People here live a simple life with no train to catch or  deadline to meet. Nothing to worry about.  I wish to come and live here to get away from all those stress. I guess you can call it “heaven on earth”. I arrived just 10 minutes ago but everyone at the market seems to know me.  By the time I started the lecture, everyone at the market was there. I guess this is one of those places that were reserved for very special people to come and live a perfect life. I am not sure that they understand everything that I have said but they were all there to listen. Ketengah installed a satellite-driven internet connection for the Kg Pasir Raja community to learn and study what everyone else is doing out there.

Now when I returned for this program on the 3rd of September 2013, Ayah Li is no longer with us, he died end of last year; my pakcik and makcik can still remember me (as the one that gave ‘em bags and stuff after the lecture) and the kids have grown up. Other than that Kg Pasir Raja still has the old and serene ambience, hospitality at the best and food that you would not find anywhere else. It was really good to be back. The sound of the river flow and the trees at the crosswind seemed to greet me back. Nature is home and Kg. Pasir Raja is a perfect place to experience nature with all its grandeur.

I woke up just before dawn and walk a 5-minute distance to the mosque for Fajr prayer. After the prayer went on to wake up some of the guys that stayed around the mosque. The sky was still dark but you could see and listen to the movement of children getting ready for school and folks doing early chores in the morning. It reminded me of my life back home more than thirty years ago.  I stood still as if being transported back to the past. Amazing time and awesome experience. The first day started at the local school. SK Kg Pasir Raja has only 67 pupils from pre-school up to Year 6. The kids were amazing---very excited with us and happy to participate in our program. I am glad we went there.

as OPKIM 2013 facilitators


That evening the rain came down. We went on following the ceramah and appreciated the sharing of ‘ilm  nevertheless. The ceramah was in Terengganu dialect so not sure how much my students could understand the message.


The homestay program in Kg Pasir Raja is as real as you want it to be. You will stay at one of the many homes here in this village. I mean a real kampong house. They made it a bit modern to suit city folks; comfortable beds and clean bathrooms but no more than that. So you can  really experience the kampong-style of living. The kitchen, living room and surrounding areas are all “original setting” as they have been for so many years the family has been there. They serve whatever they have in the kitchen for your meals and as the place is so remote the food is uniquely local. Lunch and dinner would include local salad served with budu(fish sauce)and spiced up with hot chilies and a squeeze of lime;a taste that you don’t want to miss before leaving this kampong. Another dish is local river fish in hot and spicy coconut milk with a taste of tempoyak (durian paste). Trust me you won’t find it anywhere else in the world; only in Kg Pasir Raja. In a gotong-royong event we were also shown how to make lemang (sticky rice cooked in a bamboo trunk) Kg Pasir Raja style. They do it a bit differently as others in Malaysia where lemang is a favorite traditional dish. The sticky rice was pre-processed prior to the grilling in an open fire;it cooked thoroughly and in a shorter period of time. The taste was unbelievably delicious. Students also had a chance to see how noodles were made first hand and later on enjoyed the unique laksa (noodles in fish soup) of Kg Pasir Raja. The interesting part of this gotong-royong event was that everyone, youngs and olds, men and women, came down to help out . Later on we had lunch together. The atmosphere was so friendly and harmony like we are all from one big family came home to celebrate a festival. The folks of Kg Pasir Raja really know how to treat and entertain their guest which is truly a Malay tradition that can only be found in the remote areas of rural Malay village. Hospitality at its best with love and honesty.
also as a host for 3 of our students

Of course the greatest asset that this kampong has is its tropical forest. Kg Pasir Raja is at the foothill of the great highlands that run from the north to the south of Malaysia. The nearby Chemerung waterfall is the highest in this region. We haven’t had a chance to explore the beauty of the surrounding forest; but being there in the kampong had already made us feel lucky enough to experience nature and the forest. Maybe next time we will organize a trip to trek the jungle and wade the streams.
exploring the river

unspoiled nature