Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Gold cried. I got mad.

Writing early in the morning when I actually have some time dedicated to my blog is nice. This week as well as the previous has been quite busy. Preparing exam questions and well gearing them up in how to answer the questions really took much of my time. Although I am in a small school and you might say that there is more focus and attention in the teacher-pupil ratio compared to schools in the urban areas,  it is exactly that much allocated teacher-pupil ratio given to us that gives more worry and wrinkles. 

They really are weak and every day is a new day for them. As such, I try to help as much as I can to do at least something for them. When I am torn between teaching them to become a person and to teach for the test, I try to find a balance. This is the reality. As much as we think we want to make something out of a child, there come many factors that add to the scene. But such is our predicament. And being so, we choose to make the best out of it. And while some quickly subject to it and adapt themselves, others simply rebel and a few choose to ignore such sad divisions.

So yesterday, I got really mad!

And yes, to those of you who have been reading, this is a continuation for the story I wrote once on Gold.

Yes. I got really mad with Gold.

And now, you will ask why.

In my defense, it was only being human.

It was just like any other lesson. I prepared exercises that were similar to the ones that will be tested in the examinations (which is next week). Gold, as I told you is really weak. Gold cannot read well (both in Malay and English. Gold’s English is even worse than Malay). Not only that, Gold doesn’t even understand what Gold reads except for really similar common words like “saya”, “nama” etc. If you ask why is Gold so weak, let me tell you that even in Mandarin lessons, Gold experiences major problems in not being able to read or even identify most characters. Mathematics become even more challenging. In Gold’s age, others are doing multiplication and division involving six to seven numbers, where there is balance and all. But to Gold, simple addition and subtraction involving three to four numbers is already a huge challenge.

Such is Gold.

And why did I get mad?

Well, two incidents lead to that. Mostly it was the second incident. LOL.

So, today I introduced four action verbs (I’m teaching them Malay, so it is Kata Kerja) to them (mind you, there is only two of them in Gold’s class; Gold and another person who is better in most aspects than Gold). In wanting them to understand better what those verbs meant, I got them to show me actions of the verbs. You see, Gold’s other classmate is better and can at least do most of your work and follow your lesson. So, Gold here ALWAYS follows this classmate. From anything what this person says, answers and do, Gold simply does it. and it is a beauty that this classmate doesn’t quite mind it, sometimes even helping me to teach Gold certain things.

But then, I had not wanted Gold to always follow the really helpful classmate. How long can we actually depend on a friend, partner, person or someone? We have to learn ourselves one day and stand on our feet. So in wanting them to act out the verbs I introduced, I had them facing back to back, so as both will not be able to see one another. And Gold here, from what I reflected, got terrified. Gold just got thrown into the cold harsh reality.

So as I verbalized each word, one by one, the classmate managed to do most of it. And there Gold stood. Staring back at me, I encouraged Gold to do. Nothing but just standing there, looking at me and down at somewhere else, Gold just froze to Gold’s own thoughts. And as I further pushed Gold, Gold finally came out. Gold’s eyes filled with tears. As Gold tried to hold onto it while I was trying to get Gold to do it by motivating Gold, this person just stood there. And no I was not mad about this. I mean, I was surprised that Gold did tear. It was my first time after being with them for more than a month now. So I gave it up and got them back to their seats. And slowly Gold said something in Mandarin which I soon got a teacher to translate that simply meant Gold did not want to compete. In other words Gold did not want to compete with Gold’s only other classmate.


Does Gold really know that being totally dependent on Gold’s other classmate, Gold is really weak and did not know so many things pupils in Gold’s age would?

Or has Gold grown to accept reality that Gold will remain such and hence chooses to avoid direct confrontations on matters of testing, abilities and challenges?

Somehow, thinking about it now as I write saddens me. It could be true that Gold knows of what Gold is and not capable of. It could be true that Gold has accepted what Gold is. I really do not know, but it really will be painful to know if my assumptions were true.

And so, I decided to stop the so-called acting game and commenced the lesson. I prepared some exercises related to the test and there came a part of which I have taught them on. And little Gold, as I asked, forgot all about it. Oh dear, this soon ticked me little by little. I had to recall Gold of what I had taken two days to teach. And there Gold could not provide me an answer.

I am not sure if Gold really forgot or got confused in the process of me drilling Gold. I got so furious and felt that whatever I had taught had done nothing. And as angry as I could get, I still restrained myself from scolding or yelling at Gold, because in between the anger, there came a slight consciousness.

Maybe it is Gold who could not really process such information. Being an extremely slow learner, I wrong to be angry at him. And after the class, I felt sad. I felt sad that I got angry. Although I never really showed my angry at Gold, that is if you count on raising my normal tone of questionings, to be harsh.

But you see, I am just human. And so is Gold. And being human puts us in different categories, forms, types and differences. Gold, I noticed, when going down the stairs, takes one step at a time. One feet down, and the other joining the same step before the first leg moving on to the next step. Gold does have considerate motor skills though. Eye hand coordination is a little off seeing the way Gold plays badminton. Gold’s mood changes quickly too, from being just Gold to suddenly quiet and then smiling occasionally or so Gold tries. And before you ask, no Gold is not mad or even down syndrome.

Gold is well, just being Gold.

And for me to be getting mad was something very wrong indeed. Fortunately I realized this much sooner before causing more damage.

In the afternoon however, when I finally got myself to ask Gold of the questions he was not able to answer in the morning, Gold somehow managed to give me the answers.

Now what happened?

Fairy-god Mother came and swirled her wand?

Thankful as I was, I do hope Gold will have more of where that came from.

Still, I am sorry. But I am also thankful that I got mad. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Teaching against all.

It has been a month already. Living and teaching here has really been a rare special experience for me. For many reasons, some of which I have wrote previously, others come in tales of how you get treated, of how children react to you and of how things really go by here. Getting fed is the Malaysian way of humble yet loving hospitality. We are always flushed with food, either from fishermen who go to the market to sell his catch and stops by to get us some laksa or famous noodles, food we do not savor here normally. Sometimes local people here who happens to go out to town return with bundles of fruits, packets of food and more or less anything that you do not get to see here on a daily basis. Sometimes it is just the extra mile a fellow colleague goes to fry empty flour mixed with water, which turns out to be REALL GOOD. Haha! Such is our Malaysian way. To eat, to be fed and to know that we bond over food, is a tradition, a culture, we Malaysians are proud of that even makes an outsider amazingly envious.

And among other times, it is just not food that adds to my beautiful journey here. Children, pupils whom we teach simply find ways to bond with. They speak knowing that I do not understand a single thing but still know that in some distance, I have gotten their words. I am too flustered that not being able to reply, I somehow respond in ways that these children never seem to get bored of. And no, I do not make up as a clown and go around making puppies out of thin long balloons. We are originally what we are. And that makes every moment, bitter or sweet, become a benchmark to which you will miss when you leave, which has somehow also been my motto. To know that you will be missed when you leave is not an achievement any other person can claim. It takes just being who you truly are, honest and sincere in what you do to make things somehow better. Sometimes, it is not about making someone or something succeed. It is about the impact upon which we leave them on that returns us that feeling of grief and gratitude when we leave. Forget about making differences. Think about making a person smile a day, and that itself will bring you many pauses the moment you decide to leave or when time calls you.

Parents who talk to you and share stories soon become good friends. Unknowns whom you humbly portray yourself upon acknowledge you. Colleagues, whom you never have met before become  a place where you share personal opinions. These are the things not everyone gets. And as thankful I am for having being blessed with such happenings, I also fret upon others. To think that life is always beautiful, somehow gets you thinking that you may only be assuming it or just wanting to believe that it is. What truly lies hidden beneath is what we choose to see or embrace. Somehow, though I am at peace here, I find myself troubled in things I am not accustomed of.

You see, when you choose to become a teacher, you have to answer one very big question. If you do not sense this in the beginning, life itself will bring it upon you, which you will then think about it and wonder, is this really how things are? Is this the real reality or some prettily adorned mirage? A simple yet much to think about question, I myself know not where to begin or how to end it.

Do you teach to what your heart says? Or do you teach to what is expected of you?

Ok now that makes it two questions. LOL.

You know it is real when you enter a class and teach and return home, knowing your pupils learnt nothing. You know it is true when you strive so hard to do something, only to test your patience to the edge, and in the end, nothing much has changed. You know it is the real deal when what is done is difficult to be undone, and that being stuck in the middle disgusts you so much so that you think what really matters.


Them, your students?

The surrounding?

Or, everything together?

I am sad that there are among those pupils who really could care less for what they are responsible for. I am sad that there are among those who really try but just cannot make it. I am sad that when these pupils try so hard to live in this reality but only to be shoveled deeper further in very unjustly circumstances.






Human, people like you and I and those in between.

Such are things that I can boldly shove out, but no, not today. And why you may ask?
Simply because, we live in a world today where little is known of the real deal and much is believed about those that aren’t.

And so, when answering that two big questions, which would be your path? Will you teach to what your heart says or will you succumb to what is expected of you and try to make something out of it?

If you ask me, I believe in humanity, humility, maturity and attitude. If you still do not understand, read through once more, and what is lacking is what I do not believe on, which then puts me on a stage I know I will be missed when I leave.

This is because, at the end of the day, life never really gets to evaluate you. It is you who assess life and try to make a difference, even if it means going to lengths, I shamelessly call, integrity.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Virtual Tour

This post is dedicated to a sight-see kind off tour of where i currently am living and teaching. Mind you, photos were taken from the amazing ip 5 cam, WITHOUT filters OR edits. Enjoy!

no, it is not dusk, but a bright noon nearing evening.

a perspective of the boat we travel on. ahead is where we live. 

i wonder how old these boats are. carved out of wood, it really ages well.

this could be a National Geography Magazine cover. haha!

and then, there's me trying so hard to be in the moment.

and of course, when you are too in the moment, you tend to go overboard by posing 'naturally'.

nearby is this breeding ground for fishes where they are fed and grown, caught, sold and eaten. Haha! This floating breeding ground is not connected to any land parts. the dogs live there by feeding of scraps from fishermen who come to tend the fishes. 

a fisherman, getting his catch off the boat to the breeding ground, or the other way round. i dont know. haha!

and what is this?

the jetty of Kuala Sangga, where i am currently teaching.

a local coffee shop, traditional, nude, pure. 

after years, the structure, though crooked and unsteady still stands strong abstaining from strong winds, tides and rain. there's no one living there by the way. 

SJKC Poay Chee, the one block school. staring above, we have the heat of fire and the cool of water! haha! 

our quarters, where we live which also functions as our teacher's lounge.

across the school, is the library. 

That being said, shown and seen, this is my story. 

A Turtle-rescue Mission

Being far away from urban civilization and modernity gives your luxuries of experience, knowledge, value and gratitude. Sometimes we do not really see this or even feel it. We only tend to think that we have it or assume that we will know how it feels like without really getting to be in it. Yes, I really have grown to like this place. And more than that, I think this settlement really gives me more than what I initially expected or even thought of gaining.

Today we were on a turtle rescue mission. Well, it was not really “we” as in me in it. I mean, I was invited to join. And boy, I did not even know about this turtle thing till I saw it. One of the boys here who is very close to all of us, teachers here found a turtle caught in his net while foraging. Intending to keep it as a personal pet, he was discouraged from doing so. And thus, the rescue mission came to being. And how I got involved?

Well, a teacher invited me and a few others if we would like to go to sea – to the wide open acres of water-land. And wanting to experience the reality of life here, I followed suit. And that was how, after hopping onto the boat, I saw this turtle. It was ready to be freed. So we sailed past. Coming to a large open space of nothing but water and faraway green lands on each side of the wide open river, we stopped. The turtle was then freed after being “fed” well wishes.

And as we returned, I wanted to try this. To man-handle the boat. Haha! I mean, I never got to be on one this real and to simply maneuver it would be wonderful. And boy, I got to do it. It was really an amazing experience unlike anything you would get in places apart from as such. Of course, the boat trudged clumsily. Haha! But all in all, it truly was something inspiring. Between you and I, there is a 1 in 100 chance that you get to see this and 1 in a 1000 to feel it for real.

And such is our choices. We strive to become better each day, wanting to do this and that, aspiring to be someone one day. And at such times, we fumble and face jeopardy. We crawl in their dark tunnels and dig out from sunken manholes. Sometimes, we let it eat us. It consumes us and soon depleting us of what we were meant to become. And we find that it was only because of how things turned, but little we realize that choosing not to swim in an open sea or at least die trying is the cause of how the events we come across took place. I could have said no to the invitation. And I would be diminished of a turtle rescue mission that soon became a boat-maneuvering try out. And I would never ever get to know it, until another opportunity turns up. Like how we always comfort ourselves after a loss, that another chance will soon appear, we dismiss such first-time episodes of reality.

Like Shakespeare said, to do or not to do, the choice is definitely ours.

Despite where we are and of what circumstance we are being put in, it is not wise to contemplate on what we lack. Instead, seek the gems hidden in such places. Search for them and reality will soon be an amazing journey for you. Be it in a class of terribly weak children,  a class whose students do not respect you or even a school that does not acknowledge your existence, always know that, things are being put, created and worked for a reason. The only turning point out of this is of how we choose to see it.

Without a doubt, the choice is ours.

I made mine.

What is yours?

And if you have not decided, it is fine. Sit down and think. Think hard of what it really is all about because there will come a moment when you know that the chance is there right at your nose which you dismiss, thinking it would come again when you are more ready, only ending up to never get to see it again. 

a typical evening, shot in its original frame.

when all you need to do to have peace is to just observe nature

the little turtle whom made this post a reality. written on the shell are wishes. 

no it is not the moon, but a direct shoot of the sun.

birds trying out their luck at catch nets of boats. they follow you wherever you puddle through as long as you fish. 

my first attempt. haha!

the leg looks stupid but that is the handle with which you steer the direction of the boat, as in heading to where.

i'm getting comfortable in it. perhaps a change of proffesion? haha!

and when we finally decide to be stupidly happy in a picture. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Happy Belated Birthday to you, Suresh!

It has been some time since I last logged on for a post. I mean, if you put aside the occasional checks to see any comments and increase of page views, (haha), I really did not do much ever since my last post. I mean I wanted to write, and there were many to write about and then I got lazy and well, time passed. So for today, this post is going to be about my last birthday, exactly 10 days ago.

Birthdays. A yearly event that signifies how much nearer you get to the end, birthdays really can be a joy. And while most people get to enjoy blowing the candles or even simply being wished “Happy Birthday”, there are those who have it 4 years once. Yes, those born in the leap year, whose birth dates fall on February 29. It must be really special for this people, to have their birthdays celebrated once in every four years and somehow sad that for the next three years, they age year by year without officially being birthday-ed. I have a friend in college whom I was able to share the joy of celebrating his really special once-in-four-years celebration. Funny, it was my first and my last till we left college. But, I thank you for the time we had. It really was beautiful. You know who you are, dear friend. Thank you.

Well enough of that, so this year, I decided to go bold, shamelessly confident in seeking satisfaction, craving attention and acknowledgement. I went around Whatsapp-ing friends that it was my birthday and that they are to wish me! Haha! And a friend of mine declared it was his first time seeing anyone announcing his own birthday and demanding for wishes. Hahaha! Too bad for you, I still got the wishes. Forget about presents, wishes that take up a minute or lesser of your time, just to be dedicated to me itself has been a great opportunity. To think that I spent a minute of your lifetime to wish me “Happy Birthday” was satisfying.

And while being happy of the wishes, we sometimes crave for a little bit more. I mean, it is only being human, right? To want something more than what we have – another slice of that cheese cake,  a second helping to that mashed potatoes sprinkled with herbs and thick soup, a sip of that Starbucks coffee we will splurge stupidly on. So, as we ask or at least expect for this little extra, there are two things to be prepared for.

One, you find only disappointment which leads to frustration, anger and hatred. You get nothing, not even a wish or some little special recognition for what you have become or of how much you have traveled or come to. I ask, is it wrong to ask for something more when you know you simply can afford it. So what if you have always been like that? Must that stick and remain till time ends? Has it always been that way? When once you act in total silence, you become mute forever? Have you no thoughts or at least the sub-consciousness of what we refer to as humanity? Or is it that you simply do not take much to this? Sometimes, wishing birthdays become a responsibility and not an honest wish. You go out to buy the cake. You take the time to get a gift. You write a message on a small card and you paste it on the gift. You write good things and wishing all the best, you think you have done your part of being a part in this human cycle. But is that really what birthdays are?

A responsibility as human to celebrate?

A task, in the norm of celebrations?

And two, when life is always equal of both joys and despair, you find great love and care. It does not take a thousand dollar bill to put a smile on your face. Sometimes a bargain bought at the everyday-grocery store becomes so much more valuable than any diamond ring. Even a letter typed in the simplest way can mean so much when all you have to do is to have the person whom you are celebrating in mind.  Honesty, truth, inspiration and admiration become the source of your letter and well wishes, which when you read, you feel it to the core, forgetting all about that hatred and anger, just being thankful that in every dark corners of this world, there is still light. Birthdays become so much more meaningful that way. You feel that in all the difficult paths that you have took and suffered for, it is in the distant, far away from where you have heightened yourself to where you are now.

Birthdays become true and real. And aging by the year seems to even be less frightening, knowing that you will always have that love and care around you.  It is the real deal and no matter how long one takes to wish himself or herself “Happy Birthday”, it always feels good. So good, no Dunkin Donuts can make you feel better.

So, while some birthdays are celebrated four years once, others being forgotten, taken for granted and a mere responsibility, there are still those birthdays whom people thank you for your existence.

Thank you for your wishes.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The story of Gold

Teaching is not a profession or even a job. And no it is not even a verb. Teaching, in fact does not fall into any known word classes. It stands alone by itself. Put away so far apart from any other words or even definition, teaching is in its own class.

Today, as I was teaching this group of pupils, I felt many things and thought of many things. Let’s name this particular pupil Gold. Gold is a weak child. In fact so weak, Gold is quite lacking the normal maturity level of anyone in the same age group. Gold, like gold itself, is so pure and precious. And as Gold tries so hard to think or do what I say, I notice that sometimes little Gold here seeks joy in the little things this person tries to do. I mean, Gold laughs over small things with me and my reaction. And as it went on, I got irritated. I got so annoyed that I just wanted to shout at Gold. But I know it wasn’t right. Gold would have done better if only Gold could. But is Gold doing enough? And as I kept my cool, I tried one last time before the lesson ended. And there Gold just stood there not having moved from point A to point B. It was merely a simple vocabulary difference. But it got Gold tied up so hard I don’t even know if Gold can wriggle the way out. And there Gold was, thanking me at the end of the lesson.

But, what did Gold learn? What did I teach? And what is Gold planning to do about it?

I am partly to be blamed. If only I could have a better command of Gold’s language, things could have been better. Gold’d be able to understand better and trying to do more, Gold would become better. I am sad that I could only do so much and yet Gold fails to see it. But is Gold aware of this? Gold’s attitude, behavior and actions. Does Gold really put thought into wanting to improve? Does Gold even know that Gold is weak? As Gold sails through day after day, in and out, night and day, the thought of Gold going out there to the world being Gold himself is grieving.

And in such a standstill, what is teaching all about?

I am not sure if I would last here for long, but I do hope that Gold grows. I hope, whatever is it that Gold chooses to do, he would be happy. And to know that part of Gold being happy had a glimpse of me in it is what I refer to teaching.

You do not teach. You do not even educate. A teacher does not do that, at least not all.
Teaching is when you place hope, trust, and love, and that one day the emotions and thoughts you invested will bring in more hope, trust and love. Teaching is to know you have the gift of hope, the blessings of trust and the care of love.

With Gold, whom I care so much in trying to improve Gold in ways I can, I dearly hope Gold grows up a better greater person. I mean, you do not have to be bringing back the string of A’s but knowing on how to wedge your way through, is secure enough for me to sleep a peaceful night.

Dear Gold,

I hope when you grow up some day, you will carry a part of what I left you with. The future is uncertain, let alone tomorrow. Still, I want to believe that you will always have that innocence you proudly hold onto. You may not have playmates your age group, mainly because you are turned down at most times. But the good thing is, you are never ashamed to ask someone else. Go on asking. Go on making new connections. Each time a door is shut at you, open a new one. There is more to offer than just one door, which we all usually take.

Dear readers, I hope to update more on the story of Gold, and when I do, I hope you smile reading it. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Watch-boy's tale

Yesterday I became an eye-witness. 
Yesterday I saw what I never thought could take place. 
Yesterday I felt so hard and yet so sad for what I experienced. 

We pride so much in what we do through what we learn but end up committing more than what is required. We laugh to their jokes and we add to the already-burning fire. We simply do nothing but go on approving it. Simply because we still think of standards and authority. And we choose to do nothing. In fact, I chose to walk away. I could not see it nor could I share what is at stake. Yet I feel for what is being done and I walked away.

But is that right?

Should I have just approach and try to remedy the solution? Should I take on the issue at hand? Should I just voice out what I feel to set things right? Should I just stop what was happening?

But again, would it be right to do?

And yes, cowardly I walked away. i understand that when there are principles, law and order, one should abide by all means, because that is just how things work. When you are at fault, you are reprimanded and when you need support, you are rightfully given. But then, what if you get caught in between of being at fault and at the same time in need of so much attention? Do you react on one point of view, based on what you see, or do you balance the beam and do what is right? But then, what if what you think you are doing, you think it is right, when it could also be wrong?

I am sad to think of it.

Dear watch-boy,

As I rejoice at your smile over trifles, I hope you see something good in yourself. I sincerely hope that you will be blessed with much more, later in your days. You see, sometimes not everyone needs to go through a complete cycle to grow up. They do not have to obey every single law in this ruled-by-law world, because one day, you will grow up, and I do hope and pray that you will be better. Somewhere where you are more appreciated, recognized and taken care of.

I know you will. I do hope that it will turn out soon.

Sometimes, we just have to walk away and approach from the side or the back.

Good night.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Leading a leader

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a dear friend. And as we usually talk on many things, things that sometimes divert from our original topic, one of it led to what makes us a leader. And as we talked on, the topic became so much more interesting. There were so many ways of looking at it and each time it gets us thinking. Is this what we had in mind? Is this what we want? Is this how we are going to do things?

And so what makes us a leader?

Surely you cannot just think about being able to make decisions or even have an influential command that inevitably puts you in a higher order position and control over the rest. Yes, that does make us look like one. But is that what we seek in a leader? Is that what we really want out of a leader? Is that what that puts our hope, vote and support?

Sometimes, a leader is only as simple as an ordinary member of the group. He takes no chances nor takes no risk in altering that regard. He does not see one below him nor does he give commands or instruction. He plays twice as hard and thrice as diligent in his work. Ethics become his way of living; from the way he does anything, speaks anything or even simply anything. You see, status, regard and acknowledgement does not make you a leader. Sadly, in the eyes of those who see otherwise, principles without judgement and evaluation become a law, despite being unjust.  And as such laws is prevailing, a true leader is disguised among those who do not do well or simply unfit. They become so few or rather unseen, those who work underground and from the bottoms without being paid much attention or acknowledgement. They choose to accept whatever that comes and try to make the best out of it.

But then, does that count for a leader? In the face of those who are unfit or perhaps inexperienced, let alone young and immature, can one truly lead? So what if a king has footmen who are true warriors in battles? And what about the king? He seeks direction, adopts approaches, fulfilling what is the majority. Does that make him a leader? Does he get to rule his kingdom? Sadly, this is what I see, perhaps to what we talked about.

But again, everyone has to start at some point. We all have to learn to become one. To catch a fish, we learn to throw nets, and to shoot a bird, we learn to hold a gun. To steer a ship, we learn to read the weather, and to bake a cookie, we learn to measure ingredients. Only that sometimes, out of luck, or in what I see, out of unjust inappropriate assumptions and decisions, we skip a beat and move up the ladder. And yes, what do we do from below?

Aren’t we one kingdom? Aren’t we all under one umbrella that keeps us dry and cool? And so, do we betray that? Do we rekindle arguments or set ablaze our dissatisfactions?

Sometimes, a leader is not seen from a position. He is seen from what he does. And yes, the eyes of men mostly see those who hold the crown rather than who polishes it. We have grown to be accustomed of such customs. But worry not. We do not live for the eyes of men nor their predominantly socially influenced decision criteria. We only live to seek the love of God and we only strive to become better than we were a minute ago.

That already makes us a leader, by taking charge of our lives.

Dear friend, do not cry over things that are not fair. Do not fret over decisions that could have been better. Because no matter what, like I said, it is the impact that makes us different from one another, even from a leader.

I know you will do well.

Good luck. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Home sweet Home

What is a home? Is there a difference from the term house and home? Are there any symbolical, connotative or simply a demotivate meaning? Does it comprise of different values? And what exactly do you call a home? Or a house?

The weekend was when I started thinking about this. One of the teachers here in my school had a house warming and I managed to reach the place, after much turning around here and there, asking around and trudging around bumpy construction roads. It was a really nice place in a new phase of double-storey houses. Being a Chinese, (actually this colleague of mine really isn’t a pure Chinese, lol! He is mixed. Like me! Haha) But no he is not an Indian-Chinese mix but more of an Iban-Chinese combination. I wonder what they call it? Chinban (Chinese-Iban)? Lol! I just destroyed an entire community with such an atrocious acronym. But being the half Chinese, this great friend of mine, who I keep learning so much from, never forgets his roots. In the Chinese believe, welcoming a new house is considered prosperous and welcoming good positive energies when you have red cloths garnishing your door way or window sills, decorated intricately with well wishes. The main idea of it is when you have people coming over to your place, sharing laughter, eating and having just a joyful time. I must say that despite being new to the group, I was most welcomed and treated with as much regard, care and love as anyone would have.

It truly was a nice thing. To just come and have loads of food served, sharing stories and just talking. It was indeed a nice house warming and I believe it will continue to be a warm nest for those who reside in it. 

This is a cultural believe that by putting a pot of uncooked rice brings well wishes, harmony and good blessings.
Some of the clan who got together. The food went round and round few noticed the picture being taken.

And yes, there's this i-dont-care-who's-snapping as long as i have my pizza. Much binge, less talk. LOL

I mean isn’t that what a home needs? Happiness, joy, people and good food. But what about homes that do not see this? Are they being shunned or have they shun themselves from this? Are they just unfortunate to be having exempted from such good blessings and well wishes? We often hear issues of broken home children who get caught in a war they never asked. We often cry and lend our tears to those elderly who is being ill-treated all over the world. We always sit back and wonder how much cruelty is vandalizing our homes. A place to call a nest and a place to grow and share, humanity seems to divert from what they are truly meant to do. What is a home then?

Does it have various definitions based on how a home is run? Does it stand individually one from the other? Is that how a home should be?

A home is where you learn to love. It is where you learn to sacrifice and you learn to give more than you take. A home is where you become stronger and in the face of adversity, you know of how to meddle your way through. A home is where you look back across thousands of places but can never call or see one that resembles it. A home is where you learn to be human and humane.

Nevertheless, how far have we crossed that path? How much have we forgotten about what truly is a home? When there is so much hatred and agony, pain and suffering, devastation and despair, what is a home? 

Still, who is to be blamed for such miscounts? Who is to be blamed when the father drinks and hits his wife? Who is to cry when a child goes to school unfed? Who is to be responsible when a mother chooses to ignore her maternal instincts? Where do we seek justice to remedy this?

Do we pray?

Or do we work harder?

Do we start despising life?

Or do we start taking control of it?

Do we cry?

Or do we fumble upon our fate and rot?

What do we exactly do to make a house a home?

Friday, 29 January 2016

Two sides of the same coin

Reaching home after a week in the wilderness (LOL) is nice. You learn to appreciate the luxury that you missed. You learn to take more concern and spend even greater attention of the little details you have been excluded of, while being deep hidden from urbanization.

The great thing is when you are able to accommodate and live life in these both diverse worlds. When you lack in something or feel the emptiness of the missing source of comfort and luxury, you find hospitality and warmth in the smiles and little things in life. You find joy in sharing conversations with people you barely know, but slowly you find a connection and as it keeps getting warmer and serene, you want to keep it with you. Every moment is cherished and transcending love from these little acts give you more reason and purpose to where you are.

And while you reach home, to the usual luxuries and comfort of your usual routine, you see things more vividly. You take it more seriously and you learn to keep in touch, not forgetting every moment of it, because you know that one day, you will leave it for the other world where these things lack. You turn on the tap and you know it isn’t rain water, it creates gratitude. You lie on your bed and you see it has springs, an extra pillow and a comforter, it creates serenity. You walk out your house and you see a road and dry land, it creates security. Every moment here when you have the advantage over those who do not, you simply want to take it all in as much as you can before it goes away.

I don’t mean to say that I am favouring one over the other. I have grown to like and love these places – the two opposites of coin. One that lacks so much but abundant with warmth and hospitality and one that flairs over luxury but with a sense of gratitude and security. Is it too much to ask if this is what I want forever? Is it unfair to those out there who do not even see the light of day or the colours in their meals? Is it selfish to think that you are so comfortable in both worlds while there are those out there who do not even have a roof over their heads, let alone a mattress to call bed?

Above all, I think it really does not matter how much or how far we differ from one another. You may not have a chair to sit, but you have grown to love the earth more than a mere industrialist who chops down trees for the sin of greed. You may not have the comfort of technology but I know you have the blessings of nature to live on.

You see, we are all different. And being put in different places teaches us so many different things. But to compare one another, feeling envious, greed and satisfaction only creates despair. And despair leads to unhappiness, luring us to more unforgiving living conditions. Soon, we grow to hate life, the people around us and lastly, we grow to hate ourselves.

Just a thought, appreciate what you have and joy will come to you. 

Living is never real without our-lacks and reality is never true without what we call life.

Good night. Adios.

People-friendly vs Anti-sociliate.

28-Jan, 8.45pm

The people here, I dare say, are really friendly and nice. Knowing they have so much respect, care and concern, they always look on to you with a smile bringing little topics that soon divert to more details. I was on a jog and I met this group of old men sitting down having tea. As I greeted them, the first thing they asked “Jogging ar?” and I was like, “What do you think I’m doing? Swimming with the dolphins?” Haha! So I just nodded and soon that greet turned to them asking me more of myself, where I am from etc. It was a brief moment of getting to know the people around that soon led to acknowledgement and understanding. I mean, isn’t that the Malaysian way? While you are eating, someone you know or barely know who wants to start a conversation asks you “Eating?” and instead of “No, I’m drinking!” we nod and hence a conversation takes place.

It is funny how we Malaysians sync so well by asking the obvious question only to start a conversation. But, in a way, it introduces a sense of warmth and welcome to allowing us to feel less insecure in starting a conversation with a person we barely know. It gives us a sense of accomplishment in a way that we are introducing ourselves indirectly, and while this is a good thing, it could also spell something bad. You see, people respond to courtesy and cheerfulness. And beneath that smile or handshake is something hidden with an agenda. It could be a lure to some unfortunate event and when so much crime is decorating our headlines, we think twice to respond to such warmth. Sometimes we ignore their gracious acts. Sometimes we just nod and move on, giving an excuse to escape. At other times, we just reject them with such certainty.

And hence, what is made out of it? Do we accept or do we reject?

Do we accept kindness and repay their deeds, but facing the risk of welcoming hidden agendas?

Or do we reject forcefully ignoring the honesty and purity of such hospitality?

I only have one explanation to this. Test the waters and if it is safe, take a dip. And when it isn’t, move away. And when you are not sure, play safe. The last thing we need is a raging crocodile.

I hope you get what i mean. 

A teaching crisis :(

27-Jan 10pm

Right at the dot of when it happens, you think twice sometimes even more than just two. You think if you should battle it head front not knowing its potential risk that may turn otherwise or you just surrender and move on to where you can exploit more of your skills and talents. It comes to us at some point in life where we face this dilemma, of whether we should continue down this road. Should we just take it on as it comes withstanding all of its currents? Should we believe in ourselves to do more than what we have been given? Should we strive harder trying to prove what we initially taught was impossible – try to defy gravity?

Yes, in the midst of a crisis we often think of all the options we have and how it will turn out to be. We decide or should I say pre-assume an outcome that may or may not even work in our favour. And in such circumstances, we often go with the one less treacherous with a more supposedly positive outcome.

Sometimes when we are at a junction, unable to decide the road to take, we think of many things – mostly clouded by dark energies. Should we just retreat, taking a road more familiar with a, I repeat, pre-assumed positive outcome? Should we just clarify issues rather than taking it all head on?  Should we just try to succumb to whatever that comes without showing enthusiasm and ignoring anything that comes along with it? And is that due to having no other options? Or have we lost all hope leaving nothing but despair?

Yes, this is a crisis. And in my state, it is a teaching crisis.

Having to teach both major languages, the Malay and English language in a National-Type School can be a challenge. Moreover when you are given classes whose pupils (which I have decided to re-use this term, rather than students) know almost nothing, let alone reading it, you just have to start from point zero. And even so, what if, what if that point zero itself requires a great amount of work and determination that you feel you can’t see the future or even predicting it, based on how much is at stake. These pupils are really weak. And they really don’t get a word you say. They stare at you blankly when you ask, “Sudah habis?” They look at you waiting for some sort of Godly-wisdom shining. And when you simply are given such a situation, yes you think twice about this profession or the direction that you are headed to. I have no qualms about them being weak or not being able to even say “Selamat pagi” on their own. I have no grudges or irritation towards their levels. No, I do not feel so. In fact, I want to help them out.

But the problem comes when you are facing a wall right at your nose. A thick concrete wall that separates you from your lessons to your pupils; the medium of instruction. You see in many schools, most subjects are taught in their major mother tongue based on the type of school. And so here, Mandarin is used to teach. A lot of translation, explanation and clarification are made through Mandarin. And while that helps the pupils a lot, some even find it difficult because Mandarin is another language by itself. The people here speak Teochew, a dialect in the Chinese language. And so, learning Mandarin itself is difficult. What more of using a second language to teach a subject in the third party position? It is like using Japanese to teach English to a bunch of Indonesians. LOL!

This saddened me a lot. I had no idea how to teach. I don’t even know how to speak Mandarin, let alone dialects. I felt so down and had no options on how to go about teaching them. I felt useless. And for the past five and a half years, I felt it was nothing. I really was lost and did not know what to do.

But then, do we want to always run back to where we came from and start anew? Do we want to take the road that leads to a more satisfying situation, leaving all this behind? Do we really want to give up?

Think before you answer.

Because if you said no, then the road will only get harder. And then, there is no certainty that you will turn out victorious. You might even fall deeper for over-doing things out of your capacity. Will you find satisfaction? Or shall you seek the depth of grave? Will you find justice or shall you succumb to whatever fate decides?

But then if you said yes, what is next? A new school? A new place? A new environment? And what if you face something else there? Do you live the rest of your life running away every time a boulder is placed ahead of you? Will you ever find solace? Will you ever find peace? Will you ever seek your purpose?

Not knowing of what to do, I only embraced what was ahead of me. I decided to take on the challenge. Learning small words - words that you use frequently in class. “Copy”, “Pencil”, “Understand”, “Sit” etc.

And in the process of that, I found a way. I related better to the pupils. They seem to understand a little bit more than before. They enjoyed the class or rather sailed through with me. Because what I did most of the time is stopping midway, running to the next class, asking for a translation of a word, coming back and jotting it down on a self-
made dictionary.

And you know something, it is working. I may not lead them to getting an A or even excelling the subject, but to know that they return home knowing a word in Malay or English becomes all the more gratifying. It is a gift that only us teachers are granted with.

To be able to instill something in a child that soon becomes his way of life.

I thank God for allowing me this opportunity. I thank myself for not wanting to run away. Above all, I thank my pupils for trying so hard coping with me who learns to translate word to word while teaching them.

Sometimes, a crisis is not when you decide on a decision. It is merely a distraction to where you are supposed to head. A mirage.

Therefore, the next time, you come to a junction, think. Do think. But let it not overtake your true intentions. Let is not master your actions.

Good night. Adios.

Survival Tip in the far-far away #1

27-Jan 6.29am

Living in a settlement far away from the mainland or the busy buzzy city streets teaches you a lot. One of it is on how to survive. And as I am part of this far-far-away kingdom, I need to find my ways of living in here. After all, 24 years of living with average luxury and facilities can make you choppy! Haha! Time to pull up that socks and learn the little tricks of surviving in a below average-remote-settlement.

Thus, this post is dedicated to sharing one tip on how to survive in the so-called far-far away kingdom. Tip number 1 is of course how to take a bath. Yes, you do not have a porcelain bath tub with bubbles and scented candles lighted around. Yes, you do not have speed-force adjustable shower springs that also come in temperature-friendly settings. Oh yes, you also don’t get to sing yourself in the bathroom running along tap water or in this case, CLEANER water. No no no! you simply can’t afford such efficiency.

But what we do have in a far-far away bathroom is of course water, rain water to be exact, which can either be soothingly warm or ice-crushing cold. And this, we are at the mercy of the weather. If you feel like in Brazil, having a tan, then your water is warm. And if you feel like when you roll naked on the ice grounds of North Pole, then you have cold water. Most of the times though, you bathe cold. But isn’t that good? You feel cool all the time. It’s like when you feel wearing a Rayban IN THE MALL. So cool and which part of it is cool, I have no idea.

And being at the mercy of the weather, we really can’t soap and scrub every inch of our bacteria-fungus-nonsense infected body! Say good bye to the shower caps, spongy soap and Katy Perry live concerts!

You bathe only ONCE a day when the weather is good (when there’s rain and shine or more rain than shine). Sometimes you bathe once in TWO days (when the sun’s so scorching your Justin Bieber lips get fried!). And how long are you ADVISABLY ALLOWED in the bathroom for you to bathe?

Simply follow the Wet-Soap-Rinse-Dry Method!
1)  You enter the bathroom and strip (or if you prefer to bersarung or berseluar pendek).

2)    Turn on the tap and wet yourself. This takes only about 10-15 seconds MAX! If you happen to be Godly FAT, then add another 5 seconds to reach those “SELDOM REACHED” areas, usually covered in layers of cholesterol! As you wet yourself, to make sure your body is wet, use your hand and like wiping tables, make it around your body, getting the water everywhere.

3) Turn OFF the tap.

4) Now soap yourself. Reminder: you don’t want to “I Am A Little (or FAT) Soapman!” covering your entire self with bubbles and foam. No, you are not competing in the American Got Talent, bathroom edition! Make it simple. Make it quick.

5)    Later, you generously turn on the tap and rinse of that soap. If you want to shampoo your hair or use a facial wash, do that ALL while soaping. Rinse off every sin you accumulated for the day. Again. You don’t stand like the Statue of Liberty holding the tap and letting the water run you down. You move your hands around washing away the soap. This process takes around a maximum of 3-5 minutes. (if you have Goldilocks-long hair, don’t shampoo it every day! No Sunsilk company will make you their ambassador!)

6)   Dry yourself and leave!

There you have it – Survival Tip in the Far-Far Away #1 : How to bathe!

Stay tuned for more survival tips or leave me a comment on other things you would want to learn. 

The first day with the kid, not kids!

26-Jan 8.33pm

In case if you have not known about the enrolment status of this school, let me just ignite all that envy and oh-untungnye-kau! LOL. The school, the only one in this very fishery settlement comprises of only one block (you would know if you had read the previous post), a house-like quarters as well as a separated building right across the school which we use it as the library. Total enrolment of the school is only NINETEEN students ( yes, you spelled that right! Just 19 but wait till you read the number of teachers). Including myself and two other new teachers posted here, there are ELEVEN of us (including the head master). Sadly, one will be leaving us soon. And that leaves us TEN.

Yes, TEN teachers to NINETEEN students! Yaya! Go ahead and gasp, get annoyed, jealous and whatever hormones that rise along with it. So, also known as a Sekolah Kurang Murid (SKM), teachers and students have a very, VERY close rapport, which defines the ulterior bond of an educator and his student. Students know every teacher and likewise us teachers too. It is even comforting that parents, siblings and even whoever living there whose child, grandchild, great grandchild, nephew or niece studies there or even studied there once show you their utmost respect and welcome-to-the-clan-like welcome. Haha! Such is a small village or settlement. The beauty of its natural state, pure and simple in its own way make you feel really at home despite the challenges and situations we are put in.

Mentioning challenges and situations, I will dedicate a different post on that. Let’s move on to how I got started in this little place I call both a school and a home.

We were not given any classes or lessons as the time table had to be rescheduled to fit us three new ones. And thus, we were given replacement classes for today. So I got this Year 1 class. Ha! The night before, we were given the students’ name list (just to add oil to the wound, the list came in ONE piece of paper – AN ENTIRE school name list of students. BURN!!!!) hahaha! So entering the class, which was shared with the Year 2 pupils, this one boy stood there. He goes by the name of An An! Haha! Cute! 

Little An An! He never speaks to you, but does what you ask. Perfect student-teacher obedience! Haha!

It was cute teaching him. It gives you more time and attention to spend on this one boy. He listens to you and does practically everything you ask, that is after much hand-mouth-verbal signals.

An An, you gave me something to learn today.

Although it was you who learnt how to spell the days in the week and the 1-10 numbers, which you still get it wrong at times, mostly you taught me something.
Sometimes it isn’t how much you want a child to learn or even how fast you can complete the textbook. Sometimes it even isn’t about ensuring the child learns what you teach or follow everything you say or do. Sometimes, all it needs is to know that at some point, you know you want to learn and that gut feeling coming from that one student makes you feel even more overwhelming and proud that you can even do something silly or teach something in a slightly different (incorrect way! Lol! I KNOW! It’s STUPID and my mistake, but you are not allowed to lecture me on this!) but the child strives to learn it, although knowing it is somehow different than the one he was taught on before.

Confession: when you teach the days, you start with Sunday and end with Saturday, but Mr Handsome stupidly started off PROUDLY with Monday and ended with Sunday. Mr Handsome was so CONFIDENT he kept correcting An An.

But in my defense, I am NEW! I’m like in it for the first day and sure things go wrong! Like what wrong did it go, the world stopped spinning? The cow farted rainbow?!!

But yes, I have to admit it. it WAS wrong. Humbly Mr Handsome continues writing his post. Blerghh!

Oh ya, look at what was served for lunch! 

I am not elaborating more on this. Just die in envy! LOL

It was inspiring to know you could do something, even something wrong, and the child whose trust is on you even never seeing you before, just accepts and go on. It was somewhat sad that I re-adjusted his prior knowledge, (WHICH I SOON RECTIFIED IT, so stop your teacher-spirit talk) but it was also pleasant knowing that they trust you with all they have. It gives you more purpose and responsibility, integrity and even care in teaching your students.

Dear teachers, going-to-be-teachers out there, know that you can build or destroy a child’s future. Know that what you do inspires them and what you teach molds them. Know that what you bring into the classroom becomes their everlasting following shadow. Know that what you hope for them becomes a reality in what you do, conscious or unconsciously.

Till then, adios.

Delayed posts, ignore dates posted!

26-Jan 6.31am

So, I have finally come to a conclusion that I may not be having connectivity for the next few days. Oh god! How cruel! I mean, it does get connected, well the phone has to be put outside the place I am living in, and from there, I sit about 20 feet away to get the connection. While it is amazing that i can actually load the homepage at an EPICLY 3-5 minutes, loading images, sites and links have become a tremendous wait.
So, knowing this, I will be writing OFFLINE, and over the weekends, when I actually return to civilization, Hahaha! I shall upload my posts. Ok, civilizations sounds very demeaning! Perhaps, when I actually return to “connectivity-friendly location”. LOL.
Hence, as much awaited, the journey to my school started off with a drive from home to the jetty in Kuala Sepetang, Perak

This is the jetty, taken from inside of a tourist boat. In other words, I took it while in the boat.

It seems to me, this place is aged so much so that everything has become a mundane ritual. From the street-selling earners to lorries carrying ice boxes, really OLD man sitting down shirtless smoking cigars, cigarettes with either the local Chinese liquor or even coffee and everyone else living out their daily lives.

It took less than 15 minutes before the engine started and boy as we cruised, I felt so “pedalaman”,like I’m actually in some rural crocodile infested rivers and monkey-ganged forests! Haha! So much of a Safari ride!

The big boxy rounded roof building over there is the same building as the one in the picture above, only this was taken when the boat actually left.

During the almost 20-25minute boat ride into the unknown-never-i-reaslised-such-a-place-existed realm, many slightly scenes were also observed. I wished I had a better camera to capture those moments. But for now, a phone camera would do. well, we’re talking about the 8MP Iphone camera, so yeah, you and your android nothing-ness can go someplace else. Haha!

God knows what things actually reside behind those greenery. But it did look very calm! This was taken around 6.15pm (25-Jan).

Some mini village also spotted at another part of the ride. I am not too sure if that is actually a settlement or some resting-check point for boats and fishermen.

 Thus, the school came to view as we touched down Kuala Sangga! The next boat ride, I will remember to take a shot of how this settlement looks like! A very long, about 300-500meters stretch of wooden houses, coffee houses, temples and more abandoned houses. I shall do another post on that soon. When I actually get the pictures to it!

But yeah, this is SJKC Poay Chee, the school I got assigned to. This is the only block where classes take place. Right opposite this building, across the basketball court which is now looking like some construction site is this! (Picture below)

That is the library. A totally separated building on stilts at the river side. (I don’t even know if this is a river, or some sea, ocean water thing! Haha)

Reminds me so much of IPBA, the only teacher training institute whose library is separated from the main campus. The two air conditioner boxes you see there is, I STRESS, for DECORATION PURPOSES only. I mean don’t most places do that? The moment something looks so big and nice but untouched and when done, is said to be kept for low use of power, cost-control, and whatever nonsensical reasons that come along with it? Lecture halls with visible NON-WORKING air conditioners, seats whose sponge is just enough to separate your fatty butts to the plywood on the seat, and all that annoying moments in places you finally thought you can get something out of it.

Talk about “no budget!”

And right beside the school is where we live and work - a makeshift quarters/teacher's lounge.

Anyways, so far, I am liking this place. Of course I am one of the darkest there! Haha! And I speak so alien that everyone else TRY responding to me, haha! But I don’t blame them, I mean, well, communication takes two ways to work. Oh dear, I am going to rot learning the ways here. Hahaha!

After all, ain’t that what we always do? Learning to accommodate, taking in the lifestyle, adjusting to your needs with a little bit of ewws, yucks, “disgusting!” and “oh god!” remarks?


Classes will be starting in about half an hour and I shall take my leave.

Till then, adios!