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! 

the problem with connectivity and moving things!

25-Jan 11.20pm

finally, the connection came! yes!! i tell you, to get a decent 20% line feels even better than having a whole platter of cheezy wedges for you. yes, we are all so dependent in this world of invisible connectivity. Just being able to load the Google homepage itself feels so much relieving. Truly, we have all been fed so much of this data transfer, bytes uploading fetishes and unlimited resources of so much more than what we actually need. 

Truth be told, yes, i can literally die without connectivity. But, i really am thankful for this. 

So, the next thing, as promised, the beginning of what i am about to live for the next i-don't-know-how-long stay here. You should have the seen the things packed! People staring, wondering if this person is really moving an entire house or just his personal belongings. But excuse me, the following is what i brought and let me see if you think this is actually A HOUSE or PERSONAL BELONGINGS.

1) clothes ( now this comprises of my formal wear, sports wear, leisure wear AND at-home wear. look, i need to look right for the different places, events that i am in. you seriously don't expect me to wear a skirt to sleep, do you? ok wait, a skirt? LOL)

2) pillow (ONE ONLY) and a THIN mattress

3) a bag for a cup, a tupperware with cutleries, my Nescafe fix, a tissue role, and a plastic bag

4) a 3L water container, because the place i am in uses rain water for most necessities, and you can forget it, i am not doing it. WAIT, we just had dinner. *GULPS*

4) toiletries 

and that's it!!! 

so, an entire house? or personal belongings?  


I really want to give you more on my school, where is it and how is it, but i don't think this can go on any longer. I am too exhausted. haha! so my NEXT post will be about my school! :D 

But for today, let me just show you what was served for dinner- a celebratory feast! 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

*Hello, is it you* (Adele in the background)

so the person you see next to you is suresh lim. yes, he looks weird in that nonsensical pose, but that's just him. he is going to be 25 this year and born under the proud aquarian clan, this handsome lad (yes, i mean it) is of mixed parentage. 

dad's a teacher while mum's the household manager (you call that housewife, in other words). born in family of 5, this lad is the eldest and is currently a full fledged teacher, posted to a school, which i will soon write another post on it.

this blog, sureshlklwrites4u, is obviously a blog, that aims to capture as much as possible of the sights, scents, thoughts and whatever disgusting things that come along. and yes, despite being a language teacher, this blog will OFFICIALLY disregard any form of grammatical-punctuation-spelling-formatting deformities. as long as you can digest what i write in here, then i believe, that is what that matters.

tomorrow, tuesday 25 Jan 2016, will be my stepping point onto a journey i will learn to love. and yes, i will write on it. after all, when you do not have facebook, instagram, tweeter and whatever network tools that come along with it, blogging will be my escapade, which shall soon be your favourite! ha! talk about rhymes! LOL. anyway, that is all for now. i am also apparently a maths coach for my sister who will battle pt3 this year. till then readers.