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?