30 May 2009

Telok Intan

We've just come back from attending Lili's wedding in Sitiawan, Perak. We travelled late yesterday evening and arrived there around 8.30 pm, just in time for the nikah ceremony. It was held at the mosque near the bride's house. Lili and Ina looked good - they were both wearing the usual off white or creamish baju Melayu and Ina in a kebaya. The whole affair ended quite late - what with the Tok Imam or Tok Kadi giving a long lecture! After the ceremony we were invited for supper at Ina's house and at 12.30 am got back to the hotel.

Today, after an early breakfast we decided to drive back slowly to KL by the coastal road. I'm glad we decided to do that because its been a really long time since we drove along the Telok Intan - Sabak Bernam area. The scenery was fantastic and I really wish we had brought our camera. Instead I have to make do with the phone camera. An emerald sea greeted our eyes the moment we took the turning into Sabak Bernam. They say that Kedah is the rice bowl of Malaysia but I think Sabak Bernam can easily be crowned the rice plate, if not the rice bowl itself! Mile upon mile of green padi fields stretched along both sides of the road, with here and there islands of banana trees.
We passed fishing villages too - tranquil in the quiet dawn. There is no sign of the sea though because it's still slightly inland but the Bernam river winds along and we can catch glimpses of the fishing boats moored behind the mangrove.
Both Repin and I enjoy travelling along the back roads - not that they are less travelled or quieter, but because there's so much more fun than going on the highway. Lots more to see too! It must be the wedding season too because we saw not less than 10 weddings along the way!

We stopped for a light meal at Telok Intan which at one time was Telok Anson. General Anson I think was in the British army before he became the High Commissioner for the Straits Settlements. Telok Intan is a typical small town in Malaysia - rows of Chinese shop houses along a main street. The one different thing about this place though is the Leaning Clock Tower, sometimes dubbed as Malaysia's Leaning tower of Pisa!

20 May 2009

I haven't really had time to write what with preparing for my classes and Repin being sick. Yes, my dear hubby came back from Penang with high fever which did not go down in spite of going to the doctor. I got rather anxious, mainly because of the flu that is going all over the world - he travels so much that I worry he may have caught it but the doctor said it wasn't the H1N1 flu - just dehydration and probably exhaustion too. Anyway he was admitted into the Pantai Hospital this morning because the fever had got on for a bit too long and they wanted to do some tests. When I looked in this afternoon he seemed happy enough - at least he's getting some rest!

Today we had a splendid time in class - there'll be a drama competition this Saturday and my kids are really enjoying themselves - preparing the script, choosing the actors and actresses, deciding on the music and so on. We spent the whole afternoon session preparing the script with Yogeswary, one of the better writers actually writing the script there and then with some help from Masniza. I think its going to be a great play and in fact I had to repeatedly tell them to make it short. Because ours is a really mixed class - I have some Indians, Chinese and Malay students - they have decided that they'll use this racial mix to good advantage. The story is simple and rather cliched but I think it will be popular with the girls because its a West Side Story type romance - where the girl is from a Malay family and she wants to marry a boy from Chinese family. There is a lot of drama and tears but the ending is going to be a cliff hanger. The students prefer to allow the audience to think for themselves and let them decide who the girl will marry in the end.

17 May 2009

Back to teaching

Starting Monday I'll be back to UM teaching another batch of pre-employment students but this time for only 3 weeks instead of the usual one month. It was great meeting Pushpa, Alages, Datin Siva, Rahmah and Maznah again after all this time. However Alby couldn't make it - she was teaching at UMCcED. I'm really looking forward to teaching again and in fact have compliled some activities to do with my group. I only wish I got the class with the computer and LCD. That would have made my work much easier but this class is so much better that the ones in the Education faculty where the chairs are fixed to the floor and you can't move the around! Its just so stupid to fix chairs to the floor. When I was teaching there we couldn't even have groupwork.
I'm wondering what I'll do tomorrow on the first day. It has to be something really interesting to catch their attention - maybe a little ice breaker first, then a short game. The last batch loved word games and were very competitive. They all liked to win especially when I gave them little gifts for winning - colourful pens, little notebooks and other stationery. These are young adults but even when I was teaching at UMCcED who were all working people well into their 30s and 40s, they were just as thrilled to get the prizes. I guess getting something free is fun and no matter what your age, being able to beat some other students and winning a prize is still something a great feeling.

10 May 2009

Mother's day... teachers' day and every day

It's Mother's day today and so far I've received greetings from my sisters and my daughter in law. None from my own though Shasha did get me some chocolates prior to my leaving for Malacca. Next week it'll be Teachers' Day and there is one teacher I'm going to wish and mean it. That was my former Principal from MGHS - Mrs Rajendran.
When I think of her, visions of this strict looking person comes to my mind. But she's no dragon lady - or maybe she is to some. But I'll always remember her kindness, her humour and her caring for she was a very caring person and loving too though she tries to hide this behind a strict demeanor. She taught us English Literature and no better teacher can be found, or maybe if there are I've not had the pleasure of knowing them. Because of her I have a deep and lasting love of English and of reading. She taught us that reading is not just for exams but it can give us companionship and knowledge. When I was in Form 5 and about to leave HIgh School I asked her to write something in my autograph book. What she wrote has carried me through my Pre University days and right through life itself. She said- "Carry on reading Kathija... the pleasure is not in the destination but in the journey itself... and when you have 'arrived'... look further."
At the age of 17 I did not really understand what she meant. But years hence, looking back at what she wrote I finally understood what she was trying to tell me - that reading in itself is not the destination but the knowledge and the understanding that one gains from it is what is important. So a very big thank you Mrs Rajendran, for taking notice of a shy, girl from a poor family and by giving her the confidence to fly gave her the world.
Of course there are other teachers who have taught me many things - there was Mrs Nair , our Science teacher who despaired of me because every time she gave us a test, what would I be doing? Writing poetry on my test papers! Once she was so fed up she sent me to the principal - Mrs Rajendren. Mrs Rajendran looked so serious I actually quaked in my shoes. But finally she just looked at me, gave me that sweet smile that is so typical of her and told me to pay attention in class and not to write poems!
I wish I could meet all my teachers and give them a very big thank you. I have been a very lucky person, I know. I have hardly had a really bad teacher. Nearly all my teachers were good. There was one teacher though who I found to be rather biased against me and never had a good word. She was our Maths teacher in primary school. Once a friend copied my homework and she noticed that our answers were very similar. She called us and then without finding out who had copied whom, she punished me. I tried to tell her that it wasn't me who copied - that it was the other girl, but of course she wouldn't listen. The other girl's father was also a teacher and she was always so smartly dressed. I, on the other hand was from a poor family and sometimes quite scruffy looking! So to this teacher, of course I had copied the other girl. Maybe because of this, I became timid and quiet, always staying out of the teachers' way because of this particular teacher. She had influenced the others against me. Of course not all the teachers were against me. Mrs Chong my class teacher, Miss Ratnam who taught us English and Miss Dorai liked me. But I never really enjoyed my primary school years.
IN Std 6 however, the other girl failed her elementary exams - teacher's daughter or not. She left school and entered a comprehensive girls' school where girls who were not good academically were taught skills. I on the other hand went to MGHS, not a premier school yet but at least mid ranking. And in MGHS I had teachers who actually cared. It was here that I realised that I enjoyed studying and English was my best subject. I had wonderful English teachers who always gave me praises when I did well and like any other child, I blossomed in such a conducive atmosphere. I even got prizes for English every year, beating another girl Doreen Yeow every year.
When I became a teacher I learned - not from my college textbooks , but from these teachers who had taught me. From Miss Tan who taught me English in Form 1 to Form 3, I learned that to make the learning of grammar more interesting I had to intersperse the actual grammar with games that later came to be known as Language games. This was in the early to mid 60s when the word language games had not yet been introduced into the Methodology of Teaching! But Miss Tan made it fun by bringing posters, making word scrabble from post cards and so on. English was never dull in her class and when in Form 4 we were told we'd get a British volunteer for our English lessons we all groaned. But Miss Hobbs was just as fun, just as interesting. She reinforced what Miss Tan had given us in our earlier years. And like Mrs Rajendran she introduced me to the classics, literally, by lending me books to read. I always think that I am where I am today because of these teachers - who taught me above all else, to appreciate my self and to always learn.
So to all these teachers - wherever they are, I'd like to wish them a Happy Teachers' Day and a Happy Mother's Day too and a very big thank you for your love and your guidance.

4 May 2009


My grand daughter is now 21 months old and talking in sentences! Wow! and I haven't seen her for months! This is her picture, taken a few months ago when she was 16 months. Isn't she a charmer?

Book Fest

I've been on a book buying spree - Muhammad, Man and Prophet by Adil Salahi, Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass; The Making of Mr Hai's Daughter by Yasmin Hai; Mr Darcy's Diary by Maya Slater; Muhammad - As if You Can See Him by A'id Al Qarni and Abridged Biography of Prophet Muhammad by Muhktasar Seerah Ar - Rasool.
I've read the abridged biography already - read it on the plane on the way back from Madinah. It's a bit too dry for me - though I enjoyed the other one by Aid Al Qarni. That was very poetical and in fact the writer himself said that it wasnt meant to be a study but a book praising the Prophet (pbuh). Its a lovely book, well written and yes although it was a book praising the Prophet, it was almost poetic the way it was written. It took every aspect of the Prophet's character and gave examples and quotations from his close companions to exemplify that aspect of his character, for example his honesty and the fact that even his enemies and detractors called him Al Amin, meaning The Honest one. THis is one book you can read and re read, I think.
Why so many books on one man, you might well ask. Why not, if that man is larger than life itself. I wanted to know more about this man who is not just the last prophet of God, but also the perfect man - humble but by no means simple, loving, a family man, and in spite of being illiterate, highly intelligent. Of all God's prophets, he alone took up sword to fight for his religion and for his God even though he himself was a gentle, peace loving man. Reading more and more about him I come to love and admire the man and the Prophet.
Shasha also came back with a whole load (2 bags full) of books her boss gave her - she was cleaning house and wanted to throw away most of her romances so my daughter thought of her mum and collected the books instead! So now I've got so many books to read I have a headache. Am reading 3 books at once - the one on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) , one by Julia Quinn and one by Elizabeth John Phillips - both romances but one a historical romance. Last weekend we also went to BookXcess
Our house now looks almost like a library or maybe a small bookshop! I told Shasha that maybe we ought to have a garage sale, or since we don't have a garage we could instead have a yard sale. I'm sure there are loads of stuff that we dont want that others might want!