Saturday, August 29, 2009

When Merdeka Lost Its Meaning

Short note: I don't expect everyone to share the same thoughts with me on this but please, even if you disagree and wanna voice your opinions, be mindful and comment rationally, alright? Thank you.
It was such an irony.
I was gonna make an entry for Merdeka this year, only to come across a news yesterday which made me feel really sad. Sad because we are only a couple of days away from celebrating our country's 52nd Independence Day, yet a group of irrational people, I would say, protested after a state government decided to relocate an Indian temple to an area which has no more than forty Indian devotees, as the majority of the people from that area are Muslims. Protesting alone is still acceptable, but it is not a tolerable act anymore when you challenge and ridicule other religion and disregarding their sensitivity.
How would you feel when something which is regarded as a holy symbol of your religion is stepped on, spitted and kicked around like some empty cans by the street. It's even disturbing when I saw a few kids were there, together with the adults yelling and shouting as well. These kids will grow up one day, and if these values is what they are taught by their parents since young, I have doubts for our nation's future.
We are only one week into the holy month of Ramadhan. These group of protesters had just finished with their Friday prayers and this is what they did after the prayers. I will be the last person to be referred to on this matter, but I'm quite sure that fasting doesn't mean you only refrain from eating and drinking, but you have to be mindful about your speech and actions at the same time. Correct me if I'm wrong.
So, I wonder if this act is considered the right way to express your objections?
I have been living in a Chinese-majority housing area all these years, but of course there are several Malay and Indian families in this area. There isn't any mosque or Chinese temple here. However, there is an Indian temple right in front of my house. That is like less than 150 meters away. Every year without fail, there would be a period for about one week, when they would celebrate a festival.
During that period, the atmosphere of the place would turn it like it's having a festival. The devotees would chant through speakers all-night-long, ring the bells, parked their vehicles at every empty spaces found around the area, set up stalls along the road and hundreds of devotees will throng the temple. Yes, my Mom sometimes complain that these sound are noisy and she couldn't have a peaceful sleep.
Do we group together and raise our dissatisfaction on this? Do we take a cow's head and place it in front of the temple?
No, we don't.
Besides, what's the big deal with that? They are only performing their religious practices and can't we tolerate with that for once? The Chinese community has their own opera performances at temple occasionally, (illegal) firecrackers and lion dance performances during Chinese New Year, while you would hear the azan from the mosque by the Muslims every day.
However, aren't we taught to be tolerate and be sensitive to each other's needs in this colourful nation of ours?
Just a few days ago, I was chatting with my Muslim junior and somehow, the topic was about ghost, of so many topics. I'm not sure how we could end up chatting about that but now, I understand better that just like Chinese, Muslims believe that during the month of Ramadhan, the spirits will be released from the grave from torture. It is similar to the Chinese belief that during the seventh month of the lunar calender, the gate of the hell is opened and spirits are allowed to go around freely during this period.
It is through this kind of simple sharing sessions that we learn about other people's belief and at the same time, understand them better. To me, there is nothing wrong about learning about others' beliefs. Indirectly, we would make sure that we respect and do not look lightly on their religious importance. Talking about this, I think the short films by 15Malaysia is doing a great job in instilling a better understanding among Malaysians about some subjects that we rarely discuss openly. To be honest, I wasn't sure myself what is considered halal meat, until I watched the film 'Halal'.
Although I come from a Chinese background, I dare to say that during my schooling days, I mixed with my Malay and Indian friends as much as I do with Chinese friends. When I was in Form Five, my seat was surrounded by several Indians, a couple of Malays and a Sikh. Who doesn't know the likes of Pragash, Kalai, Ibrahim, Prem, Maniraj, Asyraf who sat around my table and we were considered one of the noisiest group in the class. The nearest Chinese dude that I can remember sat at least three tables away. Yet, we still crap like crazy, even making jokes about our races because we never took it seriously.
I guess it was even more beautiful forty or fifty years ago, during our grandparents' time. I think that's because these people in the olden days didn't think too much and bad thoughts about other races never crossed their minds. They just led a happy-go-lucky daily lives with their friends.
I would love to quote one of Pinksterz lines from her Merdeka entry; "The different is, my friend and I both actually gave each other a chance to actually get to know each other. If others just do the same, I am sure there will be no more "baik tolong bangsa sendiri" or "better help our own people" talk." One best example (take note that this is just an example) would be when there's an road accident. Lets say it was a few Indians who were involved in that accident. Some Malays will just say, "Aiyah, biar dia mampos-lah". As for the Chinese, they would be more interested to stop by not to help the poor victims, but to look at the plate number of the vehicles. Yes, apparently, four-digits numbers are more important to them.
This is not a seditious statement, but this is the everyday reality you know it yourself, don't you. And it is really saddening because these things are something almost unimaginable some fifty years ago.
However, I'm not saying that it refers to every individual in that particular races. Just because of a few rotten apples, we should never stereotype any races, because not every Aborigines are illiterate, not every Indian drink, not every Chinese gamble and not every Malay is lazy. Problems often crops up because we emphasis too much on our differences. It is still not to late for us to put our differences away, and see each other as once race.
Selamat Hari Merdeka!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Down To KL

After returning to Taiping for barely a day from my Penang trip, I headed downwards; this time to KL.
I was contemplating initially, whether or not to go down KL because of the influenza factor which is becoming more and more alarming lately. In the end, I made up my mind at the last minute and packed my stuff before going to grab my bus ticket later that evening. Good thing that it was a Monday and ticket will always be available anytime.
For two straight mornings, I followed my aunt to the city. This was taken when we were stuck at Federal Highway past seven in the morning.
Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
Reached the parking lot and we walked to KLCC through the KLCC Park. Look at the sky! So blue, no clouds at all!
We had our breakfast at the KLCC food court, which I noticed had gone through some renovations. The food court looks much better now.
Roti canai with teh tarik, a breakfast set too common for Malaysians, eh?
Stopped by the staircase leading to Pasar Seni LRT station to have a look at Yasmin's mural painted along Klang River Banks. I hope DBKL will let this one remain there.
I was supposed to go over to the Eric's (Michelle's brother) convocation later that day. However, I decided to visit the new Kolej Teknikal Jepun (KTJ) place in INTEC in the morning first since I had no plans in the morning. It was my first time there, so I tried locating the place by asking the locals along the way. After more than an hour, I finally reached INTEC in Section 19, Shah Alam.
I was wearing a half-formal attire on that day, so I just pretended to be another students of INTEC and went straight to the KTJ blocks. I don't think the security guards had any idea I was an outsider haha. The place looks much better than the previous location - Yayasan Selangor Building. Lecturers' room, which was located next to the old library were bigger, but the classrooms were still a bit small. I still believe the old place we had in UTM was the best of all.
I managed to catch up with a few lecturers who used to teach at PPKTJ - Eikawa Sensei, Itou Sensei, Sato Sensei, Itou Seiko Sensei. As for the other lecturers, they were new and I didn't really talk with them. I took this opportunity to do some final discussions regarding the KTJ Workshop later this month with Eikawa Sensei and Ms Kamilia Ab Wahab, who is the Head of the Look East Policy Programme.
The entrance road to INTEC.
KTJ shares the same block with other oversea courses like South Korea and Russia.
Lecturers' room - still looked the same like PPKTJ's time, except the pink wall haha.
Eikawa Sensei had some dancing practices with the juniors as they were gonna perform in some cultural night event the next day.
When I went to the classrooms and saw the juniors, I somehow felt myself being so old already haha. Perhaps they are still very playful and that makes them look childish? I'm not sure. Although I sometimes find that they are a bit childish, I'm aware that I used to be like that once upon a time lol. The juniors had lectures most of the time, and I didn't really talk to them. Instead, when I was waiting for Eikawa Sensei earlier, one young boy looked at me from some distance and he later approached me, asking me "Are you Calvin?"
To be honest, I was quite surprised that he knew my name, but I later found out he was my junior at my secondary school and also my Mom's ex-student when he was in Primary Two. I also met up with another guy, also from my secondary school who is my sister's friend. Talk about how small this world is. By the way, both of them are currently taking the technical course to South Korea.
Before leaving, Eikawa Sensei drove me out and we had lunch together at some nasi kandar restaurant opposite of the students' hostel. I was kinda impressed by how expert Eikawa Sensei when he made his orders. "Nasi ayam satu, teh limau ais satu!" But of course, with his little kawaii Japanese slang haha.
The people at KL Sentral station were getting impatient and restless after they kept on delaying the train time.
This one was taken at Serdang station; they used an old coach to pull the komuter coaches on rainy days fearing that it would be dangerous if they continue operating the komuters on electricity.
One thing I will never leave out here is the poor service of KTM Komuter. I know this is an old issue, KTM will never be on time. However, what I went through for two days was a nightmare. I took KTM rides for six times within a couple of days, and out of the six times, I was made for one-long hour each on two occasions. WTF, right?
You make us wait for ten, or even twenty minutes and we can still tolerate it, but one hour? Obviously, it's just too much. If you can't provide the service according to the schedule, then don't put it up, because that will only make people waste their time waiting for the trains. Furthermore, there wasn't anybody who commited suicide by jumping into the railway tracks, and it wasn't raining heavily either. How if someone has something urgent on? Lesson learned - never take KTM Komuter, especially you're in a hurry, unless you really need it. The service sucks big time!
That stupid late train caused me to arrive late at Eric's convocation at UKM. When I was there, they were out already. Anyway, while waiting for Eric and Wendy to finish with their photography sessions with their friends, I managed to see his parents as well, waiting under a tree far from the crowd. I'm not gonna reveal in detail how the so-called 'bonding session' went, but I think I did okay haha. Damn nervous you know, especially when Michelle isn't around.
Congrats to you, Eric!
On the next day, it was Looi's turn and I went to the same place again - UKM in Bangi.
Learning from my experience the previous day, I went out earlier this time and managed to reach UKM on time. In fact, I was a bit early there; so I went to see Hieda Sensei who teaches Japanese Language there. Hieda Sensei used to be one of the part-time Japanese lecturer at PPKTJ and she is now happily married with a local guy with several kids. We had a good one-hour chat session in her room. After that, I headed to the main hall to meet-up with Looi.
Hieda Sensei, who gives you the same face expression even if you take 93452398 shots of her.
DECTAR, where the convocation ceremony was held.
Only two person were allowed into the hall, the rest had to wait outside or watch the ceremony live inside an indoor hall, Panggung Seni.
Convocation means business opportunity for florists and teddy-bearists (what do you call people who sell teddy-bear arh? haha)
Graduates coming out from the main hall.
No doubt the Dad is proud with his daughter.
Congrats to you too, Looi!
During my time in KL, I crashed at my aunt's place in USJ.
This is my aunt's youngest daughter, who is still very shy with me.
Wen Hui trying to have some fun with her hamsters haha.
Three illegal hamster's traders haha.
The under-the-staircase indoor playground owned by Chong Wen Hui lol.
Youngest aunt brought me to the famous nasi lemak stall at Taipan in USJ. I don't know why, but Taipan always reminds me of
tapir haha.

On my third and final day in KL, Looi drove me and his family to have our lunch first after his convocation ended. He then brought me back to his relative house in Sungai Long to have some rest first before I go to the city to take my bus back to Taiping.
This is how wan tan mee looks like in KL. I still prefer the wider and thinner version you get from the northern region.
I missed the train by five seconds and was made to wait for almost another 50 minutes to board the next train. Took the free time to do this kind of stuff haha.
Ta pao
-ed (woah, got past tense some more haha) some kuih on the bus because I had no time to have dinner.
Actually the kuih picture is nothing significant, but I'm sure people oversea would long to have these haha.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Penang Food Galore

This entry is all about food. Penang food, to be precised.
As you would have expected, no trip to Penang would be complete without tasting their local food. However, I wouldn't say that the food I had in Penang this time is the best because I wasn't mainly there to try their food. Yet, I still gonna blog on the food I had in Penang over the weekend, although I know those who are in overseas at present, especially in Japan will surely gonna curse me at the end of this entry haha.
Anyway, save the unnecessary talking and lets see what I had in Penang.
For breakfast, it has to be at the Kayu Nasi Kandar.
Tosai with three different gravys.
Teh tarik.
Super huge karipap pusing which has a slice of hard-boiled egg inside.
Nasi lemak with fish sambal.
For lunch, grandma cooked Siamese laksa woot!
You would never see such laksa elsewhere in Penang.
While walking around the town, I stopped by to have some cold drinks near the jetty.
Kok Sheng introduced this desert to me last year; they call it okio - a mixture of jelly, lychee, lemon and syrup. Perfect dose to refresh yourself on a hot day.
Lebuh Keng Kwee, which is famous for its Teochew cendol.
Penang Road Famous Teochew cendol, which is a must everytime I visit the island.

Got some help from a group of local girls to take this picture for me. They kept looking at me when I was enjoying my bowl of cendol lol. Obviously, they knew I was a tourist haha.
Just next to the cendol stall would be the well-known Chowrasta Market along Penang Road, which has existed since 1890 woot!
Mention Chowrasta and you would imagine dried pickles, nutmegs and other exoctic Penang specialties.
For dinner, we headed to a nearby food court (forgot its name already) in Sungai Dua. Grandma also wants to camwhore haha.

Sonia with her mom.
Yong tau fu.
Koey teow soup.
For supper, we had local fruits festival haha.
But I had it at my home; Mom said we were having picnic lol.
Alright, you guys can now tell me how much you miss those food above haha.