Monday, September 7, 2009

Ucapan Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

My Last School

My last school before I retire was SMK Tunku Seri Indera Putera (SMKTSIP), Jitra. I had taught in many schools throughout East and West Malaysia but SMKTSIP was very special in many ways. It is located in a rural area amidst padi fields. The setting is very picturesque. Every morning, it was a pleasure driving to school because of the panoramic view,sun rising in the horizon, padi fields on both sides of the road, irrigation canals running alongside the very straight road. Sometimes, particularly, after a heavy downpour, the water in the canal would rise to almost the same level as the road. It was pretty scary at first but after some time I still drove at the same speed I would on a normal dry day.

Physically, the school is like any other school in Malaysia. It is a small school compared to all the other schools I had taught before. There were only about 500 students then and now. I remember the first time I went to the school to attend the first staff meeting. Prior to the meeting I called the clerk to find out what time the meeting would start and was told to come at 11a.m. This timing, I felt, was rather odd but then again, this was a new school and I thought Kedahans work in a more leisurely manner compared to their KL counterparts from where I came from. Boy, was I in for a big suprise after this! When I made my appearance, the meeting was about to end. As usual, I had to introduce myself. My accent then was very KLish because I had never stayed in Kedah since I was eight. After the meeting, my new colleagues told me there was a kenduri nearby and they were all going and they wanted me to come along. I was never familiar with this kind of impromptu invitation handed out by the guests to another, not from the actual host! But, I tagged along sheepishly. I am one who takes quite some time to warm up to new surroundings and new friends. At that time, my new friends seemed a bit too boisterous for my liking. I remember wanting to go home as fast as I could.

School began the next day. This was the second time I donned the tudung. I put on the tudung when I attended the meeting. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror but I told myself "this is Jitra, not KL". I was assigned a table in the staff room and I sat down there quietly. I remember missing my former school, former colleagues and students very, very much. I longed for the familiar way of life in KL. Everything seemed strange here in Jitra. My colleagues were too friendly. I was not used to this kind of overly friendliness. In KL, it was more 'mind your own business' kind of life but that was what I was accustomed to for more than 40 years of my life.

I applied for a transfer out of the school the second week I was there, but it was turned down. I was very frustrated but I had no choice. I went on teaching as usual but I was not happy. By this time I think my colleagues must have sensed that something was not right with me. They were courteous and polite but they kept their distance. This went on for one whole year but  the emergence of 2002 saw the true me coming out of my shell. Slowly but surely I began to blend in with my colleagues, joking with them, laughing with them, sharing my joy and sorrow with them. Guys, if you are reading this, I really miss all of you very much. You are all like family to me, every single one of you.

Ooi, I know I can run to you whenever I need help.

Zah, I miss talking to you in English.

Nani, I admire your cool composure.

Nab, I wish I could inherit some of your firmness.

Suroh, you are an angel of sorts.

Tai, I miss your home grown mangoes.

Midah, I miss your chocolate cakes and your pulut kuning and of course, YOU.

Win, you are a picture of elegance in your baju kurung.

Rom, I admire your cool and relaxed manner.

Riza, I wish you are next to me now to correct my grammar. You are my baby sister.

Maznah, I admire your taste in clothes, very contemporary for an ustazah.

Sue, you are a fashion icon.

Ramlah, I miss your spontaneous jokes narrated in a very raw Kedah accent, throaty and nasal at the same time. Very French.

Syon, how could I ever forget our night out together and how we manouvered our way out of the trip to UUM.

Ladies, the above list is an anti-clockwise sitting arrangement in the staff room starting from where I sat,  (if  I remember correctly) certainly not in order of whom I like most, though I like Ooi a lot because she sat next to me and we shared a lot of precious moments together.

To all the male teachers, you are all wonderful. I miss listening to Cikgu Lan's melodious voice crooning some beautiful ballads. Cikgu Zamri passed on some useful tips on how to tie a ribbon. I will never forget the incident when I dropped a bunch of house keys in front of Cikgu Man's house and he returned the keys AFTER I changed all the locks in my house. Very timely, indeed!!! Sir Jamal, I will always be grateful to you for passing on a lot of useful knowledge on ICT. Cikgu Hasdi came to my rescue many times when I had problems with the computer. Bang Cik and Mas, thank you for helping me around in the laboratory. Suhaimi and Khairul, terima kasih kerana banyak membantu Kak Fini fotostat bahan-bahan. Fauziah, thank you for processing my retirement papers.  I will always remember Zah, Syidah and Timah. Last, but not least, thank you Datin and Puan Hasnah.

I remember uttering"Out of sight, out of mind" to my good friend Ooi many times whenever a colleague was transferred out. She never responded to my retort. Intuitively I knew she did not agree but she refrained from saying so. It was not because I had a disliking  for all the friends who were posted out, but at that time I felt that that was reality . Now, however, I realise  hat I was very,very wrong. You are all out of my sight for almost 18 months now but you are all NEVER, EVER OUT OF MY MIND. I miss you all very, very much.

Please click the link below.

Friday, September 4, 2009


As the wife of a TUDM personnel, I had my fair share of flying experiences, as a passenger, of course! I had the opportunity to fly in various types of aircraft when my husband, Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim was serving as a nuri pilot. The priveledge that I had was not due to the fact that my husband was a pilot but mainly because we, being wives of TUDM personnel, were automatically members of Badan Kebajikan Angkatan Tentera , in short, BAKAT. During my husband's tour as an air force pilot, BAKAT was rather active. I believe it is equally active now as it was then. During my time, we had to attend all BAKAT activities, sometimes as often as every week. This can be rather taxing on working wives but we had no choice. Otherwise, our husbands would be summoned by their superior officers and had to answer on our behalf!Well, at that time, there was no 'kebebasan bersuara' yet!

As the saying goes, 'If you can't change them, you join them'. Well, that was exactly what I did. After a lot of throwing tantrums at my husband, I decided that I had to change. I put myself in full gear and became an active BAKAT member. It was not so bad after all. Besides my working colleagues, I now had many BAKAT friends. Along with friends, came the numerous activities.
One of these which I enjoyed most was dancing. During my husband's tour in Kuantan, our dancing group became very popular. Our specialty was the tarian 'Ulek Mayang'. We were requested to perform the dance on many occasions. As a reward, well, you guessed it , we were given rides on the various aircraft. Of course, it was not a joyride, so to speak, but when our dancing troupe had to travel, we were given the best aircrafts available then. We travelled to KL from Kuantan in the HS 125, VVIP executive jet, then. We travelled to Bali in a VVIP aircraft then, the F28. We also had the opportunity to fly in the Hercules, the Maritime version. The pilot of the Maritime allowed us to enter the cockpit during flight. It was awesome.

That's me, in front, doing the 'Ulek Mayang'
When my husband was posted to Labuan, we flew in the Hercules. This was not my first flying experience in this aircraft having flown in the Maritime before but it was very different indeed. I felt like an evacuee being rescued from a war-torn nation. The seats were all like hammocks to me and we were all seated alongside the body of the aircraft. In other words, our sides were facing the cockpit and we faced the passengers along the other side of the aircraft. Now, can you imagine what it was like when the aircraft was taking off. Wow, we all swayed towards the tail end of the aircraft. There was no way you could prevent yourself from falling over to the passenger next to you. Of course. we all swayed the other way when the aircraft was coming to a land. Throughout the three-hour flight, we can only communicate using the sign language because the aircraft was not sound proof. Then, to top it all up, one of the air-crew would climb onto the hammock seats with a torch light in one hand peering into.............heaven knows what!
Before I forget, prior to boarding the aircraft, my husband warned me to ease myself. I dicovered to my horror, there was only a makeshift toilet in the aircraft and we had to manouvre our way up the narrow aisle to reach it. By the time we reached it , our bladders would have given way!Phew! it was indeed a relief when the aircraft landed. When I stepped out of the aircraft, I felt like a drunkard, temporarily deaf from the droning of the engines.

I also had the chance to fly in the nuri piloted by my husband. The flight was from Labuan to Pontianak, Indonesia. Of course, the passengers were BAKAT Udara Labuan members. It was pretty scary because the flight was rather choppy due to heavy rain. All of us were very quiet and we kept praying that we landed safely. We could see the very thick jungle below us and I remember we held each others hands firmly for moral ssupport. The only lady passenger who was very calm was YM Tengku Marina. She was the wife of the highest ranking officer in the aircraft and I suppose, she had to remain cool in order to prevent us from panicking. Well, Kak Engku, if you are reading this, I admire your courage. We landed safely alright and I remember asking my husband whether we were in any danger during the flight. His answer was ' What danger! It was a smooth flight'. Smooth indeed.

Before boarding the nuri for Pontianak

I also had the chance to fly in the Caribou, again with BAKAT members. The flight was from Kuching to Labuan. To us, BAKAT members, to fly in a Caribou was not something we looked forward to. Somehow, we had the perception that it was an old aircraft and therefore not very safe to fly in. But we had no choice. You must remember that at this time I was no longer with my often sought after Kuantan dancing troupe. We were just ordinary Labuan BAKAT members so we did not get to travel in VIP arcrafts. Every time we were given the opportunity to travel we jumped at it without thinking about the mode of transport. As always, all of us were laden with the fruits of our shopping spree. I remember the pilot of the Caribou telling us that the aircraft was overweight due to our extra shopping baggage. I was not sure whether he was joking or not. We knew all the pilots and copilots quite well because we were all neighbours in the same camp. I remember approaching the pilot and asking him whether we were really overweight. I know it was unethical but I could not help myself. I had to be sure. His answer was ' No problem. If it's too heavy we'll just throw some out from mid air' . I knew then, that we were not overweight and told all my friends so. However, our anxiety did not end there. A few minutes after taking off, my friend, Nancy, who was sitting next to me pointed out what was happenning outside the window. We knew that moments after take-off, the landing gear would be retracted. But now, suddenly, the landing gear was out again. She looked at me and I at her. Now I was wondering whether we were really overweight! Then, it was retracted again. The process went on several times. We landed safely at Labuan. I refrained from asking the pilot why the landing gear went in and out several times. The thought that we were all safe and sound was all that matters.

I also had the chance to fly in the Allouette. It is a small 5-seater helicopter. The flight was from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu. It was a short flight of about 30 minutes only but the experience was exhilarating. Why? To me, it was like a flying carpet! I could see all round, left, right, up and down. The Allouette has a very wide hemispherical windscreen which allows unrestricted vision in all directions. Though the flight was very short, it was worth it. After all, not every body gets to be Alladdin on a flying carpet!