Thursday, February 25, 2010

Elementary,Watson, Elementary!!

Some of you may wonder why I have not posted anything since February 20. I try to post something every two days. Actually, I had an article ready as scheduled but my dear husband insisted that I send the article to NST (New Straits Times) first before posting it. My husband thinks I am a good writer. Bless him! Frankly, I don't possess any literary skill or expertise to give me the cofidence to try my luck, but I must admit I am quite thrilled by his proposition. I am still deliberating whether or not to send the article entitled "High Performance Schools". May be I will send. Who knows, I may be on my way to stardom, just like J.K.Rowling, the author of Harry Porter!! I know you are all smiling. So am I. Sometimes I get carried away. Forgive me.

I try to discipline myself to post an article every two days as stated earlier. I don't want retirement to prevent me from interacting with the outside world, though I realise there are not many out there who read my blog. Nevertheless, the few virtual friends that I know occasionally visit my blog, helps  tremendously in  maintaining my sanity and personality.

Both my husband and I have not stopped marvelling at the many wonders modern technology has to offer especially the IT world. Every day we stumble upon something new while blogging. In most cases, we just ignore the new discoveries that cross our paths and proceed whole heartedly with our blog. Between the two of us, I am a little bit more adventurous. Sometimes I am curious to find out what the "new discovery" has to offer to enhance my IT knowledge. I cannot say the same of my husband. He is not willing to spend a few extra minutes to explore. He is very, very mechanical and every slight deviation from what he is used to, would see him shouting for help with alarm written all over his face. If there is anything he is really scared of, it is the fear of losing the contents of his blog!! I must relate what happened yesterday.

Yesterday I drove to Alor Star town to do do some errands and came back home about 12.30 in the afternoon. Usually, he would not be back from his round of golf at this time. However, I saw his car was already parked in the garage when I arrived. On entering the house, I was a bit surprised that he was reading the papers in the family area instead of scrutinising his blog for comments in the study room as he would normally do at that time. The answer to my question came the moment he saw me. "There's something wrong with my blog", he started. OK, so that explains why he was not in the study room!! Sensing that I was feeling hot and tired and certainly not in a helping mood, he approached the issue more diplomatically "I'll try again after lunch", he offered. OK, alright, I got the message loud and clear. What he meant was, "You have to fix my blog". After almost 40 years of marraige, I know how to decipher the underlying meaning of his  phrase and statement. "Elementary, Watson, elementary" quoting Sherlock Holmes to his assistant. Incidentally, my dear husband thinks I fit perfectly into the role of Watson while he takes centre stage as Sherlock Holmes every time we try to solve a puzzling issue!!!

So, after lunch, Watson obliged and started to investigate the snag while the high and mighty Sherlock Holmes loomed majestically at the back. Well, what do you expect. Watson will always be Watson. However, this female version of Watson is not one to give up easily. Sherlock Holmes was pacing up and down tirelessly and kept on muttering that now he was in REAL TROUBLE. I felt quite sorry for him. Every time he clicked the image icon to upload an image, it said "ERROR". After toiling at it for 2 solid hours, Watson was finally successful in fixing the problem. Phew! What a relief! It was totally done the Watson way, of course, purely by trial and error. Who cares!! Sherlock Holmes was not in the room when the problem was fixed, apparently resigned to the fact that Watson was not of much help.

When I told my dear husband that I had put everything back together again, he was overjoyed. You know what he said?  He said  "You're smart" and to which I retorted  "Never under estimate your Watson!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jitra's Summer

When we first moved to Jitra in November 2000, I was convinced that we made the right choice, as far as the weather is concerned. It was cool and breezy with the rather frequent downpour signalling the arrival of the monsoon in December. I was quite unperturbed by this seasonal monsoon having seen more violent ones when my husband was based in Kuantan in the late 70's and early 80's. The cool weather continued right through January before changing abruptly with the coming of February. Suddenly, the breeze stopped, the rain stopped, the cool weather which I thought was a permanent feature of this northern-most town of Kedah came to a halt.

What followed was enough to make me want to pack my bags and run off back to K.L. I was not very keen on settling down in Jitra, in the first place, having stayed in K.L. for so long. But my dear husband had other plans. He was of the notion that K.L. is a place for the young and energetic to pursue their careers and accumulate their wealth. Once they have achieved their financial goals, then they should seek out a more peaceful and relaxing place/kampung to retire for the rest of their lives!! Imagine!. Well, what do you expect? Being the good , loyal  and submissive wife that I am, I complied to his wishes.

Now it was my turn to get back at him. You see, if there is anything my husband is not willing to compromise, it is the HEAT. To be precise, the SEARING JITRA HEAT. I could see that he was restless but he put up a brave front. The heat was also getting at me but I was able to tolerate it better than him. I waited patiently for an opportune moment to lash back. Wicked me.

When we built our bungalow at Darulaman Heights, the contractor got all the wiring for the air-conditioners ready. But my dear husband did not want to install air-conditioners. He wanted to go completely natural. He thought by coming back to Jitra he could get back his chidhood way of life. - you know, like opening the windows wide at night for the cool breeze to lull him to sleep and gazing up at the millions of stars adorning the cloudless sky. FAT HOPES.  Oh yes, the cool breeze and the stars were all there alright but so were HUNDREDS OF MOSQUITOES and other padi-related nocturnal insects which were completely alien to me. Finally, my dear husband had to succumb to modern technology but not without one last desperate attempt to get me to hang a mosquito net. Gracious! NO WAY! He knew that I could not be persuaded much further, so he was left with no other options.  No more cool night breeze, no more twinkling stars, no more mosquitoes - no more NIGHTMARES!!

Now, we are able to sleep peacefully, the air-conditioner purring softly and soothingly, totally oblivious of  Jitra's hot summer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Secret Formula

As promised, I will let you in on how I shed off all those unwanted kilos. When I was approaching retirement in 2008, one of my greatest worries was how to continue staying trim. My weight then was 49kg and I thought all the running around like climbing the stairs, extra classes, co-curricular activities, house practices, etc, etc, etc. contributed significantly towards my efforts in keeping all the unwanted kilos at bay. Based on this assumption, I tried to figure out a way to keep myself equally busy to maintain my 49kg after retirement.

My husband suggested that I join him on his daily round of golf. Sorry, I was not prepared both physically and mentally to embrace this sun drenched activity!! He then suggested that I write - blogging was completely unknown to him at that time. Again, I was not interested. Me....a writer? Impossible. Outrageous. I didn't have the skill nor the penchant for writing. The last time I wrote was a composition during my school days!!

My retirement came and I was still contemplating on what to do. Finally, I gave up and just carry on with my daily chores and commitments. Yes, I know. EXTREMELY BORING. But, I made an astounding discovery - instead of putting on weight, my weight went down to 48kg!! WOW! FANTASTIC! JUBILANT

Before I list down my daily chores and commitments, I think it would be useful for all to know that I do not have a maid to help me around the house. My elderly mother is dead set against employing a maid. I used to have a string of maids and every single one did not measure up to her expectations. I tend to agree with her for they were more of a nuisance than of much help to us. But this did not deter me from persuading her to give another try. We ended up quarelling, so I gave up. My intentions were noble - I didn't want her do all the housework at her age but there was no way I could talk her into seeing it my way. I am not an inconsiderate daughter. I tried, but failed misearably.

I am a morning person, a VERY morning person. I wake up as early as 5 every morning, sometimes 4.30. I will start off by doing a combination of simple stretching exercises and my version of the yoga for about 30 minutes, never longer. I feel very much rejuvenated after this session. I don't know whether this helps to burn off calories, but I will NEVER omit this from my daily "weight control regime". Well, that is about all the exercises that I do. The rest are all household chores, chores and chores. My mum initially refused to let me help with the chores. I am an only child and believe it or not, I am perpetually "her little girl" even at this ripe old age!! But arthritis has slowed her down and I managed to convince her that "her little girl" is as capable as she is. The only area which is still out of bounds for me is the kitchen. She thinks I'm a lousy cook. I tried telling her many times that I am quite a good cook. I told her that I once cooked laksa Penang in less than 10 minutes. Of course she dismissed this as utter nonsense. But, it's the truth.

All the sweeping, washing of clothes (my mum does not believe in washing machines), ironing, watering of plants, cleaning the compound , etc, etc, etc are shared out between my mother and I. Feeding my cat, Tuah and 6 stray cats twice daily is my domain. All these activities will keep me busy until about 11a.m. with a short break of about 30 minutes for breakfast. So, I "work-out" a total of 6 hours non-stop EVERYDAY. These seemingly mundane chores are very effective in burning off the unwanted calories. You have to try it to believe it.

So, I am not a lady of leisure. There are no expensive gyms or professional instructors to help with my weight management. I do it my way. For me, it is killing two birds with one stone - burning off calories and at the same time keeping my house clean and orderly. I don't have Marilyn Monroe's hour-glass figure but enough to make many others my age go green with envy!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuah - An Introduction

 In one of my earlier postings  entitled "Cats", I related how I developed a liking for cats. I used to be rather wary of cats and would shun away for fear that they bite or scratch. Now all that is history. Cats are very much a part of my life now. Kitty gave birth to 5 kittens on the 12 February 1997. Four of the five kittens were still born. Only one survived and the survivor was named Tuah.(Luck in Bahasa Malaysia). From that day, Kitty and Tuah were to become part of the family. When my mother looked at the newborn Tuah, she told me   "You can keep him". I was immensely overjoyed because at that point in time, my mother had not developed a liking for cats yet, merely starting to show some compassion for the starving ones.

Tuah and his mother Kitty were initially kept outside the house but when Kitty started to date again and left  ten-day old Tuah to fend for himself, I just could not bare to leave him alone outside the house at night, so I brought him inside the house. I gave him a comfortable corner partially hidden under a chair. He seemed to like it there and each time I peered to see him, he would let out a shrilling meow thinking that his mother, Kitty had come to suckle him. Kitty would come home only once a day during the mating season so Tuah had to be bottle-fed.

Tuah was a boisterous and inquisitive kitten. I had a tough time trying to keep him under control. He would "disappear" for a few hours and then when I had given up all hopes of finding him, he would noncholantly parade back into sight as if nothing had happened!

When Tuah was about 6 months old, I took him to the vet to be neutered. I had to make this decision because Tuah was starting to show interest in the opposite sex. I was told that he would travel "far and wide" to pursue his interest and I might lose him forever, so I had no choice but to neuter him.

I thought he would sober up after the operation. Fat hopes. Before the operation, he would chase all male cats on sight. After the operation, he chased both male AND female!!! It was a nightmare for me. All cats were enemies except for his mother, Kitty and my cousin's female cat, Kentoi. Kentoi was living next door then, so both of them were the greatest of pals. Kentoi being a few months older than Tuah, taught Tuah a lot  of daredevil stunts from climbing out of the upstairs window to crawling on the rooftop and then bungee jumping down to the balcony! Kentoi would always emerge safely back on the ground  panting triumphantly leaving poor Tuah stranded on the balcony not knowing how to retrace his way back through the upstairs window. Now, it was my turn to do the acrobatics to bring him back to safety!!

One year old Tuah

Tuah and his mummy, Kitty, enjoying their afternoon siesta

Kitty reprimanding Tuah for misbehaving

Tuah all set for a spin-off in a washing machine

Two year old Tuah squeezing under the  same chair  he took shelter as a 10-day old kitten 

Life was full of fun for Tuah until we decided to move to Jitra in 2000. Both Kitty and Tuah moved to Jitra  with me and Kentoi moved to his new place in Bayu Lake Resort, my cousin's new home. Tuah and Kitty had only seen Kentoi once since the tearful separation. You can see Kentoi in my cousin's blog "Forever Ikhlas" entitled "Jellical Cats"  dated December 2009. Click the link here to see Kentoi.

Look out for more stories on Tuah and his mother, Kitty in my future postings.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Birthday Greetings






Monday, February 8, 2010


I am not really interested in politics but when the time comes to vote, I will fulfill my duty as a good Malaysian citizen. I may project a very liberal and casual attitude towards politics but I have a very firm and solid mindset when it comes to choosing which political party I want to rule the country. (Don't we all?) That is about all the involvement that I get myself into as far as politics is concerned. However, I have this desire to relate how politics affect the overall scenario in schools during my time as a teacher.

Throughout my 33 years of service, I had taught in only 6 schools but I think it is quite safe for me to generalise the atmosphere in most schools, pertaining to politics. The first half of my career was free from any form of serious political antagonism among colleagues. We were able to talk and joke freely and loudly about any political figures or political fiascoes. There was no neccessity to choose whom to share our opinions regarding political issues. We were never actively involved in politics but we loved to talk about the current political events of the time. Everything and everybody was safe and sound.

However, the second half of my career took a turn for the worse. About 90% of  the school population was on the "other side" - both teachers and pupils!  Yes, even students were very vocal, condemning the other party outrightly with intense hatred in their eyes. On one occasion, there was this boy who got overly emotional and started to mimic his parents extreme dislike with such gusto that I had to "intervene" - and intervene I did, my way, of course!! I was horrified, petrified at his sudden outburst of anger that all the calmness, patience, tolerance and impartiality expected of a teacher dissipated into thin air. It was too much for me to swallow. I retaliated back in full force, my sense of judgement gone awry! Hey, I am human, too. Here was one cheeky 15 year-old who could barely add or subtract simple arithmetic getting all worked up over the nation's political crisis. It was unbelievably scary, to say the least.

When the nation was thrown into a political chaos in the late 90's , it was not easy to tell friends from foes. We were briefed ever so often to be loyal to the "government of the day", but as soon as the briefing was over, you could hear sarcasms and insinuations hurled out loud for the benefit of the other faction. This cold war went on for quite some time. I had a friend, a very close friend, who called me up to inform me of her political standing. She coaxed me into telling her which side I was on. That was the last time I heard from her.

There was another humurous incident worth mentioning. I was quite close to this colleague, but he was on the other side. Nevertheless, he would give me durians, rambutans and dokongs from his dusun during the fruit season. Over time, we learnt to respect each others political inclinations and beliefs. During the last elections (2008), I just started undergoing treatment for Hepatitis C, but I told my husband that I had to carry out my responsibility. We drove to the polling station and as I alighted from the car, I saw this good friend approaching us. He was wearing his party's tee-shirt. He was trying to usher us to his camp for the registration identification. My husband took my hand and propelled me to our camp. I could see despair and frustration written all over his face. You guessed it, there were no more durians, rambutans and dokongs after that!

But, there are numerous others who put friendship before politics. I have many true friends who are very sincere in their friendship regardless of the differences in our political beliefs. To me, friendship is very precious, sacred even. True friendship should be able to overcome all obstacles, political or otherwise.

Can you guess which side I'm on? Very obvious, isn't it? It's all out there in between the lines.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Money Matters

I get very annoyed when I hear some of my Muslim friends boldly and arrogantly announce for the whole world to know that their salaries are theirs alone. They are not willing to share whatever they earn with their husbands. SAD, WEIRD, CALCULATIVE and utterly STINGY. You profess your undying love for that man and yet when it comes to money......SORRY. WHAT'S MINE IS MINE ALONE. And of course, the ever popular cliche "Your money is mine and my money is mine " is a clear indication that there is definitely an area where love is not able to reach out.

According to this group,it is in the teachings of Islam, that husbands should provide for EVERYTHING. Yes, I absolutely agree but  have they forgotten that Islam also makes it very clear that a wife will be immensely rewarded if she shares out the financial burden with her husband. I dare to challenge that there is nowhere in Islam which forbids a wife from helping her husband financially.

Some husbands do not grumble on this financial arrangement. Good. These wives must thank their lucky stars for having landed such an understanding, accomadating and obliging partners. But, what about those who are not able to cope with the demands of the their unthoughtful, inconsiderate, conniving, scheming and manipulative wives? Out of desperation, they may ultimately resort to the inevitable - getting some financial assistance from the vicious and unforgiving alongs - all because of their wives selfihness and unwillingness to share her money.

I have made my stand loud and clear regarding this issue.To this extremely fanatical religious group, remember " If thou aint granted permission by thy husband to pursue a career, how in heaven's name art thou able to earn thy own money". (This is not a verse from the Quran, merely my Shakespearan influence. I did a bit of English literature those days in school. Glad that it comes in handy now) Is it not true? Islam entails that a wife should seek the husband's permission first before embarking on a career. If he says no, then you, as a good Muslim wife should obey and remain at home with no money of your own to gloat over!!!

I know  many are wondering whether I practice what I preach. Would you believe if I say that I don't even know how to use the ATM machine, I don't know my pin number, I don't know where my ATM card is or everything else associated with the management of my money. Now, if that is not a good Muslim wife vowing eternal love for her husband, I honestly don't know what is!! But, I am blessed with a good and honest husband now and for always, I hope. InsyaAllah. My dear husband handles all our financial expenses utilising both our incomes. The little surplus that we have is wisely invested in our savings in ASB. Syukur  Alhamdullilah.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Market Strategies 2

Guess what. This morning,while making my rounds at the Jitra market for some fresh vegetables, I was once again pleasantly jolted by a remark from the same girl who sells the salted fish.(Who else if not this cunning little lass). She hollered me from her stall and on hearing Kak ......., I walked over to where she was, as if hypnotised. She wanted to show me her fresh stock of salted fish but I told her I still have a lot more in the house. She was quite satisfied with my answer. I just bought some from her two days ago for my salted fish curry.

Then as I was about to turn and leave her stall, she tactfully asked "Macam mana Kak ........ maintain langsing sangat?" WOW! FANTASTIC! I forgot all about  her strategies and tactics. I was so overwhelmed by this compliment that for a second, I felt like Victoria Beckham!!! (Sorry guys, your guess is wrong. Victoria Beckham is not the celebrity she associated me with). I was speechless for a few seconds. Judging by the huge and mischievous grin on her face, I guess she sensed that I was experiencing this uncontrollable pleasure initiated by her, of course.

After regaining my sanity, I realised that she was not really keen on getting an answer from me. This was her way of ensuring that I only buy salted fish from her and only her alone. May be she felt that my interest in her salted fish was beginning to wane, so she had to act fast to ensure that I don't stray away. Frankly her price is quite exorbitant but what the heck. For a moment in time, I felt like being in Seventh Heaven!!!!

I think, this time she did not exaggerate about my figure. I am proud to announce that my weight is 48 kg and my height is 160cm (5' 2"). Well, nowhere near the extremely skinny Victoria Beckham but at my age, it is an achievement worth mentioning.  May be I will let you in on some useful tips on how to get and maintain this svelte figure in my future postings. Be on the look-out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Market Strategies

This morning after breakfast, I drove to the wet market to get all the things necessary for salted fish curry. My mum promised to prepare this dish, my husband's favourite, for lunch. Jitra's wet market is very small and after some time you get to know all the folks there. Some of them are very nice and greet you with a wide smile while others seem quite hostile, for whatever reasons best known to them only. I build a rapport with the friendlier ones and one of them is the girl who sells the salted fish. This girl, in her mid-twenties, I think, has her way of teasing me. She calls me Kak ..............( after a well-known celebrity). I knew she was just pulling my leg and felt very embarassed when all eyes turned towards my direction the first time she called out to me using this name. After some time, most people got used to her form of address and started to follow her example in calling me that. Of course, I protested, telling them that I am twice the celebrity's age and nowhere near her in terms of beauty and grace, but they persisted stubbornly. Well, may be that is her way of luring me to her stall. They have their  "market strategies", too. In all honesty, I must admit, it does give me a certain amount of pleasure, regardless of whether their assessment is genuine or otherwise!

Then, there is this stall belonging to a Chinese couple which sells grated coconut and coconut milk. The husband calls me "Datin".  I corrected him several times but my requests were left unheeded. Every time I want some coconut milk, I will have to scout round and make sure there are no friends around at the stall for fear they hear the title bestowed upon me. It can be painfully embarassing lest my friends think that I was the one who initiated it in the first place. But, once again, in all honesty, I must say that it does wonders for my self-esteem and boosts my confidence to a certain extent.

Now, what can I say. Despite all the protests, I am foolishly and helplessly drawn to their stalls instead of the others. These people know how to play their game - "market strategies" and all. At the end of the day, it is a win-win situation. They get one regular customer and I derive some form of satisfaction for the "recognition". God knows how many "celebrities" and "Datins" are out there thronging the wet market of Jitra every day!

Sorry guys, I am not ready to reveal the celebrity's name. It is toooooo embarassing. Not now, not ever. Well, may be after a facelift or an expert make over!!!!