Friday, January 30, 2009

This is what I do to pass my time whenever I'm free. Every morning, I will walk into my garden to appreciate what has been grown. It's really nice to see these plants grow. I'm currently very excited about the bitter gourd. It's really fascinating to see it grow each day. Next to the gourd is the vegetable the chinese call 'wang ti chai' I don't know what you call it in English. It is delicious when cooked with sambal but I prefer to just stir fry it with garlic. Below the 'wang ti chai' is the lady's finger plant. I have more than 10 lady's finger trees in the garden. The lady's finger (okra) is tasty when eaten fresh. Usually in the mornings, I'll pluck 1 from the tree, rinse it with water and eat it straight away. It is crunchy and sweet when eaten raw. Good for the bowels but of course, I would not encourage one to eat raw ladies fingers that are bought from the market as it is not crunchy and fresh anymore, besides, it may have pesticides. The other plant which I love to eat it raw is the 'Oriental Basil'. It's easy to grow and a beautiful plant to have in the garden. It's commonly used in Vietnamese and Thai food. I love to eat it with sambal, like how ulam is eaten. So here's basically a mini introduction to my little vegetable garden. I have other plants too which I might just introduce to you in future. As much as I like vegetables, I have divided my garden to two parts which is the vegetable garden and the garden for flowers. I like to have colors in the garden. At the moment, my garden lacks of flowers, one of the reasons why the flowers are not growing too well is because of Brandy. She has done much damage to my plants. Here's one of the survivors of 'Brandy attack'- the Bunga Raya plant. I actually planted two other types of 'Bunga Raya' but Brandy ate them. I'm determined to grow the Bunga Raya again, for now, I'm working on the Alamanda first.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Teacher, were you once fat? Ms. Loke took me by surprised when she asked that question. I was not offended for I knew she just wanted to solve her curiosity. I answered her by saying yes. She had the guts to ask so I gave her the answer. Ms. Loke is on my ‘interesting students list’. Reason is because she is different from the rest. She is just special and I like her. She makes me smile.
Today, as I was window shopping after a squash game, in my worst attire with my colleagues, I heard ‘TEACHER!’ and then Ms. Loke appeared from nowhere asking me ‘teacher, are you engaged?’ I was surprised by her once again. How on earth did she find out? I doubt any of my colleagues would have been nosy enough to announce it. And then she said, ‘from your blog lah teacher, I read your blog’. I felt like putting a bag over my head when I heard that. She had been reading my blog! Goodness gracious me. But then again, I should expect that to happen shouldn’t I? After all I did not make my blog private and I placed it on the internet. So, will I be making any changes? I guess not for now. I have nothing much to hide although it does not excite me to discover that my blog is being read by my own students.

I’ve been wanting to send Brandy to the vet. She has grown much since I adopted her and it was time to spay her. I was however slow in my actions. Brandy got her heat while I was busy marking the exam papers. I’ve had dogs since young but I’ve not had much knowledge on how to care for dogs. Common sense told me that the heat meant Brandy was no more little and that she could have puppies. The heat now makes her attractive to male dogs. However, common sense did not tell me that male dogs mate bitches while they are on heat and the heat is the mating period for dogs. In other words, if Brandy is to be near to any male dog during this period of time, the possibility of her getting puppies is high.
I consulted the vet and discovered that the heat would last for maybe two weeks and I should make sure that male dogs do not go anywhere near Brandy during this period of time. It is not easy to keep these guys away because pretty Brandy is just too attractive for them to resist and they keep begging for her outside our fence. Gosh, I can’t wait for the heat to be over.
Somehow, it feels different to have a dog in the house and watch it grow. My opinion towards the dog is so different compared to my thoughts when I was a kid. Even my concerns are different. Some people describe Brandy as my daughter but to me, she is a little puppy who makes my days brighter. She is cute, adorable, funny but naughty. She amuses me everyday. A good therapy indeed for a moody person like me. I love my naughty Brandy.
Yesterday, while finalizing the marks, I lost control of my stress. Suddenly, I felt like going crazy. I almost went nuts without knowing the exact reason. I stopped my work and went to take a bath. I took the body scrub which Sheau Yuen gave me and gave myself a good scrub. Bet when Sheau Yuen gave me the body scrub, she never imagined it to provide me with such a great feeling. It felt heavenly. I felt as if I did not want to leave the bathroom. Never in my life had I felt so good while taking a bath.
I love my job. It is not too bad but marking makes me sick. It makes us want to quit our job. It’s such a stressful task to mark within such a short period of time with responsibility. I’m glad everything is over. My mind is finally at peace once again. I can now dance to the rhythm that nature makes. I hear birds singing once again.
I’ve been marking exam questions for 8 days. It was indeed a horrible experience. The paper was easy. It was a bonus paper for those who were competent in the language, yet, many students failed to answer it well. Marking the papers gave me much stress and really tested on my emotions. Firstly, I had a deadline to meet. I had to mark approximately 170 over scripts within 7 days. Every script consist of 9 comprehension questions, a formal letter, a cloze passage and an essay.
Secondly, I was disappointed to see the kind of mistakes the students still made despite being thought over and over again in class by their teachers over certain matters. The teachers who thought those students were more experienced than I was and yet, some failed to do well. I wondered how did my own students fared. I wondered if they failed to satisfy their examiners too. If they had, then perhaps I as their teacher had failed. I was anxious about their performance and at the same time wished I had done much more as their teacher during the semester. Nevertheless, I learnt a thing or two from the marking. I gained some new ideas on how to improve my teaching next semester.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's the exam season and I am just as anxious as the students. I want to know how did they fare in my paper. If they did well, then i have done my job. If they fail, then I have failed as their teacher. I am anxious to know how MH will do in her resit paper on Monday. I can't wait to see what have we accomplished in these two weeks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hell is going to break loose tomorrow. The final exam begins and I have 200 papers to mark. Every set of paper will have a comprehension, an essay, a cloze passage and a formal letter. I don’t like exams because marking exam papers is a very troublesome matter. Seriousness and concentration is required as those papers are being marked and we are only given around 9 days to complete the task.
This semester was not a very good semester for me. Often, I was discouraged by students who were not keen on their studies. Some skipped classes while some withdrew from their studies. Perhaps my expectation on them were too high, I had this ideal vision of how I would want them to be and they did not turn out to be what I wanted them to be. The disappointments discouraged me. I was so tired of chasing after problematic students that I just did not want to care anymore. I did not bother to check on those who did not turn up for appointments. I decided that it takes two hands to clap and if they wanted to do well in their studies, they had to take some initiative and act on things.
Two weeks before the semester ended, MH came to me and told me that she was going to reseat for one of my papers and asked me if I could give her tuition. I agreed but I was skeptical. Last semester, I offered her tuition throughout the semester but she never turned up even once so this time, I did not take her request seriously. During out first meeting, I gave her some Antonyms to memorize. It was quite a lot to remember. When she came to see me again during our next meeting, I gave her dictation on the antonyms and she got 80% of it correct. I was pleased because she did study. I continued to give her work to do and she always got her work done. Sometimes it was not well done but I could see that she was serious about passing the paper this time.
I’m happy to have given her a second chance. She is one of the weakest in her batch, I remembered her friends calling her stupid but she inspires me. My encounter with her gives me hope to help weak students. She will not get A for this paper but I know if she maintains this consistency that she has, she is going to do better than most of her peers at the next level. Today, am a happy teacher.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ok, I’m engaged. I got engaged during Christmas. He told my family that he wanted to get engaged with me and they approved. I’m happy to be engaged but then again, what is engagement all about? All I know is that it means I am no more available to other guys and I’m going to be the wife of the guy I’m engaged to I’ve been asking people about the meaning behind engagement yet no one has been able to give me a satisfying answer.

I’m happy to be engaged for I’m 99% sure that he is the one. I know he will be a good husband and we are going to be happy together. As much as I’m happy, I’m also worried. I’m worried about many things. First of all, I feel worried about my parents. I have no problems following my future husband to wherever he chooses to settle down yet I’m worried because I’ve made my parents to be dependent on me and I cannot just pack my bags and leave the way I did when I was 20. My parents are not young anymore, they need people to care for them and my presence has brought much security to them. People have been telling me that my parents look healthier ever since I came back and my presence has made a difference to them… I’m worried about them. What happens when I get married?

I have other worries too including finances but I know those problems can be solved as long as I make those little sacrifices i.e work extra for an extra income, live less lavishly so on and so forth. If the poor can find true happiness with the very little that they have, I don’t see myself not being able to do it too.

So…I guess these are my concerns for now. I’m excited and it’s about time I settle down with him….but at the same time, I’m mot too much at peace. Please keep me in prayer, that I find my solutions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We have more than 10 graves to care for at the western road cemetery. Ideally, we want all the graves of our ancestors to be clean and pleasant looking. However, circumstances makes it difficult for it to be well maintained. Last week, Mary paid a man to clean my great grandfather’s grave. Our initial agreement was that he does the cleaning for RM 100 ringgit. When I went to settle the payment, the guy asked for more as the grave needed to be filled with extra soil and some cement work as the tomb was falling apart. I agreed with his reasoning. When I went to the grave the next day, the guy asked for the payment in advance as he needed cash to buy the materials. I thought it was a reasonable request so I gave him the money. That was the last time I saw him.
There are many odd job workers trying to earn a living around the cemetery, some of them do their job well while others have tarnished these people’s reputation by not keeping promises. I am aware of such possible problems arising but then again, I also believe in giving people a chance to prove their worth as well as not judging people at first sight. He did a magnificent job towards the marble on the tomb, never had I seen it so clean, that’s why I trusted his word and gave him the extra money. Unfortunately, he took advantage of my trust.
I was very dissatisfied by what had happened. I asked the other odd job workers and they admitted that that particular guy could not be trusted. They said it was difficult for them to warn me as my sister had given him the job before they could warn us plus they did not want to create an unpleasant feeling among them. I drove along the cemetery and asked people if they saw him until a man told me to wait. He walked down to a corner and shouted in tamil. He was shouting at someone angrily for 3 minutes and dragged the guy out, as if to tell him to give me a good explanation and that guy told me he will get it done before Sunday. I am skeptical, the other men told me it will never happen but I’m going to wait and see what happens.
It is so annoying when people take advantage of other people’s trust, tarnishing other people’s reputation as well as the saying ’ once bitten twice shy’ once an odd job worker cheats you, you become weary of them.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Punctuality is important. It is a student's responsibility to be punctual.

'Teacher, I woke up late, I am sorry, can I come and see you at 10.30 am instead of 10am?'

This is not a valid reason for lateness. It is not suppose to be ok but then again, there are many other students who are worst than this girl. They do not even turn up for appointments. So, this girl, although is late for her appointment without a reasonable reason is considered to be better than those who do not even bother to notify.

Sigh......what's wrong with us? She is suppose to learn how to wake up on time and be punctual for her appointments, but then again, the environment has not taught her that and she thinks it is ok to be late as long as she notifies.

There are many habitual latecomers who have the cheek to their their lecturers that:

'Teacher I know I'm late, but at least I come. I could have chosen to be absent you know' as if the teachers need them to be present in their class. For a teacher, it is always better to have fewer students in the class for we teach better when the group is small.

Gosh, what's becoming of this society?
It was definitely not easy at the beginning but I manage to pull through. I would say that I’m more fortunate than many other people because I have friends who supported me in times of difficulty. I graduated in the year 2004 and I’ve been working for almost four years already. Although, I’ve been working for four years already, I’m just starting to see myself the way I sort of visualized myself to be when I was younger. I’m only starting to see myself as a person with a career and a stable income; I can see myself progressing in time to come if I continue to work from where I am at the moment. I know, if I persevere, I should be able to achieve something in time to come. There are ups and down in life but I have nothing serious to complain about. I am generally satisfied with what I have.
I know I have dreams of owning my own restaurant and chalet; it has always been my ideal dream. But then again, I’m in no way frustrated that I’m no where near it. Maybe one may think that I’m not ambitious enough but I don’t see that as a problem. I have learnt to prioritized things, I know what’s important to me most and I to work on achieving it, the only challenge that I foresee myself having is when I cannot have both and need to choose between the two things that are most important.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Last night was a lonely night for me. I did not receive a single sms. Yet, I was not disturbed, I just wondered why did some people not respond to my smses. Also, I found it interesting that no one bothered to even send me a new year sms. I had these curious thoughts lingering in my head from time to time throughout the whole day. Little did I realize that I was actually having a network problem that prevented me from receiving any smses. So after I got my problem solved, I had my handphone flooded with smses. Some were still valid while others were already outdated.
I did not make any new year resolutions but there is a thought that has been distracting me. There is a little urge within me that desires to help kids from poor families enjoy and appreciate education. I don’t know how can this desire be a reality after my first encounter with M but I believe things are still possible with Him as my guide. Some of you may ask what happened to my dream of owning a f & b business, and if I was ever serious with any of my dreams especially since I have not been doing anything about it to become a reality. Well, I have not cut off the F& B dream.
The dream of giving education to kids is actually not a new dream. I’ve had this desire ever since I went to Tapah to teach the orang asli kids for 10 days 6 years ago, perhaps the only difference between this dream and the F & B dream is that I rarely spoke about this dream to anybody. I was saddened by what I saw in Tapah and I promised myself that I would do something to give needy children a second chance and maybe that is why I never hesitated to teach the weakest students in the college English. I had hope in them.
I spent my new year morning day dreaming on how to make this dream a reality, it felt good but when I think back about M, the castles that I built in the air suddenly collapsed.
It is new year, the fireworks have just stopped and Brandy is lazier than she ever was. She is lying stiff under the chair, refusing or cannot be bothered to move a single inch from her position. I think my poor puppy is disturbed by the fireworks and feels most secure under the chair inside the house.
It has been one of the most depressing evenings. So lonely and boring, with nothing interesting at all on air. Perhaps the problem is myself, I am overly negative in my thoughts so much so that I failed to see anything positive today that would cheer me up. Yes I sound pathetic.
I was invited to participate in a few gatherings but eventually I opted not to go for any of it. My reason was simple, I could not see myself finding contentment in any of it. I am grateful to be invited, no offence to any of them, I just did not feel like going for it that’s all. Orange said I sounded as if I am disturbed, I denied but I think she is right.
I had a mission today, my mission was to fulfill a wish list before the year 2009 and I put in a little effort on it after work. I had very limited details of the girl I was going to help. I only knew her name, her needs and her father’s mobile number with a house address. Prior to visiting her, I tried to call her father over the mobile as I was filled with uncertainty. I had tried calling for a week to an inactive number so finally, I braved myself today, found courage to go and look for her house. The name of the street was familiar, it was a main road that was more than 1 km long. I had no problems finding the street but not the house. Thank God for the gift of six sense, I parked my car somewhere and headed towards the direction I thought would be right.
I found the house with no problem, I guess God guided me. The house was not where I imagined it to be, it was a little wooden hut located in the squatter area. Thankfully, the house was the first house I checked out, I did not have to search further. I stood outside the door and took a little peep. I saw a young man and a teenage girl getting intimate on the couch. I asked them if it was M’s house and the girl told me it was she and that was my first surprise.
I told M how I got to know about her and asked her if there was anything I could do to help especially in education. Her mother came out to see me (second surprise, I was told she had a retarded mother, so I was surprised to discover that the mother seemed perfectly normal and healthy). M said, she stopped going to school (that was surprise number three because I was told that she needed help in education), when I asked her when did she stop schooling, she told me since two years ago. I asked her why did she stop schooling and her mother said it was not necessary because she did not show interest in school, besides, she had younger siblings who were still in school receiving education. I asked her if she was working and she told me she was too young to work (she is fourteen). So basically, I was given the impression that the girl I was suppose to help is actually not going to school because it is not important for her to get education and she is not working because she is underage. I asked her if she needed any help ie wanted to go back to school and all she answered was she has to ask her father first. Every single question was replied with ‘ kena tanya bapa saya’
To be honest, I really felt discouraged after the visit. There were many things I could not comprehend. Firstly, they lived in the city and was well exposed to development, yet their hut was worst than any of the orang asli houses that I’ve been to. It was dirty and rats were seen as if they belonged to the family, walking out of the rooms into the kitchen. Secondly, how could the adults allow the family to live in such conditions. The hut to me is not a problem but it is pretty much ridiculous to say that poverty is the reason why cleanliness and hygiene of the home is neglected. I’ve been to the outskirts and I’ve seen how bad living conditions can be but I honestly cannot understand how is it that people living in the city can be worst off than those in the outskirts. They have furniture, electric, electrical appliances…etc but the living conditions seemed worst than the poorest of the poor in the villages.
I found what I saw today to be terribly disturbing. I try to imagine M’s father. Part of me feels as if ‘oh well, since they themselves are not interested, I should might as well be committed to those who would appreciate it’ but then again, another part of me is also disturbed by M’s facial expression when I asked her if she wanted to study. She looked as if she was about to cry……
The year 2008 left without leaving me at peace. I want an answer from the person who provided M’s information on why the information provided was misleading and I also want to meet M’s father to know why she stopped schooling. If M goes back to school, she has three more years to prepare for SPM and I’m sure if she makes the best out of her second chance, she might just have a different kind of future.
Happy New Year! I hope you are not as discouraged as I am.

Oh by the way, taboo phrases in my life for the new year are ‘have to play by ear’. ?“For goodness sake, why can’t people decide? I have a life to live and my time is precious. I cannot be flexible on things that involve others and requires commitment. My time is not to be spent with you only for I do have other people in my life too. I think flexibility is sometimes being misused as an option for non-commitment.