Thursday, December 28, 2006

Otherwise normal

Circa 1990s, she was a teacher at our school.

She's the skinny Ms with shoulder length hair pinned at the sides, her fair skin graced with just a little make-up on her face. Standing at medium height in her black pumps, most of the time she's in pastel-coloured baju kurung or a combi of maxi skirt and billowy blouse.

She's one that walks with quiet confidence in the hallways, yet articulate and strict in class.

She thought the sixth formers, but along with a few more teachers, she took over my class for a short duration while our teacher in charge was on maternity leave. She shared bits and pieces of general knowledge, addressing us in Bahasa Malaysia, once in a while in English.

But we've heard about her dark peculiarity, so non of us dared to test her. We were too fascinated with her mysterious personality to have time for pranks.

Younger teachers speak in hushed tones everytime she walks by. The seasoned staff don't discuss her at all. The headmistress treats her just like anyone else.

Of course, PIBG parents were worried. When the buzz about her became to hard to ignore, the ustazs and ustazahs released a general warning to the students to seek them out if someone tries to confuse us about religion.

We all know who they meant by "someone".

Every time it's her turn to babysit, we expected her to launch into a sermon to lure us into darkness, or maybe hypnotize us into becoming her followers. But she never did.

The only time she did something different was that time she gave out a recipe in conjunction of the class being moved to the Kemahiran Hidup lab.

Then one day she was already in the news. She claims she's the messenger of God who brings God's words.

It was as if a deep sea volcano had erupted - students saw only ripples on the surface but we knew deep down it was a serious matter. Parents came worried, teachers tried to play it down while the headmistress took the necessary actions.

Local ulamas swiftly did their job - she was detained and asked to repent. According to reports she did. We heard she was transferred to the education office to do clerical work, and we never saw her again.

Once in a while the news about her resurfaced, and apparently she still believes she is the chosen one. But the last we heard about her was years ago.

To suddenly see her being headline material again is quite a tragedy. All these years and she's still swimming against the tide.

Wonder what's going on in her head?

What was it that propelled her towards the path she chose?

What is triggering her thoughts and action?

Has anyone ever tried to get her to tell her story?

Has anyone truly helped her?

Where's her family?

What kept her going?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In today's newspaper

NST today seems to be brimming with stuff I just have to read, despite having three stories unfinished and two bloody products to review:

1] Johor bah!
Sorry my Sabahan friends, when I say bah, it's not to replace lah. I meant Johor is underwater. I don't know from which state that term came from, but bah means flood from where I come from.

And folks had to be moved from their homes, lifted into boats and sent to camp out at makeshift shelters.. hope rain stops quickly and the water levels will get back to normal. I hope that cat, Piper who saved her human family from becoming landslide victims is safe somewhere too. Good cat!

And some of my mates are on their way for "Xmas" shopping in Singapore.. Er, more like motor shopping, we're talking about Arai helmets and Honda fairings and Ohlin dampers etc.. I hope they'll not get stranded and get to go on with their programme.

2] Thailand stock market semi-crashed
That report by Mustapha Kamil on the Bangkok stock market dipping by 14.8 per cent (and brokers keep thinking they'll wake up tomorrow and things will get better) reminded me of 1997 - it was a sad time - though on a microscopic level I'm glad that I don't have to leave home to further studies and still get government money running into my account.

Then, many of my college mates were upset that the government decided to pull the plug off the overseas studies program (imagine, of all sectors, education is one that seems easiest to scrape), but some snakes did get to fly and they promised their TESL mates who had to be transferred to UPertanianM that they'll bash Soros on their way to their class. (None of them get to do that, bunyi je lebih.)

Can you blame anyone for enjoying the silver lining? Hey, I'll not be one of those people pouring money into foreign economies. So I bought jeans and tees and belanjaed my family at a local restaurant with my studies allowance - the least I could do to get Ipoh's economy upbeat at that moment.

3] Houston rapist after boys
Apparently a clean-shaven man, 18-21 years old, a botak armed with a gun has been randomly stalking, robbing, and sexually assaulting boys. So far five late-teenaged boys has come forward to lodge reports, but police suspects there are many more victims relunctant to do so.

Sometime ago a guy - unfortunately he's quite jambu - confided about him being violated twice and each time by a different dude. The first time he was so shocked, he narrowly escaped. The second time, despite being attacked from behind while playing on a games console, he managed to kick the fella's balls and cabut.

There's been studies that show rapists are less eager to proceed if the victim continues to fight. However at gunpoint..

4] The rags and riches Singapore story
It was about that comment Wee Shu Min, daughter of Singapore MP Wee Siew Kim, left on a guy's blog post about him worried about losing his job ("one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country", signed off with "please, get out of my elite uncaring face"; and later topped by her father's comment "her basic point is reasonable").

Apparently despite being Asia's second-richest country (Japan still tops) with GDP per capita of +/-US$27,000 (RM97,000), in terms of income disparity the country's Gini index, which measures inequality of income distribution among households, Singapore scores 42.5, sandwiching it between Burundi and Kenya (so shows UN Human Development Report 2006) .

Biar betul? It was just like hearing from Oprah that a big percentage of Americans are living in poverty. I take for granted what I see on Puah Chu Kang and Under One Roof (assuming they're just like Gilmore Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond - so called reflection of the American lifestyle, vv).

I take for granted that the country looks so modern and the population is not that big, so guess it would be easier to make sure everyone is taken care of, right?

Wrong. Running a country - humongous, big, so-so, small, tiny, unknown, whatever the size - is hard work. Now I know. (I guess in a smaller scale, running a family is also tough for most parents nowadays huh, as we've seen what one offspring can cause. Bet I'm a cause for my parents to worry as well.)

So with that, thanks to all of Malaysia's true leaders, (especially my politically-active-even-in-her-70s aunt who's always reminding us cousins to remember our roots) and tabik hormat!

5] Letters to the Editor: Goodbye Bok House
For this I gotta thank photography instructor, Mr Eric Peris for making us visit that magnificent but dilapidated, little, old bungalow.

6] 50 new species found in Borneo
And one of it is a tree frog! I'll be thinking of that the next time I'm going for the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Everything massive

^ One of the many series of temples - gargantuan lot all of them - are converted to become a touristy shopping area.

That's just how it is in a country as big as China. The buildings are huge giants, the dishes (especially ones you can't eat) are a whole load, and even the girls are taller damnit!

No I don't have pix of the leggy Shanghai gals, they're not as sporting as the Shibuya divas. Last night I was asking for directions to this Italian restaurant where the rest of the benchmarkers are meeting, and this perempuan simply turned away even though I said "Ni hao."

Again just now, I asked a peddlar at the night market how much for the item he's selling, but he pointedly talked away with his two lady companions in order to brush me off. Aiyo, what hospitality? Pelik kan ca ya tak nak buat duit?

To think they have a long history of civilization... No such thing as being civil here! Most of them are as cold as the December weather!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Socks-ed trees

So one idiot decided that a winter jacket is not worth bringing for a couple of days trip to a four-season country (which is not anywhere down under) right at the start of December and settled for a lousy combination of sweater and jacket instead.

Anyway weather's very cold in Shanghai, even its trees are "wearing" socks!

^ Stocking-ed trees saying welcome along the Pudong Airport - main Shanghai highway.

And what bad news! Apparently the fake market Shanghai is famous for has closed down 6 months ago! No grade A fake TagH watch, LeSportSac totes, not even low grade Adibas pedals for the taking - what a waste.