Dau

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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Among all the pictures I took during the two years at college, there’s a picture of Dau ironing a long, pleated, brown skirt she planned to wear to class the following day. I also have a picture of her holding the skirt in front of her, and striking a pose. She was quite a character. I can’t quite remember why I had my camera out and how I managed to get the picture. I do remember however that after I took that candid shot, I ended up chatting with her till quite late into the night, snacking on the cake I’d brought.

I met Dau during my first week at college. We were in the same team of juniors on a treasure hunt, one of the activities that the college had organised for incoming students during Induction Week. From the moment the teams were handed the clues for the treasure hunt, Dau took charge. Our team eventually finished in the top three. That first time I met her, I was totally in awe and extremely intimidated. She was tall, lithe, athletic and had a gravitas about her. She also totally rocked a pixie cut.

She was one of the popular juniors, most of the seniors knew her and she had more than her share of secret admirers. It wasn’t enough that she was statuesque but she was also adept at Taekwondo. She was friends with most everyone and always had a smile on her face. It would’ve been easy enough to hate her except that Dau, infuriatingly,  was one of those girls that guys wanted to be with, and girls wanted to be. More than once, I wished I could be her.

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Curfew

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It’s 11.10 pm. Twenty more minutes to curfew.

My roommates and I had just returned from the mamak, a roadside stall, about a slow 10 minute walk away. I had my regular supper of maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) and iced coffee.

11.15 pm.

We were milling around near the guardhouse, which was at the entrance of the small gate we entered that led to our hostel block. Other students were at the phone booths, making calls to family or loved ones. There were more students queuing up behind them, clutching coins or a fully loaded phone card. I would normally call my folks on Thursday nights, to tell them what time I would be home the following day.

11.25 pm.

Some students were already trekking back to their rooms, some nodding at the guard, Pak Guard, we called him, who was standing at the gate ready to usher the rest of us stragglers in before curfew.

My roommates and I were one of the last to go through the gate that night. As we climbed up the ramp to our floor, we heard the gate clanked shut. We were locked in for the night.

 

Birthdays

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It was May Leen’s birthday.

Like most birthdays we’ve celebrated here in college, among the new friends from far-flung states that we’ve made, there were:

  1. A big makan-makan (dinner) with the gang
  2. A public display of embarrassment affection when the gang erupts into a raucous, slightly out of tune birthday song (on purpose)
  3.  A birthday gift and card shared by at least 15 people (we were students with a student loan, so most gifts were shared)

We were in our room, she was getting read to open her gift from the guys. It was a cassette. She loaded it into the player of Felicia’s red radio, and pressed play. Then voices came on and we heard the guys wishing her a happy birthday, followed by the sounds the strumming of a guitar. Not many of the guys knew how to play the radio so we were trying to guess who were the guitar players. Probably Pey Haw or Cheese. Then they started singing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and us girls sighed in almost-unison.

May Leen looked to be in tears, it was such a thoughtful gift. The fact that the guys got together and probably practiced the song before recording it, we were nothing short of amazed.

I looked at my desk and saw my birthday gift among my textbooks, a book from the Chicken Soup from the Soul series signed by maybe ten people, remembered the card that came with it, a Get Well Soon card, and wished someone recorded a song for me on a cassette.

Aaron

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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I remember driving up towards the college campus. I was in the back seat of my parent’s Pajero, clutching my backpack. I had another suitcase in the trunk of the car. It was mid-morning and I thought I’d be early but there were already many students and their family milling around the academic block, which was where we were supposed to register upon arrival.

As we drove past the academic block, looking for a spot to park in, I noticed a boy in a white dress shirt tucked into black pants. A woman, most likely his mother, was straightening his tie. The boy wore a bored and frustrated look on his face. I smiled to myself.

Later, I learnt the boy’s name was Aaron. He ended up my classmate for the next two years. I also learnt that he liked to tap his feet when he was figuring out problems and that he thought I was a strange creature.

He was my first love.

Reflections from a sort-of A to Z Challenge survivor

survivor-atoz2b255b2017255d2bv1I had every intention of completing my posts ahead of time despite the fact that I would be off on a holiday for two weeks in April. However, those intentions turned out to be pipe dreams.

Nevertheless, when I realised that I’d be posting according to my own schedule and not the planned schedule for the challenge, I tried not to panic and reminded myself that this challenge is not meant to add stress to my life.

So, I plodded on, and was happy (and not anxious) at posting some letters many days later. One of my motivations to keep going was that I really liked my theme this year – Malaysiana! I was happy to write about the culture, food and other interesting facts about the country I live in. It was equally awesome to read the comments!

So, post A to Z, I want to catch up on blogs that I’ve missed from the folks that did this year’s challenge! Also, I’ve been toying with the idea of perhaps doing a post focused on Malaysiana perhaps once a week so we’ll see how that pans out!

Zoo Negara

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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The Vienna Zoo was opened in 1752.

The London Zoo, or as it was known then, “Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society of London”, began operations in 1826.

Compared to these zoos in Europe, Malaysia’s Zoo Negara or National Zoo, is relatively young, opening its doors only in 1963.

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I have to confess, the last time I went to the Zoo Negara, was in primary school as part of a school trip so I unfortunately cannot describe its current state (which I hope has improved!). One of the biggest zoo news recently, well in 2015, was the birth of a baby Giant Panda named Nuan Nuan at the Giant Panda Conservation Centre.

I’d actually like to take a close look at this baby and I’d probably have to do it soon since according to Malaysia’s agreement with China, Nuan Nuan has to be returned to China when she turns two.

Yang Di-Pertuan Agong

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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The 24th of April, 2017 was the installation of Malaysia’s 15th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, who’s the sultan of the state of Kelantan.

Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is a title referring to the monarch and the head of state of Malaysia. This position is rotated among the sultans and other heads of states in Malaysia, every 5 years.

The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Being the country’s supreme head, he is also tasked with appointing the Prime Minister, the ministers and deputy ministers and the attorney-general.

The current Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, who at 47, is the youngest monarch appointed since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.

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eXotic Malaysian Facts

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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Three eXotic facts about Malaysia you might find interesting (or not) :

#1. We call our elders uncle or auntie – Being called uncle or auntie by someone who is younger than you are but not someone you’re related to, is how we show respect to our elders. When I was younger, folks I interacted with at the grocery store or post office, would call me Kak (sister). This is also a form of respect. However, in recent years, no one has called me Kak and instead, I’m now auntie 😦

#2. All Malaysians have an identity card (IC) – It’s a rite of passage that every 12 year old get their identity card (IC). Each IC has a unique identifying number (like a social security number), full name, photo, current residential address and gender (in case you can’t tell from the picture, I suppose). The IC also comes with a chip. Our IC is more important than our driver’s licence, we need it to open bank accounts, apply for a passport and most government transactions. There’s been a rumour that information from our driver’s licence would be merged with our IC so that we wouldn’t have to carry both photo IDs. So far, it’s remained that – a rumour.

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#3. Where’s the pork? If you visit Malaysia and decide to go grocery shopping, be prepared to not find pork in the meat section. That’s because in our supermarkets, there is a non-halal section, which is normally somewhere in the back of the store and this is where all the pork, pork products and products without the halal certification, is secreted away. This section would also have their own cash register, so you pay for your non-halal products there before you pay for the rest of your groceries at the regular cash registers before exiting. Alcohol is also found in this section.

White Rajahs

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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Sir_James_Brooke_(1847)_by_Francis_Grant
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Sarawak, my home state, was once a Kingdom and its ruler was Sir James Brooke, the first White Rajah, who ruled from 1842 until his death in 1868.

He was conferred as Rajah after he helped to quell a rebellion among the Sea Dayaks in Lundu, and from what I’ve read, it seemed that it was a situation that he fell into totally by accident!

During his rule, Rajah Brooke, accomplished a great many things, among them he dealt with the practice of head-hunting and also suppressed piracy in the region.

Just recently though, I learnt that the Brooke Gallery was opened in Fort Margherita, Sarawak on September 26th, 2016 by Jason Brooke, a descendant of Sir James Brooke. Interesting fact: If the Brooke Dynasty still ruled in Sarawak, Jason Brooke would’ve been second in line to the title of Rajah of Sarawak.

Village

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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Villages abound in Malaysia. One of the more well-known villages that we have is Kampung Baru or New Village, which is situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Due to its prime location, developers have been wooing residents of the Malay enclave, however elders in the village have resisted. So far.

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Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com

I’ve never been to Kampung Baru but I’ve only driven past it on the myriad highways that surround this village established in the 1900s. Friends who have, tell me that it’s a typical Malay village, wooden houses and all.

And apparently, this humble village, which began as a pastoral community way back when, is now a food hub as well. Guess I better plan a trip there soon!