Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Evening at Boulevard

I went to listen to Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil ( a black American Muslim, an Imam of a mosque in the US) speak again.When I first heard him at Rumah Universiti lunch reception, a day after his arrival in KL, I was like oh mannn...can this man speak.

So when I got invited to the evening at Boulevard, I jumped at the idea and took Kak Pah along with me (Nik had another dinner the same evening).The Imam was sponsored by a local NGO working on world peace (backed by government agencies and other private organisations)and he travels with other religious leaders around the world with peace mission.

I am just amazed by the speed this NGO organises things.They were in 120 places though mobilising the nation on a single pursuit: rebuilding family, renewing society.

I only have a small question on this whole thing. If as according to so many foreign guests at the dinner at Boulevard, Malaysia is a wonderful country which allows diversities and religious tolerance, why the theme rebuild family and renew society? In fact the good Imam said we need to export our secret recipe on our success managing such a diverse nation.I think the theme should have been 'fine tuning existing success' or something along that line.But it was good seeing so many people of different race and religion coming together with an awareness that it is important to ensure the well being of the family institution.It's only when one of the American pastors started to evangelise that I got truly uncomfortable.I think he spoilt the Malaysian spirit of "bagi mu agama mu, bagi ku agama ku" (the religious tolerance).But it's OK.He's the new kid on the block.He doesn't understand (yet) the Malaysian way.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

No Black Tie Performance with Malika Booker

Malika Booker with her students - after a successful show at the Food Foundry

It was Jasmine who invited me to perform at the No Black Tie (a jazz bistro on Jalan Mesui near Istana Hotel where great talents from all over the world get invited to perform.I didn't know this till the evening itself.Oh wow, so honoured.Thanks Jasmine! She was with me in Francesca Beard's workshop and she had liked my work)

I was the one to 'perform' first.Given the hectic life I led, there was only a few hours' practice for the event.I wanted to memorise my lines the way Francesca did and speak from the heart.The first one went Ok..the second I started to have mental block..the third memang I nak baca from my book but tersilap pilih tajuk (on death) Had I known I was the mood setter (the first to go)I would have chosen something cheerful.Haiya..what to do...But Malika said she felt immediately at home listening to all of us (she went last)She mentioned my poetry on my father's death.I guess for a first timer, it wasn't so badlah, kan? I have a few people coming to me and said nice things.Nik and Z were there supporting me, giving me kind words of encouragement after the show.Z said she liked the piece on her grandpa (the death poem)Three of my students also came to give their support (thank you guys!)But it was a friendly environment and I made friends with Spore Founder of Slam Poetry and he did well mixing music and theatre and poetry like that.We had promised to network (his wife kept saying, "Call us when you are in Spore".Baiklah!).

Malika herself was fantastic.She was good in the last piece...mixing the Caribbean oral tradition element in her work like that.Best sangattt!! We laughed macam nak rak!

I'm having a workshop with her tomorrow.I will share here, InsyaAllah.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shocking sad!!!

I can't believe what I discovered while doing some research on gender equality and equity in Malaysia.Apparently I am the only one who seem to be ignorant of this fact.It's stated clearly in the 9th Malaysian Plan book and other researchers have been flaunting the statistics here and there.

Apa ceritanya,Cik?

The story is this: Malaysian women don't even make half of the working population

Kadar penyertaan tenaga buruh
mengikut jantina ialah:

Jantina / Tahun 2003 2004 2005
Jumlah 65.2 64.4 63.3
Lelaki 82.1 80.9 80.0
Perempuan 47.7 47.3 45.9

Manakala bilangan guna tenaga (employment) mengikut jantina bagi tahun 2005

Jantina / Tahun 2005 %
Jumlah 10,045.4 100.0
Lelaki 6,470.5 64.4
Perempuan 3,574.8 35.6

What does this mean?

1.It means women are at the mercy of their male guardians and very often become subjects of abuse cos' they are NOT financially independent.

2.It means all these talks of too many female students at the unis (more than 70%) mean nothing cos' employers still prefer male employees no matter how dumb they are (and I'm not being emotional when I say this)

3. It means what is Kementerian Wanita doing about this stats? Reasons given for women NOT working include : prioritising family and kids; no childcare facilities at work/residential areas. We don't see any improvement in helping women ease up their burdens or encouraging them to participate in nation building without them jeopardising their motherhood or wifehood.In a uni nearby, it is the Staff Assoc which has to finance the running of the Daycare Centre.We have been fortunate at IIUM that this bit is taken care of by the employer (thanks IIUM!)but I wonder how many organisations are as sensitive as this?

But then again, can we look at women NOT working as something positive? That they are not turned into industrial slaves? Only if they are not turned into cheap labour or domestic servants by their husbands.If they are given enough space and time to nurture the children with shared responsibilities between husbands and wives, help out with charity organisations, then maybe this is something to celebrate.But I rasa byk yg hidup atas ihsan suami.Suami kontrol pergerakan dan perbelanjaan.Which is so so sad.We are in 2006.The figure was almost the same in 1990.

What do we do, women?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Back at work

I'm still on leave but for the past 2 days I came to work.Why?

1.Imagined work and the fear of not being able to cope when I return.
2.Real work that needs to be done in the office cos' my printer at home rosak.
3.Free electricity at work.Ha ha.Just kidding.

So many things going on my mind at the moment.Will the real Faridah stand up, please? There are moments when it is hard to decide but I remember what Dato Shan said: if you have so many choices in life, do what you have to do NOT what you want to do.

Then will we be happy? Doing what we have to do but not what we WANT to do? Desire is often bad, isn't it? And wanting is desiring? The other is a responsibility which means pahala all the time.If done dgn hati ikhlas that is.

I wrote two short stories.One I already sent out to a major writing competition but I think it will not win. The second one is half cooked.I find it hard to end it.I also find it hard to expose it.It's too real.Where is the fiction bit? :)

DELL has many activities planned this month and months that follow.I should finish work end of January and start working on my research on Moore and Phui Nam and those beautiful people waiting to be discovered in the USA. Francis sent the invitation letter to his uni. (which I have no time to act on yet).Mohja is still away but she said she would fax me an invitation soon too.Andrew says I must find time to speak at Cornell.3 months is a short time.I should have asked for a sabbatical leave but Z is having her PMR this coming year.I miscalculated!

Oh stressful betul.I wanna sit at home, do my nails.