Sunday, November 30, 2014

School vacation and wedding season

It is so heart warming listening to the excitement of young families talking about where they are taking their young children for holidays.Sal is taking hers to Langkawi.Eishah is exploring the northern provinces sambil ikut suaminya berceramah.Adik (my niece) is still clueless but is going somewhere (she just got back from Seoul on a family vacation as well). Nik and I bak kata Gita - terkulat-kulat cos' we don't have little ones to go holidaying with.Semalam we took Nayli out for an ice cream.Nadra mati keras tak mau ikut (she's so distrustful of us.Haha).She got scolded by her mom  for getting the big pack of famous amos berterabur.She ran to me and hugged my legs and between tears said she wanted to leave home (umur baru 3 tahun dah pandai nak lari dari rumah!).I said ok, ok.Aunty Nor will help you leave home.Then she said I don't want to leave home. Drama queen betul.

Nadra in her lemon tree costume
(on her concert day)

We went to Bangi to attend Haji Razali and Kak Hajjah Rokiah's son's wedding reception.What a beautiful space, garden like.The cuisine was nice.We caught up with news of other jumaah of our 2000 hajj group. Haji Melaka is now a doctorate academic.Mak dia masih berkat panjang umur.Yasmin and Mohsein could not make it.Haji Khalid is in Sabah on some job.I hope we'll have a reunion soon.We were close (satu bilik or sebelah menyebelah..we took the cheapest package.Muasasah masa tu.But we had fun as a close knit community)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Di sebalik tirai besi - democratising education

We are coming towards the end of our project at the women's prison.We did a quick survey on how the students had changed from their 3 months plus encounter with me and team.

It's a wonderful, wonderful feedback and we will be documenting our findings in a book soon.Yang paling menyentuh hati, students who could not speak or write in Malay could do so and proudly doing it in their short stories in Malay.Those who wish to write in English are also improving their English.Alhamdulillah berbaloi getting up early in the morning and travelling so far from one end of the world to the other.

Lagi satu episode is when one of the students (non-Malay) minta ayah dia belikan kamus Bahasa Melayu to improve her Malay and she is so motivated that she gets her Malay friends to teach her how to speak Malay correctly (working on her pronunciation).

Yang juga menyentuh hati my student from the estate is now so confident that she is documenting her estate stories (which I love so much cos' I learn more about her community in those settings).

I know it will be sad when the project comes to an end.The students' self esteem is so high that they are now so popular dan digelar penulis every time they walk around the prison.They tell us it gives them a sense of pride and makes them want to work harder and produce the best.

Today we acted scenes from their writings to see what else to edit.When you act out, nampak lebih nyata what works, what does not.Senang sikit nak edit apa yang tak kena or giving a different voice or giving a voice to a character yang dipinggirkan.

Saya doakan hanya yang baik-baik dan semoga projek ini mencapai matlamatnya.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The latest in tertiary education

I do not think there's much happy news except that the industry has gone like any others: protectionism, elitism, rich people's club and it continues to favour the privileged groups...those who have money, live near well-endowed unis - will gain and will have the world under their feet (not in their palms to care for).

I'm usually not pessimistic but this economic bloc thingy seems to be extended to the education industry now.I raised this issue with Michael Gallagher who also touched on access and equity in his talk.But he gave a long honest response: it is a matter to be taken up possibly by NGOs and be brought to the international attention but his suggestion that we took charge of where and what we wanted  made more sense..ASEAN or OIC should hv their own G18 ke hapa group.Masalah dgn Arab ni, depa suka berapit dgn orang putih dari membangun sesama Muslim.We lose before we begin.Pas tu kalu pi unis in the West pandai pulak bwk diri ikut peraturan segala.Kat UIA, hentak2 meja kalau tak dpt apa dia nak..not all ..ada la a few cases.

Dato Prof Dr. Asmah, our DG is a real smart lady.I like her decisiveness.She spoke on the digital natives (Nadra one of them..lahir2, dah ada iPad etc).When this gen enters uni, the way they learn will be different.Are we prepared for that? She suggested blended approach would be the future of tomorrow and powerpoint and other forms of multimedia would be irrelevant in classrooms (cos' they would have been given before classes).

 Part 2

As always, informal conversations say more than formal talks.I was in conversation with the speaker from Spore and said the prob in Spore was not about funding but what happened to graduates upon graduation since the unemployment rate is now standing at 8% with 50.5% work force going to foreigners.Takda artinya NUS being ranked first in Asia, 22nd in the world if the uni were made of 50% foreign academics and the fact that they failed to produce nobel laureates to date (saja I cucuk sbb dia eksyen sgt on the rankings..haha but a nice chap really cos' he said nasib I tak tanya soalan tu sbb it is in debate in Spore and I had nailed it) But being the gentleman he was, he mentioned our conversation on this in the panel discussion.With the Prof from Jamaica pun bagus discussions nya at tea break.He said I was welcomed to do my sabbatical in Jamaica.Reggae time! :))

My former student, Maryam was sweet enough to take me and Norzan out to lunch by the beach.I had char kuey teow, coconut shake and coconut juice.Sedap gila kat Padang Kota ni.

I loved staying at the Equatorial cos' it's so quiet and the staff are so friendly...semalam we used the van service to dine at the Chinese Muslim Restaurant and we dropped Norzan at Vistana on the way back.

Pagi tadi I missed the USM transport (sengaja bangun lewat) but the bellboy got me a taxi at rm10 to drive me to the venue (which was just at the foot of the hill..I could have walked but tak cool la nak menyeret luggage I down the hill, kan?)

Orang melayu di Pulau Pinang.

Gagak di Pulau Pinang

Penjual ais krim di Pulau Pinang (nampak kaki dia je)

Melayu Pahang di Pulau Pinang

Pasangan dari India berhoney-moon di Pulau Pinang

Mariam (former student) and Norzan enjoying coconut shake di Padang Kota

Bersih juga airnya

Pantai ditembok

extra income berjual rojak, laksa Penang, air.Smart move

char kuay teow ala Penang


mee sotong




the south african experience

old friends

a quiet breakfast at equatorial

Jerok Pak Ali

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Before subuh flight

Sometimes I forget I am no longer young.I bought a 6.50 am air ticket to Penang which means I would have to get up at 5 am to dress up segala.Nik hantar ke Subang Airport.I tak peduli if I snored inflight.Ngantuk giler.

Sampai kat Vistana..I found out my accommodation got screwed up and all rooms were booked.But the organisers said they'd get me an on campus room.So accustomed to having a butler..tukang angkat bag segala, I left my luggage in the van.Satu hal pulak nak detect where the van went.There was this young man from UUM who was such a gentleman dok pikul my bag ke hulu hilir.I thought he'd carry it down when I got off at the conference venue.Byk lawa muka I.Haha.

But they found the bag by lunch time and found me a room at Equatorial.Ini org kata rezeki Allah Taala.Syukur alhamdulillah.

I met new friends.So nice people from everywhere.Sambung later.Going out to dine with old friends in Penang.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Yesterday we tried our luck to visit Nadra again but mak dia tak layan. We buat2 nak pi hantar some lemon chicken (which we could not finish at the Chinese restaurant at around 8.30 pm) but Lina said oh's OK..we are done with dinner now.We wanted her to say but you are welcome to visit.Haha.Nik cakap dia pun dah rimas kita org asyik drop by kacau anak2 dia.

Tell us what else to do after Z pun dah malas nak layan our 3 times a day calls semalam?
The age of patheticism had seeped in.Empty nest syndrome is back! I told Nik maybe we should really adopt that 3 year old Palestinian child refugee so that kita tak kacau anak orang lain.Dr Farizah and Dr Rozina once reminded me that I would only torture myself and the child knowing how busy the household could get on normal days.

Ah well, it won't be long till we'll be running around again on tasks.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lunching in the sun

We kinda decided pretty quickly that we'd have lunch together at my place today to honour hard-working students who had participated and made BENL Writers Festival such a fun project.But students had to prepare their own lunch cos' I was not feeling too well.Bibik cooked Chinese fried rice.The team came early to marinate the lamb, help me prepare the salad, start the fire, butter the biscuits, etc.About 30 people were there so I just let them do what they had to do while I bergoyang2 kaki jadi mandur.Haha.

My former colleagues came: Hasnah and family and Zul.Huda, Aizar and Dr. Riza could not make it.We had fun talking about our blues at CERDAS esp during audit time.I'm glad to know both Hasnah and Zul are doing very well in their career.

The boys led tahlil and yassin for Dr Maimunah's dad who passed away yesterday and we tompang sedekah for our dead loved ones as well.Then we listened to each other's creative works and the making of our art.They wanted me to read from my The Art of Naming book.I told them my life journey and read parts which reflected my politics.Haha.Rosak budak2 ni.But we had so much fun.Then got Alifah and Faridah to play on Z's keyboard with music yang tersedia cos' they forgot their magical fingers.They could play other musical instruments better.Apa pasal tak bawak, I asked.Alifah said cos' we came with baca yassin mindset and didn't expect to perform. :D Well, life is full of surprises. Just bring anything, everything. :))

Bibik and Nik said they enjoyed having the students over.Me, too.They are all Z 's age or a year older.Is it any wonder?

Malam - went to visit Nadra.The older siblings were with their dad at the cinema.Nadra was overfeeding Nayli's 3 little fish which she got for her bday from her teacher.I thought I heard Nadra say "three's a crowd" Biar betul bdk umur 3 tahun ni. :)) But she's so funny.This week she finally said yes, I love Aunty Nor but screamed No! when Uncle Dee asked, " Do you love me?". Haha.