Monday, December 31, 2007

A Lasting Burning Sensation

Have you ever touched a chilly before? How does it feel? Well, my friend Tan Ching Hong and I had an unforgettable experience with dried chillies.

One day, the lady teachers in my former school (Jerantut Secondary School) suggested having a barbeque at Mrs Cheong's house. All of us agreed to it. However, Miss Tan Lee Nging who proposed it wanted us to share the work of preparing food and ingredients for the grill. The lady teachers took to the task of getting meat and vegetables ready for the occasion while Tan Ching Hong and I were to get rid of seeds from the dried chillies which were soaked in water. At first, we enjoyed doing a simple job like this. Little did we realise we were tricked by the ladies who must have known that it was a nasty job. Sure enough, our hands began to acquire a burning sensation after some time. As we thought that it would go away soon, we didn't complain about it to anyone.

The barbeque party went on smoothly and we helped ourselves to roasted meat of various kinds and some cooked vegetables. As usual, Simon Ching entertained us with his guitar and Anchor Chong had us in stitches with his jokes. We seemed to forget the burning sensation in such a jovial atmosphere.

I still could feel the burning sensation on my hands the next day. Despite having washed repeatedly with water and detergent the effect did not wear off at all. The sensation only left my hand on the fourth day!

From then on, I dare not touch chillies anymore

Readers are warned not to deal with chillies barehanded. Use gloves to prevent the burning sensation as experienced by me.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things To Do Before the Crash of Windows

I am sure most of us use the computer daily. Chances are the operating system may hang one of these days. It happened to me many times and it can happen to you too. In fact, I reinstalled my Windows more than five times because Windows stayed put and refused to work.

From the above experience, I know that we have to prepare ourselves for the system crash if it does. These are the things you need to do before it takes place.

1 Back up every one of your files on removable media such as pen drives or external hard disks. In this way you will have you files intact should crash of you Windows occur.

2 Back up all the drivers in the computer on a pen drive or a CD. It will help greatly in restoring them after you have reinstalled Windows. You can use a free software such as Driver Max to do the job.

3 Keep your original Windows Installation disk, and other installation disks for scanner, printer etc. in a safe place. They are needed to reinstall your system, scanners, printers and so on.

4 Keep passwords in a safe place or encrypt them and save to a file.

Happy computing and surfing the net without a hitch.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Right Attitude towards Exams

As I read the newspapers today, I could see photos of students who excelled in the PMR exam jumping up in glee and posing happily as a group for the lens man. The scene was not surprising as results of the second official public exam in Malaysia was announced yesterday. On the other hand, there were those who did not do well hiding in tears. This is a fact you have to face when you sit for any exam. You pass with flying colours or fare badly.

Hence the right attitude towards exams is very important. Students should realise that exams are held to test what they know or understand about subjects that they study and not otherwise. As such, if they study consistently and do regular revision as well as get to the bottom of things to understand a certain topic thoroughly, they should do well theoretically. However, luck do sometimes play a part in determining the outcome of an exam. Factors such as not feeling well, drowsiness and fear on the exam day will make a candidate's mind go blank or slow in responding to questions asked in the exam paper. Under such circumstances, the students shouldn't blame themselves for not doing well or feel ashamed as the saying goes, "Man proposes, God proposes."

What is important is knowing our weaknesses in a certain subject and try to overcome them.

With the advent of the Internet, looking for specific information is as easy as a mouse's click. Therefore modern day students should acquire more important skills than learning by rote. Instead they should learn to think creatively and try acquiring skills of problem solving.

Congratulations to young bloggers like Miss Jojo who scored straight A's in the PMR and don’t feel sad for those who are not so lucky.

Friday, December 28, 2007

How My Voice Gave Me Away

This incident happened in Kuala Lumpur when I was there to enquire about my application of transfer to Penang. I was talking to a teacher who was also there for the same purpose. Suddenly I heard the sweet voice of a lady greeting me from behind.

"Hi, Mr Yeoh."

I turned my face and saw a young lady beaming at me. I could not make out whom she was.

"Who are you and how do you know I'm Mr Yeoh?" I asked.

"I am Sarojini. You taught me Science in 1976 when you were in Jerantut, remember?"

Only then did the picture of her form in my mind. She is a Chindian as her mother is a Chinese and her father is an Indian. She used to mix around with Tee Guat Hoon and Wong Yoke Lan when she studied in Form 2 then. When I met her at the Education Department, she had finished her university course and was there to enquire about her posting.

Out of curiosity I asked her why she knew it was me when my back was facing her when she greeted me.

"Your voice, sir. All of us can remember your voice."

Well, my voice had given me away. Let me explain. I have been speaking with a nasalised sound since I began to talk. Initially I did not know the reason until I went to see an ENT specialist regarding the humming sound that I kept hearing in my ear. The doctor examined my ear, nose and throat. It was he who told me that I had a crooked nose ridge. That explains why the nasalised sound is produced whenever I utter something.

Nowadays, whenever I meet my students for the first lesson, I will tell them why I speak with a nasalised sound so that they will not mimic it because they know it is a physical defect of the teacher.

So much for this little episode in my life for today.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My First Encounter with Qigong

I used to envy those who practised qigong (a form of exercise where qi, certain charges in our bodies are made to flow through every part of the body to effect health) because they looked very fit physically.

Then one day, I had a chance to learn Zhineng Qigong (a type of qigong using the will to drive qi around) from a man who acquired it through the master who developed it. This man was involved in a car, resulting in serious injuries to his legs and he was not able to walk well before he went to China to learn it from the Zhineng Qigong master. Being very diligent in practising qigong, his legs were miraculously cured. After coming back from China, he still continued to do his qigong exercise.

After some time he started a class to teach others this school of qigong. When he set up a class in Bayan Baru, I joined it. After three months of learning from him, I stopped as I had enough knowledge of qigong and wanted to practise on my own.

Zhineng Qigong is wonderful. If you have reached the stage where you can feel qi flowing through your body, you can will it to flow to any part of your body. For example, if you feel painful at the right shoulder you can visualise the qi to go there and it will reach the place to heal the painful area, rendering it painless again.

When I go for morning walk in the Bukit Dumbar park, I can feel the qi sticking to both my palms when I hold them horizontally while walking. The same spheres of qi can be experienced when we do the normal qigong practice. This qi can be harnessed to heal or promote health by directing it at any part of your body.

I have actually downloaded the video on the qigong. I shall post it here for readers to watch and practise in another post.

So much for qigong for today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

English Is Fun to Learn

English is fun to learn. Believe me when I say this. My experience in learning and mastering the language can be a good example for those interested in learning English .

When I was studying in Form Remove (a transition class for students from Chinese-medium primary school with a lot of English thrown in to prepare them for secondary school where English was the medium of instruction), I had to look up the meaning of every new word in English that I came across. Hence my English-Chinese dictionary was really well-thumbed. The effort really paid off. Later, I referred to it less often and my interest in the language grew from day to day. To tell you the truth, I was able to read Enid Blyton's adventure series such the 'Aventure Five' with ease then. An Indian second bookstore really helped me a lot in improving my English.

You see, I needed only to pay 30 sen for a second-hand Enid Blyton book for the first time. Thereafter I just paid 10 sen for another title of the same series when I returned him the earlier book. In this way, I read almost all the Enid Blyton books available in the bookstore.

Then I went on to read Agatha Christie's and Sherlock Holme's thrillers. Sometimes I would read the whole book until I finished it the same day. This is the thrill of reading.

Reading is very important if one wants to master English. When we read very often the sentence structures will be impressed on our mind. As such, writing correct sentences comes naturally. We will also be using prepositions correctly. Of course, we must read books written by British authors. It is undeniable that we still need to study grammar. I was lucky because I had very good English teachers who gave me very good grounding in this respect.

I still find English fun to learn. Where else can you find a language whose pronunciation cannot be based on the spelling alone? Now, tell me how do you pronounce 'though','through','thorough', 'tough' and 'cough' or 'corpse' and 'corps'?

The same word can also be pronounced differently as is shown in the following sentences:

1 They refuse to dispose of refuse properly.

2 The first row of boys had a row with the second row of girls.

In the first sentence, the first 'refuse' is pronounced as 're fius' as compared to 'rare fius' for the second one.

The word 'row' in Sentence 2 is pronounced as 'rou' which rhymes with 'low' whereas the pronunciation for the second 'row' is 'rau' as in '

Happy learning and mastering English.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Time to Ponder on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to readers of my blog.

Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet who conveyed the words of God to mankind.

Jesus Christ teaches universal love which is still relevant today. If the people of all countries practise universal love, then peace will exist and there will no war and hence no killing of lives.

He also encourages good neighbourliness as he says, "Love thy neighbour like yourself." We should love our neighbours and render whatever help they need. In this way we can foster good relationship with our neighbours and they will surely reciprocate when we help them.

Hence let us all celebrate Christmas in this spirit.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Everyday or Every day?

The photo below which was taken with my Sony Cybershot T20 camera sends a wrong message to students of English. They may think that everyday is spelt this way every time. On the contrary, there is a difference between everyday and every day.

When it is used as an adjective, the spelling is everyday. If an adverb is intended, then 'every day' should be used.

The following examples should serve to illustrate the above point:

1. Going to market is an everyday affair for Mrs Tan. [everyday functions as an adjective.]

2 He jogs in the park every day. [every day is an adverb here]

So much for boob watch today. By the way, boob here means error and not breast as is used as a slang in other context.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tips on Using Prepositions in English

English is a wonderful language. It has words that can be used to describe practically any thing or any feeling. If you find that there are no words to describe your joy or sorrow, you can always say My joy at that time was beyond description. or Words failed to describe how sad I was when it happened.

The use of prepositions has always posed a problem to students. In the course of my work as a teacher, I have come across instances of wrong usage of prepositions in the essays submitted for marking. The following are examples related to errors in using prepositions:

1 putting a finite verb after a preposition.

Example 1

He resorted to use force on his victim when she refused to hand him the money.[use should be replaced with using]

Example 2

I look forward to receive your letter soon. [use receiving instead of receive to be correct]

2 using the same preposition with a particular verb

Example 1
We agreed with a date to hold a meeting. [with should be substituted with on]

Example 2

They agree with my suggestion to solve the problem. [on should replace with in this case]

3 Using a preposition after a verb that does not need it.

Example 1:

The team comprises of 14 players.[of is redundant here because comprises means consists of]

4 Using prepositions wrongly:

Example 1

I don't have the key of the room.

[The correct preposition to replace of is to.]

Example 2

These are the answers of the questions in the test. [The sentence is correct if of is replaced with to.]

Here is a good guide for you when using prepositions.

A preposition is used in front of:

a) a noun

e.g. She is fond of ice cream.[ice cream is a noun]

b) a pronoun

e.g. They are staring at him. [him is an personal pronoun]

c) an 'ing' verb

e.g. The firemen succeeded in putting out the fire. [putting is an ‘ing’ verb]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This Is the Day for Tang Yuan

Today, the Chinese all over the world will savour tang yuan, a type of glutinous rice balls immersed in syrup to celebrate the arrival of Dong Zhi (literally the arrival of winter or Winter Solstice). According to the lunar calendar, Dong Zhi is the last of the twenty-four qi jie or seasons. After this comes spring when Chinese New Year will be celebrated.

Dong Zhi falls on the 22nd of December if it is a leap year and 21st of December if February has only 28 days for the year concerned.

To the Chinese, tang yuan is the symbol of reunion and unity among family members as well as perfect fulfillment. On this day, all family members will gather to eat tang yuan together.

To produce tang yuan, glutinous rice powder is mixed with water and kneaded until the mixture is homogeneous. Dyes of different colours of your choice are added to the dough. For good omen and auspiciousness, five types of colour are mixed with five portions of the dough. It is quite tricky to make really round balls of tang yuan from the dough. You have to pinch a certain amount of dough, roll it between your palms in a circular clockwise or anticlockwise manner. The roundness of the tang yuan is determined by the pressure of your palms, the position of the dough and the circular motion. With practice and trial and error your tang yuan should turn out to be as spherical as it should be.

The Chinese believe that they are older by one year after having eaten tang yuan.

Happy Dong Zhi to all Chinese readers.

White dough

Pink and green dough

Making tang yuan

Tang yuan ready to be boiled in water with sugar

Come, help yourselves to the tang yuan.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mum Spoke to Me in Malay

On fine morning in December 1971, I received a letter from the Ministry of Education directing me to go for medical examination. Soon I was formally accepted as a trainee teacher in Malayan Teachers College.

The first week was orientation week. It was a very tight schedule. In the morning, we had to march round the field. Games with the seniors were held in the afternoon. Night time was spent listening to lecturers about course structures or attending a ball. The seniors must have purposely held the dance parties so that they could dance with the juniors.

Throughout the orientation, all directions and instructions were in Malay. Not a single session was done using English. One night, one strange thing happened to me. My mother was talking to me in Malay in my dream as she had never spoken in that language! The effect of the day must have taken its toll on me at night.

This is the experience that I can recall until now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Days of Chasing Ferries

After serving as a temporary teacher in Heng Ee Secondary School for three months as mentioned in my last post, I joined the staff of St Mark Secondary School in Bagan Ajam, Prai.

As I lived on the island, I had to take a ferry, then board a bus to reach the school on the mainland. Hence, every morning I took the first bus from Jelutong to the ferry terminal. Then I had to hurry in order not to miss the 6.30 a.m. ferry or I would be late for school. Hence, chasing ferries was my daily routine.

When I was in St Mark, I had to stand in for a teacher who was attending a three-month Bahasa Melayu course. It was not an easy task for me then as I had to teach Form 2 Geography, Form 3 History and Form 4 English as it called for preparation. This time, I had to prepare lessons for the three subjects according to the syllabuses. The boys and girls in the school were quiet and I could teach them to the best of my ability. There was one particular boy whose English essays I liked to read. His had the least grammatical errors.

The days of scrambling for ferries ended when I had to leave the school three months later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My First Teaching Experience

My First Teaching Experience

I started teaching even before joining a teachers' college. In April, 1971 there was a vacant post for a temporary teacher in Heng Ee Secondary School, a school founded by the late Father Julian. When attended the interview, Father Julian just asked me one question. He said, "Do you have a credit in Bahasa Melayu (Malay) for MCE?" I said, " I have a distinction in the subject." Then he beamed and asked me to report for duty the following day.

The next morning, I cycled to the school as I was still a student, waiting for my HSC results and could not afford a motorcycle. The clerk brought me to the principal's office. The principal then asked me to take over the duty of a teacher who had gone to attend a three-month Bahasa Melayu course. In those days, teachers without a credit in Bahasa Melayu would have to undergo a three-month course in the subject. I was assigned to teach Form Two and Form Three Bahasa Melayu. It suited me well because it was my favourite subject and I excelled in this subject in school.

It was pin drop silence when I entered Form 3A's classroom. As I was used to public speaking, I broke the ice by introducing myself and told them that it was not difficult to master the subject. They waited eagerly for what I had to say after that. Well, I let them know that to write well in the language, they had to understand 'imbuhan' (affixes) thoroughly and learnt to use them correctly. Then I composed an essay on the blackboard using as many affixes as I could to illustrate what I had said. They marvelled at my ability to write an essay impromptu and had great confidence in my teaching later.I did the same when I went into the other two classes.

I enjoyed teaching in the school because the pupils seemed to take a liking to me and did not give me much trouble. Those who hated the subject began to like it.

There was one teacher, a Mr Cheang who liked to talk with me in the staff room. He had very low opinion of the pupils there and had warned me not give face to anyone of them. However, my rapport with my pupils was very good. In fact, they even invited me to climb up Penang Hill with them. I did join them and on the way back, one pupil took me to his grandpa's orchard. There I had the privilege of savouring various types of rambutans - each with a different taste. Before going back, his grandpa handed me a plastic bag with an assortment of rambutans to take home. Such was the hospitality the pupil and his grandpa accorded me.

My three months stint in Heng Hee finally ended. On the last day of my teaching there, I received quite a number of presents from my pupils as remembrance.

So much for my first teaching experience.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Tags about Penang Hokkien

This post is a follow-up of the article about 'Penang Hokkien' which I had written earlier. More tags will be added in this post.

The use of tags come naturally with Penangites who speak Hokkien, a Chinese dialect. I did some sampling in the market place where conversation between customers and sellers of vegetables, meat and sundry goods can be heard clearly. It is pleasing to my ears when I hear Penang Hokkien being spoken. Here are further examples of the presence of tags in Penang Hokkien.

Example 1

PH: Yi bo kong hor gua tneah ma

E: He didn't tell me that.

Tag: ma

Example 2

PH: Toh si ah neh loh.

E: It's like this.

Tag: loh

Example 3

PH: Gua mai charp yi liau.

E: I won't heed him any more.

Tag: liau

Example 4

PH: Lu mo bark chiu khu ah si oh?

E: Don't you have eyes to see?

Tag: si oh

Example 5

PH: Toh si an neh khuan nieh tneah.

E: It's like this only.

Tag: nieh tneah

Example 6

PH: Gian nah memang jing gau char eh.

E: It is usual for kids to pester other.

Tag: eh

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Trip to Taman Negara

When I was serving as a teacher in Jerantut, Pahang, I had the chance of visiting Taman Negara, one of Malaysia’s National Parks.

Here I am, Taman Negara.

We had to take a bumpy one-hour bus ride from Jerantut to Kuala Tembeling. From Kuala Tembeling, a three-hour boat ride then took us to Kuala Tahan where Taman Negara was. On the way, the boat had to shoot numerous rapids and we had to get off the boat for the boatman to pass certain obstacles after which we were on our way again to the destination. Some of us would read, play chess or scrabble. My scrabble set came in useful then. Simon would strum his guitar and some of us would sing our voice hoarse. This was how we killed the time.

Waiting for our boat at Kuala Tembeling Jetty
[Standing with arms akimbo on the left is Anchor Chong]

We stayed in the chalets and the lady teachers cooked for us. All vegetables, meat and others were bought earlier in Jerantut.

We spent the afternoon exploring the jungle and passed by an aboriginal settlement. What a sight when we saw the aborigines! The women wore only sarungs while children wore mostly their birthday suits. The hygienic condition was deplorable for flies could be seen hovering over their hair and bodies. Finally we reached a natural pool deep enough for swimming. It was here that I was nearly drowned. You see, I was sitting on a tree trunk when I slipped and sank. I struggled hard to rise but failed and suddenly a pair of hands pulled me up and dragged me to the shore. It was Anchor Chong who had saved me. We called him Anchor Chong because he drank a big bottle of 'Anchor Beer' every night without fail.

The next morning at about 5.00 a.m. I went up the high hide near our chalet to look for the appearance of wild animals. Luck was on my side because I happened to see a tiger that had just awoken from sleep. Then a herd of Seladang was in sight. I counted and found eleven of them in the group. There were together because a tiger was around. I wanted my friends to see them, so I descended the high hide. Unfortunately, when my friends and I were up again, the animals had left the salt lick area.

Behind me is the high hide

They had to content themselves with watching mousedeer which roamed about. They were so tame and cute that we felt like stroking their bodies.

So much for my trip to Taman Negara in this blog.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some Examples of Manglish

If Singaporeans are familiar with Singlish such as 'don’t play play' which comes from Hokkien “mai chit tor chit tor” thanks to Phuah Chu Kang, so are Malaysians with Manglish. The following conversation is in Malaysian English or Manglish:

Gopal: Have you passed up the assignment to Sir?

Ah Seng: Sure. I passed up my one yesterday.

Fauzi: You are kidding, isn't it?

Ah Seng: I passed up my assignment what.

Gopal: Don't bluff me lah. How come you were earlier compared to us this time?

Fauzi: Although I'm usually lazy but this time I discussed about it with Joel and two of us did the assignment together.

Let me explain the use of Manglish as used in the conversation above.

1. "passed up" should be "handed in" in standard English which is English that can be understood internationally. You can also use "submitted" in place of "handed in".

2. We use the word "sir" when we address our male teacher directly. It is the equivalent of 'cikgu' in Malay. However, when we refer to him in conversation, 'sir' should be replaced with 'the teacher' or 'Mr Lim' if his surname is Lim.

3 "mine" should be used as opposed to "my one" if the English used is to be correct.

4 The question tag "isn't it" only follows a sentence that has 'It is' in it. An example is "It is your pen, isn't it?" In the sentence "You are kidding, isn't it?", the question tag "isn't it" is wrongly used and should be substituted with "aren't you".

5 The word 'lah' is a Malay particle that has crept into Manglish. It should be left out altogether in standard English.

6 "what" sounds confusing and is redundant in the sentence "I passed up my assignment what." The correct English structure is "I did hand in my assignment."

7 "How come" is not correct English. Use "why" instead.

8 Why use "earlier compared to us" when you should write "earlier than us" in correct English?

9 The sentence "How come you were earlier compared to us?" can be rendered as "Why were you earlier than us this time?" in good English.

10 The use of the conjunction "although" followed by "but" is most probably influenced by Malay, that is, "walaupun ... tetapi". However, in standard English, "but" is not needed when "although" is used.

11 The verb "discuss" means "talk about", so it should not be followed by "about" anymore. Hence the sentence "Although I'm usually lazy but this time I discussed about it with Joel and two of us did the assignment together." should have been "Although I'm usually lazy this time I discussed it with Joel and two of us did the assignment together."

12 In passing I would like to point out that "sure" is American English as used in the above conversation. British will use "certainly". So is "kidding" which can be replaced with "joking".

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Half an Egg for a Meal

Students nowadays are very fortunate in that they are provided with all the comfort, from what goes into the mouth to what takes them to school besides having quite big dough to be spent. If you are a student and you read on, you can count your blessings.

During recess, most boys and girls in a school will make a beeline for the canteen but not for Aru (not his real name) in my story. He would put his mouth under the tap, turned it on and gulped down as much water as he could. I had been observing him for quite some time. Then out of curiosity, I approached him and he looked shy and apprehensive. From my conversation with him, I had the shock of my life. Aru might be one of those rubber estate boys in Sungai Petani who were deprived of many things in life, food included in the late 70's. According to him, he shared an egg with his brother for two daily meals because his father was too old to work and his mother, who worked as a rubber-tapper, took home only RM90.00 per month for subsistence. With six mouths to feed, the clever mum thought of a way to feed them on a very tight budget. Since talking to him, I felt pitiful for him and so bought him some food during break whenever I saw him.

I share this true story with readers to show how difficult life was for certain groups of people who were exploited by their unscrupulous employers who gave them very meagre pay. The condition there must have improved tremendously by now.

So much for the unfortunate lot mentioned in this blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clicking Away on Sports Day

Came Sports Day and I would be busy clicking away with the SLR I was holding (see pix) from the start of the opening ceremony to the prize-giving at the end of the day. You see, I was given the job of a photographer during events such as Sports Day when I was a teacher in St Theresa Secondary School, Sungai Petani from 1979 to 1989.

Do you know what event we're watching?

I liked to capture the act of jubilant high jumper who succeeded in clearing the bar in the high jump event. The final dash of runners towards the finishing line in the 100 metres sprint was also my favourite shoot with my camera. I never missed recording the joy of winners who were receiving medals on films too. Other scenes of interest to me were the faces of excited supporters comprising teachers and pupils who shouted their lungs out when the running events were in progress, the ever ready Red Crescent Society members in their white uniform treating athletes who collapsed out of exhaustion or over exertion in the race and spectators with various unique expression when a certain event was contested.

I was at the scene waiting for the right moment to click.

During the break, I would go to the tent of my house to give my boys and girls moral support for I was training them weekly before the great event. I would have been with them throughout the meet had I not been assigned the job of capturing the event on films. You see, films were still the order of the day during the late 70's. The school would bear the cost developing the films and printing the photos.

The three cute children of Mrs Saw, the school clerk drew me to them every now and then and I would like to tease the kids or talk to their mother while resting under the shade.

Having some fun with the clerk's cuties.

My joy would be beyond description when I came back from the studio, bringing the shots home because I knew some of them would turn out to be just the way I meant them to be. With an SLR, the control of the aperture and speed of the shutter is in the hands of the lens man. Then, I would recommend some good ones for the school magazine for inclusion in the sports report.

So much for Sports Day in good old St. Theresa.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Journey of 60 Twists and Turns

Have you ever travelled along a winding road with 60 turnings to reach a place? Well, I have.

When I served in Jerantut as a young teacher, I used to visit my friend Yong Cheng Suan who lived in Raub, 96 kilometres away from where I stayed. I had to negotiate 60 twists and turns before reading Raub, a once gold town of the then Malaya. This was actually a mountain path and it could accommodate only one vehicle. I rode my Honda C70 motorcycle to Raub. On the way, I was scared of trailers carrying timber logs because I had to be on the look out for one as I had to stop to let the lorry brush past my side, almost touching me. A lot of creatures could be seen crossing the mountain path. Centipedes, leeches and iguanas were the common ones in sight.

It was quite a cooling journey of two hours. When I reached Yong's place - a house perched on top of a hill, he greeted me with the usual broad smile. We were classmates when we studied in Penang. The house was the residence of a pastor. As Yong was teaching in Convent Secondary School and had no accommodation, he was allowed to stay for a year there. It was lunch time when we met and he took me to a nearby Chinese restaurant to savour fried bean strips with bitter gourd which was our favourite. Then it was back home for a cold bath. The water was very cold and it would even be icy cold in the morning when we bathed.

We usually went to the local cinema to watch a movie. Knowing that I was an ardent cinema-goer, Yong would never missed taking me to the cinema whenever I went to see him.

He liked taking photos. The photos below were taken by him using his Seagull SLR camera.

This is the house where I stayed when I visited Yong

Posing in front of the only cinema in Raub

A garden in Raub

I spent a refreshing weekend in Raub, enjoying the cool air and Yong's company. Then it was the dreaded winding journey back to Jerantut.

So much for my winding journey to see a classmate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A blog is more than a journal

When I teach English to new students, I never fail to ask each of them to keep a journa1. A journal is different from a diary in that you can write your thoughts and viewpoint on certain issues in your journal.

With the advent of the Internet, a blog can serve as a journal. It is digitized on the net and is paperless. Hence, nowadays, I will ask my students to apply for free blogs on which to keep their journals.

From what I can see, a blog is more than a journal because besides writing thoughts, opinions and pouring out feelings onto it, bloggers can publish their gigantic and clear photos to show their photogenic faces and photos of themselves in activities attended by them. Famous bloggers like Kenny Sia even went to the extent of doing some daring acts like drinking a snake's blood and eating its heart and had it video-camed so that he could insert the video in his blog for others to view.

Some bloggers will sing and record their singing before putting the audio files on their blogs for the listening pleasure of readers.

Certain bloggers also conduct poll on current issues to gather opinion of net surfers about them.

Hence a webblog is more than a journal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Come to our class, Sir

When I left Jerantut in 1978, I was quite reluctant to part with her as I had very fond memories of the place there.

In 1979, I was transferred to Sungai Petani. The classroom atmosphere in St Theresa Secondary School, the school I taught in, was very conducive for teaching. What a group of darlings who were all ready to listen to my teaching! They did not make noise in class or in the lab. As a teacher, I knew that I must teach them until they understand my lessons. My effort was not fruitless. None of my students did badly in exams.

If there is anything that is indelible from my memory about St Theresa Secondary School, it is the Teacher's Day treat the pupils prepared for teachers. I never missed savouring delicious food prepared by my students for us.

On Teacher's Day, all classes were allowed to prepare food and drinks for the teachers. The monitor would always come to us, saying "Come to our class, Sir."

We adjourned from class to class, helping ourselves to the food and drinks. One particular pupil's class was the favourite of all teachers as he was the son of a restaurant owner. The fried chicken and curried chicken contributed by Sek Kiang Restaurant were the items we never missed. They were so sumptuous that a second helping was not surprising. I could still recall the name of the boy. He was Khor Choon Hong, a quiet, big-eyed boy with light dark skin abd he later became the monitor of my class.

Besides the treat on Teacher's Day, I can still recall other memorable occasions there. I will relate them here in my blog later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Penang Hokkien

I watch TV news whenever I have the time. What endears me to interviewees who appear in the idiot box is the Penang Hokkien that they speak.

Penang Hokkien is peculiar to Penang as Hokkien people from other states in Malaysia do not speak Hokkien the way Penangites do. Firstly, Hokkien people in Penang end each sentence with a specific tag and each tag sounds differently, depending on the sound at the end of each sentence. I will show you what I mean through the examples below. [PH and E are used here to mean Penang Hokkien and English respectively.]

Example 1

PH: Yi bo kong hor lu tiya meh?

E: Didn’t he tell you that?

Tag: meh

Example 2

PH: Lu chai ooh?

E: Do you know it?

Tag: ooh

Example 3

PH: Ma chai lu kar lai lah.

E: Please come tomorrow.

Tag: lah

Example 4

PH: Lu eh cho ha mi ni?

E: What can you (to me)?

Tag: ni

Secondly, Malay is mixed with Hokkien in the conversation. Besides lah in example 3 above, here are some other examples.

Example 5

PH: Gua balu kong hor yi tiya nieh.

E: I just told him about it.

Malay word used: balu (should be baru but Hokkien people pronounce ‘r’ sound as ‘l’ sound)

Tag: nieh

Example 6

PH: Yi balu hor lokun khuah niah.

E: He has just seen the doctor.

Malay words used: balu and lokun (should be dukun to mean the doctor but Hokkien folks pronounce ‘d’ sound as ‘l’ sound)

Example 7

PH: Takkan ar ne pun beh hiau meh.

E: Don’t tell me you don’t know a simple thing such as this.

Malay words used: takkan and pun.

Tag: meh

So much for Penang Hokkein for today.