Thursday, December 31, 2009

Will is needed to achieve our goal

This is the last day of the year 2009. From tomorrow onwards we will usher in 2010. I hope the new year will be filled with things or events that benefit the masses rather than make lives harder for them.

Usually we look forward to having a good year ahead. Expecting good things will prompt us to put our best food forward to realise what we set out to achieve.

Personally, I hope to have good health as I realise that health is more important than any other things in our lives. To enjoy good health we need to lead a healthy life in terms of food, mental set and physical activities. It boils down to consuming a balanced diet, being optimistic and exercising regularly. This is fine in theory but practising what is said in the previous sentence is not easy. For example, we tend to buy delicious food although it maybe too sweet or too oily. We can't control our temper albeit we know very well it is unhealthy. As for exercising, we are not consistent. We only exercise when we realise that we need to do it to be physically fit.

Hence will is needed to achieve what we have planned to do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Childhood memories of activities before Xin Nian

Today is the 15th day of the eleventh moon according to the lunar calendar. It means the Chinese will be ushering in Xin Nian or Chinese New Year in one and a half months' time. Right now, I can see people start selling angpaus (red packet containing money to be given to children who have not got married by parents and elders).

Spring cleaning is one of the activities before Xin Nian. It signifies the discarding of old and unwanted things to make way for new ones to come. I still remember how I helped my parents clear all the cobwebs below the attap roof of our old house. (When I was small, I lived in an attap house the roof of which was made of nipah leaves and spiders like to build their cobwebs beneath it.) We used bamboo leaves tied to the end of a long bamboo pole to do the job. Sometimes it was a tear-shedding experience when cobwebs fell onto my eyes. Blinking the eyes induced more tears to flow out from the eyes.

Then it was time for making cakes. I would be given the task of folding kuih kapit (a crispy thin slice of cake made of flour, eggs and coconut milk). It is very 'heaty' (which can make our temperatures go up and suffer fever-like condition and we need to drink cooling tea to keep the body temperatures down) and I dare not consume too many pieces of this Xin Nian delicacy. Another cake we made was the kuih bengkak (a starchy cake made of starch and eggs). The dough would be rolled to form a thin layer and I would be given the job of cutting with a metal mould in my hands. These cut-out pieces would then be baked in a earthen pot filled with sand on which a piece of paper was placed covered with a piece of metal on which glowing charcoals were placed. The heat from the top would reach the pieces of dough to bake them.

Now that I have shifted to the house I bought myself, I did not have to use bamboo leaves to clear away cobwebs which are not there anyway. We just dust or vacuum the ceiling. As for making Xin Nian cakes, we resort to buying them from the market where people are too willing to make them for sale because it is quite troublesome doing so.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some common errors in English usage

As a learner of English, one often makes mistakes in its usage. Some are influenced by his mother tongue and some are committed owing to lack of understanding of proper grammar.

In this post, I shall discuss some of these errors.

1 Using ‘send’ to mean ‘take one to a place by car or motorcycle’.
e.g. Mother sends my younger brother to school every day. [incorrect]
Mother takes my younger brother to school every day. [correct]
Mother drives my younger brother to school every day. [correct]

2 Using ‘call’ to mean ‘ask someone to do something’.
e.g. My brother called me to buy him a manila card. [wrong]
My brother asked me to buy him a manila card. [correct]

3 Using ‘borrow’ when ‘lend’ is intended.
e.g. Please borrow me your pen for a while. [incorrect]
Please lend me your pen for a while. [correct]

4 Using ‘repeat again’ when ‘repeat’ is enough to convey the meaning.
e.g He asked me to repeat again what I had said earlier. [wrong]
He asked me to repeat what I had said earlier. [correct]

5 Using ‘comprises of’ when ‘comprise’ only is enough to convey the meaning.
e.g Our team comprises of ten members. [incorrect]
Our team comprises ten members. [correct]

6 Using ‘eat’ when ‘take’ is more appropriate.
e.g. The patient eats the medicine prescribed by the doctor every day. [incorrect]
The patient takes the medicine prescribed by the doctor every day. [correct]

7 Using ‘pass up’ when ‘hand in’ is more appropriate.
e.g. The teacher asked his pupils to pass up their homework on time. [wrong]
The teacher asked his pupils to hand in their homework on time. [correct]

Friday, December 25, 2009

How do you say ‘What does he suggest?’ in Malay?

I was watching my favourite soap opera when an advertisement about a brand of toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Then the following question flashed across the screen:

Apakah yang beliau syorkan? [What does he suggest?]

The above question is grammatically wrong. Let me explain why it is incorrect.

The question ‘Apakah yang beliau syorkan?’ is in fact a ‘ayat pasif songsang ‘ (inverted sentence in the passive voice)

The sentence in the active voice is ‘Yang beliau syorkan itu apa?’ This sentence is wrong too. It should be ‘Yang disyorkan oleh beliau apa?’ Hence to convert this correct sentence to the inverted passive voice is ‘Apakah yang disyorkan oleh beliau?’

What should be flashed on the screen should be:

Apakah yang disyorkan oleh beliau?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The working of 'yan' let us meet again

I always believe in 'yan' or 'chance occurrence'. It is 'yan' that makes you the son or daughter of your parents. It is 'yan' that brings your mum and dad together as man and wife. So is yan's working when someone is your sibling. In fact, people around you are examples of the manifestation of 'yan'.

When I was teaching in Jerantut, I chanced to meet Tan Jee Peng from Kulim, Kedah who was posted to my school. A year later, I was transferred to Sungai Petani. Her wife, Guat Lee, suggested that I rent her mother's house as she was staying all alone when Guat Lee and her sister, both nurses, were on night duties. My wife and I agreed and so 'yan' brought us to meet Guat Lee's mother.

SinceI left Sungai Petani in 1989, I haven't met Jee Peng and Guat Lee until today. A month ago, I received a phone call from Jee Peng, telling me that his eldest will be getting married on 26th December and he invited me to attend the wedding dinner. Then a fortnight ago, I received an invitation card by post. Based on the address and a search for the location through the help of Google maps, I was able to reach his house in Bukit Mertajam this morning. Guat Lee had cooked a very delicious vegetarian lunch for me and my wife. After lunch, we talked of the old times. See, 'yan' brought us to meet again after a lapse of nearly 20 years!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Dongzhi

Time flies. It's Dongzhi again tomorrow and tonight every Chinese family is busy preparing tangyuen (glutinous rice balls) to mark the arrival of winter. That is the meaning Dongzhi. In English, it is Winter Solstice.

Some Chinese don't like dongzhi because it makes them one year older. According to the Chinese, a person is considered one year older after partaking of tangyuen.

By itself tangyuen is tasteless. However when cooked in syrup, the tangyuens taste sweet. The colours used are invariably are white and red or pink. I like rolling the dough on my palms to form glutinous rice balls or tangyuen.

If you read my earlier post on tangyuen, you can see the look of tangyuen and how they are made.

Happy Dongzhi to all Chinese all over the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The position of 'only' helps to convey different meanings

When we write sentences, the placement of certain words such as only and merely makes our them convey different meanings.

Let us look at some examples.

1 Only she waited for me at the bus stop. [She is the one waiting for me. All my friends had not come.]
2 I paid only ten ringgit for this book. [I paid exactly ten ringgit and no more than that.]
3 They only sat there the whole morning. [They just sat there and did not do anything else.]
4 I only advised him what to do. [I did the work of advising and did not do more than that]
5 I saw him only just now. [I caught sight of him as recently as a moment ago.]
6 He bought his handset only last year. [He purchased his mobile phone as recently as a year ago.]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to prevent flu using alternative methods

From my reading about health, I have gathered some interesting ways to prevent and lessen the effect of influenza. I would like to share these with readers of this blog.

1 Immerse your legs in warm water for 15 minutes per day. The legs must be red after the immersion. This practice is said to be able to prevent influenza.

2 The second way is eating raw onions regularly. If you don’t like the taste of onions skip this method of preventing influenza.

3 Gargle your mouth with salt water every morning and night. It will kill the germs in your mouth cavity as a way to prevent influenza.

4 Wash your face with cold water every day.

5 Inhaling water from hot water in a glass can reduce stuffiness during the attack of influenza.

6 Blow hot air at the area called ‘temple’ (the flat part beside your head between the forehead and the ear) or your ‘tai yang xue’ acupuncture point for 3 to 5 minutes several times per day. It will help to cure your influenza faster.

7 Rub your palms and massage the groove region (‘ying xiang xue’ acupuncture point) below your nose regularly. It will help you prevent influenza.

8 Mix equal amount of pounded garlic and honey, and add in water. Drink a tablespoon of this concoction four to six times a day. It is very good for treating influenza.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cashing in on the compassion of the public

I read today's The Star (a local newspaper) about a syndicate who makes use of foreign disfigured beggars to beg for money. Most people who take a pity on them will generously give them money. At the end of the day, these beggars will be picked up by a taxi employed by the man behind this scam so that he will take all the money from the poor beggars and give them some in return for their work.

This act of cashing in on the compassion of the public should be condemned. As a Buddhist I will generously donate money to the needy, beggars included but I don't agree that we should be fooled by the man who imports maimed and disfigured beggars to obtain money for him. While our hard-earned money goes to him through these beggars, he will enjoy the earnings without any effort. Is it fair to us?

The authorities should round up these beggars and put them in proper places and send them back if they are from neighbouring countries.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The correct usage of 'justeru'

Today's post is about the Malay word 'justeru' which has been used wrongly for quite some time until one of the champions of 'bahasa baku' pointed out the mistake.

I personally checked up Kamus Dewan Edisi Ke-4, and found that all this while we have been using 'justeru' incorrectly. For example, I used to read my students writing sentences such as the following:
1 Justeru, kita harus berhati-hati semasa berada di jalan raya. [Wrong]
2 Justeru itu, penggunaan telefon bimbit harus diharamkan di sekolah. [Wrong]

Most users will think that 'justeru itu' means 'oleh itu' (Hence). When people pointed out 'justeru itu' is wrong, users of the Malay language cleverly drop the 'itu' and use 'justeru' alone. However, the above two sentence are wrong. Let us explain why.

According to Kamus Dewan, 'justeru' has two meanings, namely 'malah' (moreover' and 'kebetulan' (coincidentally). To use 'justeru' correctly, you can make sentences such as the ones below:

1 Aminah bukan sahaja pandai menyanyi justeru pandai menggubah lagu.
[Aminah (not only) can sing well, moreover she can compose songs.]

2 Apabila kebakaran itu berlaku justeru saya berada di sana.
[When the fire broke out, coincidentally I was there.]

I hope this post will help to promote the correct use of the word 'justeru'.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I am pooped

Today I am going to explain the meanings of some English expressions which may be useful to students of English who want to increase their vocabulary.

1 I am pooped
This is an informal expression which carries the meaning of ‘ I am tired.’
Example: As I was pooped, I went to bed earlier.

2 I feel peckish
It means ‘I feel a little bit hungry.’
Example: He felt puckish and drank some glucose to stop his hunger.

3 It makes your day
It (Something) makes you very happy.
Example: The success of my plan today really made my day.

4 It puts me off
It means ‘I don’t like it.’
Example: The sight of the rude man really put me off.

5 My plan went to pot
It means ‘my plan went wrong’.
Example: Although I had taken pains to go camping, it went to pot because it rained heavily.

6 I have a whale of time
It means ‘I really enjoy myself.’
Example: When my parents went out to attend a dinner, we had a whale of time doing what we liked.

7 I enjoy bugging him
It means ‘I enjoy making him angry.’
Example: In this short story, Kamil enjoyed bugging Hafizi who was lame.

8 To spill the beans
It means ‘to reveal information’
Example: After much pestering from my brothers, I had to spill the beans and told them everything about what transpired in their absence.

9 go above and beyond the call of duty
It means ‘do more than is required’
Example: I had to commend the taxi-driver for going above and beyond the call of duty because he took the trouble to find the place where I stayed and returned me the briefcase I left in his taxi two days ago.

10 my eyes streamed
It means ‘I could not help crying.’
Example: When I watched the tragic show, my eyes streamed.

I feel peckish after writing this post and have to go for a drink. Laters.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let thumb and fingers touch to maintain memory

Very often, we find that we tend to forget where we put our keys, mobile phones and so on. Our memory seems to go downstream. Well, I would like to share with readers of this blog a way of maintaining good memory. It is very easy and every one should be able to do it.

Use your left palm to do this exercise.
1 Touch your forefinger with your thumb once.
2 Then touch your ring finger with your thumb twice or two times.
3 Next touch your little finger with your thumb thrice or three times.
4 After that touch your middle finger with your thumb four times.
5 Now touch your little finger with your thumb thrice.
6 Then touch your ring finger with your thumb twice.
7 Finally touch your forefinger with your thumb once.

Repeat Step 1 to Step 7 23 times or more.

You can exercise your thumb and fingers this way when you are free or when you are driving and have to wait for the traffic lights to turn green. You can even do it when you are watching your favourite TV programme.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The difference between 'pertambahan' and 'penambahan'

Students of the Malay language often get confused when it comes to the usage of 'pertambahan' and 'penambahan'. In this post, I will try to enlighten readers how to remember and differentiate them.

The first word 'pertambahan' (the increase)has connection with 'bertambah' which is an intransitive verb. For example, "Kes kemalangan di jalan raya semakin bertambah." [Accient cases on the road keep increasing.]As a noun, 'pertambahan' can be replaced with 'bertambahnya' (the additionn of 'nya' turns 'bertambah' into a noun) Look at the following sentences:
a) Pertambahan kes demam denggi membimbangkan penduduk di sana. [The increase of dengue fever cases worries the people there.]
b) Bertambahnya kes demam denggi membimbangkan penduduk di sana. [The increase of dengue fever cases worries the people there.]

As for 'penambahan' which means 'addition', it has connection with the transitive verb 'menambah' (to increase)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My encounter with high blood pressure

My blood pressure used to be 120/80 even when I was at 40 and my family doctor always tells me that I have the body of a young man. At 50's my bp has increased to 130/90 and the doctor does not ask me to take any medicine. Ideally, our blood pressure should be 120/80.

Two weeks ago, I felt dizzy and the whole body was like having temperatures. I went to my family doctor to check my bp and it registered 145/95. He asked me to come for another two times for checking and if the blood pressure still does not go down, I will have to be on bp pill. I went to the clinic for the second bp check but he was not around and I went to a pharmacy to have my bp checked. It had gone down to 140/85.

Then I decided to go to a specialist and he put me on bp pill straight away when my bp showed a reading of 150/90. i took the pill and the pressure went down to 107/76 when I measured it with my newly-bought electronic bp meter. I stopped the drug and kept monitoring my bp and I found that my bp range was 123-130 / 78-90 for a week. I do not suffer from high blood pressure after all.

I have decided to exercise and take vegetarian diet to maintain a normal bp and I hope it works. I like to share the types of food that we should take to reduce blood pressure. These include apples, bananas, papayas, carrots, sweet potatoes and almonds. Sufficient sleep is needed too as lack of sleep will elevate blood pressure too. Above eat more fruit and green vegetables and avoid oily and fried food as well as processed food.

My blood pressure readings today are 126/81 at 1.40pm and 125/79 at 10.00pm. They were the best so far.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Be the next-of-kin for the sake of money

A lot of scam is going on in the cyber world. I am one of the victims. I keep receiving e-mails telling me to submit my particulars including bank account number for the purpose of putting a large sum of money left by a person who died without any relatives into my savings account and I am entitled to the money provided I confess I am his next-of-kin. This is unbelievable as the one who undertakes this case, assuming that it is true, would have asked his relatives to be the next-of-kin so that the money can be shared between him and the relative.

Usually this unscrupulous person who claims to be a lawyer will ask you to deposit a substantial sum of money into an account number belonging to him, on the pretext that it is meant for processing the transfer of money into your account. Once the money is cleared, you will neither see your money again, nor hear from him anymore. Hence you have to be careful and don't fall prey to this out-to-get-your-money person thanks to your avarice.

It doesn't pay to be greedy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


If you want to say good-bye to your friend, you can either say 'Bye' or 'See you later'.

To shorten 'See you later' you can say 'Laters'. It is a slang.

For example, listen to the following conversation.

John: I've got to get moving, Mums is waiting for me there.
Albert: Laters. [Meaning: See you later.]

By the way, though an 's' is added to mum, the meaning is still the same, that is 'my mother' or 'my mum'.