Saturday, April 24, 2004

Book judged by its cover

Its amazing how different people react to you depending on what you wear or how much make up you put on. After 2 weeks of casual clothes and dressing down, I decided to start dressing up again. Off with my cargo trousers and T-shirt tops. Instead on with pin-striped bootleg trousers with a black T from Laura Ashley and my Benetton suit jacket. And people's reaction? Its amazing! People started talking to me. Smilling at and with me. Gosh! I was the same person last week but suddenly just by slapping on some foundation and proper make up (not just lipstic and eyeliner) I get more smiles and people just wanted to talk to me!

I guess this is the true reflection of human nature. At the end of the day, we do judge a book by its cover.

Are we the product of product endorsement by beautiful people or is the advertising a product of human nature?

SO now I even have more reason to shop! LOL!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Guess what! I enrolled in a course to teach but in the process I learnt more about life and human nature. Its amazing how many people just want to use you and not want to contribute back anything in return. Suddently my racists fears were reinforced. Somehow I find myself not trusting some people just because they are of a particular race. Sad but true.

Let me call N. She missed class. So she called me up asking me to lend her my notes. She also wanted to check what I had done for my assignment. Being the trrusting person that I am, I gave it all to her. Fine she said thank you. I did ask to see HER assignment but was conveniently refused. "I'll show you later" and later never came.

I didn't get it then! What a masochist I am.

So she found out that I bought a new textbook. I havent even read it yet. Spent £18 on it! She asked if she could borrow my book. Fine, I lent it to her, thinking Ok i won't have the time to read it tonite but perhaps will do so on the train on the way back the next day. The next day came, she kept quiet about my textbook. She said she will being it tomorrow.

Three days later, she finally returned the book to me after my repeated request for my book back. This is what is said when the book is returned to me,
"I dont think this book is very good. There is no explanation. He only gives examples." Then why did you keep my book for so long?! So now I am doubly a fool! The fool who spent £18 on the book and the fool who lent it to someone else who didn't say "Thank you."

A day prior to her returning my book, she came up to me and asked me if she could send an SMS to someone from my phone. Mind you I have to pay for text msgs. It cost me 5 p. Sure 5 p is not much you might think but its still money. I could have refused! But did i? I thot, Ok why not. It wouldn't hurt me to do a favour for a friend? WRONG! A friend she is NOT! She only wants to use me.

Fine perhaps I am nit picking. Perhaps I am keeping a score over nothing. But somehow it hurts me when its time I asked her help, she conveniently forgets or refuses! I asked to borrow some of her notes from a class. I did take down some notes but I felt some information was missing and wanted to cross refer it to someone else's in case I have missing informatiion. I asked her for the notes for one whole week! I repeteadly reminded her for it 5/6 times. She either forgot, or will give me later or have not copied it bla bla bla bla bla. I mean I gave mine to her for goodness sake and now when I want the favour returned I am tactically refused?

It just daunted on me that I have been USED! If she needs anything she will come to me. Borrow my dictionary, notes, textbook, mobile phone, everything and anything I could possibly have. I just call in ONE favour and I have been failed! I know I sound very very very petty and naive but I had expected more from human nature! Doesn't one (in this case DOZENS!) of good deed deserves another???

Well this one is going down in my books. This will have to stop. I will no longer be kind and generous to people I don't know anymore. Because at the end of the day, your kindness is not remembered! People just want to USE you, they get everything and anything they want from you. The minute you need any sort of help from them, WHAM! they are GONE!

But oh well, what goes around comes around. I'd like to think that I send out good tidings to the world and hopefully good tidings will come back to me.

Oh cruel, cruel people!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The wheels in motion.

I have been shuffling my feet and I finally signed up to do a TESOL cert. Will this be a skill I will be using in the near future? I don’t know. But at least its something else I can cross out from my “to do” list. (BTW I still would like to do tandem parachuting so if anyone out there is willing to sponsor me, I will still go.)

After over a month of “next week” or “this coming Saturday” or “Insyallah,” I am tired of waiting. I am tired of believing in empty promises and tired of not making long term commitments and concrete plans . Well tough! Now I have committed for something for a month which mean I will be staying put in London for April at least.

Its really hard really living out of a suitcase, moving from one city to another from time to time. Yes it could be very exciting. And yes it is something that I said I wanted to do. But the lack of stability and the fluidity of things does sometimes get to me. Thank god for the internet! At least I get to keep in touch with my friends on the net. But sometimes I do feel that its not the same as the days we were hanging out. Sure I still get the latest gossip, who is going out with whom. Who is getting married. Who changed their careers. But as each year passes, I often lose one or two in the process. I suppose it is fair, I also gain a few over the year. Nature has a way of balancing itself I guess.

I look at the potential job prospects of my possible future career and guess what? Not being a “native speaker” means that I am may not even be considered for some positions at all! Oh well. Systemic oppression at work of course.

The course starts tomorrow and I haven’t been in a class room for awhile. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Trains, Terrorists and Tuna fish

Another bomb was found on the Spanish rail track today. Bomb disposal experts found between 10-12 kg of an explosive resembling a dynamite under the fast speed line connecting Madrid to Seville. This after the March 11 bombing, is on one hand a relief and on another worrying. Apparently, the violence has not stopped. Is this done by the same people?

The Muslims in Spain are worried. Exactly who was behind the March 11 bombings is yet to be determined but three out of the five being questioned are Moroccans. They fear a backlash from the Spaniards.

On Tuesday, eight men were arrested in the South East of UK, a ninth man was arrested in Crawley, West Sussex today. Half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was seized at a self storage unit in west London. The British men arrested were between the age of 17 and 32, believed to be of Pakistani decent.

What does all this have to do with me you may ask?

Well having lived in London for the past two and a half years, with threats of a terrorist attack eminent in London ever since September 11, all this news is making me nervous. The last time Londoners were issued with warnings that London was at the highest level of alert, I did as I was told, to stock up on necessities, short of buying my own gas mask that is. But the mayhem has since toned down a little bit except now after Madrid. I still have a dozen cans of tuna (I am so sick of them!), 2 bags of sugar (I don’t normally use sugar God knows why I stocked up on those!), a bottle of cooking oil and half a dozen bottles of drinking water. Mind you now thinking back, I don’t think I could have lasted all that long on those supplies, but what the heck, stocking up on those silly food items gave me a weird sense of security that I did something to embrace myself for the potentially “tumultuous” time ahead.

I have to admit that I am deeply nervous when I travel on the British rail these days. Mind you, there isn’t a need for a terrorist to blow anything up. The British tube and trains are so old and outdated that sometimes they are just capable of tripping up on themselves! I’ve lost count the number of tube derailments and crashes. And since the Potter’s Bar train crash, I do sometimes wonder, will my train arrive at my destination in one piece?

I took the Midland trains up to Nottingham from London St Pancras last weekend. St Pancras station was going through an extensive renovation. As the train pulls away from the station I sent my love a text message,
I am leaving St Pancras station right now. Due to arrive in Nottingham in two hours. Will send you an SMS when I arrive. Love you very much.”
Superstitious? Unduly anxious? Perhaps I am all that but you never know these days. At least if something does happen to me, I could be traced from the last time I sent my text message. And if MI5 is tracking me, well I am giving them a hand at making sure I am within their radar range. If they didn’t realize from my credit card transaction four days prior to my journey that I was going to be travelling that weekend that is. :)

Paranoid? Yes that too. Being a woman with an Arab sounding name, I feel, does not help at this time. Whether or not the Muslims in UK are being subjected to a backlash, I can’t tell you because I haven’t experienced it myself in my community. Perhaps partly because I am not wearing the Hijab and partly because I look more oriental rather than middle eastern or Asian (note for my readers in Singapore/Malaysia, Asian here is the general broad term used in the UK to refer to someone of an Indian/Pakistani decent.)

Ironically enough, I moved from Jakarta to London because I wanted to be in a place where I would feel more secure, away from all sorts of terrorist threats. And boy was I wrong!

Jakarta, between 2000 to 2001 when I was staying there, was going through an enormous political and social change with Megawati Sukarnoputri, as its then newly installed President. There were days when the roads were unbearable with “macet” (traffic jams) due to all sorts of “demo” (demonstrations/protests). Even before the days of the Bali bombing, there were already bomb threats in Jakarta. But they didn’t make to the international media of course because its mostly just Indonesians themselves that were killed really. We stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel for awhile, and felt really good when some of army vehicles were parked in the front. If this hotel is secure enough for some hot shot Indonesian Army person, it should be safe enough for me I thought.

So when the opportunity to move to London arose, of course I had to embrace it! Away from the fear of kidnaps, armed robberies, bomb threats and air pollution, so I thought. Yes I was incredibly naïve and an incurable romantic.

So what have I learned? After living in six different cities, I have decided that Utopia is merely a fable. It doesn’t exist in this world lest after September 11. No matter where we are living right now, it is all about the same, there are some good points and some not so pleasant ones. All we have to do is make ourselves as happy and as comfortable as we can.

And everyday, when we can, while we can, tell the people who matters most of us, that we love them.

I don’t even like saying good bye anymore. I’ll just say “Till later.”