Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Off the beaten track I

The Hajj season is starting again and I am somewhat sad that we are not able to perform the pilgrimage this year. But I have to accept its all about seru and rezeki. Perhaps I was not diligent enough to answer the calls of Nabi Ibrahim. But I hope we would have the opportunity again next year and the years to come, Insyallah.

In our journey towards performing our pilgrimage last year, I was blessed enough to have met a few of future Ustazs, students of the (in)famous I/mam University here. Unlike the pilgrims in Malaysia who went for months of kursus, our training and preparation was fairly short so we depended a lot of guidance from our Ustaz and the student ustaz. What I found most amazing when hanging out with them is how non judgmental they are. How kind and honest they were in sharing with us their wealth of knowledge. They knew me way before I started wearing my scarf (I am still a scarf wearer in training.) And none of them said anything but kind words towards me. (Unlike some people who pre-judged me from the fact that I didn’t wear a scarf but that’s another story.)

These men (although I call them boys) had to go through such struggles in order to complete their degrees. And often many went home without completing their studies. Either because they missed their wives and children at home, or they failed to progress for the following year or even had to rot in a jail somewhere, because of the implied association they seemed to have being in the University. (That’s again another story.)

Alawi was introduced to us by the other Malay students’ in the local university. He was from Cambodia and his mum lived in Malaysia. I often found it very difficult to understand him because he spoke Melayu Campa. I can barely understand the Trengganu and Kelantanese accent, the patani accent is a big stretch and thus the Melayu campa was just often beyond me.

But the stories he told us about his life was just so touching, so trying that I often have to salute the boys who came all the way to further their studies here. In this trying times, when Islam is very much under close scrutiny.

Although Alawi was born in Cambodia, he had followed his mum to Malaysia at a young age. However when it was time to register for his citizenship in Malaysia, his mum had failed to do so, thinking that he was still young and didn’t really need the papers. So his mum managed to become a Malaysian, but he remained a Cambodian.

One fine day, there was a raid by the immigration officials in Kelantan and since Alawi didn’t have the proper papers, he was put in jail. The was there for two years before he was released. He told us how he became the imam at the surau in jail, and as long as he kept his head down, they left him alone. His mum did occasionally come to visit him and he often pleaded to her to find a way to get him out of the jail. But without the economic resources, the connections or even the knowledge about the proper system, she was unable to help.

After 2 years he was released and he tried to make his way back to Cambodia via the inland route.

But a man without the economic resources or proper papers somehow met a lot of sharks on the streets, because whom often tried to prey on his vulnerability. After successfully crossing the border into Thailand, he met a cab driver who offered to “help” him. At a price of course!

But alas, there were many checkpoints along the way and he was often arrested for not having proper documentation, and put in jail. Sometimes it was a short term “stay,” other times it was longer.

I did ask him what the conditions were like in the jails that he has been, and he told me that at least the jails in Malaysia were clean and he had no problem practicing his faith. Across the border however, it was slightly more difficult because the jails were not as clean and the people were less understanding his need to read the Quran.

To cut the story short, he finally managed to return to Cambodia. After getting his papers sorted out, he applied for a scholarship to study here and got a place in the language program at the local University here.

But alas, his grade did not qualify him into the degree program at the University and so the hajj trip last year was his last as a student here.

I often ask myself, if I could have endured the journeys he had gone through. And I think its most unlikely. But what was most inspiring to me that throughout all that, his faith is still intact, if not its even stronger, and it has inspired him to pass the word of Allah and the Quran as his life’s mission.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Do you want ALL your friends to know your blog?

I was reading this thread from AuntyN and somehow the topic resonates well with me. I have been on a blogging hiatus for a while now partly because I didn’t really have a topic to blog about, or rather I didn’t have any topic to share with the world.

Unlike Arena who had qualms about telling her husband about her blog, mine knew I had one from the very beginning. Well partly because I started blogging when we were living apart, so it was a convenient way for him to know whats going on with me. (Hahahah this a 20th century relationship where a husband has to read the wife’s blog to find out whats going on with her . ;))

My beloved often asked me, so what happens when the people whom you blogged about find out about your blog? My answer had often been, well I am very careful to blog about the people I meet here and hope none of them here find my blog ;)

But I know exactly how AuntyN feel when people closer to you (in physical contact that is rather than emotional ties) find out about your blog. Suddenly all your thoughts have been decoded by you for them to read. In fact for the longest time I was most uncomfortable when friends back home found out about my blog. Funny isn’t it, it was OK for me for the world of strangers to read my blog but it was most uncomfortable when people who actually know me in real life read my blog. (Especially if they are the people you want to bitch aka blog about ;))

So why do I blog? Often it is my place to express my thoughts, which often includes whingeing. And unfortunately it often includes the people around me in the line of fire.

So I try very hard not to post whinny, complaining entries all the time but often its easier for me to express my frustration and anger rather than telling people about my happiness. Why? Partly because I made sure that I do not to appear to be boasting. Perhaps its because misery loves company, but I often find that when people read about your latest shopping spree or conquest, they tend to interpret it as you bragging. And I don’t like to brag.

Apparently by blogging, one can attain new friends and even more disturbing, even enemies (Another blogger will tell you she got herself a stalker!). One reader kindly told me that the person shall not be visiting or reading my blog anymore, to which I replied, if that’s what you wish so be it, to which the other person replied, “Sombongnya!” I was just flabbergasted! What did that person expect me to do? To beg him/her to please please please continue to read my blog?

Just because they’ve read my blog, they claim to know what I am all about!

A few of the fellow bloggers whose blog I read have ceased or paused blogging for now and I’m wandering if I am going through the same path. But I do enjoy reading some of my fellow bloggers’ entries and it seemed unfair to just read their blogs without writing some myself.

Perhaps I will just content with writing fewer entries, whenever I had the time or the train of though to piece words together to form proper sentences ;)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reality TV

I guess you can say I am hooked on them. What's the attraction of reality TV you may ask? Perhaps for me is the voyeur aspect of it, how different people say different things to each other, and when push comes to shove, what they actually say there is different from the whispers they had in private.

My first experience of Reality TV was the Big Brother show in the UK. I think the winner's name was Kate, but it was Jade who formed a more lasting impression on me.

Survivor Guatemala

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that Stephanie didn't win. All she can say about her behaviour was, "I play the game the best way I know how." By backstabbing people? She had no qualms what so ever about accepting the rewards that the other competitors shared with her, and what does she do in return? Vote them right out as soon as she can. There is no such thing as loyalty and gratefulness in this person. And the lies she tells them. She defends herself by saying that at the time she was saying something, she really believed it and its her prerogative to change her mind. So be it, but thats why you didn't win girl! Because people can't trust you. You're just a two faced being.

Quotable quote. "With you, you can be the best friend with that person until the tribal council and you'd vote them out."

But perhaps this is more a reflection of me than that of her. I dislike people who are all smiles in front of you, and the minute your back is turned, it all comes out.

"Ohhhhh you're the bestest friend in the world." And then, "I can't stand that woman! She is so clingy!"

The Apprentice

Randall was hired! Good for him. But I was just amazed that he opposed the idea that Mr Trump hired Rebecca as well. Why not, I thought? I guess he didn't want to share the limelight with someone else. Wanted all the limelight and the attention on himself.

All in all, I realize that I don't have the toughness and the hunger that these people have for this sort of success. Does it mean that I am less ambitious? Perhaps I lack the killer instinct to win? To become a millionaire?

I did ask myself if I would ever join The Sole Survivor or The Apprentice and I decided that I probably won't. Aside from the fact that they don't have proper flushing toilets for the survivors, I can't stand all the politicking going about. The changing sides and alliances.

As for The Apprentice? I don't think Mr Trump will hire me. I'm not pretty enough nor tough enough, neither hungry enough.

I like my place at the couch in front of the TV too much ;)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gas expunging marathon

I know I have been neglecting my blog lately. Somehow the words don't come easy these days and I am on a quilting roll. The merchandize I ordered online arrived, 3 months late and my quilting teacher has agreed to start teaching again. So I am currently expressing myself in other ways ;)

We had a very slow day yesterday. What is a slow day you may wonder and it went something like this. I woke up feeling hungry and asked him to get me a bowl of cereal. He mixed the Vogel Soy and linseed cereal with some Power Breakfast blueberry cereal. HAH! Power indeed!

I went back to sleep while he went out. When he came back, I asked him what's for lunch. He was planning on making some roast beef and mashed potatoes and we thought of inviting some friends over to share the roast. Our friends had other plans, and we shelved the idea of making roast.Not for anything, the joint is too large for two people and we would have too much leftover if he just cooked for the two of us.

And then I had a brilliantly lazy idea. We called the restaurant to order our lunch. I had an English breakfast (beef bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and mushroom) while he had a sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We ate while watching TV. He had borrowed a complete Star Trek DVD set and was having a Trekkie marathon. I felt drowsy after the meal and dozed off again.

Remember that "power" cereal we had earlier. Somehow it made us fart all the time! And the worst part was when we had a farting competition under the sheets! So whenever one of us got out of the sheets, some "wind" escaped! Imagine the smell!

But at that time we didn't realize that perhaps the high fiber cereals were causing the gas wars and we decided to share another bowl of the cereal.

And imagine the "competition" we had throughout the night!

On the bright side, the trip to the loo was much easier this morning! Hehehe!

I guess one doesn't have to have baked beans in order to get gas ;)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Is your job good enough to enable you to get married?

Masa kecik-kecik mak selalu pesan pada anak lelaki. Belajar rajin-rajin, dah besar boleh dapat kerje yang elok. Senang nak kawin nanti ….

S has just recently came from KL, now working as a GM of a local hypermarket. He shared with us some of his experiences. This being a country with the unemployment rate of 40%, import a lot of foreign labour. S told us that they do have some locals working as shelf stackers. (Which surprised us of course, no self respecting local would do such a menial job often designated to workers from a 3rd world country.) But their turnover is extremely high, and the rate of absentism is just unbelievable. At least two will resign each week, and at least two will call in sick everyday.

Being new to the country and its culture, S tried to find out why this is so. He was told that as a shelf stacker, the local male will have no chance of getting married. No over protective father-in-law will allow his daughter to be married of to a shelf stacker. Plus he wouldn’t be able to afford the dowry and the wedding expenses anyways on that salary. So most of the time, the young local youth would take up the job as a shelf stacker while waiting for a job with the government. As soon, as they think they are getting a better job, they’d quit. Suffice to say that their morale is low at work, and are more interested in the pay cheque than the work.

However, it's different for the post of the cashier. There is more prestige in being a cashier. If the male joins the company at a young age, hopefully by the time he is ready to be married, he would have been promoted to a supervisory position, and thus giving him a respectable job for marriage material.

Now if you think this is a figment of my imagination you’d have to read this piece of news.

Woman Demands Divorce From Chef

Why do you think he was divorced? Because working as a chef, despite its higher salary, is considered demeaning, unlike working as a security officer, that affords the husband a uniform, allows him to show some form of power lording over other people.

Go figure.

I’d have thought that in a country that has a 40% unemployment rate, its citizens would be less fussy in choosing a career. But apparently that’s not quite the case here. I was astounded to find out that there are 1 million F{l|pina workers in the Kingdom either as domestic help, the health industry, the service industry and the restaurants etc.

There are 8.8 million foreigners in the country, the Labour Minister disclosed in May, a figure significantly higher than any that the government has previously reported. With an indigenous population of about 17 million, this means that there is almost one foreign resident for every two citizens.

The largest expatriate communities in the country include one million to 1.5 million people each from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and another 900,000 each from Egypt, Sudan and the Philippines. There are also 500,000 workers from Indonesia, and another 350,000 from Sri Lanka, the majority of whom are women.


So what sort of jobs do the locals go for? Normally in managerial positions in the private sector, a stable job with the government. preferably in the police or armed force.

The local government recently has imposed some laws not very different from the bumi protection laws in Malaysia. That a certain proportion of the work force must consist of the local labour. Does it work? It does provide income for the locals but whether or not its effective it's something else.

I remember going into a restaurant and there was a local male at the counter. We waited to be greeted but he was silent. So I approached him, saying that we needed a table. He handed a take away menu to us. And then came the waiter who promptly showed us to a table.

So we asked him, what was the local boy in the front supposed to do?

“Oh that’s just decoration,” he said casually.

We had to laugh. Apparently there was a new ruling that each restaurant must employ at least two locals. So what the restaurant did was to employ them and put them in front.

Then again all this could be considered as a blessing in disguise!

Ape taknye pasal depa malas nak buat keje lah kami dapat menumpang mencari periuk nasi di sini. Kalau semua depa rajin dan pandai buat sendiri takdelah peluang untuk rakyat negeri lain datang untuk mencari makan.