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Archive for July, 2012

This evening, my daughter came home from school looking rather amused. I asked her why.

Daughter: During today’s weekly assembly, the school principal listed out more conditions on the wearing of national costume’s ruling.

Mom: I’m sure they are quite absurd, aren’t they?

Daughter: Yes, they are. She said any student who failed to obey her instruction to wear a national costume on that day will be fined RM50 and have her or his demerit points deducted.

Mom: That’s all?

Daughter: No, there are more. Indian girls are not allowed to wear those small tight blouses which will reveal their navels if they wish to wear their saris to school. How to wear saris without those small tight blouses, right, Mom?

Mom: Yes, but why are they not allowed?

Daughter: She said girls are not supposed to show off their navels. This will make the boys excited and do bad things.

Mom: Hahahaha….what nonsense!

Daughter: The Chinese girls are not allowed to wear tight-fitting cheongsams with open slits on both sides. She said showing the thighs are not allowed as sexy thighs will make the boys and male teachers excited too.

Mom: What? She must be mad! (eyes rolling)

Daughter: And finally, the Malay girls are not allowed to wear the baju kebaya as their blouses can be quite transparent and tight-fitting too. This will also make the boys and men drooling and could not control themselves.

Mom: Is that what she said? She must be real crazy!

Daughter: Yes, she said all these today, loud and clear.

Mom: I think she need to go for some counseling. What is a sari without the cute little blouse? What is a cheongsam without the slits on both sides? What is a baju kebaya without the tight blouse?

With so much restrictions, I think more and more parents will choose to keep their children away from school on that day, don’t you think so?

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I saw this in my Facebook page yesterday. It was from Reader Digest. You can enlarge this by clicking it.

Read how ugly or uncouth some of us can be. I have encountered all these ugly Malaysians in everyday life.

Have you encounter them too or even worst?

Note: I have confirmed this was sourced from Reader Digest, hence I made some alterations to the title.

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There will be a join reunion dinner on August 4th 2012 in Ipoh for the former students of Anglo Chinese School (ACS) and its sister school, the Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) organized by the Ipoh ACS Alumni Association .

An overseas friend of mine, Dr. Anthony Pun, was a former student from ACS and he told me that he will be back from Australia to attend this memorable event. I am looking forward to meet and catch up with him.

Dr. Anthony Pun was not your ordinary ACS or Ipoh boy. He made good in Australia and was a respectable leader of the Chinese community there. He was also actively involved in many charities in his adopted county.

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Do you still remember the “1Malaysia” badges my children’s school forces them to buy and wear for the whole month of August as a way to show love and pride for the country?

This is not the only issue I am having with their school. Wait till you hear this one. My daughter came home yesterday evening with an even bigger joke.

Daughter: Mom, I’ve another piece of news for you, this time you will surely get mad!

Mom: What’s it, this time?

Daughter: Our school principal said August 13th 2012 will be chosen as the day for the school to celebrate our independence day.

Mom: So?

Daughter: Our principal said on that day, all students, from Remove up to Form Five, boys and girls alike, are required to wear traditional costumes of their respective races to school, you know, baju kurung, cheongsam, sari or baju melayu and etc.

Mom: Why?

Daughter: Our principal said this is a way to show our spirit of “Muhibbah.” And she said every student must conform to this ruling. We’ll be penalized if we disobey her orders.

Mom: Your cheongsam is too tight for you. I bought it when you’re about eight or nine years-old. It won’t fit you anymore. So what are you going to wear?

Daughter: I don’t know. Our principal said all parents must get these costumes by hook or by crook, buy them or borrow from friends or relatives. It is just for one day only.

Mom: I’m not going to purposely buy you a new cheongsam which is not cheap, just to wear for a day only. Anyway, you’re not going to wear a cheongsam on ordinary days. It’s a waste of your parent’s hard-earned money.

Daughter: Can we borrow from friends or relatives?

Mom: Look my dear, we don’t have any friends or relatives with cheongsams of your size!

Daughter: My form teacher said that if we can’t get a traditional costume of our own choice, she is willing to lend her baju kurung to any female students. She has plenty of them at home.

Mom: You’re just a skinny little girl and she is a fat 40 plus lady. Don’t be silly. You’ll end up looking like the Makcik selling nasi lemak on the roadside if you were to wear her baju kurung. It won’t fit at all.

Son: Don’t count me in. I’ll wear my usual school uniform on that day! End of story! (like most teenagers, he is very much into Justin Bieber and you can’t make him dress up like Wong Fei Hung!)

Daughter: So, what should we do, Mom?

Mom: I say, it’s best you both stay away from school that day. August 13 is the International Day for Left-handers. Why don’t we stay at home on that day and have a small feast since you are a left-hander too? Let’s celebrate your left-handerness!

Daughter: Yeah, that’s a good idea. We cook our favorite food, we listen to our favorite songs and we play some computer games on that day!

Mom: By the way, the real independence day for our country is September 16, that’s Malaysia Day!

That’s the trouble having a mom who do not conform blindly! It’s not that I do not support the spirit of “Muhibbah.” It’s just that I felt whatever the government are doing now is so very fake! When supports from adults are getting thinner each day, they turned to schools, principals, teachers and students because they knew this group is very vulnerable, that they can’t say no. But they have forgotten that at the end of the equation, they have to deal with some parents like me who do not take their nonsense so timidly.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Note: In case you are wondering what is “Muhibbah” it is a Malay word for goodwill among the various races. The one and only time I felt this spirit in my entire life was during the Bersih 3.0 rally on 428 in KL where people of all races got together to demand for a clean and fair election and got gassed badly for doing so. An elderly Malay lady squatting next to me saw that my own salt supply had run out and offered me some as my eyes stung from the smoke, “Nah, ambil garam ini, dik!” – that for me, is Muhibbah, and not wearing some costumes just  to show I am Chinese, she is Malay and he is Indian!

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With the 2012 London Summer Olympic only two days away, I suddenly thought of this girl. Could you recognize her and do you still remember why she was so famous?

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Early last year, I made a trip back to Ipoh for three weeks to take some photos of the city I was born and grew up in. Among my first stop was at Cowan Street. The once famous Jubilee Park was located on this street. Jubilee Park to Ipoh was what BB Park was to Kuala Lumpur and New World to Singapore in those good old days. These were the happening places then – the places for old and young to go for some entertainments. Sad to say, all three were now history.

On the right side you can see two windows where cinema goers used to queue up to buy tickets for a show (there were cinemas inside Jubilee Park). Have you queue up here before to buy tickets?

I remember along this corridor, there were some Nepalese gemstones traders selling their wares here at night. Their products were laid on the floor and curious onlookers hassle for the correct prices. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires…they were glittering and sparkling to my young eyes.  Dad often took me here when I was a mere kid. From this, a lifetime love affair was born – I simply loved colorful gemstones, even to this day!

Watch out for the inside of Jubilee Park and you will be sadden how this site, once the most popular entertainment spot in Ipoh, had turned into an eerie and abandoned place…..

Do you have childhood memories of this place to share too?

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The article and newspaper were sent to me by a friend who knew the late Prof John Bosco. The person, currently in retirement, went through his collection of newspaper cuttings and photographs in order to tidy up so he can start writing his memoirs. He came across some old materials about Prof John Bosco, Dr Lopez of the KL Blood Bank and some Malaysian patient. It suddenly occurred to him that his friend had passed away for nearly 12 years and time passed so quickly. He wanted a favour from me, using my blog, to pay an important tribute to a friend and hope that his patients will see it and also remember his kindness.

 

Back from Right:  Dr Lopez (1) and Prof Bosco (2)

It is 12 years since Professor John Joseph Bosco passed away unexpectedly and it is never too late to pay tribute to a kind and caring Doctor.  I remember John working as a Registrar at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia where he specialised in Immunology. After finishing his specialist training, John returned to Malaysia as a Haematologist.  In recognition of his excellent work as a clinician and teacher, he gained rapid promotion to full professorship.

Prof Bosco was instrumental in referring a number of patients for bone marrow transplantation in Sydney St Vincent’s Hospital, his alma mater hospital.  At that time, in the early 1980s, St Vincent’s was a centre of excellence in bone transplantation, heart-lung transplant and kidney transplant.   The famous heart surgeon, the late Dr Victor Chang worked there.  Many Malaysian patients’ life was save through John’s referral to the centre of excellence.

I also remember John’s wife, Professor Gracie Ong, for an act of kindness when one of my family members passed away in University Hospital in KL.

By showing these press reports, the aim is to pay tribute to the late Professor John Bosco.  The surviving patients will no doubt remember him as a kind and gentle yet highly professional person who gave them an opportunity to live a normal life.

Lest we forget.

 A Friend of Prof John Bosco

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This brief conversation took place yesterday evening when my daughter reached home from school :-

Daughter: Mom, I’ve a news for you and it’s quite silly, hope you won’t get mad, okay?

Mom: Yes, what’s it, dear?

Daughter: This afternoon, my school’s principal announced that the whole of next month ( August) will be declared as “Bulan Merdeka” or “Independence Month.”

Mom: So, what’s the big deal?

Daughter: She said each and every student have to wear a special badge on the collar of our uniforms to show our love and pride for this country. We have to wear it every day from 1st until 31st August.

Mom: So, will your school provide these badges?

Daughter: No, we have to buy them ourselves. It cost RM2.50 each.

Mom: That means all mommies and daddies in Malaysia will have to pay RM2.50 to enable their children to show their love and pride for the country, is that right?

Daughter: Yes, something like that and it’s compulsory too.

Mom: Can you imagine how many school children there are in this country? Millions and millions of them. If each student pays RM2.50, how much money will this comes to?

Some monkey out there will definitely get rich from this project. An instant millionaire will be born from this trivial.

Malaysia is such a rich country. We produces so much petroleum and our leaders are leading such lavish lifestyles; yet we, the poor, ordinary and downtrodden citizens have to dig deep into our pockets for our kids to display their love and pride for the nation!

It’s not a matter of money (after all, today, what can RM2.50 buy?) but the logic is simply outrageous! I’m not sure how many schools in the country are involved but I can bet it won’t be few. Are your school going children involved too? What’s wrong with us, huh?

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In the Game of Bluff, your aim is to pass all the cards in your hand to the player left of you (by convention) until you have no more cards left.  Then you become the winner.  The game can be played with a minimum of 2 people but it is much more fun played with more people.  With one deck of cards of 52, you can have up to 8 players, each dealt with a minimum of 6 cards.  With a larger crowd, you can have 2 decks of cards.  Ideally, each player should have about 8 cards to star with.  The game played with 52 cards is described here.

Definition:  The “declarant” is the player who starts first by putting the card/s face down and declares what they are.  Only singles, pairs, triplets or quads can be declared.  No straights (as in Poker) are allowed.  The player left of the declarant is the “responder” and this player makes a decision on the declared cards whether they are true or false.

When a declarant is chosen, he/she deals the cards to all players evenly.  In some variation the declarant keeps the rest of the cards when there is leftover after dealing.  Or, they become dead cards put face down in the centre.  When you receive your cards, you arrange them in order, singles, pairs, triplets or quads.  Sometimes you pretend to arrange them so that the other players would not guess whether you have pairs, triplets or quads.

When all the cards are dealt, the declarant puts down one or more cards and makes a statement or declaration about the cards.  For example, by putting one card face down, the declarant can say one “7” and the card can be a “7” or something else.  With two cards or more face down, the declarant can say two ‘7s”, three “7s” or four “7s”. The cards declared can be real or a bluff.

The adjacent player on the left is the responder and he/she had to make a decision whether the declarant is telling the truth or not.

If the responder thinks the declarant is bluffing, the cards can be turned up for everyone to see.  If the card reflects the truth, the responder picks up the card and keeps it (getting more cards in hand is not so good).  If the cards reflect that the declarant is bluffing, the declarant takes back the card/s and the responder becomes the new declarant.

In a second option the responder believes it is a true declaration and he/she decided not to do anything else but says “pass”.   In this case, the next player on the left becomes the new responder whilst the first player remains the declarant.  When the player sitting to the right the declarant says “pass” the stack is now moved to the centre and becomes dead cards, face down.  Nobody can see what these cards were.  The declarant then retains his right as the current declarant and starts a new declaration…

In a third scenario, the responder can add cards to the stack and makes a declaration about his/her card/s contribution.  When this option is taken, the responder becomes the new and current declarant and the player on the left becomes the new responder.  It is not unusual to see the number of cards in the stack greater than 4.and this means that one or more players have lied about his/her declaration.

Any responder can add on cards and makes a new declaration in order to increase the stack of cards and hoping some poor sod falls into a trap and pick up all the cards in the stack.  The status of declarant changes when a responder puts more card/s in the stack and thus become the new declarant.  The stack goes into the dead pile only when the player on the right of the current declarant passes.

The more devious you are, the better you play the game.  It is a combination of mental recall, poker face and cunningness that wins the game.,  If one player collect a lot of cards, he could truthfully get rid of 4 of a kind first and then 3 of a kind.  By simply telling the truth when the opportunity arises, he/she passes the cards along and it will finally end up as dead cards.

One of the trade secrets in this game is to keep your opponents guessing whether you are bluffing or not.  Hence you vary your truthfulness and lies.

The end game can vary.  The player who discarded all his/her cards can be the winner.  Alternatively, the last player who has cards in his/her hand loses.

This card game separates the man (woman) from the boys (girls).  You can tell who is the cunning devil or good gambler among your friends…  It is another good childhood game that cost next to nothing and yet it is a lot of fun. It also encourages bonding among friends.  It is good to play this game when it is raining outside.  My neighbour used to host this game because they had a wooden platform-cum-bed that can take 12 kids sitting in a circle.

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My husband immediately contacted his mother to enlist her help in hunting for an old female duck for us. Meanwhile, my parents went back to Ipoh and I got back to work again. Things began to fall back into places. I could eat and sleep well, just like before. But the methimazole I was taking gave me some unpleasant side-effects. I told myself that I must really search for that old female duck!

 

A month later, after much searching and asking around, mother-in-law called up and said she had finally found that old female duck at a friend’s house in Kuala Selangor. It was timely as my medication was running out , down to the last tablet. The poor animal was almost twenty years old, had seen better times and its days are numbered. It was my good fortune and its misfortune, I guess! Mother-in-law gave the owner one hundred dollars as a token and had it slaughtered, skinned and cut into halves.

“Now, get ten pieces of dried baby abalones from any Chinese medical hall and finally, a bottle of Guinness Stout, only Guinness Stout and no Carlsberg or Anglia or Anchor!” Yoke Cheh instructed us.

We got them all in a jiffy.

“Put the duck together with the baby abalones into a small ceramic pot. Do not add any water to it and sealed the lid to prevent any water from getting inside. Next, put this small pot into a big metal pot filled with water. Light up a charcoal stove and bring the metal pot to boil for about 10 hours. Don’t let the boiling stop but just add water to the metal pot and charcoal to the stove during the process,” the old lady instructed further.

“When the boiling has been done, remove the small pot and open the lid. You can see the duck and abalone extract. It tastes and looks like chicken essence. Pour the liquid into a porcelain bowl and discard the meats. When the liquid became lukewarm, drink it in ONE BIG GULP WITHOUT ANY PAUSE and then immediately followed by the bottle of Guinness Stout. Yes, finish both items in one gulp without any pause. Only this way, it will work. The same night, you will begin to burp non-stop. All the pent-up air inside your body will be released. Guarantee you will not have hyperthyroidism again for the rest of your life!” Yoke Cheh vouched on her magic portion.

We did as she instructed, right to the last dot. The duck and abalone essence was simply awesome but the Guinness Stout part was yuck! I have to hold my nose tightly and swallow everything in one single gulp. That night, true enough, I burped many times and after each time, I feel better than before, in fact so much better than when I took those methimazole!

You see, the Chinese have a very different approach to treating hyperthyroidism. While the westerners blamed the overactive thyroid glands, the Chinese attributed this to a build-up of anger, frustrations and stress over a period of time – things I got plenty from my work place.

Since mother-in-law got me such a big duck, it made two portions and I consumed them all within the same week. A week later, I went back to Tung Shin Hospital for the same blood test –for TSH, T4 and T3. Armed with the result, I went to see Dr. Cheong again.

Of course he was amazed and utterly speechless when he saw my blood test result. My TSH had increased manifold while T4 and T3 had decreased to the normal level. Shaking his head in total disbelief, he asked curiously, “What have you consumed lately? This is incredible, just unbelievable!” The poor old chap almost fell from his chair.

I just smiled and kept quiet. I don’t think he will believe in the power of that old female duck, a handful of dried abalones and of course, that bottle of bitter Guinness Stout as he was a western medical practitioner.

“You’re indeed a special patient. I never expect to see this kind of result from you until a year or two later,” he said.

“So, that means I don’t have to take those methimazole anymore?” I asked him.

“No, I don’t think so but you still have to come back yearly for your blood test, at least for a few years consecutively,” he advised.

“Back to my question just now, how did you get well so fast and so completely?” he was persistent to know.

“Well, just say it is a miracle!” I said smilingly as I got up to leave.

He threw up his hands and gave out a roaring laugh that vibrated through the corridor of the hospital.

“And thank you for finding out my problem for me……” I said to him as I closed the door behind me and walked down the stairs, very glad that my ordeal was finally over.

As a token of appreciation for dear old Yoke Cheh, I gave her a big fat ang pow.

It’s been almost thirteen years now and I have never been better!

Last night, my husband read the first part of this story. “We can easily buy dried abalones and a bottle of Guinness Stout, but the star of the day was that poor old female duck. She was the one that actually saved you from having to take methimazole. She got killed so that you can be cured permanently. So, shouldn’t the title of your story focus more on her contribution and also the ordeal you’ve gone through?” he pointed out to me.

I think he was right. I’ve been to hell and back. And the duck died for me.

Therefore, I decided to change the title for the first part to something like “To hell and back….” in order to reflect the ordeal I’ve been through.

The title for this second part is “An old female duck that saved my life” and I am sure the poor old girl (God bless her dainty little soul) will agree too. 🙂

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