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Posts Tagged ‘personal’


It’s been ages since I went on a holiday. Last week I took leave and the four of us including my two boys went to Melaka (known as Malacca in the olden days during colonial times). Melaka has been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Cities.

First, the Portuguese conquered Malacca, then the Dutch and later the British Empire. That is why there are a lot of rich cultural remmants of the glorious past. It was our first trip to this part of Malaysia. Apart from getting lost during the drive and moving around in circles, it was a marvellous holiday. No one lost their temper which is an achievement itself. We had a grand time.

We checked into a hotel that was in the heart of historical sites and shopping malls. This saved us from driving. I could not wait to explore the famous Jonker’s Street and I was not disappointed. The buildings are beautifully restored and the elaborate carvings on the walls and pillars are a sight to behold. The streets are full of shops selling souveniers, antiques, clothes and food unique to this state. Such rich baba-nyonya heritage.

The Maritime Museum
We entered ‘Flora De La Mar’, the Portuguese ship that sank off the Coast of Malacca now in the form of Maritime Museum. There is choc full of histories of the Portuguese, Dutch and British era. However I was too busy taking photos of my sons to really appreciate the historical impact. I was not much of a history buff during my school days. I do love to read historical romance but that is besides the point here.

We search in vain in our car for the Portuguese settlement and finally had to concede defeat. We walked to the replica of the Melaka Sultanate Palace and to our dismay it was closed. Sigh! I had wanted to walk along the corridors and imagine myself as a Malay princess of the golden era.

I definitely had to visit St. Paul’s Church which had been turned into burial ground for the dead by the Dutch. The huge tombstones with incriptions were all around the walls. Superstition aside, I took photos again. I’m such a shutterbug. Do not ask me anything technical as I take just for the love of capturing the moments for memories sake. The Stadthuys was also on our walking trail.

We went on a Melaka River Cruise and bought tickets which enabled us to leave the boat anywhere and anytime. When we are satisfied with seeing the destination, we just wait at the jetty and hitch a ride to the next destination for free.


I had to explore on my own and found some lovely temples. Melaka is famous for their Satay Celup, Chicken Ball Rice, kuih-muih and Nyonya food. I bought back some for family back home to have a taste.

It was time to leave. Reality was waiting for me. With reluctance, we bid farewell to lovely and quaint Melaka.It was a marvellous holiday. I hope one day my boys will look back and remember the wonderful memories spent there. Cheers.

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I am more or less writing this to convince myself. I am feeling a bit shaky. Business not so good. Profit margin down. I am just an employee but I have been working here for years. So, time to move on? Nah, I just hang on until it became intolerable. Sentimental loyal fool, that’s me.

So, how’s life been treating you, my friend? Is it well or cruel? If well, I am happy for you. But this is life. Sometimes, we go through some phases that are difficult to fathom. Perhaps, a much looking forward to baby born with a defect. Your closest friend had an unexpected life-threatening accident. A loving spouse inflicted with a terminal disease. Or a hideous one who abuse you. Swamped with a mountain of debts. Loss of job. Marriage breakdown. The list can be endless. Life is such.

But I believe life is beautiful too. If only, we take the time to appreciate what we have. Happiness is within everyone’s grasp. If only we open our hearts. And let go of the past and do not sweat over the small stuff. I have gone through several personal tragedies but still take pleasure in living my life. I was full of hurt and anger once.  Now, I am on the road to recovery.

Why do terrible things happened in our lives? Is it something that we have done in our past lives? Perhaps, God planned this to make us stronger and let us suffer so that we may come out of it wiser, more courageous, more compassionate…What we have gone through perhaps can help someone else in their times of need.

 

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He is eleven years old and is adamant not to go camping. I understand his feelings and fears. He is pretty much like me when I was a child. Insecure, painfully shy, timid. You get the picture. I wanted to get him out of his shell and learn to be more confident of himself and his abilities. At home with his family he is playful and likes to engage me in his football conversation. Oh yes, he is absolutely crazy over dogs and most kind with them. With other people, he like a tortoise in its shell, save for a few handful of his school friends.

How am I going to instill confidence in him? Opportunity came in the form of a camping trip held in his school compound. Perfect for a first time experience. This should be safe. At least it is not in some remote  jungle or near a flowing river. Still I was apprehensive. He is completely clueless. I am his mother but I know his shortcomings. I went shopping to buy the camping necessities.

The day came with him still protesting. ‘You don’t love me’, ‘you hate me’, ‘you just want to get rid of me’ were just some of the accusations thrown at me. Like the doting mother that I am, I smile lovingly and reassured myself. Of course, he does not mean a word that was uttered. Surely he will thank me for it later after successfully going through the ‘ordeal’.

My son wore his camping attire reluctantly and slung his bag over his drooping shoulder. He acted like I was sending him to the gallows. I walked with him to the meeting place. Not even one familiar face. This added to his nervousness and mine. More than a hundred students attended. Surely there was a familiar face somewhere. Reluctantly I left him. Doubts crossed my heart. Will he survive by himself? Will I? Will my younger son stopped grinning since we left his elder brother at the camp?

It was a very long night. At the crack of dawn, I got up. I had to subdue my impulse to rush to school to check on him. I told myself strictly to let go and consoled myself that he will be fine. I conjured a rosy picture of him chatting with his friends and having a midnight adventure. But it was no use. I had to go to school to sneak a peek.

Amid the numerous tents, I scoured the many sleeping bodies plus just as many early owls looking for my son. Panic hit me. He was just simply not there. I went to the field hoping to see him playing football even though I know he was not the sporty type.  As expected, he was not there. Wait a minute, there was a Talent Competition about to start. Maybe he has gone to support his friends who were taking part. Just in time to see his friend singing a One Direction son. By then, I was barely coherent. Where was he? Visions of him huddling in a corner and crying to himself came to my mind. He must have hated it and was desperate to escape!

I combed the school compound and finally found him in the Multimedia Room listening intently with other students to a leadership talk. My dear boy taking down notes and having that familiar frown in the middle of his forehead when he was concentrating.  I caught his eye and waved happily to him. Boy, was I relieved! He was adjusting to his new life! I hope he savoured his new-found independence. I went home. My mission accomplished. He survived the first night! And so did I!

The second night came. Oh dear, will he able to sleep? Will I? Will my younger son stopped acting so happy without his elder brother around? This time I resolved not to rush over to school and proud to declare that I kept my composure the whole day.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the day came when it was time to fetch him home. There he was, looking none the worse, patiently waiting for me. My heart soared when I saw him. He started telling me one by one his friends left because they could not stand the rigours of the camp. But he did not call me to fetch him before the camp ended because he was very sure I would not entertain such a request. Yes, absolutely. Whatever we started we have to see it through despite the hardship. We reap what we sow. He even had to perform in front of an audience and my heart burst with pride. Despite his paralysing fear of an audience, he managed to pull it off. He has learnt teamwork, persistance, courage, patience and found his inner strength. I was absolutely so proud of him.

You did it! I told my son. Will you go to another camping trip the next time your school organize one? His answer : Absolutely – only in my dreams, mum!

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In human beings managing the church, that is. After years of attending church, I finally decided to be baptised this Christmas. The reason for the delay and hesitation is due to language barrier. One recent fine Saturday morning, I drove and waited outside the church gates until the pastor arrived. I voiced my reservations whether it will be problematic if I attended English classes but baptised in the Mandarin session. He laughed at my worries and said, whatever language, we are all under the same roof. My reservations melted and I looked forward to the phone call later informing me when my classes will start.

Just to explain, my mum attended the Mandarin session and I followed suit. During the sermons, I read my own English bible given by a good friend while the pastor addressed the rest.  My poor boys stood out like a sore thumb as they too unable to communicate with the rest of the children. We are there at the church faithfully every Sunday so that we can be by my mum. My beloved dad is at rest in Heaven.

The phone call came. Another pastor informed me that the management decided that it is not possible for me to attend English classes and be baptised and continue attending the Mandarin session later on. It seemed it is a conflict to do so. To put it simply, he explained that this is to avoid a situation where I will be ‘grabbed’ by either session. Further conversation on the phone became a blur. I simply could not believe my ears.  My faith was shaken there and then. I teared up just thinking about it. Instead of being encouraged and feeling welcome, I was…..

Today is Sunday and here again at church. This time I looked at all with different eyes. The ones I looked up to, the ones I though had wisdom, I felt let down and rejected by the very church I had been attending. When the time for Holy Communion came, I left and sat in my car. I could not bear to be there.

There is a church in my neighbourhood. Shall I attend to see whether I belong there? But my mum….

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Let’s see, I am happy because I have my job, family, health, basic needs satisfy (wish I could afford that Coach handbag though!), friends…My sons bring me much joy and meaning in my life. Every day being around with them is a blessing for which I am thankful. My mom, well in my younger days, I just did not get along that well with her. My dad who has departed for quite a number of years is the one I looked up to and still missed terribly. I absolutely think he is the greatest. Now that my grey strands are showing, I have started to appreciate and understand my mom. Yes, I am happy but…

My younger son who has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis for more than 2 years is still under medication. I cannot bear to look at his wrist. Why is it still swollen despite consuming medication and having injections for so long? How long must he go on like this? I cannot imagine children with Polyarticular JIA. (five or more than 5 joints affected). My son has Oligoarticular JIA which means 4 or fewer joints affected. I should be thankful he can still play and run like others but when it comes to specific movements, he has limitations and he will feel the difference with other children when he is older. Or perhaps he already is feeling now…

Also because looking around I am aware there are tons of people elsewhere suffering, countries in political turmoil, families torn apart by earthquakes, floods and other catastrophe..There are people scavenging for food, their basic needs like shelter, meals, medical aid denied. Then, there are those women and children suffering in silence the physical and emotional abuses in the confine of their house. Why is all this happening? Thankfully my country is at peace and hopefully in the future too.

We have become immune to all this in our daily grind. We see these happenings in the newspaper, TV and other media but we just don’t feel the shock anymore. Perhaps for a bried moment, our mind emphasize with that deplorable incident. And then, we move on to other things that need our immediate attention.

So, there you are. I am feeling happy and sad at the same time.

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Finally the day came when we packed our bags into two cars and shoot off to the Pearl Of  The Orient (Penang). I was exceptionally nervous because this is the first time I am driving long distance and five lives depended on me ie my mom-in-law, dad-in-law, my two sons and of course my own life! I had to follow my bro-in-law’s car since I have no clue as to the directions. Some people are just born without radars!

Thanks to my Penang bro-in-law we had good reason to drive down. Meeting for the first time and dinner with his future in-laws. Oh yes, he’s ending his bachelor days in September soon. We can hardly wait for the church wedding to see the dashing groom and his blushing bride. I am such a romantic softie at heart.

The journey there went smoothly. We had our lunch and I very wisely ordered Fried Kuay Teow (after all, this is one of the dish Penang is famous for!). My dish was up to my expectations but the rest of them were let down by the Kuay Teow soup (tsk! tsk! this is what Ipoh is famous for, not Penang!). Our stomachs filled and off we went to Kek Lok Si Temple. It’s been years since I went. Previous I walked up but this time with the gang, we drove up. Knowing my driving limitations, luckily I asked my bro-in-law to drive as the ride up was steep and narrow.

Oh! The view was breathtaking. Even the slight drizzle did not dampen our enthusiasm. My camera had a life of its own. What a terrific time we had taking photos! There were so many tourists around. The scenery was lovely with its statues in the garden. We took photo at the pavillion. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, we decided to take the famous Penang laksa and boy, did it lived up to its name! Even though it was by the roadside, the tables were full. We went across the road and the service was quick. Aah, I was satisfied after having my bowl of steaming hot laksa. What would the trip be without eating the laksa! Pointless at least for me..

We reached my bro-in-law’s condominum and unpacked. I brought along my boys’ pillows to make them feel at home. Before we knew it, time for dinner with his in-laws. I have never seen his girlfriend and I could hardly wait. It seem like such a long ride to the Chinese restaurant. Parking is horrendous in Penang. They were already there waiting for us. A slim, simple and beautiful girl was my first impression and brainy too from her profession. The dishes were generous in size. Luckily my dad-in-law’s talent for small talk came in handy. He can talked on any topic and to any stranger. The rest of us were slow to break the ice. My niece and nephew who came along, played with my boys while the adults chit-chat. An enjoyable meal all in all and ended with smiles everywhere. Whew! I was afraid the children misbehave but luckily my nightmare did not come true.

The next day searched for the island famous biscuits. I managed to buy for my mum who loves the biscuit. My mission accomplished. Breakfast was Prawn Hokkien noodles which was mouth-watering. The beach beckoned next. Travelling round the island took a lot of our time. My sons could hardly contained their excitement as our hometown do not have any beaches. The children had a grand splashing time. We worked up a good appetite for lunch and it was good old solid rice with dishes.  We decided to go back to the condomium so that the designated drivers (me and my bro-in-law) have a quick snooze. It was a pretty tiring but enjoyable day.

My boys were reluctant to leave but in the end, we bid farewells and the journey to home begun. The holiday rejuvenated my sagging spirits and I felt revitalised even though physically tired because I am the type who have trouble sleeping elsewhere. A five-star hotel room would have been wasted on me because I just need my own bed to sleep! Everyone should have a break now and then with their loved ones because only then we can have lovely memories and feelings to cherish!

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I hate festivals. And I waited with dread this coming Chinese New Year. I am not the type who socialise easily nor the type who can talk about anything under the sun. Small talk is alien to me. This is also probably due to the fact that not all is going well in my life. Oh, I am also kind of a private person so I shall not dwell on the difficulties of my personal life. Don’t get me wrong. I still find things to be grateful about.

What a surprise to find that I am having such great fun this festival. Yesterday was a glorious afternoon. Our lovely hostess and host did a wonderful job in setting up a reunion of old schoolmates of over 25 years in their mansion which I can only described as coming right out of a magazine cover! Faces whom I have not seen for more than 2 decades were there. Most of them looked hardly a day older. Of course if you scrutinized closer, you can see some find lines, grey hair (at least those not covered by dye!). Catching up with friends in a wonderful setting – truly the interior decoration was a feast for our eyes. Of course, the spread on the table was delicious too! All have become very successful in their own careers. High flyers actually..Though some have quit the rat race to focus on their families. I wish I could afford to do so! Sadly my pitiful state of finance forbids me..

Today I thought I was meeting with a couple of old schoolmates. And to my surprise, another reunion in an old schoolmate’s house. Today’s reunion was a different group of schoolmates. I must add that I could not recognized a couple of them but slowly my rusty brain started working and memories came flooding back. Oh yes, so some of them have added a couple of pounds but in the end, we started chatting and again time flew..

Well, tomorrow I am meeting another group of people but this group is in my current life – they are friends whom I have made in my working life and whom I kept in constant contact. I shall see whether with the earlier two reunions we shall keep in touch with each other as we have exchanged telephone numbers and email addresses. Due to our hectic working lives and family demands, there is no time for anything left…At least until the next reunion!

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