Friday, December 30, 2005

blessings from above

It's amazing how I get more presents during Christmas compared to my birthday. And I thought Christmas is Jesus' birthday...

handmade gift

Anyways, I am not complaining. This Christmas has been special on many levels. Not just because of the gifts. This year I am reminded of God's providence for the things I need and sometimes, want.

Ever since I got myself involved with the Japanese scholarship thingy (and that's a huge chunk of this year), I've been spending quite a bit. Nihon-go lessons, IELTS paper and multiple trips back to campus, just to name a few. Then there were the other indirect costs such as phone calls and mails to Japan.

So much so that came December the one main thought that loomed in my mind was that Christmas would be another purse-draining exercise. We all know how commercialised the festive season has become. I dreaded having to jostle with the other urbanites in a bid to get gifts. Good gifts, mind you.

It didn't help that those that were within my budget looked too tacky and cheap. I was quite sure that there must be a solution to my gift buying woes. With 1 week to Christmas, I was still wracking my brains thinking what to do. I just couldn't endure the traffic jams outside the malls anymore.

In the end, God came through for me. Somehow, in His own way, He provided. It just reinforced the fact that when God answers prayers, it's in His own timing and manner, and most of the times in ways we least expect.

This year, I didn't have to spend as much, but I was able to give a whole lot more presents to more people this time around. Thank God for (the gift of creativity and) unexpected blessings. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

mewwy chwistmas

Please pardon the lack of updates these 2 weeks. Christmas and New Year are really great opportunities to spend time with friends and family. As cliche as that sounds, that's what I'm actually doing.

I was off since last Friday noon and will only be coming back to work next year, the 3rd to be exact! Since I've been neglecting not been able to spend much time with my loved ones due to my hectic schedule, I've decided to make up for that by taking the whole week off.

Will also try to write my essays as well. Holidays aren't really conducive for something as thinking up grand plans for the future and convincing the uni that you deserve to be accepted into their school. But hey, a grrl's gotta do what a grrl's gotta do.

In keeping this short and sweet, I bid all of you adieu and have yourselves a fantabulous Christmas (it ain't over yet for me!) and may His wondrous love and abundant blessings continue to overflow the coming year.

P/s : celeri asked me to convey the news that the IDP people have rectified the mistake in her results, and sends her love to all. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

my s3x change

dear ah beng,

i went to collect my ielts results this morning. guess what? i got 8.0 leh! can't believe right? ah lian like me also can score in engrish test. don't play-play.

actually hor, my engrish dem terror wan, if i had more time to study, sure can score 9.0. but then, since i put my first language as chinese, i better not score so high. if not, they sure dun belif and will think i cheat or something.

but i very happy lor, i always thought my engrish quite terrible wan. i never even sat for my 1119 or toefl last time. scared i fail mar. then dun wan to waste my ah-ma and ah-pa's hard earned money.

this time, i show to the world my engrish quite high standard. haha.

one thing i upset lor, these people dunno how to key in my details properly. put me as MALE!! what the duck? my picture so clearly shows that i'm charboh, they put M next to my gender.

how can this be?

now i have to go back there to ask them to change, then have to go back again to collect my results. so mafan i tell you. already i told my boss i had "some errands to run", what should i tell her next?

nevermind la, that one small matter oni. coz you know why? i very happy coz i scored in my engrish test!

your dahling,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

nihon-go no shiken

Praise the Lord! I passed - with flying colours! Woohoo!

Full marks for the writing, but I missed out by 1 mark in the speaking section. It must've been the longer questions where I went "Er..hmm... huh?". Maybe I should have said sumimasen like a polite Nihon-jin instead of giving her that confused look.

shiken results
We got back our results the same day, and a certificate of completion too.

So it wasn't the most muzukashii paper I've ever sat for, but the late nights were well worth it. I was aiming to do well, but this was far better than expected.

What can I say but all glory to God? :)

Oh, let me teach you a new phrase - omedetou gozaimasu. It is used to congratulate a person and can be used in various occasions like weddings and birthdays. You may start practicing by saying that to me :D

nihon-go no shiken = japanese test
sumimasen = excuse me, sorry
Nihon-jin = Japanese national
muzukashii = difficult

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

tis more blessed to give than to receive

I'm happy! Only one more paper to go, my Japanese test is tomorrow. I'll be getting my IELTS result this Friday, and for the whole of next week, I can concentrate on writing my essays.

Can't wait for the end of the year. Was really looking forward to the Christmas week. By November I was already thinking of the gatherings and festivities, the food and fellowship.

Then I realised, what is Christmas without Christ? This year I was caught up with all things but the birthday Boy. How could I have gotten so carried away by all the merriment, and left out the reason why Christmas is celebrated in the first place.

I was worried about what to give to my colleagues for Christmas this year. It has always been my tradition to bless them with a little gift. I do that for my grrlfriends too. Since there are about 20 of them altogether, I try to get something meaningful with the limited budget that I have.

After awhile, I began to run out of ideas. Candles, chocolates, candy canes - they've all gotten them from me. I even varied the way I presented them - ribbons, lace pouches, glossy wrappers, mini paper bags. In the midst of all these, I started wondering why was I taking so much effort making fancy wrappers and putting cute pressies when I should be the one receiving presents at this time of the year.

The selfish me reared its ugly head and started to doubt my own good deeds. Here I was, spending hours thinking how to put my creativity to good use, and coming up with unique gifts when I'm the one celebrating Christmas and not them.

But I love making pressies. (Well, given the luxury of time, I'd love to give everyone handmade pressies if possible.) More so when the recipient enjoys the gift. Once in awhile I receive grateful notes of thanks and appreciative comments on my efforts. That itself makes the whole giving exercise a worthwhile effort.

This year, I'm planning to continue with the tradition, but perhaps on a scaled down level. One of the Daily Bread readings reminded me of the reason why we're celebrating Christmas. It was one of those "What has gotten into me?!" moments. With that in mind, I will plan my festive activities, and yes that includes gift getting, with Him as the central reason.

Hmm, maybe I'll make cards this time around?

Monday, December 05, 2005

2 down, 1 to go

Woohoo! I've just finished my IELTS paper! Thank God I survived. Ironically, it's the part which I prepared the least that I think I did the best.

Speaking section was quite ok, though I wondered why the examiner looked so anxious to go on to the next question as soon as I complete my sentences. It was like that for the first part.

I thought perhaps I was talking too much, my verbosity exceeding the time limit. So I spoke less the next round. This time, she looked expectantly at me, as if waiting for me to talk some more. But my brains were beginning to tune themselves to stop spewing out words after a certain time.

In the end I think I talked too much for the section which required simple responses and stinged on my words on that which called for more elaborate answers. :p

The was Friday noon. I woke up to the sounds of rain pitter-pattering on the roof the morning after. Having slept at 2:30 trying to do IELTS sample papers, waking up at 7 was no fun at all. All I wanted was to cuddle up in my blanket and wished my paper was another day.

Hanging around outside the hall stirred up pre-exam butterflies in the stomach. The waiting, the last minute memorising and the anxious looks. It reminded me of uni days when a confident front was put up as a million charts and notes run through the mind. It was all too familiar.

The listening test was as I had expected. Fairly easy throughout, but tricky at the end. I must've missed some key points - damn British accent of theirs! Ditto for the reading section, minus the accent.

Now, I must say that I have not been practicing on the writing part because of the lack of time. Even with trying to jot down points to make up a story, I didn't think I did as good as I should have. After all, it's been years since I last sat down and wrote a summary to describe 3 pie charts! What more an argumentative essay at that.

Without the flexibility and ease of typing on a computer, needless to say, I was tired out halfway writing my essays. I don't think I've ever written on paper this much since I graduated from uni. Thank goodness it was the last section. I just wanted to get it over and done with. And funnily, my pieces came out quite well, despite my inadequacies.

My plans to reward myself with a shopping treat had to be cancelled. I was more than zombified at the end of it. My bed had never looked so tempting, my brains never been so taxed...

Friday, December 02, 2005

early december updates

1 down, 2 to go
Now that I've gotten the guitar showcase out of the way, I can concentrate on my IELTS paper and Japanese test. Speaking of which, I'll be going for the Speaking section of the IELTS this afternoon, and the rest of the sections tomorrow morning. Oh boy, I can't wait to be assessed.

So blessed
Having to pay for various things last 2 months has left me quite broke. Insurance premium, guitar lessons for the semester, IELTS paper, passport renewal, multiple birthday celebrations have taken its toll on my finances.

As if answering an "unprayed" prayer, God blessed me with a colleague who now carpools with me to work. It's not much, but at least it's something. She offers to pay for parking when she follows me to work and for toll on the way back.

Neither here nor there
Said colleague ain't very well liked by the seniors. She's relatively new and doesn't quite fit in - let's just say her personality clashes with the general character of the department. It falls on me to be the kind senior, whatmore with her sitting in front of me, and staying in Subang as well.

I take effort to make her feel belonged and help her out with certain issues. But everytime that happens, she takes advantage of my niceness and the relationship takes a few steps back. I can understand why the rest aren't very approving of her.

So much so that it has become a dilemma as when I'm with both sides, I'm inevitably caught in the middle. There is a sort of awkward silence whenever that happens. My attempt at making conversation on neutral topics helps, but not all the time!

Monday, November 28, 2005

survived the showcase i did!

When we were asked if we had any prayer requests during last Friday's CG, blursquid and I asked the cell not to come to church for a miracle.

I was a bundle of nerves picture of poise on stage. All I remembered was walking up the stage with my classmates and trying to make sure I was sitting the right way and looking pretty proper while I gave my first performance with an instrument I was still not very familiar with.

At the end of it, the congregation from the Saturday evening service gave an enthusiastic round of applause. Me? I was just glad it was over for the day. Pastor Adam and a fellow guitarist from another class congratulated us for a job "well done!" So a miracle did take place. Either that, or we performed so badly they thought saying something nice would be consoling.

I really couldn't tell. I was too busy getting the fingerings right that everything else became a blur I didn't hear myself play. When the keyboard came in after the 1st transpose, the guitars were practically drowned out. Thank goodness, heh!

I was more than prepared for Sunday's performance, but it was still as scary. It reminded me of when I was back in primary school, backstage and all made up, getting ready for an end-of-the-year concert. Only this time, I was more than just a small kid having fun on stage, oblivious to the expectant looks of the audience.

We actually look quite good together; 5 guitarists, 2 vocalists and solo keyboardist. To cover up for any mistakes make the music sound fuller in that big hall of ours, we had Eximius' drum teacher, piano teacher and guitar teacher play softly in the background.

Now that I've gotten over my first and hopefully my last showcase, I hope the next time won't be as intimidating. Hmmm, I should've ordered a CD of the service...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

IM-less connection

I got banned from using Yahoo Messenger, my trusty online communications tool. I felt so isolated and alone. So disconnected from the rest of the world.

Apparently we're not allowed to use any form of Instant Messengers. To tell you the truth, I only found that out by accident when I went through our public folders, and it was found in our former IT dept, which is now outsourced and privatised. Technically, it's their SOP and if it's not made known to the rest of the company (parent or subsidiary), we don't have to follow their procedures.

But since they control the network, internet access, and everything technical for the rest of the group of companies, we're subjected to their rules and regulations as well. Sigh.

So anyways, for the past few years I've been able to connect to YM due to my ingeniosity. Heh! Everytime the IT tech guy comes over to do regular PM's*, I somehow manage to tweak the configuration and I'm back online again. I'm no tech wizard, but it's usually by trial and error.

This time, they've upgraded the firewall and all my efforts in connecting have failed. I can't even access websites of web messengers, touted to even bypass strict firewalls and proxy servers to enable users to use their favourite IMs.

So now I'm on, the only application that has saved me from the doldrums of an IM-less life. Thanks to, I now have a new set of friends and my contact list is being populated once again. Nevermind that it's so basic and lack the RAM-hogging features of YM, the feeling of being connected again is just indescribable!

* PM - Preventive Maintenance

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

presenting... (cue : drum rolls)...

The showcase is just 3 days away, and I'm not even ready!

Instead of having exams at the end of the school year, Eximius, our very own School of Performing Arts have decided to torture its students showcase the talents of its students by having them learn how to face an audience of a thousand play during the church service.

During one of our classes last month, our teacher handed us a slip of paper to sign should we choose to embarrass ourselves on stage do the showcase. As part of the exercise, we are required to commit regularly to classes and diligently practice our pieces.

Even before we received that piece of paper, blursquid and I were "picked on selected" by our teacher to perform. I just had to ask him why, since there were better students in our class (read : their skills qualify them for the intermediate class, but for whatever reason, ended up in ours instead). His answer? "Both of you have been faithful". What a price to pay for being faithful! :p

So anyways, tried as much as we did, but we just couldn't get ourselves out of the showcase. Teacher said it would be good exposure. Inside I was thinking "I'll really be exposed for being the lousy musician that I am!". Hah!

I have had to miss a few classes recently and I wasn't too happy because that meant I was losing out to the other students had to catch up with the rest. The only advantage I had was my musical background. But other than that, I still have to put in hours to torture my fingers practice. It doesn't matter that I can roughly guess what chord comes next or that I can follow the timing, my bar chords still sucked! sound muted.

Having said that, I must say I enjoy tormenting my digits learning the guitar. I just wished I could master my bar chords without having the guitar sound like it has a mute pedal like the piano. It's quite imperative that this is done within the next few days for we'll be playing the "Heart of Worship" in D, transposed to E and finally end in F.

You know what I'm gonna do? I'll be using my friend's canggih looking guitar, hoping that my fans the audience would be so awestruck by this fine piece of workmanship that everything else becomes a blur (read : whatever that I'm supposed to play)! And oh, please remember to bring some cotton balls - muted chords aren't very pleasant to the ears.

Friday, November 18, 2005

christmas lights come alive!

Since Nobu, the Malaysianised Nihon-jin was kind enough to help with my translation and clarify some issues with the Jap uni, I thought it would be a nice gesture to repay him by being his tour guide for the day. Or night in this case.

During the long Deeparaya* break, KC and I took him to visit the famous Kuala Selangor fireflies. I haven't been there before myself, and despite nursing a flu, I thought it was a good opportunity to see the world famous fireflies before they go extinct for good.

christmas light
Single christmas light

After almost getting lost, we finally found our way to the Firefly Park Resort. While waiting at the jetty, we saw some fireflies at the branches of the berembang trees along the riverbank. There were only a handful, but it was really quite interesting coz they looked like they had flashing lightbulbs at their butts.

christmas light alive
The insect behind that light above

This park must attract its fair share of visitors from around the world because their signboards welcoming visitors are in hiragana as well. I think there were some Nihon-jin tourists that evening because I kinda understood some of the phrases they were speaking. Either that, or they spoke really politely and had that cute lilt in their expressions.

christmas light up close
The beetle of the family lampyridae up close and personal

It was truly an experience being on the river, slowly passing by the mangrove trees. The electric-powered boats whirred so softly in the dark that our senses heightened. We could smell the raw jungle around us, feel the many mosquitoes flying about our heads, listen to the gentle motion of the riverwater.

fruits of the tree
Fruits and leaves of the berembang tree

Slowly we came into view of a cluster of trees occupied by the fireflies. It was one of most awesome sights I've ever set my eyes on - the trees looked like they were alive with moving blinking christmas lights! Words can't describe how magical it was.

After that short but enchanting ride down the river, we went to a nearby chinese restaurant for a hot meal of seafood steamboat. Since they gave us so much noodles and Maggi mee as part of the set, we ended up feeling very full at the end of it.

steamboat dinner
Waiting for our seafood to be cooked in the steamboat

The night being still young at almost 12am, we decided to bring Nobu around Port Klang, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. He was most impressed with the architecture and infrastructure of the planned city. The whole of Putrajaya were lit up even though there was hardly anyone around. We told him this was where our taxpayers' money went, even before anyone moved in, or any of the departments started work here. But ya, I gotta admit, it's quite a beautiful sight to behold.

chinese chess
Nobu and KC trying their hand at a game of chinese chess

Our last stop was the famous Putrajaya Shangri-La. I was so familiar with that place I brought them to the infinity pool, all the fancy restaurants and the indoor garden. I've never stayed there, but it's really a good place to unwind and relax. I had one of the most "nyenyak" sleep that night.

ceiling lights of the shang
Looking up the flower-shaped lights of the Putrajaya Shangri-La

*Deeparaya = Deepavali (Hindus) + Hari Raya (Muslims) double festive celebration

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

vbs 2005

Our church's VBS (Vacation Bible School) has taken quite a bit of my time, especially in recent weeks. Committee meetings, writing minutes and following up, and teachers' briefings replaced my usual Sunday nap times.

After the whole day at the annual dinner, I was too tired to attend church. Felt really bad the day after. But had to drag myself out of bed to attend the final VBS briefing. The helpers and workers were treated to lunch before prayer and proceeding to decorate the rooms. I think we outdid ourselves this year, each class had their own set of decorations to fit the theme, much more elaborate than I've ever remembered.

Went home after that, took a nap trying to catch up on sleep and tried to finalise my lessons for the next day. Even though my role is so tiny, I wanted to make sure I did it right. The class I was teaching may be just 7-8 year old kids who may never remember who taught what in which VBS, but it was important that they had a good impression of the Truths that are imparted to them.

My efforts were duly rewarded when my class' main teacher came up to me telling me I did a good job of holding their attention. Not easy, considering we had about 110 children in that age group spread across the main rally hall. It can only be from God that I had the brilliant idea to use actions to accompany the memory verse and star-shapes in black background to display the words of Matthew 2:2, and still manage to pull it off with 3 hours of sleep.

It was good to see children, not just from our church, but from other churches and orphanages, enjoying themselves learning God's Word. Things have really changed from when I was a kid. Today they are blessed with modern AV equipment, multimedia visuals for lessons, funky music and full band during worship. And because of that, it takes so much more to get them to be still and listen to you while you teach.

I left VBS halfway yesterday due to a meeting my boss just had to schedule today, but I'm already looking forward to rejoining them tomorrow. :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

of the beach party

I'm still alive and have loads of pictures to share. The Genting trip was actually more than 3 weeks ago :D

Anyways, last weekend was especially hectic. Was involved in our company's annual dinner. Was there the whole day till at least 3am. Wearing spaghetti top to the "It's a beach thing, babe" theme in a fully air-conditioned ballroom and standing throughout did nothing to benefit me except to prepare me to be a swimsuit model in the Arctic.

The VIPs had the usual red-carpet treatment and their little complains despite the free flow branded liquor and cigar, not to mention proper tables to sit and have their dinner.

Our team did a pretty good job, no major glitches. Our AM is quite hands-on when it comes to delegation and briefing of jobs. When the Manager (now promoted out) was around, we were almost always kept in the dark and given the opportunity to figure out what was going on by ourselves. Needless to say, we ended up with more confusion throughout the night. During one recent dinner, the chairman came to the reception table (where we were receiving guests), obviously drunk, and started kicking under the table and asking "Where's my cigar? Where's my cigar?!"

When I went over to help my colleagues with the lucky draw gifts, I smelt something burning. Immediately saw one of the speakers near the DJ console smoking! Good thing the said chairman who came over some minutes later did not notice anything. A similar incident happened at another birthday dinner and it seems that now the Malaysian events circle know about it. It was considered a major faux pas as our former PM was the VVIP of that night. Surely the AV people would have had some backup or did a more thorough check beforehand?

Ah, the wonderful world of PR and event management. For juicier stories, you know how to contact me!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

cell genting trip

Did I mention that this is my 3rd time up Genting this year? I don't remember, even as a child, going up the "sin city" so frequently!

My first was in April when our MMU CF had a reunion-cum-holiday, followed by a hosting trip to a Filipino missionary couple in July. In exactly 3 months after that, I'm back in Genting, but with a whole different group of people.

spinner at work
The colourful Spinner with its gleeful occupants

With my cell members, we stayed at the 2-room condo in Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort. I remember they used to have a jacuzzi in the master bathroom. They must've removed it coz there was this huge void which looked too big for a normal bathing space and the manual for which to operate the jacuzzi was still stuck on the cupboard door.

taking a nap
Alvin forever in the sleeping position

As soon as we had checked in and marked our territories with our bags, we went straight up to the Theme Park. Good thing there weren't as many people that weekend, but we did see busloads full of Indian nationals making their way to the various rides. It used to be TARC students swarming Genting, their campus is just a stone's throw away from the foot of the hill.

baby isabelle
Our new addition to the CG, baby Isabelle

Too bad Lawrence, our former cell leader couldn't join us. Juliet the organiser couldn't make it either. In place we had Chee Ching's sister who was here from Penang, and Nobu, KC's colleague and my newfound Nihon-jin friend.

nihon-jin waving
Meet Nobu Hiraiwa, the Malaysianised Japanese

We were out there freezing our bums off till evening. It's like a city that never sleeps. In the daytime, people will be crowding the place, trying all sorts of rides and attractions. When night falls, the City of Entertainment will be all lit up and can even be seen from as far as Putrajaya on a clear day.

charlie's angels
Doing the Charlie's Angels pose

They even took me into the casino and educated me on the various "games" they had inside. Some of the card games looked familiar but I don't remember playing with money. It was quite enlightening seeing how the croupiers have to turn their hands out everytime they deal with the tokens and how the supervisors will "swap" croupiers if someone at the gaming-table was on a winning streak.

guys on phones
Supposed to be one of the winning shots for the CG Promo contest

After all the fun and education, we returned to our condo exhausted. It was a great idea to cramp together; John, Beng & baby Isabelle occupied the smaller room, the 4 grrls took the master bedroom and the rest of the guys slept in the living room. Even though space was a luxury, we had a great time bonding.

After breakfast at the Rajawali Restaurant, we had a little sharing by Sunny, our cell leader. I think he planned on giving a proper "sermon", but since we had guests, he used some pocket cards with Chinese characters to share on how the ancient Chinese actually knew the one true God. It was most appropriate since CC's sister is Chinese-ed and Nobu can read kanji characters.

spinner at work
Such colourful contraption this one is

So in the end it was not merely a cell outing, it was also bonding, educational, evangelistic and refreshing. :)

Monday, October 31, 2005

some days

Some days
It feels like everyone wants a piece of me
Messages to reply, meetings to attend
Time for all except for moi
I wish I can clone myself

Some days
It feels like no one knows I exist
People passing by, going about their business
Happily chatting in their own groups
I wish they'd stop and say hi

On other days
It feels just right
Not too much, none too little
Some for others, some for me and plenty left for God
I wish there were more of these days

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the eye of the storm

The storm has passed, I hope. It has been a rocky journey these past couple of weeks, hence the lack of a proper post in the blog. Noticed how I had to expand on the previous post, that too I thought lacked imagination.

I try to refrain from posting things about the office. I'm not exactly anonymous here, my face is plastered for all to see. Besides, blogging is sorta like an escape from the dreariness of the work place.

Granted, it has always been quite bad here. Just that it reached a peak just last Friday. A colleague whom I've gotten close to was "asked to resign". Without going into details, we both thought the situation in the office has just reached ridiculously preposterous levels.

Because of the unique background of the company, we have not had to deal with just office politics, but nepotism and cronyism as well. Now I understand why my colleagues who've been slaving here for donkey years are still execs, whilst the bosses' friends and family members are all sitting in big plush office rooms with carpeting and custom-made cupboards.

And I've not begun to dwell on the insane cost-cutting policies we have here, whereby we were asked to share PC's and use OpenOffice. I wonder if it has anything to do with the bosses' spending weeks away on holidays, golf trips and birthday parties on whose account I shan't disclose here.

Can I just add also that my boss have this habit of not defending us in front of other bosses, but that she somehow claims credit for her subordinate's ideas? Hmm, I better not. Can't risk an early resignation when my time's not up yet.

In any case I'll keep this short. Amidst all these hanky pankyness, I am reminded again that life is not a bed of roses for Christians. Nor does He guarantee that it will be smooth sailing. But I'm rest assured that whatever happens, His hand is there to guide me. And of course, loving friends who have rallied around me in prayer, have made this journey a little bit more bearable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

this and that

I've just had one month's worth of Japanese lessons. We've started on basic greetings, everyday words, common questions, numerals and family members. Hiragana is also part of the lessons - we have drills every week!

Japanese grammar can be quite confusing, so we're asked to not translate directly. Not only that, for our version of "this" and "that", the Japanese have 12 words - depending on what "this" and "that" points to, on the order of the sentence and whether a polite version of the word is used. So far, this is what I've learnt :

kono, sono, ano
kore, sore, are
koko, soko, asoko
kochira, sochira, achira

Updates - 14th Oct 2005
The first word in the 1st two rows refer to an object very near to the speaker, whereas the 2nd refers to something not so near and the 3rd to something far away.

For example :
Kono(Sono) hon wa Kim-san no desu = This(That) book belongs to Kim
Kore(Sore) wa Kim-san no hon desu = This(That) is Kim's book

The first word in the last 2 rows refer to a place very near to the speaker, and ditto for the rest. Both rows are similar except that the last row is a polite version of the 3rd.

For example :
Koko wa uketsuke desu = Kochira wa uketsuke desu = This is a reception desk

When asked about the differences, our sense asked us to just oboeteikudasai!

Oh boy, I love Nihon-go :p

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

a prayer for my boss

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving my boss amnesia. She scolded me for something which she herself approved. When I answered her back, she kept quiet. She must've remembered that she's suffering from this illness. So it's good that she has amnesia.

Thank you for giving my boss a baby to adopt. She's recently become quite a nicer person to talk to. She even told me her husband wanted to name the baby Sarah. I thought it was a pretty sweet name - princess. But she said she would think of me if she's scolding her daughter next time. Now her baby's name is Ashley. I conveniently forgot to tell her, that's also the name of my colleague's dog.

Thank you Lord for giving me such an interesting boss. I try hard not to laugh when I think about her. I should continue praying for her.


Friday, October 07, 2005

iB camp 2005

Must do my bit to promote this year's iBridge camp.

Date : 3-6 November (all public hols, no need to take leave)
Fees : RM120 (very affordable)
Venue : SUFES Campsite, Tapah, Perak (just at the foot of Cameron Highlands)
Topic : 1) The Christian mindset (for old senior grads haha) 2) Transition (for fresh grads)

I'm going to do the usual promotions :

Had a superfantabulous time for the past 2 iB camps. Met babes n hunks in Christ from various denominations, and was good experience seeing people from different backgrounds coming together. The highlight of these camps is not so much of the speakers or their eloquent messages (no doubt, very good), but the sharing by the campers - transition period from students to graduates to young working adults, struggles and difficulties in church, family, relationship, finance, peer pressure, etc., being a living testimony in the "real world", basically - the comforting knowledge that you're not alone in this walk, and that there are people who will encourage and walk with you in this journey, that we all face similar temptations and trials in life.

I don't know how else to share how much these camps, and the iB ministry, has blessed me. It's really something you have to experience for yourself. If you want to read more, feel free to surf their website for more information. If you email me, I will try my best to help :D

Thursday, October 06, 2005

singapore getaway 4

mama n i
Shared a cable car with 3 other ang mohs. We passed a cruise ship which was just leaving the port. Kit saw the same ship docking when he visited Sentosa a few weeks back.

cruise ship
While we were on top of the ship, we could actually hear a quartet playing from the deck area near the swimming pool. Wonder what's it like to live and work in a ship for months...

fort siloso exhibition
Paid S$8 to get into Fort Siloso, Singapore's only preserved coastal fort. They did a good job with the audio visual displays, interactive exhibits and even authentic aromas - a poignant reminder of the war years.

actors at the fort
This was a special act depicting the various reactions and thoughts of young Singaporeans towards the war years. Only available for a limited period to commemorate 60 years of WWII.

japanese side
The signing ceremony which saw the Japanese surrendering at the end of the WWII. Notice the life-sized replicas complete with facial expressions.

british side
The bloodiest war in history concluded with a short simple ceremony, and for obvious reasons was an extensively photographed occasion. For some reason, I did not take that particular photo, but I knew this was some other signing ceremony as well. :D

The biggest replica of Singapore's most enduring symbol - The Merlion. Did not go all the way up to the top of the half-lion, half-fish creature for a glimpse of their animation feature.

off into the sunset
It was late afternoon when we decided we had enough walking for the day. Singaporeans must be healthy people - walk from HDB flats to MRT, walk from MRT to workplace/shopping complex/wherever, and walk back again. Repeat for everyday. Maybe we Malaysians can learn something from our southern neighbour.

singapore river
Woke up early to catch the Aeroline bus back to PJ. Took some shots at the back of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. Neat, green and clean - that's how I'd describe Singapore in 3 words. Needless to say, I found the greenery a salve for tired eyes. Mmm... :)

Monday, October 03, 2005

singapore getaway 3

Not realising that the Night Safari wasn't as near as going to the Jurong BirdPark, we ended up reaching there later than expected.

Mama, Kit and I had a light dinner at the Bongo Burger, an al fresco fast food restaurant near the entrance. A note of caution to those who're thinking of trying their food, you might want to share as their portions are L-A-R-G-E! The fish fillets were huge, the potato chips were fat and they serve their drinks in jam jar-like glasses. Well, value for your money, heh.

bornean tribal performers
Watching the Bornean Tribal performers from the Bongo Burger

We took the tram for a 45-min ride around the zoo. The lady giving the commentary had to repeatedly tell those who were using flash photography off. There was even once she had the driver stop in the middle of the route and the lights of that particular carriage switched on before we could proceed with the journey.

It was really educational going through the the Himalayan Foothills, Nepalese River Valley, Indian Subcontinent, Equatorial Africa, Indo-Malayan Region, Asian Riverine Forest, South American Pampas and the Burmese Hillside, and watching the various nocturnal animals up close.

the noctural tiger
This tiger knew we were taking photographs, she actually moved about and lay in different poses

Kit said they must've put all the food near to the route so that we could have a close glimpse at these animals. How else would you have herds of the barasingha and babirusa eating so peacefully, whatwith the excitement emanating from the trams?

graceful giraffe
Too dark to see the animal in the LCD screen, hence the awkward result - the headless giraffe!

At the end of the journey, Kit and I left Mama at the gift shop and went off straight for the trails. The Fishing Cat Trail, Leopard Trail and Forest Giant Trail were separate from but intersected with the tram route at several points. We took our time gazing at the animals and trying to make out the moving silhouettes in the dark.

resting midway through the trails
Taking a breather midway at the start of the Leopard Trail

The Night Safari is quite cleverly designed, I must say. The trees, the fauna, the smells and even the mosquitoes - there were times I felt like I was in the middle of a jungle. No wonder then that the Safari won the Best Leisure Attraction Experience Year 2004 award, among many others. Definitely a recommended place for all to visit :)

posing with the python
Feeling squirmish at first, Kit soon warmed up to the reptile around his neck

Too bad we couldn't stay longer. Would've missed the bus if we did. Oh well, there's the Sentosa Island for the next day. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be a story for another day :)

Friday, September 30, 2005

singapore getaway 2

Remember when I said I might go down Singapore to talk to the IUJ reps? Well, by making the holiday trip, I could kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

IUJ's website was pretty informative, and I was already in contact with the admissions dept. Most of my concerns were promptly answered. However, I wanted to show them I made the effort (to gain admission), and to clarify some other issues.

After having a quick lunch with Dusty at the NUS campus (which reminded me of UM + they have subsidised food even in their own McD's and Genki Sushi!), I went off to the city in search of Raffles The Plaza.

Got a bit lost at first when I came out of the MRT station and saw Swissôtel The Stamford. Didn't know they were connected and it wasn't shown on the map! Anyways, after asking around the concierge, I finally found the ballroom where the MBA tour was being held.

Managed to locate IUJ's booth and met up with the dean of their Business School. He personally attended to me while I explained to him my predicament.

1) I need to get a letter of acceptance from a Jap uni in order for me to be shortlisted (yes, it's still not over!) for the scholarship. Announcements will be made by the embassy in February.
2) But, deadlines for the IUJ's admission is in February as well. Admission results will only be released in March.
3) One of the required documents is my TOEFL/IELTS test results, of which I have none. As terror as my Engrish is, I am still not exempted from taking it. But, the dean was pretty impressed with my qualifications and wished he could exempt me.
4) All these Engrish tests ain't cheap! If I'm not mistaken, IETLS costs almost RM400 and it's only valid for 2 years. (By the way, which test is more universally accepted?)

He encouraged me to submit my documents by this year and perhaps they might be able to process my application (and find a supervisor) in time for the embassy's deadline. Hmm... write essays, register for Engrish test, prepare transcripts, etc.. oh boy, looks like it's gonna be a busy end of the year for me!

Well, with my questions answered, I took the MRT back to Red Hill to take a short nap. Must get enough rest, looking forward to the much-talked about Night Safari. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be a story for another day. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

singapore getaway 1

It was a pretty good break, even if it wasn't purely break per se. It was a trip of sorts - to visit my brother, catch up with friends, see how Singapore evolved over the decade, and since my mum decided to tag along - to have holiday with her as well.

First stop - Jurong Birdpark. Dusty, the durable tour guide came all the way from JB. Must thank him for taking the effort despite not really knowing his way around! I was quite excited about the birdpark because Uniquely Singapore's website was promoting a "hearty breakfast beside a flock of pink flamingos". But when we got there, there was no "show", explained the officer in charge. The flamingos would still be there, and we can still order their breakfast set, but apparently, no breakfast with the flamingos.

me and some flamingos
Posing with little flamingos

We paid about SGD20 for 2 different sets and had a really lovely American breakfast under the shady raintree. We could see flocks of flamingos at a pond just below us. I was already feeling destressed - the greens, God's wonderful nature, and having nary a worry in the world. If I had the money, I'd build my home like this - wooden and filled with warm lights, trees and colourful flowers everywhere (even in the bathroom), ponds and streams, animals roaming... Err, that sounds like living in the jungle!

lush greeneries and flamingos
Lush greeneries - soothing to the soul

We were being the typical tourists, exploring every trail and snapping pictures everywhere we went. It was just refreshing being there. People are wondering why I'm doing all these touristy stuff instead of shopping. After all, it's Singapore. Well, sad to say, it wasn't sales season. But, it was a good time actually - no school holidays, no shopping sales, no hassle fighting your way through seas of people.

solo pelican
So hard to get a shot of this pelican being still - it kept moving about cleaning its feathers

solo swan
Graceful looking creatures, these swans

solo duck
One of the most exquisite birds - the colourful mandarin duck

While I was soaking in the atmosphere and enjoying His creations, I received an SMS from Malaysia - of all people, my boss. Something about rescheduling a website meeting. And suddenly, the stress came back. Not much, but the thought of work and anything related was enough to spoil the mood. Goodness, what was she thinking sending me something like that on a cheery Saturday morning??

I must remind myself to scan through my messages when I'm on holiday. Anyways, I pushed that thought away and went around admiring the birds again. Seeing them and their simple ways made me wish I was a bird flying in the sky!

emu like creature
This cute li'l fella was trying to peck at us, not an emu but looks like one

the action penguin
The sole penguin who was posing for us while its fellow tuxedo-ed friends happily swam around the aquarium

ang moh girl feeding a lory
Ang moh charboh trying her hands feeding a lory bird

It was a morning well spent. I had to rush off to Raffles Hotel to meet the reps from the IUJ after that. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be a story for another day :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

while i was away...

This happened while I was overseas last weekend. Not that I'm a fan, but I wondered if my vote(s) would've made a difference...

Saw this in the newspapers after I came back. And I thought I heard wrongly while watching the Mandarin news in Singapore - thought they said Katrina had struck the US again...

To think that the police have to resort to this, one wonders if there is justice in the system that is supposed to uphold law and order, and if those who pay their fines on time are being short changed...

What is the world coming to??


Will post something about my mini break later. Though I can't control the above, things at work need my attention. :D

Friday, September 16, 2005

insider information

I found out I have more kepoh concerned friends than I realised. While calling me up to remind me about yesterday's music practice, this lady from church decided to take the liberty of asking me about my love life. Being modest honest, I implied that there was no one in particular. She proceeded to list down some of the eligible guys in church and asked me what I thought. She didn't give up when I told her there was nothing between me and any of them. If not for the fact that my parents are holding certain positions in church my family background, I might just have asked her to buzz off haha!

Then she went on to ramble about "101 ways to snag a guy", or something to that effect. She even offered to help "pull strings" should I require any. I politely tried to tell her if there was no chemistry or interest on the guy's part, whatever I do will not work. Now, I must tell you this, I'm happily living my life as a single. With all the things I'm occupied with, I hardly have time to date socialise. My belief is that if God has someone for me, He will bring that special person at the right time and at the right place. If it happens, it happens.

I must also tell you this, she's at least 10 years older than me, and still single. I'm not doubting that her methods might work. But I was quite amazed at the fact that while I hardly know her, she was really insistent concerned that I get hooked to a guy as soon as possible. To emphasise on that point, she said that it's easier to give birth while still young. (Yes, I'm aware that there are a lot of things which are better done while you're still young!)

Since I was busy at work, I did not have the luxury of explaining to her my principles, the fact that some people are better of as singles than being married, and that God has a unique plan for each and everyone of us. But I did point out that the matter is being prayed about. At that, she quickly requested that I include her in my prayers as well!

This must be the most "private" matter I've ever blogged about. I've held back from posting on anything remotely related to my thoughts on BGR as it's quite a personal issue for me. But because there has been an increasing number of nosy people caring individuals who have brought up the issue of why I'm still single, I hope this clears some stuff ya. Heck, even my own mother does not ask me these questions!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

occupied in october

1st October seems to be everyone's favourite date. I have the following in my organiser :

1) A mini island break in the Pearl of the Orient - Penang Island. Since I had to forgo the Perhentian trip, this is the closest I have to a beach holiday. With all the things that have been going on, plus I haven't had a proper break for the whole year, I really need this.

2) The x-CFMMU community is planning a reunion at the 'Spring Garden Restaurant', Crown Princess Hotel, and thereafter a trip to the spanking new Aquaria KLCC. Lunch buffet costs about rm40, and to see whales n sea creatures in a confined area, rm38.

3) An email came in this morning about an outing for Jr Church workers. Plan is to have fellowship and do the canopy walk in FRIM, and then lunch plus a movie (FlightPlan) at 1Utama. Sounds fun, since it will be outdoors and I have not been to FRIM. Cost only rm5.

4) A virtual wedding invitation arrived this afternoon, inviting me to celebrate the union of Warren and Siew Siew. The ceremony will be held at the church grounds in the morning, and dinner at the Holiday Villa Hotel. Looks like another angpau to prepare!

So, pembaca-pembaca yang dikasihi, what should I do??

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

funky chords and orientation session

We learnt to pluck using the pick in guitar class last Saturday. Our regular teacher, AC was away in Hong Kong, so his substitute came and taught us. We must've turned the class upside down when we tried to have an "orientation session" for SH.

SH : So, do you guys usually start with a prayer?

Me : Ya, our teacher says the opening prayer...

Mel : .. and the closing prayer also!

(When in fact, each of us take turns to pray)

*Opening prayer by SH*

SH : Alright, let's see if our guitars are in tune.. (looks at us, waiting for us to tune our own guitars).. Er, how long have you guys been in this class?

Mel : This is our 2nd semester already.

SH : Oh, so should be able to tune right?

Me : Our teacher usually tunes for us (but pretends to tune the guitar anyways)

SH : Hmm, your guitar is a bit out of tune, let me try.

*SH exchanges his guitar with mine*

SH : Who tunes your guitar?

Me : Well, usually it's AC. (I conveniently left out the fact that, that morning itself, AlvinK who was at my house for a discussion actually retuned my guitar)

SH : Ah, I think I know what's the problem. See here, your third string is not wound, that's why bla-bla-bla (actually I lost him when he started spewing guitar jargons. And inside I was thinking, but my fren AlvinB told me this were branded guitar strings).

Me : Oh... (that was all I could muster)

SH : You may have to change your strings.

Me : (What??!) But this is a new set of strings... (Think he lost me because he was busy tuning my guitar and pointing out the 3rd string which was not wound)

*SH hands me back my guitar*

SH : Alright, let's begin. So what did you guys practice last week?

*Class proceeds as usual, or so we thought*

While we were playing Light of the World, he noticed we did not use conventional fingering for some of the chords. Mel and Uncle Chan who already know most chords, therefore giving us unnecessary pressure who were supposed to be in the intermediate class were playing bar chords, while Shu and I used the shortcuts AC taught us. He was surprised to see our versions of Bsus and F#m, and a funky G#m in place of E. So intrigued was he that he separated the 2 groups and tried to teach us the right fingerings.

Needless to say, Shu and I left the class feeling disillusioned as everything we have been learning all these while seemed to be wrong. But, I take comfort that even if it's not the traditional fingering, it's still ok as long as it sounds right. I know, we're supposed to be drilled with the basics and getting that right first. But I guess, if we're playing in a band and funky chord's the way to go, I'm all for funky chords!

Friday, September 09, 2005

here we go a-learning, tra-la-la

Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into now?

As if 4 ministries ain't enough, I've just enrolled myself into Japanese language classes! Guitar lessons are enough to keep me occupied, now I have weekly Jap class to contend with.

So who wants to join me in learning a new language? I'm starting next week in the ICLS Subang school. Sorry ya, apart from ministries and classes, I'll be quite pressed for time. So if you want to date/treat/hang out with me, please see me at the above venues :p

Ta-ta, have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

i've been tagged!

Note : This post was actually written halfway on 17th June, with plans to continue the weekday after that. However, due to an unexpected event which fell during that weekend, I had to postpone this. BUT, I've finally managed to complete it :D


Er, I usually don't care much about memes, but since John and I made such a pair being pinky and the brain, I will give this a shot.

Total number of books owned
Hmm, lots actually. More during my childhood days when I used to buy at least 1 book per week. I guess I have slightly less than 100 altogether, coz books ain't cheap nowadays!

Last book I bought
Can't really remember coz the ones I'm reading at the moment are either the ones my parents bought or those I got as birthday presents. But the one book that I remembered is Max Lucado's Traveling Light.

Last book I read
That would be LaHaye's Why You Act The Way You Do. An insight into why certain people act, well, the way they do. While going through the book, I found myself going "Oh, no wonder he's like that..." or "That explains her fascination for..." Instead of stereotyping them into categories, it helped me understand the various blends of personalities.

5 books that mean a lot to me
1. The Case For Christ, The Case For Faith and The Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel. These are the very books that fuelled by interest in apologetics. Have always wanted something that I could refer to when friends ask me difficult questions about Christianity.

2. My Life On A Plate by India Knight. A wonderfully quirky book which revolves around the thoughts and headaches of self-deprecating housewife Clara and her suburban family. British humour and refreshingly honest.

3. Gift Wrappings For Every Occasion by Gill Dickinson. The absolute manual for turning otherwise plain looking items into presents that look a thousand bucks!

There's actually 5 books already, but since item 1 can actually be classified together, I'll list 2 more :

4. Change Your Life Without Getting Out Of Bed : The Ultimate Nap Book by Sark. Printed in colourful handwriting fonts, it is the embodiment of my favourite hobby - napping! It even has a section extolling the pleasures and benefits of napping, pages dedicated to the various types of naps and nap excuses, plus vouchers which you can fill up should you feel like taking a nap!

5. Can I just name all my comic books - Asterix & Obelix, The Adventures of Tintin, Dilbert, Beano, Archie?? :D

Monday, September 05, 2005

noon dip

Went swimming yesterday with Chernie. Aahh, it really felt good to do some physical exercise. Have been itching to do something sporty for a loooonnng time. But never really got down to it.

After all, she did extend an invitation to jump into her apartment pool, so I decided to take up her offer. It was so so good, no one was around, we had the pool to ourselves. Maybe because it was 3 in the afternoon.

But who cares? It was shady, and there was that balmy afternoon breeze. Ummm, just nice. We didn't swim long enough to get sunburnt. But I'm glad I still remember my freestyle, breast stroke, and back float, heh. Next time must see whether I can still do the butterfly...

Friday, September 02, 2005

tis the season to get married

The 2nd half of the year seems to be a good time to get married. Everyone's telling me they 'kena saman' for back to back weddings. The last weekend was my 2nd, and I foresee going for 2 more in the coming months.

Mei Ching's wedding-thanksgiving-thingy last Saturday, which wasn't an actual one was a decidedly simple affair. The ceremony proper was held on Merdeka day, and only her relatives were invited. I heard it was a garden wedding. Hmmm, would have been lovely.

i also kena saman lor
Since she took the effort to give me a handmade card, I thought I'd give her something personal as well :)

The wedding theme was soft purple. Pastel purple. Or lavender, or whatever proper colour name it's supposed to be. The backdrop was sweet, with fairy lights giving that warm glow at the stage.

lavender was the colour of the day
Mei Ching and Weng Chuan being given a prayer of blessings by their pastor.

I've never been to Canaan Baptist Church before, but the size of the church sanctuary made the event an intimate one. Even the proceedings was informal, with a surprise performance thrown in by Mei Ching's group of dancer friends from the church.

couple sitting on top of purple luggage bag, waiting to be eaten
This must've been the cutest wedding cake I've ever seen!

The couple later went up to give their speech express their gratitude to the multitudes of people who came to be a part of their special day. Weng Chuan spoke like a Hongkie, with dashes of English in his Canton tongue. I could see that he certainly had a sense of humour, everyone was laughing at his self-deprecating jokes.

we see the edible couple again
The real couple holding the edible couple

Out of the other ex-classmates she invited, only 4 of us made it. It was good to see the grrls again. Even though I haven't seen some of them for donkeys' years, it was amazing that we just picked up from where we last left. There's just something about being Assuntarians!

assuntarians unite!
(L-R): Pau Boon, Sook Ping, the pwetty bride, me & Kher Shin

The rest of the night was spent catching up with each other - we really had a lot to talk about. I wouldn't be surprised if the next time we meet up, it will be at another ex-classmate's wedding! I think we were one of the last few who remained till the end of the dinner. When we said our goodbyes, the caterers were already cleaning up the place and packing up their utensils.

Once again, congratulations to Mei Ching & Weng Chuan. May His excellent love envelope the rest of your married life together :)

floating tealights
Tealights floating amidst rose petals make great wedding decors

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

the case of the missing plectrum

Every guitarist will be able to relate to the problem of the missing pick.

I've just lost my 2nd one in the span of 4 months, since I picked up the instrument.

My friends tell me that it's common to lost your plectrum and not be able to find them back.

Maybe guitar shops should sell picks in bulk, so that we can keep a year's supply ready at hand, just in case.

Or they should have DIY pick machines or something, where you just pour some molten substance into whatever mould you want and voila! you have your own custom-made pick, in whatever colour or shape you wish, as long as they can be used to strum the guitar :)

Monday, August 29, 2005

watashi wa kawaii desu

I don't mean to rant. Really. It's not me anyways. :D

I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but this Jap thingy is taking a toll on me. I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the trouble... and money.

1) Most Jap uni websites are in Japanese. Whatever links they have in English do not seem to be a direct translation of the original Jap pages.

2) I have great respect for Japan, the people from the Land of the Rising Sun and their refined culture, but a minority (of which I've encountered) seem to be a little "cold" when they find out youI don't speak their language.

3) The scholarship (if I get it) includes a 6 months language training before the course proper. I doubt it will prepare me to write a thesis in Japanese! There's a great possibility I might just have to start attending classes beforehand...

4) Medical examinations are not cheap. Blood tests, urine tests, liver tests, ECG, x-ray scans set me back about rm150. Good news is, I know I have no major health problems :p

5) And apparently, the admission deadline for a certain university was in July. The professor from Hitotsubashi was also surprised that it was even before the preliminary selections were made for the scholarship. I'm supposed to check back with the Embassy on this, whose people are, let's just say, proud of their language. Waitaminute, these aren't Japanese. The staff there are actually Malaysians! And they're so action just because they know Jap and I don't

Excuse me while I go rest my head. I can't take the headaches anymore. :p

6) And before I forget, I think I'll have to make a trip down to Singapore end of next month. Another uni is making their rounds in a few Asian countries as part of their MBA tour. Unfortunately, Malaysia is notOur southern neighbour is one of them. Now, I must commend the IUJ staff for taking the effort to reply my emails, and welcoming me to visit their booth when I'm down there.

I really must go. If the Japs read this, they might just petition to have me off the preliminary selection list. No matter how much I spent on those bloody tests, it just ain't worth it. Again, let me reiterate how much I love the Japanese! :D

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

jazz with the apu

collage - jazz fest finale

I know this is long overdue, so promise to come back with more than a one-liner :)

Welcome back, to me.

I wanna write and rave about the Aseana Percussion Unit. In fact, I was halfway doing it this morning when suddenly the 15th floor's electricity supply decided to go haywire. It was only our floor which was affected. Half the lights were on, the other half blinking, halfway deciding whether to go off or not. The electrician blamed it on the Hungwy Ghost Festival.

Anyways, I'm more than a week behind for this post. The Japanese scholarship thingy caught my attention and time. I don't know whether I should be happy that I got through this round, seeing that my lack of the language may well hinder me from pursuing this a step further. But I shall leave that for another story another time. Perhaps you can buy me a drink and I'll entertain you with my explanation as to why God certainly has a sense of humour.

But I digress.

Aseana Percussion Unit, or at least the Sunrise Jazz And Rhythm Fest 2005 deserves this post. First caught sight of them during the Jazz Fest last year. I wasn't into jazz at that time. I've just recently learnt to appreciate this form of "unstructured" music, and I must say I still cannot get what makes jazz.

As a classically trained pianist, I can identify structures, orders, patterns and well, basically that which makes it easy for people to say "Oh, that's baroque" or "Definitely Bach, no mistake about that one". With jazz, I crack my head trying to figure out how to make jazz music. Where's the sequence? Where does what I just heard come in again?

Since I have no answers, I decide to just relax and enjoy jazz. With excellent music sponsored by Sunrise, it's like godsend. This is not some music exam, I'm not required to fill in jazzy chords or jazz up an otherwise ordinary piece. This is a jazz fest, I just need to chill out and immerse myself in the music.

And chill I did. It was great seeing more people this time around. Perhaps because it was the finale. Restaurants around the stage was enjoying a roaring business, thanks to the people who had no choice but to sit at their tables enjoy fine foods. My frends and I decided to grab a chair near the back, where we could choose to order from any outlets.

I felt so detached from the happenings in front that I decided that this wasn't the way to enjoy music. Alvink and I joined the group sitting on the floor right in front of the stage. He managed to get pretty kewl shots of the Aseana Percussion Unit. There were about 10 members altogether, all dressed in white. Bathed in crimson and deep purple, they stood out, each with their own instruments.

Everyone seemed to be playing together at the same time, and yet there was a sense of harmonious blend. It wasn't a messy cacophony, but wonderfully fused music created with various instruments. They looked like they were at home jamming away. Instruments, ethnic and modern, were all over the place. Even the band leader (well, he looked like one!) was trying not to trip over the wires lying everywhere.

They seemed to be having the time of their lives making music. Each instrument was given its due recognition, having its own solo moments. They are as varied as the multiracial members that play them, ranging from the Indian tabla and taviel to the Malay kompang and gendang, from the Chinese traditional er-hu to the modernday violin.

I wish I can go into the technicalities of their brand of music. But what I can say is, I'm astounded by their sheer ability to make beautiful music using drums and percussions. You'll be blown away by this talented group, whose music are unexpectedly delightful and at the same time, refreshingly different. Try listening to some of their pieces, and you'll understand why some people can't just get enough of them!

Monday, August 22, 2005

bloody tests

I just went for another round of blood drawing this morning. All because of the GPT! Since blood = life, I felt like my life was being drained out of me, test tubed and sent away, never to be seen again.

The first time I did it, I almost fainted at the sight of the deep maroon liquid swirling in the test tube. I know, I bleed every month, but this isn't the same mar :p

That got me thinking about my fears - if I wasn't hemophobic and acrophobic, I'd be a bungee-jumping physician... or maybe a flying doctor in the jungles of Borneo!

By the way, I did not have to lie down after the bloody experience. I got braver the 2nd time around! :D

Friday, August 19, 2005

prelim selection 2

Guess wot? I just found out that I only have to submit my "Health Certificate" by the 26th. I still have time to find the supervisor and apply to the relevant university. *Phew!*

Some issues here, which I need help on :

1) Does anyone know how to read Japanese? I need to download some form to apply for my entrance examination at this link given by the Jap professor from Hitotsubashi University : Apparently I need to do this by the 1st week of Sept, without which I can't gain entry to the university. I have a rough translation of the page, but it makes no sense!

2) What is GPT? This term was grouped together with my ESR, WBC count and Hemoglobin in the "Certificate of Health" form, even my doctor and the lab don't know what it stands for. After googling, I found that it is also called ALT, alanine aminotransferase.

Anyone who can assist me in the above areas, pls contact me ya. Much appreciated. :)

Monday, August 15, 2005

prelim selection

I tell you, so tension when I saw the white envelope lying on the coffeetable when I got home on Friday. Just minutes before that I was talking to Vince K, telling him that I might just forget about going to Japan. They had not gotten back to me in more than a month.

Lo and behold, with trembling hands, I felt the envelope and its contents from the outside. It was a bit bulky. If it was a reject letter, it should only contain 2 pages, max. But maybe this was something else. I dare not imagine, my wild imagination tends to disappoint me!

So I sat down and opened the envelope. I quickly scanned the words, trying not to see the words "We regret to inform you that your application...", just like what I got for my Chevening scholarship letters 3 years back.

But guess wot? This is the first paragraph :

...we are pleased to inform you that the Scholarship Interviewing Board has decided to nominate you to the Government of Japan for the final selection of scholarship candidates. For your information, the Monbukagakusho will finalize the decision the earliest in February 2006. Once we obtain the final result, we will forward it to you immediately.

And in the following paragraphs, they listed down the documents to be finalised by the 26th August. I was like, OMG!! If you knew what I had to do in 2 weeks' time, you would agree that I need a miracle.

First of all, I had to do a medical checkup, which wasn't too much of a problem, even if I have this slightest fear just looking at blood. The one thing which was more important was the Letter of Acceptance from the Jap Uni I had stated in my application forms.

There is just minor a problem here. Due to his hectic schedule, my Jap professor from MMU recommended me his peer in Japan only after I had sent in my forms. This particular professor is not from the university I mentioned earlier, as I had no idea this uni even offered the course I wanted in the first place! And secondly, I have to submit the full set of documents which I had earlier sent in during my interview, to the above university, together with a certificate of preliminary selection from the Embassy, in order for the uni to issue me a Letter of Acceptance.

And how am I going to do all these by the 26th? By God's amazing grace, of course! :D

clear skies again

This is the day that the Lord has made, and indeed it is beautiful!

Can't even begin to express my delight at seeing the brilliant colours God painted in the sky today.

Such a stark difference to the smog filled landscape that all of us in the Klang Valley had to endure for the past 2 weeks.

What a fantastic way to start the week off!

Here's to more bright sunny days to you, and you, and you :)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

hazy quizy

A little quiz with regards to the latest happenings in the country. Please do this while visibility is still good. Soon you might not even be able to see your hand.

1) Why so misty?

A) Open burning in Cyberjaya
B) Forest fire in Indonesia
C) Biological attack by terrorists
D) It's an optical illusion. Something wrong with your eyes

2) What can I do?

A) Drink more water
B) Rub your eyes
C) Stay at home, stock up on food and supplies
D) Join the Al-Qaeda and die fighting

3) Why is the gamen not doing anything about the haze?

A) Conspiracy with pharmaceutical companies selling masks/medicine
B) Give rakyat the illusion they're in Genting/Cameron/Frasers
C) Top gamen people not in country to experience haze
D) Indon brothers already apologised. All is forgiven

4) What is the colour of the sky?

A) Yellowish brown
B) Greenish yello
C) Greyish purple
D) A watercolour blend of all of the above

5) Who is responsible for the haze?

A) Poor farmers who 'slash and burn'
B) Natural process due to current changes in weather
C) Smokers, emissions from vehicles & factories
D) Haze? What haze?

6) Is this a sign of...?

A) the end times
B) war of the worlds
C) dementia
D) bad eyesight

There is no right or wrong answers. You can even tick all the answers. But the most important thing is, please have fun while you still can. News at 2pm reports that the gamen has declared a state of emergency for Kuala Selangor and Port Klang. Their API's have reached past the 500 mark as at 11am. Oh, I beterg o, I'm losing wight of what i'm gyping.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

jazz with mr gambus

After a series of impromptu arrangements with various people, I finally got myself to the Jazz Fest!

Was supposed to celebrate Connee's birthday, but she couldn't make it. So it was just me and the grrls (my ex-housemates from uni) this time. It was great chilling out and listening to good music. We actually have really talented local musicians, they just need our support to grow and develop further.

Arriving near the backstage just when the 1st act was playing their last piece

It was my first time hearing this guy called Mr Gambus, let alone watch him work his magic on the strings! He's passionate about using the local instrument to play jazz and wants to bring it to a higher level. Apparently he's very famous abroad, it's such a pity not many have heard of him locally.

mr gambus and his gambus
He really looks like he's enjoying himself performing up there

My apologies, I was too engrossed with the music from where I was sitting, that I didn't want to move my butt to take a better picture of him and his band. They are that good. I should have had the guts to go near the stage to take shots of them in action.

mr gambus and his guitar
He's as versatile on a traditional instrument as he is on a modern one

One of my grrlfriends immediately bought 2 of his CD's just as his band was about to perform. After the performance, we quickly went backstage to get some autographs and pictures with the band. If I'm not mistaken, the drummer is Jose Thomas' son, and the keyboardist is from Beijing.

the mr gambus band
(L-R) : terror saxophonist, impressive bassist, the Mr Gambus, talented keyboardist, hot drummer

Again, I was too impressed with their musical skills that I did not hear Mr Gambus introduce them one by one. Personally I thought the keyboardist rawked - I can relate to that because it's the only instrument I play! But I'm also beginning to appreciate the other instruments as I get more involved in the worship team. There's just something about the kind of music that is produced when everyone works in perfect harmony.

keyboardist from beijing?
We actually "stalked" the keyboardist to have a photo with him!

Oh well, it was a great night, despite the humidity and the many many human beings that were there to be seen just to chill out. We should have more of these. Thanks to Sunrise, we got to listen to great music at no cost. Well, maybe add a little for parking and food.

Jazz Fest comes to an end this weekend. Come and have a fantabulous time, bring your parents, uncle, aunty, granma, granpa, kittens, pet lizard, next door neighbour, newspaper man, and... you get my point. :D