Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Books galore!

Hello there! Who are you and how are you feeling? Great, I hope. Who, me? I'm doing fine. A little weary from lack of sleep, but otherwise excellent. I'm a bit cheery today (can you tell?) so I want to share with you the reason for that (sorry Abang, it's another narcissistic entry). No it's not because I found out that I have more readers than I thought (and hopefully more in the future, thanks to Izni). I'm happy because I just bought some books at a bargain price!

Don't we just love book sales? I do. Even if I don't end up buying anything, I still love going to book sales, or any book-related events. Good thing for me, UiTM Shah Alam had been very encouraging for readers. We already have three book-related events in July and August so far. I really hope we'll have more in the future.

Now let us look at what I managed to get hold of from those events and today.

Bought at our library's stock clearance sale. In perfectly good condition, albeit the pages are yellow from age. That didn't bother me because some of my books turned that way after a few months (my Bartimaeus Trilogy are only five years old, but they could pass as books from the Beatles' era). Do you know how much an Edward de Bono book costs? I don't. But I'm sure it's so much more than RM4.90. That's right! I got this for RM4.90! After reading the price tag, I went "betul ke ni?" a few times. I didn't let go of the book like my CGPA depended on it. Even at the payment counter I was half expecting the girl to say "Oops kami tersalah letak price tag. Sebenarnya 20 ringgit ni", but it didn't come. Wow, I thought. I just bought an Edward de Bono for five ringgit.

This one is bought at UPENA Book Fair where local public universities and education institutions display and sell educational books that their students use. I discovered this and a lot of other gems at the Malaysian National Institute of Translation booth. The institution publishes translated works of local and foreign writers; Malay to English, English to Malay, Spanish to English and Malay, the list continues. They are mostly literature works which I never encountered anywhere else before. The objective of having these translated works is to promote literature, or more accurately, the writers to non native speakers of the original language. Seroja Masih di Kolam is an interesting read: it illustrates the lives of a few Malaysians sometime after we achieved independence. The book describes the friction between the malay-educated and the english-educated, besides detailing the journey of one malay girl in discovering her roots. Adibah Amin did a great job in portraying her characters; their emotions are so... real.

Another book from the Institute of Transalation: a dual-language collection of poems from Zurinah Hassan (at first I thought it was a horror story LOL). I was never into puisi melayu (the 'komponen sastera' part in BM was never interesting), but I was drawn to this book because the poems are simpler than those in our BM compulsory readings. Simple in language but deep in meanings (not that I understand all of them). And it's amazing how the phrases are rearranged in English but still maintain fairly the same meaning. Oh I forgot to mention that I received 20% off for this book and Seroja.

Now this. It was upon chance that I stumbled upon this baby yesterday. A brick-size book. Still in plastic cover. Two titles. Jeffrey Archer. RM9.90! O_O This was actually among the left-overs from the stock clearance sale I mentioned above (de Bono) and they are all piled up in our student book store. I had to practically dig up the lot to find this. I didn't let go.

Bought today from the same place as the one bought yesterday. Two titles again. RM12.90. I'm not too thrilled with the cover, but with that price, who am I to complain? I mean, two titles! (two titles is equivalent to two books)

Note: still is plastic cover. I know nothing about the book or the author, but I did browse through another copy of it and it seemed interesting enough. A combination of psychology and music therapy. They call it psychomusicology. I thought of my father's words when I decided to buy this: "you can make mistake at that price." So I went ahead and bought this too. RM9.90.

How can a book junkie not be happy when she has FOUR Jeffrey Archer titles for the price of RM22.80? Or an Edward de Bono for less than five ringgit? Who can believe that? I now have too little spare time that I might not be able to progress very rapidly, but it doesn't matter. Perhaps I'll share my thoughs on the books that I have not read yet one day.

Yeah I love good book bargains.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave comments.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dawn of a new era

Hooray. Back to lectures and tutorials, so-cramped-you-can't-breathe bus rides, back-cracking stairs climbing, seemingly endless waiting for the lifts, sleep deprivation and apam gula hangus. Can you feel it? My bursting enthusiasm. Yippee.

I finally have the time to write. No I wasn't really busy, I was just preoccupied with some other matters of grave concern - those that are crucial for surviving the soul-wrenching days in UiTM Shah Alam - namely downloading videos, songs and music scores. Oh and trying to complete assignments on time. Two of my regular readers (actually, my only regular readers) asked me why I didn't update the blog anymore. So, in honour of those two, I've decided to put this here. Sorry ye for not updating this last week like I said. I thought I would post it on Sunday, but as I was about to post it, some pictures came up that I think should be here. Editing the pictures took longer than expected, so technically I posted this on Monday.

Please be warned that the following entry is extremely long. Made for my own recollection. Feel free to grab some snacks while reading (not during fasting time!). And if your CRG or MAF or PSA or whatever assignment is not completed yet, please do that first ;-)

Now then. To the topic. I got a scholarship. A really good one from PIDM. If you're Ayah, you can skip this entry since there will be nothing that you don't already know.

So... yeah. My dad discovered the advertisement for the scholarship in The Star and he insisted that I apply. We desperately need some kind of funding for me to go into degree (what with the apartment rental and transportation costs) but I didn't think of anything beyond JPA (I thought JPA is fairly easy to get). After reading the advertisement and going through their website, I too was salivating for this particular scholarship.

You see, the scholarship would only be awarded to five people only. FIVE. Each recipient (or scholar, as we like to say it) will not only receive the funds (fees paid up to RM10,000 per year, RM4,000 per year for stationeries, allowance of RM500 per month), but also a paid 6-month internship programme in PIDM (optional) and an assigned mentor. On top of that, there shall be no bond between the two parties whatsoever. Oh and did I mention that it would be given to only five people?

Anyhow, my dad and I worked hard just to complete the application. I fulfilled the 1000-word essay requirement (which was fun to do, and I personally think is quite good) and my dad drove us around Shah Alam to help me with all the other requirements. We almost failed to get the 'offer letter from university', no thanks to some really unhelpful staffs (we are, however really thankful to one particular lady named Wan) .

We went to PIDM's office at 1 Central to send the application (we can send it by post, but my dad said why not give it by hand) and I felt that we must have looked so out of place among the white collar workers with their corporate garb; Ayah with his Terengganu Batik shirt, me and my fluorescent pink T-shirt. The trip only managed to diminish our already small hope of getting it, though I'm not really sure why. I just remember feeling so small.

And so we waited. The waiting part was horrible. Because only the shortlisted applicants are notified, I was constantly wondering whether they haven't yet decided or I am rejected. Thank goodness they were willing to schedule my interview so that it will not fall on my exam days. I was more than happy when I found out that they picked only 10 students for the interview. 1:2, that's a high probability.

[skipping the part where I made myself late for the interview]

Before the interview, we had to do this online assessment that can supposedly identify our personal traits and qualities. I don't know how it works, but the interviewer said she love the system. One of the main reason we had to do the test is to check whether we are taking the right course based on our traits. I'm definitely on the right track because my score for analytical-something-or-other was high. I was also consistent 98% of the time, and my self-improvement score was high as well. But then the test revealed that my self-esteem is low. Hmm... I guess I have to work on that (how? I have not the least idea).

There's not much to talk about the interview itself, mainly because I talked very little. The interviewer, Head of Human Capital Division Siti Zubaidah did most of the talking, explaining about the objectives of the programme, what they are looking for in the applicants, what would the scholars receive and also about my test result. She was impressed with my academic result (at least I think so), considering my less-than-privileged background. She gave me some encouragement, saying that even if I am not accepted into the programme, I should strive for this and that, and continue this and that, and don't forget this and that, and such motivational words (I don't know how to write that without sounding cheesy). After the interview, my dad and I wanted that particular scholarship even more.

Again we waited. My dad was particularly anxious because the call came later than said (Siti Zubaidah said they would call even if I am not accepted). Everyday he would ask me, "Where's your phone? Depa ada call?" It was exasperating, but who can blame him? I too was growing restless.

It came at last. On the surface I was quite calm, saying "I'm accepted? Oh ok" in a "I got Dean's List? Ok" tone. The high-pitch squeal, jumping up and down and triumphant "YES!" came later, of course.


And so I have to attend the induction program, held in [drum roll]....... Hilton KL! Yeah! A five-star hotel! Only five of us! Only then that I realized that I am now a top five! Oh I'm so proud of myself (do forgive me, it's not everyday that one gets to be in the top 5 of anything that good).

The first day can only be described as refreshing (though I've used the word magical a few times in my narrative to other people). I met the other scholars for the first time. There were Vicky and Max from UTAR doing Actuarial Science, JJ from MMU taking Law, and Firdaus from UniTAR taking IT. I am the only female! Yay! (I felt so cheery then because I was wearing pink and everyone else was wearing monochrome). We got along really well, and I got a feeling that we could all be friends, given time (or maybe that will just remain a wishful thinking).

JJ, Firdaus, yours truly, Max, Vicky
Though the pic is not that good, it's the best that my photo editing skill can achieve.

The induction was held on level 7 of the hotel, and the whole floor was so wonderful! My dad remarked that we (the scholars) are already being exposed to luxury. Oh if only I took some pictures... (I was too flustered to do that). My Google search didn't come up with a picture either. I can't describe it very well :-( The following picture is from JJ's handphone. It's the lounge where we had our tea and breakfast while watching Animal Planet. A pity JJ didn't take many pictures.

The best part about Level 7 is the washroom (no picture of that unfortunately). The door (to the washroom, not the toilet) is automated, and so are the taps. And guess what? So are the toilets! That was my first encounter with a bidet, and I'm not sure if I like it very much. But I do like the heated toilet seats though.

Okay. Enough about toilets. Lets talk about food (from toilets to food? I'm such a bad writer). We got four meals throughout the day, and they are all (flashy word coming) exquisite. It is, after all, a five-star hotel. I love lunch time the most, because that was when we get to eat at the main dining hall rather than at the floor's cafe. There are so many sections of food (at least to me) that one simply can't try everything. I had vegetarian fried rice with roasted duck and 4 servings of desserts ^_^ Highlight of the meal (besides ice-cream) was Vicky's reaction when he found out that the pink, yummy-looking pickled ginger from the sushi bar actually tastes like ginger! LOL.

The green, leaf-shaped thing is wasabi, the orangey pink stuff is the pickled ginger.

Other than mingling around, eating and going to the washroom, what else did we do? Aha. Here comes the main event. We were given talks from various departments' representatives on how PIDM actually works. Very informative, but I think there were too much input to be absorbed in one day. Nonetheless, at the end of the day we knew more or less what is PIDM (a semi-government body) and what does it do (protecting depositors money in the unlikely event of a bank failure).

We also had to sign the contract. It basically states that we are to maintain a certain level of CGPA and not violate any university rules. And that we could not get married or pregnant during the course of our studies. When my dad read the contract, he said, "You cannot get married you know. Are you ok with that?" LOL. Why would I want to get married in the next 2.5 years?


My mentor, who is the CFO of PIDM then brought me for a tour to meet the rest of the finance team. Not a big team really, and each person reminds me of an accountant (or aspiring accountant) that I know. I guess all accountants are made from the same mould.

[skipping the part where the Ladies Coach of the KTM was waaaay too full]

Whew. End of day one.

Hmm... Day two. Day for parents.

Nothing visibly exciting happened. Some BOD came, along with the CEO, J.P. Sobourin. Congratulations were in order (in fact, we received congratulations throughout the day) and we chatted with PIDM's top management team =D No it was not a specified 'chatting session', we just talked leisurely while taking pictures, eating, etc.

Listening to the chairman congratulating us for being chosen. [Note to self: must find a way to change your neutral expression. You're starting to look like Ayah. And you don't even have hypertension as an excuse.]

I like the chatting part. It was very informal, almost casual. The staffs are very laidback from my observation. I don't mean because we're students, but they really are like that among themselves. Their corporate culture is like that. Even the CEO wants people to call him JP instead of Mr. Sabourin or sir.

And that's the end of day two. Though I didn't have four servings of desserts and I didn't visit the automated toilet again, I enjoyed the whole experience as I get to meet and talk with the people there. I felt invigorated (macam iklan sabun mandi pulak). This is the cool crowd. I'm not sure how to express this, but it felt just like when I was in the National Service. You know, when by chance you got to be in the same group with some amazing people you didn't know exist. Then you long to be with that group again, because even if other people don't see them as cool, you think these people are great. And that reminds me, it has been quite a while since I talk (I mean really talk) to non-Malays. It was refreshing.

CONGRATULATIONS for making it this far! I really can write more, but then even I tak larat nak baca. Ayah, I told you not to read. Am I not right in saying that there is nothing that you don't already know?

Well, whoever you are, thank you thank you thank you for reading! You know I love ya!


By the way, sorry for the heavy use of Kyuhyun .gif images. Really can't help it =P Hope they don't cause your computer too much trouble though.