Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh my. Ohhhhhh my.

What do I do?? I only have one month to go and I am not prepared at all! And I mean, AT ALL. I need to buy clothes (winter clothes!), pack dry foods, learn to cook those dry foods, find out about the place, find out about the university, plan a cultural show, settle whatever commitment I have here (duit kelas! AFTAS! Go Green Campaign! PIDM scholarship! Baiduri!), and say my farewells. Oh! And study! I need to study and revise! I've abandoned my textbooks for so long now that I don't think I can get back on track easily. Oh god I need to study!!


Sorry. I was caught up with things to do that I forgot to tell you the most important thing. I am going to... wait for it, wait for it... England! How awesome is that?? It's for this student exchange program that our faculty's involved in. I've heard about these programs, but my friend Pika said that the faculty will chose the candidates and it's usually for those students who are active in the student body (most of the time it means the presidents and MPPs) and top scorers.

So... I was not in the list of candidates. Hardly surprising, seeing that my exam result was bad and I'm not that active either. But wait! I saw a glimmer of hope last Friday in the form of a phone call from Nasa [cue for divine sound from above]. Nasa, who was a candidate and had already went through the interview, suggested my name when asked for a possible additional female candidate as they think they didn't have enough.

I tried so hard not to get excited. I mean, I'd still have to go through the interview. And I don't know how other people fared. I didn't give myself the luxury of hoping because I was afraid of rejection. I was, after all, a second choice. And I didn't know anything about the program at all, and what to expect from the interview, and who's going to conduct the interview, and, and, and a lot of other things! The only thing I prepared for the interview was my ironed baju kurung.

The interview was simple enough. I gave all politically correct answers with a touch of personality (blur) and a hint of enthusiasm. 5 minutes after the interview, I heard "Okay Farah. You pegi." Cue for raised eyebrows, widened eyes and general blurness as I comprehend the message. I. am. going. to. England!

I haven't properly told anyone about it (unless they asked) except my family and closest friends (hey, that's you!) because there is a sliiiiiight problem about the budget, and if we have to pay even a small chuck of the expenses, I won't go, because frankly, I can't afford it. And I'm not prepared to answer questions regarding the program because I too need those questions answered.

I'm excited and annoyed at the same time. Annoyed at the faculty for giving us such short notice. For still keeping us in the dark. For making Nasa do work for them. But I'm sure every dissatisfaction with the faculty will be wiped clean after we get there. Same goes to Nasa. I owe him.

If we're going, this is the place, Teesside University in Middlesbrough.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kemboja trip DAY 1

I said that I was going to post my travel log here soon. I'm sorry it's not soon enough as I was having trouble with the formatting of the post (I finally figured out that I cannot change the format of my post if I edit it using Google Chrome. I used to use Internet Explorer).

I went to Cambodia for 5 days under a program called Baktisiswa Masyarakat Islam Kemboja. I'm a member of PEERs (Peer Counselor Group) and I Immediately jumped on the opportunity when they announced that they were going to hold this program. I was part of the Biro Program in the program (if that makes sense) and I was the unofficial photographer as well. The program's purpose is to meluaskan pemandangan, and more importantly, to see for ourselves the poor condition of our Muslim brothers who are a minority in their country. We stayed together with our keluarga angkat and experienced their lifestyle for 3 days, and stayed in Phnom Penh for the first and last day.

Our banner. [picture by Fathi]

Some of the donations for the people there. [picture by Aimi]

This is the beginning of my travel log. I have been keeping a journal since PLKN, and I thought I'd just write interesting bits of the trip for memories sake. Turned out everything was interesting, and I wrote much more than I had planned. I put them up here so that I can share the wonderful experience. But I have to warn you, I wrote about what happened around me, so it might seem... I don't know, narrow maybe? And a bit narcissistic. And my views do not reflect other participants' views.

The writings in this font and this colour are 95% unedited original writings that I wrote while I was there (5% edited for clarity). The rest are what I wrote in retrospect when I was already back in Malaysia.

And now, the first day.

3:04 AM (Malaysia time)

It's officially our first day of the trip. I can't believe it's 3 AM. I mean, normally I...what am I saying. I'm going to Kemboja kot! Of course I can't sleep! And of course, the 4 pieces of sardine rolls and the long walk around the airport doesn't help.

This is my first time sleeping in an airport. I'm not sure why the thought of sleeping in a public place in full view of passers-by (well, the 'trolley wall' that we built kinda helps) on the cold, hard, tiled floor got me excited. My friend Asmah, who was busy gawking at chocolates a few minutes ago (an act which I am guilty for as well) is now fast asleep beside me.

Argh, my vision is getting blurry. And my handwriting is getting worse (it's not good in normal circumstances anyway), so I think I really should sleep.

Asmah and the sardine rolls (yum!)

Food is a very good medium for ice-breaking. In the flight, I was seated next to Kak Pah and Azwan, both of whom I just met. Our conversations were casual enough, with no awkward weather talk. But the ice really melted when the food came. We saw the air steward offering a choice of lunch to the passengers in the front rows, and we tried really hard to catch what he was saying as he was talking really fast. We heard nasi lemak and the rest was a blur. It was hilarious when we tried to guess what he said. He sounded like "nasilemaksambaludang telursheshikadanubikentang" no matter how many times we listened to it. No kidding. And we guessed that other passengers didn't get it too, and they chose nasi lemak because those were the only words they caught. When he came to our row, we thought we would finally know what he was saying, but the exchange went like this:

Steward: Selamattengahhari. Kamiada nasilemaksambaludang telursheshikadanubikentang.

Me: [looks at Kak Pah and Azwan]

Kak Pah: Nasi lemak.

Azwan: Nasi lemak.

Me: Erm, yang lagi satu tu apa?

Steward: Telursheshikadanubikentang

Me: Yeah. That one.

So we called it telur sheshika, and we never did find out what its actual name is. It was really funny, though it might not seem so to you. And laughter is amazing in creating bonds.

Telur Sheshika (?)

Nasi lemak sambal udang (featuring Azwan).

11:30 AM (Kemboja time)

Yay we're in Cambodia~ We're in the bus, heading to the hotel (New York Hotel).

New York Hotel. Apparently this is one of the very few hotels where there are Halal restaurants. [picture by Fathi]

Our guide, Mr. Rozali speaks BM and is quite a funny guy. He was teaching us a few phrases in Khmer (the Cambodian language) and the phrase for thank you very much is "soom or-kun". He told us a tale where a malay guy was buying things at a market and the seller said "soom or-kun" and the guy replied "Waalaikumsalam." Get it? XD

En. Rozali in the bus.

The town is quite busy. Kinda like Chinatown meets pasar malam. The buildings (all at least 3 storeys high) are mostly old shophouses, with a few modern shopping complexes or hotels sprinkled here and there.

View of the street from the hotel.

Another view of the street. [picture by Qila]

At first glance, I found that the Cambodians road-users really don't have road manners. There are many types of vehicles on the road, from the single-seated, man-powered cyclo to the modern bus, and they all seemingly drive without looking left and right (sometimes I think they don't even look at the front). Aimi said she saw a car dengan selambanya enters the opposite lane in a busy traffic. Scary.. I imagined it would be so nerve-wrecking to ride on the cyclo with cars and tuk-tuks and trucks swerving in front of you O_O

A common scene in the streets of Phnom Penh. [picture by Azwan]

The tuk-tuk (featuring En. Din and the gang).

The cyclo (featuring Hurun Akita). [picture by Aswad]

At the time of arrival, school children were going back from or heading to school. It's quite unsettling to watch little kids cycling by the roadside (and sometimes in the middle of the road) or walking in clusters and crossing the road indifferently. But ustaz Azhar, one of our chaperones, said that we could cross the road with our eyes close and won't get hit. There may be a ring of truth in it because not one of the road users (little kids included) has a look of distress on his face. Not even when our bus nearly brush their precious backsides. And we never saw any accidents, minor or otherwise, even after the many, many close encounters.

*gasp* [picture by Diba]

Yeah, motorcycles don't scare us.

5:43 PM

We're on a boat, cruising on the Tonle Sap (Sap River). Me being my clueless self (or, as my friends Zahir and Syara would say, Miss Blur), I thought we were heading to the Killing Fields, but no. We're just chillin' on the boat, listening to Mr. Rozali's history and geography lessons while the boat takes us along the river and back.

Our cruiser. Dua tingkat tu..

The other cruisers.

Hey that's me in the picture! Yay! [picture by Azwan]

Lower deck.

Upper deck.

The navigator. [picture by Megat]

6:05 PM

I got distracted listening to Mr. Rozali spewing facts (not literally, mind you) about the Mekong River. Hamizan caught me writing and that was when Din called my writings a travel log. I think it's cute. I mean the name. Not Din.

This reminds me of Doraemon, where they like to hang out by the river bank like this. Well, almost like this.

A cruiser (an actual one) that parked by the river bank. I thought it would be kind of awkward to be dining in the restaurant or just relaxing in your bedroom while a bunch of curious Malaysian students snapping your photos and waving at you. But those mat salleh were friendly, all smiley and waving back and everything. [picture by Megat]

Anyhow, we just got back from the market (Pasar Thmey, according to Azwan's blog). I only converted RM100 into USD, and apparently 31 USDs can't go very far. I guess I have to convert some more ringgit. And I didn't take that many pictures too. Not good ones anyway.

Pasar Thmey (featuring a bunch of very cool people!)

We had lunch and dinner at Koh Pich restaurant at Diamond Island, an island with conference centres, restaurants and entertainment areas (the island holds a grim history where a water festival turned into a tragedy where around 300 people are crushed to death in a massive stampede). We had our meals there quite often, as there are not many Halal restaurants in the area. The food is always good and the view quite pretty, especially at night.

The restaurant, Koh Pich. [picture by Faliq]

My hungry friends. There was this one time when Asmah and Din and I were the last people to take the food, and there was almost nothing left. I was so looking forward to having the sweet and sour fish! I insisted on waiting for the next batch of fish, and I had to wait for such a long time and the fish came when other people had already finished their meals and were taking pictures outside. *sigh* Why was I often late?

Sedap kan?

Diamond Island is really really popular at night, especially with the youths (although you can't see it here because most of the people in this picture are my friends).

The bridge in the picture is the one where the tragedy happened. Currently there are two bridges available, and our bus driver always took the other bridge. [picture by Fathi]

Speaking about view, I remember the boys wanting me to take their picture by the river, but they didn't know my name (yet). So they called me Mulan, as I was wearing a Mulan t-shirt =_="

Me and my Mulan t-shirt. [picture by Aswad]

There were so many things happening that evening, but I didn't have time to write about it. And after dinner I was so tired that I didn't write anything. So I wrote them on the way to Kampung Keh the next day. Day 2 coming soon =)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Green is so not my colour

But that doesn't mean I've never worn it before. I hate the feeling of envy because I'd feel like a sour grape. Why am I feeling sore about other people's good fortune?

Is it the same as feeling jealous? Though envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, the two words have different meanings.

[entering word geek mode]

Envy is the feeling of longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another. It is the emotion that occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.

Jealousy is the mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims. It refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection.

[entering normal, annoying mode]

The definitions are extracted from and Wikipedia. In simple words, envy is when you want something that other people have, and jealousy is when you're afraid of losing something. In Malay, both words are translated as cemburu. But I don't hear people say that word anymore, unless in cheesy TV dramas. People now say 'jealous' or 'jeles', which is still okay as long as we don't memelayukan that word and use that in writing, like the ridiculousness that is called―

Oh forget it. I digress.

People are usually envious when they feel that they deserve to have what the other party have. You see, the feeling of envy is stronger and more potent when the envier (the person feeling envious) feels that he has similar attributes to the person who is being envied. That's why we are more likely to feel envious of our classmates than celebrities. That's why a person is envious when his friend gets the new iPhone and not when his favourite footballer buys a new mansion.

Envy can be destructive. When a person harbors envy, it can easily go unnoticed, and it would become worse as he nurtures the bad thoughts that come with it. It causes unhappiness to the envier as he would not only feel sore about the cause of envy, he tends to hold a grudge towards the person being envied as well. And enviers normally would try to cause difficulties towards the other party and would feel happy when they have done so. You've seen it in real life and in dramas, of people trying to bring other people down because the other people have what they don't have. School girls sabotaging another girl's dress because she's prettier than they are, neighbours spreading gossip about the rich neighbours because they just bought a new car. That's why envy is one of the 7 deadly sins. It corrupts the mind and heart.

What about jealousy? Does it bring as much unhappiness as envy? I'd say yes. Jealousy are often aroused when you feel threaten that you will lose something that you value to another person (rival). That 'something' may not be something that you already have (like a job promotion) and it is usually connected with human emotions. As a human being, it's normal that you desire another human's affection, attention and/or recognition. It is when they are given to another person and not you that jealousy arises.

Jealousy almost always refers to romantic jealousy. But besides in a romantic relationship, jealousy happens at home, in school, and at the workplace too. Siblings rivalry, where siblings compete for the attention of their parents, can be a cause of intense jealousy. Competing for the teacher's or boss' recognition is another cause of jealousy. But of course, nothing can be compared with romantic jealousy.

The sweet caress of twilight

There's magic everywhere

And with all this romantic atmosphere

Disaster's in the air

High five if you know which movie and which song I just quoted! (hint - Hakuna Matata and Elton John)

I've seen this kind of jealousy more often that I would like to. I've seen the typical girlfriend getting jealous when the guy looks at another girl longer than he should have. I've seen the typical boyfriend getting jealous when the girl talks to another guy longer than she should have. A friend of mine often said that being jealous just shows that we care about the other person. I agree. Like what I've mentioned before, it happens because we are afraid of losing something that we value, i.e. the person's attention and the person him/herself. You know how sometimes the girlfriend intentionally gets friendly with another person of the opposite sex just to see whether the boyfriend gets jealous. If he does, she has him at the palm of her hands. I'm not sure if guys do this too.

But what do jealous people do? Well, they usually either get angry or sad. Either or, these people will very likely get suspicious of their counterparts because they're afraid of betrayal or loss. And suspicion, partnered with possessiveness and augmented by paranoia, can lead a person do creepy or unethical things like stalking Facebook profiles, checking the other person's inbox, restricting social activities, and other such breathing-down-your-neck behavior.

Although I've talked about how envy and jealousy can be destructive, I know that they can also become motivational forces.

In Islam, there are two types of envy, namely Hasad (destructive envy) and Ghibtah. Hasad is when you wish to take away what the other person have, whereas Ghibtah is when you wish to receive the same thing as the other person, without the feeling of malice towards him. The latter kind can make people work harder in order to gain what he wish for, without trying to cause harm to anyone. Like if you covet your friend's iPhone, get a job during the break and buy one yourself.

Jealousy too can make people work harder. When people are aware of rivals, they instinctively will present themselves better in front of the persons whose attention/affection/whatever they are after. Dealt with the right way, it could make a relationship grows stronger. If not, it will only cause resentment and endless arguments that will very likely involve tears.

Phew. Such a dry, boring post, isn't it? I'm feeling envious of a 17-year-old who probably will get a DSLR in the near future, so I'm writing this as an attempt to put my that emotion in check and to find an objective perspective on it. Though I value a lot of things in life, I don't get jealous very often. But I've seen the effects of intense jealousy, and they ain't pretty my friends. But please note that I'm not condemning anyone in the post. I know a friend of mine who gets jealous very easily sometimes read my blog (you know who you are and you know I adore ya!). I'm just sharing my views, aided with facts fished from the internet.

Hmm... The post is kinda lengthy, and I mostly talk about things that people already know... Oh well. I'm too lazy to edit it. If you've read it till this far, congratulations! And thank you!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Log out from people

If you have been my reader since the birth of this collection of rants and ramblings, you will know that I'm not a fan of Facebook. I think it brings out the worst of humanity. Besides being a hub for wannabes, posers and narcissists, Facebook changes the concept of friendship (forgive the cheesiness).

People can show off their friendships through wall posts and comments that nobody else understands and nobody really wants to read. Similarly, people can show off their meanness to friends (or housemates) through condemning, mocking, or sarcastic posts where no names are mentioned, but everyone knows whom it is about. The words are those that would never be said in front of the person(s), but cowards use the social networking site to vent out and boost their ego. Personal or private matters that should be kept between friends (or housemates) are made known to the world in moments of raging temper and delirium. There are no respect to the victim of the word abuse. It's baffling. Don't these people think first before writing? Why would you want to air your dirty laundry or show to the world how despicable you are? Well, these are the rare moments where people show their true selves and not try to be philosophers.

And what happens when you lose a friend because of your callousness? Simple. First, you need to unfriend the person. Next, delete all the person's comments to you and voila! She is officially not your friend and you can officially forget her. At least that's what a lot of people thought.

What about chatting etiquette? Is it okay to chat with a lot of people at the same time? I don't mean chatting in a group, but with a lot of individuals at the same time, with chat boxes berderet kat bawah. I used to think it's unfair to those people, as we couldn't give much attention to any of them. But the long pauses and short replies from those other people shows that they too are probably chatting with a lot of people at the time. Communication has become impersonal as we tried to entertain as many friends as we can.

Speaking about chat, have you ever experience the awkward moment when you have to talk about some uncomfortable matters with another person, but you haven't gotten around to call her yet and you tried to ignore her online status because she's ignoring you too? Don't know what I'm talking about? Good. That means you had never experience it before. Trust me, it's more awkward and uncomfortable than the time when your mum comments on your I-hate-life wall post (didn't happen to me) or the time when someone's sticky sweet boyfriend tells the world how much in love he is with his girlfriend in your photo album (happened to me).

And the issue of your privacy. I know Facebook has some privacy options and what not, but really. Unless we block a lot of features and friends' viewing, a lot of people can see your every move. And you have to admit people can be such stalkers sometimes. And the worst part? We might never know about it. And then there are cases where the suspicious and overly jealous boyfriend (or girlfriend) signs into the girlfriend's (or boyfriend's) account to check up on them. But...... that's another story altogether.

I'm feeling bitter. You do not want to know why. But it has got something to do with the said social networking site I was talking about. Used the right way, it is a wonderful tool to make new friends (I like making new friends!) and strengthen existing bonds. In fact, the last few weeks I looked forward to signing into Facebook to keep track of updates from Baktisiswa Kemboja group (more on that soon).

There are times when I'm grateful for Facebook. But even then I'm trying to ignore the pseudo philosophers and posers. I know, some people are genuine in giving advice, but they are often outshined by those who are not.

The scenarios I wrote are all true accounts, most of which I experienced myself. The people I mentioned are all my friends too, but I still don't approve some of their actions (not that they care). They are generally good people, but thrown in Facebook, they can be quite nasty and obnoxious.

Again, don't get me wrong. Facebook is not all bad. I just feel like ranting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Saya tak malas! ......... or maybe just a little

Erm.. hi. Thank you for keeping faith and still come back here after my I-don't-know-how-long hiatus (the last rambling about my result doesn't count). It doesn't matter when you are reading this, but the fact that you are reading makes me happy. I still can't believe this blog has readers! Thank you very, very much! I wanted to apologize but I'm not sure what I'll be apologizing for. I mean, it's not like you come here everyday to read my writings right? Except if you are Izni, in which case I'm very sorry.

So. Ramadhan. Selamat berpuasa. A lot of people on Blogger and Facebook write or quote motivational messages in line with the month, but I'm not fit to give advice on religious matter so I'll skip that. I'm here to tell you, dear readers, that I'm going to put my travel log on Kemboja here very soon to be shared. Yeah I went to Cambodia last month. How was it you say? Wait for the travel log! ;-)

I'm supposed to be busy. I have a lot of items in my To Do Before the Holiday Ends list, To Do Before the Month Ends list, and even a few in the WTFAREYOUWAITINGFORDOITNOW list. I've been very lazy idle for the past week that I'm back in Alor Star. But I'm progressing... Very slowly...

I've typed my travel log long ago, but I just can't get myself to posting it yet. Every time I felt like doing so, I came up with excuses not to. Penat la, lapar la, pening la, bosan la... The list goes on...

I'm not sure why I suddenly have the urge to write. I really have no idea. Perhaps next I'll gather enough willpower to move my feet (though I'm very tempted to say butt here) to go out of the house, and not just to play with cute fluffy kittens (that's right, I have cute fluffy kittens!).

One of the cute, fluffy kittens

Thank you for reading. And thank you for coming back.