Saturday, 14 December 2013


It was raining heavily outside and slightly cold. After a few sips suddenly an idea came to me to create a 30 seconds video about the drink I am addicted to. Yes, it is an addiction. Just like those who cannot live a day without their coffee! MILO is another Malaysian favourite chocolate drink apart from kopi-O or teh tarik. Milo is a Nestle's product and invented by Thomas Mayne in Sydney, Australia in 1934. 

Milo is undeniably relevant to Malaysians that the drink is mentioned in a poem written by a well-known Malaysian poet. Revered in a poem called Monsoon History by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Her poem used to be part of the Form 4 Literature Component. 

Milo is commonly served hot or cold. Either way it is heaven to me. Sometimes I wonder how many more generations will Milo held its glorious stature among us. Will it last as long as Coca Cola? Or longer? 

1940s Milo tin

The current Milo chocolate bar look

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Zest of Invigilation

Lately I am bogged down with so many things at work that I hardly have time for myself or blogging. Although some teachers have gone off for the year-end holiday, but others are in the midst of invigilating the most important examination in the country - Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). 

It is not supposed to be my turn to be the Pengawas this year but I have to take up the responsibility voluntarily. Just to fill in the vacancy left by people who are not willing to sacrifice their long holiday. Well, Saya Yang Menurut Perintah or more accurately, Saya hanya menurut perintah. Since I have invigilated SPM last year, so this time I am assigned as the Timbalan Ketua Pengawas (TKP). I have to admit it is more challenging physically although it can never match up the pressure faced by a Ketua Pengawas. They have countless of things to mind and do throughout the invigilation.

At times I just wonder why this task is not given to those who never had the experience invigilating SPM, especially the ones who already received the Anugerah Perkhidmatan Cemerlang (APC) and novice teachers. There are many other teachers who can take my place, especially the new ones. Not that I dislike this job, but certain people could use some compassion and consideration that I am not physically fit. Yeah, I have a knee that is still hurting badly. What makes the situation worse is now I am suffering an excruciating pain on my spinal bone after carrying heavy boxes that contain materials and papers for examination use. Just for your information, I have cracks on my spinal bones (which I have not fixed yet) and went through arthroscopic knee / ACL Reconstruction surgery in 2011. I also had a second surgery on the same knee in 2012. In fact, there are two screws planted in both my left thigh and shin bones. Only God knows the pain I have to bear each time I walk up and down the stairs during invigilation.

Sometimes I wonder if this sacrifice is worth it despite being paid to invigilate. The perk is really nothing if it is deteriorating one's health. In this case, health is wealth. I could just simply say NO to the administrators when I was asked to fill in the spot, but how would that affect their perception of me? Yes, that is another problem although I realise we cannot please everyone all the time. Moreover, impression sometimes can be translated into yearly appraisal marks! Yeah, you can say it is subtly intimidating which makes us give in to whatever we are not interested of doing at the first place. So, either way it will have effect on our career development and we are likely to end up in dilemma just thinking about it. Like it or not, that is how things are in working life.

Nevertheless, I am still grateful that this time it is not so bad compared to last year. Back then I had to wake up at 4am and start driving at 5am, so that I could board the earliest ferry at 6am. If I missed it, I would not be able to make it to that isolated rural school in time for invigilation and that would spell trouble for me. Each day I would only reach home at 8pm and it was indeed physically exhausting. What really frustrated us was the pay we received, lesser than we could actually claim. Besides, no one understood it better about the risk of crossing a super wide and croc-infested river like we did. However, I do remember one good thing from this epic adventure. The scenic view at the break of dawn. It brought forth the feelings of serenity and gratefulness while standing on the ferry deck. That was something money could not buy.

I learned a lot of new things throughout the invigilation process in these two years which I truly appreciate. One more paper for us to invigilate next week at this religious school before I can shout "Freedom!" together with Form 5 students. I just hope next year I will not be requested to take on this task anymore. It is time to give way to those without similar experience so that they will have a taste of invigilating a public examination such as SPM. Let them savour the zest of underpaid assignment. It may sound a little harsh but I survived it anyway. If I can do it, so can you.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

WAG Music Festival 2013

"Yeah, let's swag the WAG!" I told a close friend as we entered the BCCK hall (Borneo Convention Centre Kuching). We were excited to be here for the music as well as supporting a good cause. The abbreviation of WAG stands for World Animal Groove, not World Animal Gathering. The annual event was organised by SSPCA (Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). This time it was the second edition and it has finally become an official event in Sarawak Tourism Board calendar. Tickets were sold at RM60 (adult) and RM30 (child). The donation will proceed to fund the good cause that is carried out by SSPCA. For more information about SSPCA, do visit their page at Facebook. 

This year's performers line-up were GAMELAN (SMK Matang Jaya), Avijit Ghosh and friend (India), Gabriel F. Louis (Iban singer), Bibi Kpoh (KL), Nading Rhapsody (Sarawak) and the Bottle Boys (Denmark). I have seen the GAMELAN performed last year at the #twtupkch. They never failed to impress me each time they performed on stage. Apart from playing fusion music which consisted of traditional instrument such as Gamelan and the modern ones, they also brought together their four best singers to wow us with both oldies and current hits. Another familiar performer at WAG Music Festival was Gabriel Fairuz Louis, who is a local Dayak singer.

The music festival kicked off with a performance by GAMELAN. The ensemble comprised of students from Matang Jaya Secondary School age 12 to 18. 

Next, we experienced the authentic classical Indian music performed by Dr. Avijit Ghosh and his friend, Arindam Chakravarty. They both were playing the Sarod (string) and Tabla (percussion). We were informed that Dr. Avijit Ghosh ever performed at Rainforest World Music Festival in 2002. 

The emcees for the event. There were giving out prizes for the lucky draw. 

Gabriel Fairuz Louis 

The event was indeed unique in its own way as we were not only entertained by singers and musicians, but also beguiled by a comedian based in Kuala Lumpur. She managed to make us laughed out loud with her raunchy and spontaneous jokes. Bibi Kpoh was invited to this event for the second time upon popular demand. I have not laughed so loud for a long time, so here I was with my friend laughing hysterically at whatever funny thing she said like it was nobody's business! 

Nading Rhapsody is a local avant-garde Borneo ethnic music band. Their performance was definitely one of those I looked forward to. The band consists of Boy Kevin (bassist/composer), Rawa (lead/acoustic guitar), Nigg (Sape'), Gai Ritchie (tribal percussion), Yen (Djembe/cajon), Roy (vocalist/lyricist), Chris (vocalist/ruding) and Opah (vocalist/chanter). Nading Rhapsody had performed at Rainforest World Music Festival in 2012. Their music is both eclectic and swanky, something I have never heard of in the Dayak music industry. They are indeed unique and distinctive in terms of genre, which is a fusion of both ethnic and modern music. In other words, unique tribal music. If we listened carefully, each song is related to a Sarawak ethnic folklore. For instance, folklores among the Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau, Melayu Sarawak and Orang Ulu. Their music was not just for easy listening at the festival but something that could get your groove on! I saw some of us on the floor were dancing and clapping to their music. Nading Rhapsody consisted of eight young members from different ethnic groups in Sarawak. Therefore, it came as no surprise their music resembled the origins and roots of each band member. The ethnic elements noticeable in their songs were folk songs, ritual chanting, lullabies, myths and folklores of various Sarawak ethnic groups. Judging from their ethnic avant-garde fashion and music arrangement, I would have no objection of the band being branded as part of the world music community. 

Lastly, we had the Bottle Boys from Denmark to entertain us with their very innovative and special musical instruments, the bottles. Yes, mainly beer bottles. The band members were Christopher Bog├ír, Philipp Brodersen, Johannes Ettrup, Kaspar Frederiksen and Martin Handberg. The band has covered many popular songs which can be watched on the Bottle Boys' Youtube channel. These boys sure knew how to get the party started at BCCK by playing some techno hits. Apparently we all grew up listening to the same kind of music although we lived on different continents on this earth. I guess what really shot them to the stardom was their audition for Britain's Got Talent in early 2013. It was ridiculous for Simon Cowell to say "NO" to these guys! While performing on WAG Music Festival stage, they were prone to make us forget the existence of One Direction, haha! They might be slightly older than 1D, but we could not deny they were adorable too. Hopefully we will get to see them again one day at WAG Music Festival. This is the special thing about WAGMF, unlike the Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo Jazz Festival or Asia Music Festival. The other three music festivals are either music genre specific or region specific. Hence, I am hoping SSPCA will keep lighting up the WAGMF torch so that we could experience various music genres from around globe which other local music festivals do not offer. 

Poker Face cover

A video they made during their stay in Kuching 

Photo credits to Avijit Ghosh

 Crowds who were obviously enjoying the music festival by singing, dancing and mingling. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Blurred Lines

Years of observation has brought me to this. I have never written anything deep and personal. Perhaps it is about time I get it out of my chest. Some called it two cents, I am not sure what is mine. 

Seem cool and care less are probably what others always thought of me. Deep down I could care more than anyone can imagine. No one would know how long it will take for me to forget a subject that concerns me deeply. This thing has been going on for years. Experience and daily reflections on the matter have been the greatest teachers so far. 

Social networks and relationships these days can never go unparalleled. People connect with each other through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They were created supposedly for good reason. Nevertheless, some took it too far that these social networks pose so much threats, especially on relationships. Be it friendship, family relationship or marriage. A study conducted by both University of Michigan and University in Belgium has shown that the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life. Both Dr. Kross and Dr.Verduyn have concluded that Facebook undermines well-being rather than enhancing it. Source Research also shows the most common emotion aroused on Facebook is apparently ENVY. In other word, jealousy. Tell me if you never felt that way while you were on Facebook! This explains why we all have our own haters, which sometimes can be interpreted as blessings in disguise. It means they do not have what you have, therefore be grateful with your life.

How often do you see some friends, relatives, husbands and wives are not talking to each other because of these social networks? Instead of solving our differences in real life, we rather vent it on status or post up some sarcastic quotes. Growing older made me seeing things from different angles. I realised not everything has to go public. Besides, most people are glad that you have problems. People are most comfortable when you are either their equal or have less than them. So, think a million times before you want to share your problems on social networks. 

I guess nowadays age does not define maturity much, what people post on their social networks reflected that. This is why I used the function "Show in news feed" a lot. If we do not like what we read, unfollow or unsubscribe. Trying to correct or barking back will not solve anything other than make things worse, the choice is yours. 

It has been a very sad experience lately seeing some friends are not talking to each other anymore. All I see are people keep blaming one another and widening the gap between them further till no longer possible to bridge it. Their personal desires beat the rest, keeping the friendship is no longer their priority. I certainly dislike the division they caused in the niche. Though the online fracas does not necessarily involve me, but at times I do feel the rippling effect. What I detest most is people who do not know the real story are those who try to offer advice and simply comment to show support bluntly. Rather than finding out the truth, they take the easy way out by making assumption. Needless to mention those with the "holier-than-thou" attitude, they can be the most ruthless social network Nazis you will ever meet in the cyber world. 

My only hope right now is that people can utilise the social networks wisely. I mean which is  more important, winning the verbal battle or keeping the friendship? It breaks my heart that we all cannot hang out in real life like we used to just because some friends who failed to resolve their personal issues but chose to Facebook it. Do their negative vibes need to affect us as well? Why do we let social networks determine our lives and make us slaves to pop culture? 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Johor Travelogue

The last time I boarded an airplane was going to Singapore with my cousin and Sherman Henry. We flew there with Tiger Airways. That was in December 2012. Recently I was presented with another opportunity to fly again, this time with Airasia. My team and I were heading to Johor Bahru to participate in a national expo organised by BPTV (Bahagian Pendidikan Teknik & Vokasional). I have been to some states in peninsular Malaysia but never to Johore. I was really looking forward to this trip though deep down inside I felt restless and flustered. I knew worrying would lead us to nowhere but somehow tolerable to certain extent because it was our first time joining Pertandingan Kemahiran Inovasi dan Kreatif (KIK). We totally had no idea how the presentation was conducted. We only found out about the  proper way of doing it after the competition. Besides, we were told other teams had attended a course related to KIK before they came for the competition. So, we were like lambs to the slaughter. "Saya yang menurut perintah", what more can I say. Nevertheless, we were grateful we could still make it to the final round despite some shortcomings. Experience is the best teacher. So, next time we will know what the judges might expect from us.

Let's forget that part. There's always room for improvement, aight? I enjoyed trying out some food while I was at Johor Bahru, which I have never tasted before. I ate the famous Kacang Pool (toast), Roti Arab and of course Laksa Johor. The best menu would be Kacang Pool. You gotta try it if you are in Johore. They said the trip to Johor would not be complete without shopping till you drop at Pasar Karat. I thought it was another typical pasar malam (night market). Man, tell ya, it was a super huge night market selling anything you would possibly want, just name it. It took us hours to venture into every corner of Pasar Karat. They sell stuffs that are at affordable price. For instance, shoes, bags, food, watches, shirts, fashion lamps, sunglasses, tongs, make-ups, used items and so on. My colleagues said Pasar Karat would open till 4 in the morning. Though the place was crowded but it was worth the walk. How I wish one day Kuching can have its own night market, I mean a really huge one like Pasar Karat. At least there is something else to do other than going clubbing or watching midnight movie.

Senai International Airport

Roti Arab and Maggie Goreng 

Laksa Johor and Kacang Pool

 I love how they recycled and converted the cargo container into a cafe. The cashier at Chaiwalla & Co. surprisingly could speak Bahasa Sarawak though he was a Johorian. He ever stayed in Sarawak for 6 months. 

 Pasar Karat

A fashion lamp I bought at the night market, only without the quote. Haha :D