Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Six years overseas in an institution that has been under the constant scrutiny of the MQA and I’m heading home this summer anyway. I could have opted to take the Kaplan Step-2 and move to the states. At least they have a sense of humour there. Their president was accused of being an illegal immigrant and he recently laughed it off by showing a video clip from the opening of the Lion King. Despite heavy criticism he’s one step closer to healthcare reform, and the withdrawal of the troops and the lack of pomp with which he did it won over even my reluctant vote. I used to think the US was overrated, not worth the respect they garnered at times, but I realized that one man does make a world of difference. Bush’s America and Obama’s America are worlds apart.

Am I less of a patriot of thinking highly of the West? I think not.

Sure we hit the global media for ridiculous things like ‘taking the gay out of our young men’, backyard trash like cowhead stepping and Molotov cocktails being thrown into mosque grounds. Sure we’re famous for things like hotel raids during Valentine’s day, armed robbery in broad daylight, racial bigotry, political voyeurism, and blind support of local industries at the expense of crazy import duties, less than efficient fuel consumption and generic versions of Lancers and Mitsubishis on our roads.

I definitely sound like am slandering my own nation here, but bear with me. Like I was saying, this summer, I still am heading home to quirky Malaysia.

You see, I spent 3 of my 6 years here with a Muslim roommate, something you would have never seen in a local university hostel. Trust me, my elder siblings, they were ‘placed at random’ and they all ended up with Indian roommates in their local public universities. When my roomamate and I split ways, it was due to personal issues, nothing religious. She prayed 5 times a day, and read from the Quran each night, and I sang my Hindu devotional songs and occasionally even lit incense sticks during major celebrations. She didn’t mind me eating pork, nor did I mind her eating beef. She comes from a traditional Malay family, and I from a traditional Tamil one.  We’re still close friends, classmates, and occasional shopping buddies despite having had our differences.

When the MQA decided to get international recognition, and PSD decided to review its scholarship awarding, though I may not benefit from either…  in the first case because I stand a risk of being careerless, and in the second because having completed my university education, I no longer stand a chance of gaining a JPA scholarship… I began to hope. The MQA review, suspension of civil servant hiring for 3 months seems to hold promise of a fairer system based on merit rather than racial quota. I am not saying please impoverish one race, I am saying choose people who are eligible for the job, those with necessary skill and the motivation to improve themselves. Since our Public Health is in such a state, a qualification exam would be disastrous to the 3000 odd Russian and Ukrainian Medical graduates, yes, but if it means it’s for a less biased, more efficient medical workforce, then why the heck not. Here’s to hoping there isn’t a quota on that as well though.. coz if there is, a lot of us would be royally f**ked. And on the PSD scholarship, awarding overseas scholarships should be based on merit. Admittedly it should have been discussed within the Cabinet to prevent rumours of a divided BN, but I think it was a gutsy move, transparent, and it got almost immediate results. As opposed to our annual dilemma about top scorers not being awarded government scholarships to pursue their field of interest, maybe this will give us a real solution to the problem instead of a temporary settlement when it makes headlines about how the top scorer who was missed by the system finally got a scholarship to Ireland to pursue Actuarial Science.

So yes am disillusioned, but I still carry a spark of hope that someday, Malaysians will tell race politics to go get a real job, and we might live together as a real community. Where people would rather come home and not choose to hold jobs overseas as opposed to a true career at home because they have given up with racial stereotypes and lack fair opportunities to be all they can be.

Someday perhaps... someday…

That is why am going home. Because I still have hope for Malaysia…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pride and Vanity

I want you to know…
There are times you leave me in a quandry
Times when I realize you need more than me
And at those times I cannot explain the unease
The wire-bound tightness in my chest;
The tears of dull-toned hurt that fail to flow;
And the choking breaths that barely escape…
The beating mass in the centre of me,
That pump made of muscle so strong
Is in truth just weak…
The persistent flutters as it yearns too much
To be all that you want, the one thing you need?
That my friend is just pride and vanity

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Happy Wesak to all who celebrate :) missing the orange robes, sanskrit chants and rotating water fans in the brickfields buddhist mahavira..

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Kitchen Business

*WARNING: Do not read if you are vegetarian, or have a particularly sensitive stomach :)

Y was smiling, telling me about how she planned to cook the chicken, what she had put into the marinade and it hit me that we were almost what we used to be – good friends.

We had met in Primary 1 – I think we were seated next to each other on the first day of class (I forget exactly…)

Then that day, almost two decades later, we stood in the same common kitchen; Y pushing the chicken aside and reaching for the basin with prawns in them, and I at the sink, gutting the awful fish that would be dinner.

“Yeah, I miss our markets, where the Aunty will de-scale, gut and cut up the fish into beautiful pieces,” I said over my shoulder at her, wincing inwardly at the slippery feel of the fish stomach lining that I was trying to remove.

“I know! And here, the marketing is a lot more expensive. It’s, what, more than double of the price we pay at home, plus the products aren’t exactly fresh, are they?” From the corner of my eye I saw her yanking off the head of an orange prawn which came off with a squishy sound, making us giggle.

I rinsed off the pieces of fish and took the twenty steps it takes me to get into my unit door where I unceremoniously stuffed the now clean and cut fish into my tiny refrigerator. 

“Where’s N?” Y asked me when I walked back into the kitchen.

“Sleeping, we finished at 4 this morning.” My roommate and I had been at another friend’s room, celebrating a birthday Malaysian style with a midnight rojak party after a major exam.

I half filled my pot with water and plopped the whole chicken in, waiting for it to defrost.

“Move over, Y.” I made my way to the other end of the kitchen and grabbed my cute little knife and started deveining the pile of headless prawns on her chopping board.

“You’re gonna die…!” Y said in a gruesome voice and snapped the head off the beady-eyed crustacean in her hand.

I concealed a smile. It felt good to have her friendship again. The last four years of awkwardness was fading away from my memory, that time when we had only said hi and exchanged formal pleasantries with each other.

Today, we aren’t exactly soul confidants to each other, but we can still depend on each other.

We have different groups of friends, but that is ay-oh-kay. We have become such different people, but we have somehow rediscovered how to click. That bond that had sprung between us during our school days apparently never really broke, it just got a bit frayed, and I have the kitchen and the time we spend in it to thank for realising that piece of truth.

Note: I discovered sometime ago that my Pakistani friends do not eat sea produce as they are not considered ‘halal’, which means that they’ve never tasted prawn/crab/shellfish before. They can eat fish though. I find that fascinating for some odd reason… Maybe it’s like a no pork, no beef thing in Muslims and Hindus and some Buddhists?

Friday, May 06, 2011


Havent had time for it lately. The inspiration is in abundance though :p... perhaps one of these days. But that's what i've been saying for the past 3-4-5 mths... hehee... maybe tis time to accept that Connections needs to be put behind me? For a person that lets go of some things easily, some other things are way too hard for me to leave behind.. I think i take attachment to the point of obsession and disattachment to the point of schizoid personailty disorders. I need to find a middle path. This is when I should pay more attention to Buddhist teachings and seek the middle way. Oh well... back to my books for now..