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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

A-Bang La

He brought in the five filled bottles – each weighing 20kg – almost effortlessly, while The Driver just sat in the water truck writing the bill. Okay, it’s fair, I guess. But when I asked The Driver about the previous bill and he answered…

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“Oh the bill is with that BANGLA,” motioning with his mouth pointing at The Water Guy.

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… I looked at The Driver with disgust. And when I found the Bangla helpfully trying to turn my water dispenser on after replacing the water bottle, I knew who had the biggest heart among us all.

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Enida: Thank you for putting the bottle on, uh… what’s your name?

The Water Guy: Ammal, ma’am.

Enida: Thanks Ammal. That’s a big help for me.

Ammal: You’re welcome, ma’am.

Enida: What’s The Driver’s name?

Ammal: Eji, ma’am.

Enida: Eji? Like A and G?

Ammal: No ma’am, HAJI ma’am. Makkah pigi eji, ma’am.

Enida: Dia tak tau ke nama you Ammal? Kenapa panggil you Bangla, Bangla?

Ammal: Besa lah ma’am orang sini tada suka Bangla.

Enida: Don’t worry, Ammal. Orang tak suka it’s ok. You buat kerja baik, Tuhan suka. Cukup.

Ammal: Yes ma’am, batul ma’am. Thank you ma’am.

Enida: Suruh itu Eji pigi eji lagi. Tobat. Mulut tada baik. Hati kena cuci sana Makkah punya pasir. Haihhh!

Ammal: Wokey ma’am. *chuckles*

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Ammal left my Mesra home walking with his head held higher than when he first walked in.

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…in my books, 11 years old girls are just too young to own a handphone…even if you have enough duit raya to buy one yourself…wait till you’re 21 ok…public phone got what?????…

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Nina, my dear Facebook Friend, put up a status that got me thinking today.

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My initial response was: “I told my Monchies, until they have a steady job to pay the monthly bill, they have no rights to ‘luxury’.”

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And then I got thinking, that as parents we always try to compensate for the very thing we cannot give our kids. Time. We buy them cellphones, for instance, with the excuse that in emergency situations they can call us easily. Or even in non-emergency situations, it enables us to communicate with our kids worry-free.

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But in any situation, do we really communicate with our children? Do we listen to them? The phone enables us to hear them, yes. But can they really talk to us, heart to heart, on the phone and off the phone? Do we take time to communicate with them?

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Also, as parents, every time we buy our kids something ‘big’, we justify the purchase with, “Oh when I was your age, my parents could not afford this. But now at YOUR age, I can. So I get it. So you get it.”

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But then again, I got thinking…what would our kids say to their kids? And the thought scared me as I realized that luxury can do a lot of damage to character building. How are we going to teach them to be humble when they are so used to having everything? And not just everything, but everything NICE.

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As cliche as it may sound, “If it is too easy, it never lasts.” my mother was right. And so I am sticking to my principle that, unless you earn it, you don’t deserve it.

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And that is also MY reason for not believing in this Duit Raya custom. I apologize if it offends those who take it as a charity. But I see it as a way of teaching our children to have unrealistic expectations. We do not give money for nothing, nor do we get money for ‘free’. Being a good person is not something that you get paid for. Well, not in this life anyway.

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Me Monchies have been asking why they are given money on Hari Raya. Other than saying that it is the culture of and custom for Hari Raya, I do tell them that it is a ‘donation’. Kitreena is happy to receive Duit Raya, but she has been asking, “Mom, I am not an orphan and I am not poor. But why do I get donation?” So I told her, that people just feel like ‘giving’. And like usual, she always has the last why.

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Anyway, the way I raise my Monchies, I want them to see that money is earned. That’s the reality for us adults, and that’s the way reality should be for children. Otherwise, I should expect Duit Raya from my family, friends, foes, and those Dunkin Donuts‘ cashiers at Ikano.

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Do It Raya Melangpow

Kitreena saw the ‘Duit Raya’ (Ang Pow) envelopes I got from Dunkin Donuts the other day. Thinking that there was already money in them, she started this whole debate:

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Kitreena: Mom, the money in these envelopes… is it yours or Dunkin Donut’s?

Mom: There’s no money in there.

Kitreena: Ohh? I thought Dunkin Donut’s already put money in them.

Mom: Ishhh bertuah!

Kitreena: What do you mean ‘bertua’?

Mom: If they put money in those envelopes and gave it to us, why did we have to pay for the mini donuts? The donuts should’ve been free.

Kitreena: So you are going to put your money in the envelopes Mom?

Mom: Nope! I don’t believe in giving money to just anyone for no reason.

Kitreena: But it’s Hari Raya Mom?

Mom: So what? Money is money, Raya or not.

Kitreena: You can give people money because they come to our house on Hari Raya.

Mom: They don’t have to be paid to come. The only people I pay for coming to my house are the pizza guys, Monch. If I really want to give away money, I go to people who need help. I don’t just give it to people who come begging or hoping for money.

Kitreena: But the money can be like a ‘thank you’.

Mom: But I can just say it with a smile.

Kitreena: Yeah, but… they can take the money and save it.

Mom: Yeah, if they save it. If they use it to buy silly toys?

Kitreena: Oh yeaaaah.You never give me money on Raya either.

Mom: Because I save it for your schooling. And instead of giving money on Hari Raya to kids who have enough of everything, I can save the money to buy food for the orphans, you know.

Kitreena: So what are you going to put in the envelopes Mom?

Mom: Uh… donuts?

Kitreena: Mommmmm! *giggles and roles her eyes to her mommy’s silliness*

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Mereka Merdeka

Much has been said about and on this Merdeka Day. Almost way too much. It has, like any other celebrations, become too commercialized for me to comprehend at times. When moderately and modestly done, nonetheless, this whole Merdeka event does bring tears to some eyes. Mine included.

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This Merdeka…I have no flag flying for the first time in the last few years. My Jalur Gemilang is still in the shipment, finding its way to St. Petersburg Port. And I have no idea when it is going to make its gemilang sailing towards Port Klang. But I am here. Dengan gilang-gemilang. Dan dengan hati yang merdeka. Saya di sini. I am home. And that’s all that matters this Merdeka.

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So today, in the spirit of Independence… I am taking my precious Malaysian Canadian children to Banting in the hope to see a little bit of some real kampung that I have not seen before. Who knows, maybe this is a prelude to our next Kampung Adventure Gear comes Raya. (I know for sure we will be in Cha’ah for Deepavali.)

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And while I follow my Garmin GPS to pick up my rider buddy, Ida Biker in Cheeding – no kidding and no cheating here – I am going to have some serious thoughts on Merdeka. Maybe I can come up with quotes like:

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  • “To free a nation, free the people from dirty toilets.”
  • “An independent nation is a nation who uses the public toilet just like their own private toilet.”
  • “Bukti kemerdekaan terletak pada kebersihan minda dan tandas kita.”
  • “Merdekakanlah minda kita dengan memerdekakan tandas kita dari jajahan kekotoran.”
  • “Tandas anda mencerminkan kemerdekaan minda anda.”
  • “Negara telah mengambil masa 53 tahun untuk membersihkan minda kita. Tetapi tandas kita tidak turut serta. Serang!”

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Well, you see… I have my own Merdeka Mission for next year already! The clue is : Education, Education, Education!

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Tak Bersaree Lagi

Kehadapan Anand yang diingati,
Semoga warkahku ini tiba di pangkuanmu dengan selamatnya. Dan semoga kau tahu, bahawa dirimu itu tak pernah lepas dari ingatanku. Susah senang, senyum dan tangisku kau selalu ada… dulu disisiku, kini dihatiku.

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Anand ku sayang,
Setiap kali aku terpandang sepasang saree itu, hatiku pilu. Sejak kau pergi aku berdendam pada Tuhan. Dan hari ini ketika aku melintas di ruang legar bangunan itu, pilu bertukar rindu. Di situ kali terakhir kau mengucup bindi di dahiku.

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Buat pertama kalinya setelah lama kau tiada, tahun ini ku kuatkan hati  mencari ganti saree turquoise yang telah lama lusuh itu. Dan aku tahu, yang akan tetap terang di malam Diwali nanti adalah cahaya kasihmu. Memadam dendamku. Tuhan lebih sayang padamu.

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Tak ada lagi sindoor tilak di dahiku tanpamu, Anand ku.

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Dengan hati pilu,
Enidashwary

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Kaum Mengaum

Saya cukup tak berkenan nak melenting pagi-pagi ni tau. Toksah kan pagi, kalau boleh siang malam pagi petang saya cukup tak gemar lah nak melenting-lenting. Untung juga saya bukan dari suku kaum yang mudah melenting. Sebab saya pun tak tau suku kaum apakah yang mudah melenting itu.

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Akan tetapi pagi ini saya termelentingkan diri apabila membaca komen di dinding Facebook seorang sahabat. Sudah agak lama saya tidak memilih untuk melenting-liuk kan jiwa saya dengan isu yang sangatlah sensitif terhadap saya ini. Isu perkauman.

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Apa yang ditulis di dinding Facebook sahabat saya itu, malu hendak saya salin dan tampalkan di blog saya ini. Buruk benar bunyi nya apabila manusia menilai sesama manusia hanya dengan warna kulit, bau badan dan bahan yang digunakan untuk mencuci punggung.

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Pada dasarnya kawan kepada sahabat saya itu menyimpulkan bahawa  orang berbangsa seperti bapa saya semuanya mempunya bau badan yang menusuk hidung, manakala orang berbangsa seperti emak saya pula semuanya pengotor kerana mencuci diri selepas membuang air besar hanya menggunakan tisu tandas. Bukan air.

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Seperti kata pepatah, “Kita adalah apa yang kita makan.” saya percaya bau badan memang merupakan masalah sejagat. Apatah lagi kita ini “Menginjak di bumi yang sama, bernafas pada udara yang sama.”

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Mahu atau tidak jika saudara berdiri di sebelah saya di dalam LRT dan badan saudara berbau seperti cendawan yang telah ditumbuhi kulat (sudahlah cendawan, berkulat lagi), saya tidaklah pula akan memeriksa bangsa apakah saudara itu. Sesungguhnya hidung saya tidak dilengkapi dengan alat pengesan bau yang dikategorikan mengikut suku kaum di Semenanjung, Sabah mahupun Sarawak.

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Sayugia diingatkan bahawa sekiranya kobis dan rempah boleh menyebabkan bau badan, orang-orang berbangsa Russia sepatutnya akan menjadi juara bau ketiak. Kerana mereka sangat gemar makan sup kobis. Masakan mereka juga sangat kaya dengan rempah, bawang merah, bawang putih dan bawang warna lain, jika ada.

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Tetapi tidak semua ketiak yang saya terpaksa cium sewaktu berasak-asak di dalam keretapi Metro itu berbau kobis. Malah kebanyakannya berbau Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein dan Davidoff. Paling tidak pun berbau Hibka atau yang sebangsa dengan Hibka.

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Sama juga ketika duduk bersantai di dalam MRT di Singapura untuk pergi menonton wayang Yasmin Ahmad dahulu. Bau harum yang membahagiakan hidung saya tidak dapat saya pastikan datangnya daripada bangsa yang berwarna apa. Putih kah, kuning kah, perang kah, kelabu kah, hitam kah, rangabirangi kah.

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Maka oleh itu saya tidak dapat menerima kenyataan bahawa bangsa berkulit gelap seperti bapa saya dikatakan berbau badan paling menyiksa kan. Tidak dapat dinafikan saya masih ingat bau ketiak bapa saya ketika beliau pulang dari padang tembak dan padang kawad. Memang menyedihkan saya dan kakak saya bila dipeluk oleh beliau sepulang dari kerja. Tetapi selepas saja beliau mandi, ternyata beliau lebih wangi daripada sebotol bedak Cuticcura.

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Seterusnya jika saya mahu bercakap soal kebersihan, oh emak saya orangnya sangatlah pembersih. Beliau sangat cerewet tentang kebersihan punggung beliau, punggung saya dan punggung semua orang yang beliau ada hak untuk merotan di dalam rumah beliau dulu. Beliau pernah ditanya tentang ‘hukum’ mencuci punggung dengan bahan selain daripada air. Beliau menjawap dengan soalan:

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“Kalau di tempat yang tiada air seperti di padang pasir, adakah anda akan menggunakan air liur atau air mata? Apakah instinjak itu panduannya dibuat untuk umat yang duduk di tempat berair sahaja? Jika tiada air, gunakan lah walaupun daun kering. Malah batu. Inikan pula kertas lembut yang wangi. Apakah yang lebih baik daripada kebersihan?”

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Saya mendengarkan jawapan emak saya sudah tentulah terbayang bagaimana orang yang sanggup punggungnya berselemus (berlumur) najis daripada membersihkan nya dengan tisu tandas! Oh ampunkanlah mereka itu yang anti tisu tandas dan telah mempolitikkan isu tisu tandas ini demi kepentingan bangsa.

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Rasanya sudah beberapa kali saya melenting soal perkauman ini. Dan sudahnya seperti biasa kesimpulan saya tetap satu. Kita didatangkan ke dunia ini bukan seperti memesan makanan di Old Town Kopitiam, boleh membuat pilihan dengan menandakan Kopi Putih atau Hitam, Mee Bandung atau Mee Siam, Nasi Goreng Cina atau Roti Benggali.

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Tetapi akan kita tinggalkan dunia ini dengan hanya dua bangsa pilihan sendiri:

  • Bangsawan yang terhormat
  • Bangsat yang laknat

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Yaaaa, mari pilih mari pilih mari pilih mari pilihhhhhhh!

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Ex

The whole visit was intended for THE day. So we were all supposedly geared up for Mom’s 80th Birthday Celebration on Saturday April the 11th. We arrived on the Saturday week before, ready to battle the jetlag head-on. We lost our heads in the process, but I would like to believe we actually won. I still went to bed 5 o’clock in the morning Calgary time. Just like I do at 5 o’clock in the morning Moscow time. If consistency is the key, I won big time.

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Three days in Calgary that is in GMT -7, we tested yet our superjetlag power by going back 2 hours of time zone on a 4-hour flight east. Ottawa was happy to see us for two nights.

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Anyway, I must admit… no matter how much I was gearing myself up for Mom’s big celebration, I was in no mood to socialize. Honestly! And since when does an 80th birthday celebration not come with socializing? Mom was expecting close to 100 guests of families, friends, foes and foie gras. She’s more popular than yours truly. What do I expect? She has lived long enough to be the mother of popularity herself!

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My Facebook status prior to the event – held at the Delacour Community Hall – was ranging and changing between:

  • Enida wishes she could cut today out and paste it somewhere else.
  • Enida is telling herself that THIS will be over in 3 long hours.
  • Enida actually ENJOYED the three dragging hours! Oh my God!

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Yes, you read it right, all right! I actually enjoyed the socializing event with most of the almost 100 guests who turned up to wish Mom what she has been wished 79 times before. There were a few relatives I was looking forward to see. There were many whom I never saw before and probably never will see again.

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But most of all, I proved it to myself one more time, perhaps the 2571st time that I am not a true introvert. I am just not! I do get my energy from people. From socializing. But how did I not listen to myself this last 2570 times? I dragged my feet, I dragged my anchor, and I had to drag my boobies if they were the size of papayas… all these years to still work harder than steel to convince myself, I am an exhibitionist. Uh, I mean… an extrovert.

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Chek Pah: Amboi anak hang Chek Niiiiiddd! Buleh ka tu makan Nasik Ayam tu?

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Chek Nid: Awat tak buleh pulak?

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Chek Pah: Ya laaaa. Anak hangpa anak mat saleh. Anak oghang puteh. Beisa ka makan nasik-nasik nih?

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Chek Nid: Beisa lah Chek Pah oih. Taim mak depa makan nasik, depa makan nasik lah jugak. Chek Pah ingat depa makan apa?

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Chek Pah: Mana lah tau kot dia dok slalu makan kentang sajaa. Tak beisa makan makanan oghang kampong macam anak Chek Pah nih.

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Chek Nid: Beisa haih! Chek Pah bagi lah depa makan nasik apa pon. Nasik Ayam ka, Nasik Kambin ka, Nasik Lemak ka, Nasik Hat Tak Bghapa Nak Lemak ka. Nasik apa chek beisa bagi, semuaaa depa bantai.

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Chek Pah: Ohh gu tu ka?

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Chek Nid: Nasik basi ja depa tak pandai makan. Sebab chek tak peghenah bagi.

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Chek Pah: Amboih hang, Chek Nid. Perli aku naa!

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So Wrong

It’s not Friday.
It is, in fact, the day after. But how the heaven did I miss it? Now I really feel like making it feel like Friday. Let’s just say I started the day with donning a kebarung. Yes, my sweet green kebarung of which the fabric was my wedding hantaran (gift). Some things do last longer than marriages, si? In fact… uh, never mind. 🙂

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As I was making breakfast for me Monchies this morning, I got thinking about my Fridays in Malaysia. Fridays back in the days when I was younger. Much younger. And I got thinking about what used to be the highlight of my Fridays back then. Especially when I was staying with my family in Taiping.

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Friday was the day for me, KaCher and me girlfriends to gawk at men.  We were fifteen okay! What fifteen-year-old girls that don’t gawk at men? Umph! Well, any given day was a gawking-at-men day for most of us fifteen-year-old girls, really. But Friday was the official Gawking-at-Malay-Men-Going-For-Friday-Prayers-in-Kain-Pelikat Day! (Pelikat is the Malay sarong for men, Neil.)

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I couldn’t describe the feeling it gave us looking at those ‘cool’ sarongs on good-looking hunks. I still can’t describe it now. I blame it on the gawking-at-men-in-sarong deprivation I am suffering in Russia. But men’s sarong is probably the coolest one-piece attire ever invented in our Asian culture. There are sarongs for Indian men, the mundu and the lungi and many more. There are sarongs for Malay men, the pelikat, the batik – well, even the towels are seen to be a trend in some places. And for Chinese men, there’s the shang or the chang. Hmmm that explains why the Russians do not have these cool garments. They have no need for something cool. They’re cold.

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So yeah, I do miss the sight. The sight of men in their pelikat and Baju Melayu top, songkok on their heads on Fridays, looking so cool on a hot sunny midday stepping over the army truck tailboard while showing some skin and hair. Did I say showing some skin and hair? Oh I take that back. Pretend I didn’t tell you what I saw, okay? Pretend you didn’t know what sight I miss, okay?

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The picture above has nothing to do with sarong, pelikat, Fridays or my obsession with any of the above. I just got carried away with my gawking activity. And as I know that I can get myself in trouble with this entry, I have to confess that I can’t wait for summer! The probability of having a man wearing pelikat in my house is promising. I am gone ironing now to cool off.

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This Big

The big thing about big schools such as the one my Dara Monchy – Kitreena – goes to, is that it goes big on everything. Fees, definitely. I fell off my toilet seat when I found out that to secure a placement for a child costs US$50,000! Yes, I then got up and sat myself properly on the toilet seat to pass my motion and emotion as a reaction to this knowledge! I am not sure if that US$50,000 is refundable. But logically, big schools would find big excuses to not refund big moneys.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Nor do I ever have that much moolah for kids’ schooling. Maybe I will, when the time comes for their tertiary education. But that is twelve years of bread for breakfast, soup for lunch and bread and soup for supper. If I could, I would just send me Monchies to a local school, non-private, non-international, non-grande-dinero. I was, actually, ready to send Dara Monchy to SRJK Yu Hua Kajang or SRJK Tamil West Country Kajang if these schools would accept a Canadian citizen.

 

Anyway, just like any big organization, this big school I am talking about, has a big reputation to manage and maintain as well. Being built on a big budget sponsored by embassies of big countries, the school really wants to look big by giving big donations. No biggy! After a huge Christmas Bags Project for the orphans a month ago, now it is time for the Silent Auction. (Parents donate items into themed Class Baskets that are to be auctioned at the Holiday Night Event. All out Oscars style!)

 

Kitreena’s Class Basket’s theme is ‘Princessy’ or ‘Girly’. I wish I had gotten some extra Malay, Chinese, Indian Princess Dolls (like the ones I got for my mother-in-law) from the souvenir store at the Equatorial Hotel in Bangi. And I wish the Malaysian Embassy here in Moscow would have something or anything that represents Malaysia for sale. You see, I am very Malaysian at heart and would really like to educate some hardcore Russians that between Thailand and Singapore there is a paradise called Malaysia.

 

With that note, I am unexcitedly off to go shopping for some Barbie or Bratz dolls and some custom jewelleries with a Botox smile on my unBotoxed face.

 

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