Saturday, April 3, 2010


We have a lot of pets in the house. Initially we started with two cats. Then my niece was born seven years ago. As she grew up, she started to take a liking to Momoi and Tina. But the way she expressed her fondness for them was a little different. My cats didn't like it one bit when she sat on them. But as the years passed, she began to love animals. And seeing the cats every day gave her the idea that she ought to have a pet of her own as well.

And so she told her Atok. Who then bought her a pet water turtle. At first she took an interest in Agus (that's the name we gave him but frankly it's hard to tell a turtle's gender just from visual inspection) but it lasted a few days. So for a year now my mom has been Agus' official caretaker, washing him and changing the water. My dad has taken on the role of the turtle feeder. Me, I'm stuck in the purchasing department. Buying the turtle pellets, the big turtle tub and a few white pebbles to decorate his home. When he was welcomed into the household he was the size of a 50 sen coin. Now he's as big as a dinner plate and weighs as much as my cat. Kalau dikosongkan cengkerangnya mungkin sudah boleh bikin topi combat.

Then on today's episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman on channel 707 (Travel & Living), he travelled to the Australian Outback to sample some of the local culinary specialties. And in the Outback, you eat what you have living around you in order to survive. And that meant putting a whole wallaby and a water turtle to roast on an open fire. The TV host was treated to wallaby tail and turtle intestines and meat. He said that the flesh tasted like veal.

While watching the programme I looked at Agus floating around in his tub. As ugly as I think he is, I don't think I'll ever have the heart to have him for dinner. Even in a life or death situation. I think I'd go look for green ants first. They're supposed to be a better source of protein. And crunchy to boot. With a hint of citrusy flavor.

Oh and we also have three ikan puyu. But they just do their own thing in their plastic fish aquarium on the washing machine in the kitchen. And enjoy the absolute jacuzzi experience when the washing machine starts to vibrate during spinning mode.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Sebut betul betul dik

Dulu semasa saya baru memasuki tingkatan satu di sebuah sekolah berasrama penuh di Kg Kongo, kami para "freshie" (panggilan dulu) atau "budak poyo" (panggilan sekarang) memang cukup takut jikalau terpaksa lalu di hadapan atau berhadapan dengan abang-abang tingkatan 5. Bukannya apa, rasa gentar bila disoal-siasat tu agak menebal.

Ucapan kepada abang senior bila berjumpa mereka:
-Assalamualaikum bang.

Jawapan yang selalu diberikan mereka kepada kami adik toye:
-Apa kumbang kumbang?

Apakah kesimpulan yang dapat dibuat dari perbincangan separa akademik tetapi tiada unsur ilmiah ini? Sebutan yang betul itu perlu supaya sebarang kekeliruan dapat diatasi. Sekarang setelah berbelas tahun menjadi guru bahasa asing saya amat peka dengan sebutan, intonasi dan gaya bahasa yang dipertuturkan seseorang.

Baru-baru ini semasa di dalam kelas kami telah mempelajari tentang perkataan-perkataan yang berkenaan dengan kenderaan. Di kelas kami membaca sebuah dialog yang menceritakan tentang seorang lelaki yang bekerja di sebuah agensi pelancongan yang menyarankan agar pasangan yang mahu melawat Ile de la Réunion menaiki helikopter untuk melawat kawasan gunung-ganang di tengah-tengah pulau tersebut.

Setelah mendengar rakaman dialog itu di radio, saya menyuruh setiap seorang pelajar membaca sebaris dua ayat.

Bila tiba giliran seorang pelajar ini (yang saya akan rahsiakan identiti sebenarnya) ayat yang harus dibacanya berbunyi seperti berikut:

Oui, vous visitez le centre de l'île en hélicoptère.
(Yes, you will visit the center of the island by helicopter.)

Si pelajar merenung ke arah saya.
-Madamng nok sayo baco ko nih?
(Madame nak saya baca ke ni?)
-Yes please.
-Owhhh...guano nyebuknya nih...gajoh pung mapuh...
(Hai. Bagaimana hendak saya sebutkan yang ini. Susah betul.)
-Why don't you just try?
-Nok cubo tapi perkatae tu dok leh tubik. Malu nok nyebuk Madamng.
(Saya nak cuba tetapi perkataan itu tidak dapat saya keluarkan. Malu saya hendak menyebutnya Madame.)
-(kehairanan) Eh? Which word is that?
-Tu hok helikote helikote tuh.

Kalar dok sebuk lagu tu, meme le gajoh pung mapuh!

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jualan gerai

This morning we opened up a little food stall at the work place to sell some food. Almost all the French lecturers at MFI prepared something to sell. Just for fun. And to help liven things up a bit. We started at 9am and before noon, most of the food prepared were snapped up by the students. I must say that they are such darlings. They always come out and support us. Merci beaucoup!

One thing that I realized was that only after 3 hours of standing at the food stall to serve the students pinggang sudah mula rasa sakit. Itu baru 3 jam dan baru satu hari berdiri lama setempat. Can you just imagine those people whose work requires them to be on their feet all day long? The cashiers, the sales assistants, the nurses, the security personnel...the list goes on and on. I feel for you guys! And for me, time to get back to yoga for some core muscle strength.

Sekarang kaki sudah lenguh. Tapak kaki berdenyut-denyut meminta untuk dimanjakan. Time for some massage. Hmm...nak pergi Santai Suri lah. Ngeh ngeh ngeh.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Lately there has been a community service announcement on the radio telling us about how important reading is in our lives. The person said that he had been busy working and exercising but has neglected stimulating his mind through reading. Which is all good for me. Then he urged everyone to read, adding that "not only does it improve your English, it also improves your knowledge". Or something to that effect lah. I can't really remember his exact words.

While I think this is a commendable effort, I do not agree when he said that reading only improves one's English. Because Malaysians are at least bilingual, if not polyglots. Many speak one or two languages other than English. So it is wrong to assume that everyone reads in English. My blog might be written almost entirely in English, but that is not because I am not proficient in Bahasa Melayu. It is just a matter of choice. Same goes to my car mechanic's wife whom I meet at least once every three months when I send my car for servicing. We might be having an entire conversation in Bahasa Melayu, but in her free time she would read her Chinese newspaper and answer phone calls in English.

Why all this brouhaha about Malaysian linguistic gymnastics you might ask? Nothing much really. Only just to share with you my opinion that you can improve your knowledge through reading in whatever language that you are comfortable using, and improve your grammar in that particular language along the way. The more languages you know, the more you have the opportunity to appreciate works written by others. The more your knowledge grows, the more you can share with others. And it doesn't have to be exclusively in English.


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Malaysian hospitality

On the way to the spa this morning I had to stop at a traffic light. My car was right behind a big truck. Then out of nowhere, a motorcycle sped to the front and stopped in front of me.

It was quite a long wait for the traffic light to turn green. Sementara menunggu, sempatlah saya pasang radio, kuatkan air-cond, telefon mekanik kereta untuk confirmkan tarikh tukar timing belt, betulkan cermin dan cabut bulu kening.

The old man who was on the motorcycle in front of me also seemed to be looking for something in his shirt pocket. Selalunya bila seorang lelaki membuat aksi meraba-raba dada kirinya, hanya ada dua kemungkinan: a) dia mengalami serangan sakit jantung, ataupun b) dia sedang mencari sebatang rokok untuk dihisap. This uncle then got off his Lagenda, walked to the truck driver, and asked for a ciggie from him.

When he got what he wanted, he went back to his bike. Ooops. Lighter pulak tak ada. Another stroll to the truck. Belum sempat dia sampai, an arm extended out of the rolled down window and a finger flicked the lighter. The old man lit his cigarette, went back to his motorbike for the second time, betul-betulkan sikit posisi rokok di mulut and was ready to go. By this time the light turned green. And we all went our way.

Wow. Talk about perfect timing.

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