Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back Home

I had wanted to write this entry about a month ago, but time just didn't allow me to do so. On top of that, my PC still has that nagging virus problem which will just discourage me from being online long enough to do this. But I'm here now, and no matter what, I'm going to do this. FR needs an update anyways.

Last month I took a trip back home, to Malacca, my hometown. It's a small city about two hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur, where I live now. This place is kinda like the location where our country's rich history began. Our country's imperial ruling started here, and it went on for about 111 years until the Portuguese came and took over. Then 120 years after that, the Dutch conquered Malacca, and then later the British assumed rule. Our country finally gained independence in 1957. But the remnants of all three foreign forces are still visible in Malacca today.

OK, that's the history lesson. Much as I'd like to show you some historical locations of my hometown, I didn't take any of those pictures when I went back. Perhaps someday I will. But what I really wanted to talk about, was my life here. This was the house where I lived the first nine years of my life. It doesn't look like much, does it? I remembered it had a nice big yard in the back, where I would play catch with my cousin's dog. I think his name was Kester. I used to be afraid of that dog, even though he wasn't that big. I was always afraid he'd bite me. But he's fun to chase around sometimes. What amazes me about this house is that after all these years, the doors are still the same kind. It's the wooden slide type, which I haven't seen on any house in other neighbourhoods I've been to. I wonder who lives in there now.
This was my primary school, where I went to study when I was seven to nine years old. The name of the school visible on the wall there means 'Bandar Hilir National School, Malacca'. Bandar is the Malay word for town, and Hilir means downstream. On the day I took this picture, I stepped up to the front gates and looked in, and I vaguely remembered my days there. My mum looked in too, and she said she still recalled where my old classroom was.

This is a picture of St. Francis Institution, my secondary school. I studied here when I was sixteen and seventeen years old. (Yeah, I know there's a gap between my ages, that's another story for the future) This is an old school, as you can see it's over a hundred years old. I didn't quite have fond memories of this place. School life wasn't an exciting time for me, because I was one of a handful of kids who would spend their time studying while the other majority spent time picking on kids like me. I've been to five schools during my younger years, and in almost every one of them, I had trouble with bullies. Had no idea why they always had to pick on me, I guess I was an easy target. But the point of going to these places is to get a good education, and to some extent, I thank the good teachers who helped me get past my SPM exams and all in between.
This is our quadrangle, where we would line up for assembly every morning. You know, in retrospect, the way the teachers used to ask us to assemble made me think that we were in prison sometimes. Look at the picture, on the highest floor. See that door which is partially open? That was my classroom back then. I would have loved to take more pictures, but I was just fortunate enough to take these as the school security guard only gave me a short time to walk in.

I had come back to Malacca many times, usually to eat my favourite foods, which are only available there. But this was the first time in a long time that I went back to see where I had been over a decade ago. I only wish I had more time to take more pictures. Perhaps someday I'll get to show you more.

You know, there are times when I wonder if I had wasted my youth back in the day. Maybe I feel that way because most of my friends are younger than me, and they had accomplished so much already. I guess I need to learn how to let go and grow up a little more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Drive Home

Today there was word going around that the government would stop subsidising petrol, which meant that the price was going to be raised, as soon as midnight tonight. So what does every proud car owner in KL do? They rush their car to the nearest petrol station to fill up, of course.

I don't know about you, but to me, this is just another example of kiasu-ism. Yes, it exists here too. (In case you don't know what kiasu-ism means, go read Stark Corner) I mean, even if you bought petrol today, it's going to run out eventually, and you'll have to buy fuel at the new higher price anyway. The difference is when, meaning if you chose not to buy fuel tonight, you'll have to refuel a couple of days earlier than those who did. What's a couple of days, huh? If you really wanted to save money, you can cycle to work, though I doubt most car owners would do that. Besides, are you telling me that because of the price hike, you'd be broke before your next paycheque if you didn't refuel tonight? Come on, you're car owners. You can afford the car, certainly you can afford the fuel too. Or are you unable to sacrifice the other things you spend money on? If this only affects poor people, then there'd only be old broken down cars lining up for fuel. This obviously wasn't the case, since I saw everyone, and I mean everyone line up at the petrol stations for fuel. And sadly, my sister decided to do it too, and worse, my mum was practically egging her on!

I tried to tell them that this was a silly thing to do, but as usual, no one is going to listen to me. Mum goes "See, everyone is doing it. We should too. It's the smart thing to do, buy while it's still cheap." Great. If everyone chose to jump into a lake, should I do it too? I think not. And my mum just goes on and on and on and on. She observes all the other people filling up and starts saying things like "Wow, he's filling up a lot!" Or "That guy's car must have a really big tank." Or the kiasu's favourite line, " Hurry up, get into that pump before that guy does!" And I'm stuck in the back seat having to listen to my mum go on every ten seconds.

I'd tell her not to do that, but why bother? She's not going to listen. It's my mum. She's a good person, but very kiasu.

When I think about it, I don't think anyone would listen to me. If I told everyone else my opinion, they'd scoff and say "Ah, but you don't own a car. You won't understand." Well, maybe. But everything in life comes down to choices. Even this. I for one, would not choose to line up with hundreds of other people at the station at ten o'clock at night just to buy fuel, when all I want to do is just go home and rest after being at work for nine hours. Hmm, I can almost imagine my sister telling me that I have it easy because I wasn't driving. Like I said, no one listens to me.

It's nice when people pay attention to you, I admit that. But it's better if they do so when you're right.

I could have ended the entry there, but I hate leaving without showing my readers something. So here's a movie trailer, a horror flick called The Strangers. Enjoy.