Sunday, February 20, 2011

Random #4 : My Favourite Book

If you ask me (i know you didnt, but shh! it's a matter of expression, so just let me be will ya?) I honestly think that reading widens a person's perspective and makes them more mature when it comes to analyzing issues.

I don't just mean books specifically. Any kind of reading material should be able to give you that extra edge that you need to be a better prepared person to deal with Life in all its forms.

Anyway. My friends and I went book shopping a few hours back (right after we got back from eating strawberries on top of Cameron Highlands no pics sorry kitorang miskin takde camera). BARGAIN ALERT!

I managed to get my hands on a vintage copy of Romeo and Julia (that's not a typo), which was 'DI-CHETAK DI-SEMENANJONG TANAH MELAYU' in 1960. Yeah, you guessed right. It was a copy of Romeo and Juliet translated into Bahasa by a certain Trisno Sumardjo.

What i love about this tattered issue is that it kind of reminded me of 'Hikayat 1001 Malam' that was also translated into BM that i read when i was a kid. That wasnt even the best part! The best part is that it only cost me RM4. I have no idea whether the translation is any good as I havent even taken my copy out of it's glorious plastic wrapping yet, but i'll let you know how it goes once im through with it.

Back to what i was saying previously, I always find myself daydreaming about a future in which i have read ten-folds the amount of books that I already have at this point of time. I imagine the kind of person I'd be then and the kinds of new things that I wouldve discovered via reading.

Truth be told, I am kinda looking forward to seeing what that version of me would be like.

Back to the topic of the post, there are two reasons why i'd dig a book (as much as i would a hot hunk). It would be either because it's so well written that it becomes a source of entertainment for me, or, it could be because it is in some way, life changing (or to be less dramatic and more politically correct : thought-provoking).

And, duh! Having too many choices to pick from makes it all that much harder to pinpoint my favourite book. I love Palahniuk's books, Haunted more than the others. I love Ben Elton's books as well, for the strong points that he brings forward through such pleasing form of language. But at the same time, I also dig The Little Prince (i dont care that it's a book for kids, it is AWESOME when it comes to classifying the different kinds of people you see around you!) and If Only It Were True (which, for me, is like the written equivalent of the film 'Ghost', only better).

Angela's Ashes was one of the first books that opened my eyes to oppression and stereotypes. A Man Named Dave introduced me to the topic of Abuse. Reading 120 Malay Movies gave me a clearer insight of both the filming industry and the Malay culture (and how obsessed we are about being subtle in every aspects).


I've got it! The most recent book that got me thinking on a loop will be Isa Kamari's Intercession. Seeing as the story involves the act of combining Science and Religion, i could only imagine how hard it was for him to finish the story and to present it to us readers the way that it has been presented. I do not suggest the book for those weak at heart. Haha. (Intercession is to the Muslims SORT OF what Da Vinci's Code was to the Christians. In the sense that it is controversial.)

By the way, I came across BFM's podcast. And I figured i should share with you this particular segment where they discussed 'The Most Overrated Books'. Give it a listen! I think it's a kick-ass discussion that needs to be heard by book lovers worldwide. CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

lain macam punya culture shock

In Malaysia, the term 'culture shock' is often associated with people who has led a very sheltered life and was then exposed to hedonism at its best.

Oh yes, i have been shocked by cultures before.

I was 12 and it was my first day in high school. I did not understand the term 'couple'. My knowledge in music was non-existant. I could barely converse in English and i did not know the first rule of socializing.

Yeah, i was THAT naive.

Coming from a different primary school than most of the kids there, i was hoping i could start fresh and not be the number one target of the bullies. (in primary school, i was given a hard time for not keeping up with the latest gossip of 'Nsync and not knowing what TLC stands for)

No such luck.

As i walked in with my parents on the Orientation Day, students who passed us by kept wishing my parents 'Good morning, sir' 'Good afternoon Madam'. Yeah. And my parents were beaming, everyone in the school is so polite! And they speak such fluent English! Obviously they would be a great influence to me.

On Monday, as i stood by myself in the middle of the huge assembly area, I could see a bunch of Form Fivers hugging each other, catching up on each other's end-of-the-year vacation. I saw a good looking guy embracing a super model lookalike tightly, kissing her on the cheeks, right in front of the row of schoolteachers.

I dont know what i was expecting. Perhaps from the stories Ive heard about other schools, i half-guessed that one of the teachers would walk to them and smack them on the head for 'inappropriate behaviour'. Nobody seemed to care.

A few weeks into the semester, a gossip was going round, saying that one of the girls in the next class has proudly announced that she was finger-effed (please pardon the language, this is just for the sake of telling the story) by another classmate.

And i didnt know the F word. I didnt understand the concept. I didnt know what to make out of that piece of rumour flying about.

Almost every weekend, i would hear about some party somebody's throwing. But i was never invited, so it was never my concern. Heck, even if i was, my parents would not have allowed me to attend anything that involves dirty dancing at that tender age.

There were all kinds of people. 15 year old boys who drove Skyline to school, trying to provoke the seniors to race him. There were people making out in classrooms after school (so u really had to be careful upon entering any deserted rooms after hours). There were cliques like the ones you see in Hollywood movies depicting a typical American school. There were the handball team who went to tournaments dolled from top-to-toe in complete, matching Nike baby-Ts, pants and shoes (it seemed then as if Nike was the main sponsor for our team).

The opponent team often mocked our school with statements like 'ek eleh, ni nak main handball ke nak pergi model ni?' hahahahahah.

I vividly remember a particular Bahasa Malaysia class. The teacher was trying to explain 'kabus' but nobody seemed to understand what the word meant. Eventually, she went 'dont you guys know what fog is? Haaaa, that is what kabus means!' It was entertaining! All this while, ive been hearing about English teachers who has had to teach in Malay, and there i was, sitting in the midst of a reversed situation.

I was in the Entrepeneur Club, and there was this one project that we worked on where we make bracelets and sold them to raise money for the club. One time, i lost my pliers and couldnt complete a particular bracelet on time. The girl who ordered the bracelet then confronted me asking for the bracelet. I explained the situation to her, to which she practically shouted (in front of the entire class),

"Bitch!! I dont care if your pliers are missing! My bracelet was supposed to be done by now! Are you stupid, bitch?? Next time, if you cant follow through, dont attempt to start a business in the first place!!"

I was traumatized by that particular episode for years. These days, I could just laugh about it along with the person who terrorized me but back then, it was a bleak memory that petrified me to no ends.

Despite ALL of the stories i've just told you (and a lot more that i havent), i loved the school from the core of my heart. Apart from the random bitchiness, they were mostly pleasant people who was horrifyingly intelligent. A friend of mine, at the age of 13 wrote to the publisher of countless History books, pointing out facts and details that they have gotten wrong. She was in love with the Renaissance era and was reading Russian literature (she even tried to get me to read them too but it was a tad bit too heavy for me back then)

They were in general, open to opinions and they respect other people's views of the world. Heated discussions are inevitable but at the end of the day, you learn that you don't necessarily have to be right all the time. It is when you do not have any opinions that it becomes Hades for you.

All in all, being there gave me a wider perspective of life. It taught me to stand up to those who put me down and to have my own voice in stating opinions. I was taught to not be too much of an orthodox when it comes to assessing situations and that everyone is different in their own ways and the least you can do is respect that and simply agree to disagree.

Life in university was an even bigger shock for me. But lets save that story for another day, shall we? Penat lah type.