Archive for April, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Bon Voyage à Tous Les PF9

23 April 2012 
Rafflesia Hall, Esset, Bangi.

Left MFI at 8am to attend the convocation ceremony for the seniors – the Pre-France 9 students. Their flight to France is due tonight, with three final destinations – Aix-en-Provence for the mechanical engineering students, Toulouse for chemical and Nice for electrical. After almost two years of preparation classes, the time has come for them to leave Malaysia. Lucky guys.

I couldn’t imagine how proud the parents were(and still are!) of their France-bound children. I wish mine would be the same too, this time next year. Proud and delighted. And…if I could, I’d love to retain the exact same date – the 23rd of April, year 2013 that is, for our convocation day.

It would definitely be one of the sweetest, coolest, best-est birthday present ever! 😀
If only I could. Quelle belle vie.

On a side note, I was expecting to see the Dean of MFI but then I realised he’s currently away in one of these ASEAN countries, not sure which one. 😆

PostHeaderIcon Scholes Tackles!

The gingerman’s atrocious tackling is as well-acknowledged as his undoubted brilliant vision and passing. Everyone knows that, and it stays that way forever.

Never ever let one moment of pure luck deceive you. Understood? 😆

Just finished the second French test of the semester – let’s just hope for the best, okay?

PostHeaderIcon Tribute to Kak Za

“Why is Za so special to us? She cooked well, she was fast, she was  smart, she taught all my kids to read and write, and also taught them to read the Al-Quran! But most important of all, she just loved and adored the children” – Mama

My childhood, as far as I’m concerned, was kinda great. I do remember how small and cramped the terraced house was for the whole family, the eight of us. And for some time before I really woke up into life, there was this lady who helped my mum with all the housework, the chores, the meals, the laundry, and obviously all of us, as Nubleh once put it, six little bumbling kids.

Her name is Kak Za. Well, that’s what we call her. In fact, I have never known her real name. That, or I’ve just simply forgotten. The former, perhaps. “Kak Za” is short, sweet and loving enough for her. 😀

She was our domestic helper or maid, and much more than that. She was a part of us, of the family. Honestly, being so young back then, I can’t remember much about her, especially not in detail, of all the things she did for us and all that we’ve done together – heck I can barely remember my childhood. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, you know. I’m not even sure how long she stayed with us, from when until when I have no idea. Maybe she left just before the new millennium. What a pity, not being able to remember those sweet memories. But what I know is that she meant (and still means!) a lot to each and everyone of us.

And for that I was rather teary-eyed when I saw her pic with NiBokYi (an abbreviation of the three eldest kids who, plus Kona, were visiting her in Kelantan) on Facebook yesterday. She looked weak and frail, and terminally ill from cancer, she apparently doesn’t have much time left. Now I’m wondering whether I will ever see her again in or not. The last time I met her was several months ago (I think) during which she stayed at our house for a few days. I knew she wasn’t well, but I’d never thought it would come to this. How ignorant of me. 🙁

In my whole life so far I’ve never really experienced the loss of someone dear to us. Not as dear as Kak Za that is. A spoilt child, yeah? The very thought of it was what made me teary, sad. But that’s life of course. It’s just a matter of time – sooner or later.

I’m pretty sure she was delighted and proud to know just how well all of us have been coping with life since the day she left us. Appropriately, I just want everyone to know how great of a person she is, and more than a way, an inspiration. A truly fantastic woman.

Let’s hope her departure will be smooth and as painless as possible. Thanks for everything, Kak Za!

She was there the moment I actually discovered the nice smell of cooked rice! 😀

PostHeaderIcon On Both Sides of the Channel

The Normans cross the Channel to kick the Anglo-Saxons into shape for a 1000-year old career of annoying the French 

1000 Years of Annoying the French: Chapter 1.

Stephen Clarke‘s second non-fiction work delves deep into the history of the French and the Brits, as early as the ninth century, in a studious effort to explain the tension and partial hatred between the two that have existed for centuries; from where did they stem from, and why do they last for so long.

While highly ambivalent most of the history is, the Paris-based British author was determined to set the record straight and to give out the most balanced historical view, which, he explicitly stated, will irritate French people a lot all the same.

The first chapter focuses mainly on confuting the French claim that they were the last people to successfully invade the British Isles during the Norman Conquest of England, led by William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy. Clarke first pointed out that a Dutchman, William of Orange, did become the King of England, Ireland and Scotland in 1688, via a largely peaceful occupation, not as exciting an invasion as the one carried out by the other William before him.

Moreover, not many realise how not-french the Normans were, and that they actually originated from a group of frustrated Vikings, who, having failed to defeat King Alfred‘s England and as a result generated a huge amount of losses, opted to sail further south and raid inland, the area in the northern France. Which, apparently, was a much easier task, and they began settling down along the coast. Eventually the then King of France decided to give up a slab of territory to the Vikings through a treaty. The concerned region is now known as Normandy – the country of the Norsemen. Anyway, as Clarke put it:

…Normandy owed its existence to an Englishman who deflected invaders away from Britain and over to France. 😆

De plus, William the Conqueror was born out of the wedlock to Robert the Magnificent, a Duke of Normandy, and Heleve of Falaise. That points out two facts: he was not as French as the French might have wished for, and he was, excusez-moi, a bastard. People even called him William the Bastard (Guillaume le Bâtard) before he ruled the land on the other side of the channel.

Then came the English conquest. Much of the story revolving around the conquest is depicted by a 70-metre long embroidered cloth called the Bayeux Tapestry. It is, though, by no means a reliable source of history because it is believed to be commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s brother. Regarding this, Clarke likened it to a film about Iraq commissioned by ex-president of the US George W. Bush. How would that turn out to be eh?

While the tapestry is, without even the slightest of doubts, largely biased in favor of William and the Normans, there are little features of it that seem to undermine the Conqueror himself, which is why the Bayeux Tapestry is itself very much intriguing – no one really knows who was behind its creation. One example is the consistent reference to King Harold II of England (who is depicted as a brave man) as “Rex (King)” even during his final moments in the Battle of Hastings, after which England fell into the hands of William and co. Of course, you can find out more by doing little research on the net. 😀

“HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST” – Harold the King is Killed.

After winning the battle he almost lost, William embarked on a journey of pillaging and raiding the villages and cities en route to London for his coronation as the new King of England.

At the end of the first chapter Clarke even added that the Norman conquest was also linguistically important and significant in shaping the present-day English, the very language that the French people more or less despise.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Au fait, joyeux anniversaire to PIH! 😀

PostHeaderIcon Love for Birds #2

Same subject, written a long, long time ago.

Birds. I love ’em. I just do, no matter  how insignificant they are to most people.

A friend of mine once asked me, “…you just watch the birds, and you feel happy?”
Well, yes. A resounding yes. From the most ordinary mynas and tree-sparrows to the more exceptional, exotic ones in the vast rainforests, all of them. Even the supposedly filthy crows. The values that were instilled in my young, innocent mind over a decade ago have been firmly established. Love the birds. Love all of them.

White-bellied Sea-eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, and Asian Fairy-bluebird, three from my long list of favourite birds.

Unfortunately so far I have never found a friend who loves birds as much as I do, and while I did try to convert some of them to birdwatchers, all the effort was in vain. No one took me (and the birds, of course!) seriously, and they were in a way baffled as to why birds meant so much to me. I bet all my friends, new and old alike, still are. In the end, it’s always me and my wonderful family again, with binoculars and guidebooks in our hands, peering at our feathered friends together. 😆

In fact, it’s been a long time since the last time we had a serious birdwatching session – I’ve forgotten lots of birds details here! Names, habitats, appearances, sounds, they’re slipping away, little by little. Perhaps it’s time for me the pick up a guidebook and a binocular, and start birding like I used to again. Oh bien sur I will. Come on, let’s give some love to these lovely creatures! 😀