Friday, March 28, 2008

Jewish Mothers

Prof William Nicoll from Florida Atlantic University,USA, came to give a talk at our language centre. He is an expert in counseling and his two hour talk was both entertaining and inspiring. He taught us about how students can be so manipulative. Very often, we lecturers get sucked in to their schemes.

However, what I remembered most about him was his story about Jewish mothers. A typical Jewish mother would buy for her son two identical white shirts. She would tell him to wear one of them the next time he visits. So like any good Jewish son, he wore one of the identical white shirts when he visited her next. What did she do? She looked up and said, "What is wrong with the other shirt? You don't like it?"

Sounds familiar?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My two 'cucus'

My two 'cucus' came for tea last Sunday. Dhania is 2 plus and Dalilah is 9 months old. Their father Dzul was my foster son who lived with me throughout his college years till he started working. He (finally) moved out when he got married.
The whole family will visit me once or twice a month. When they come, my living room will be a playground. They usually come for tea, (goreng pisang and putu piring, Dzul's favourite) and will stay for dinner. We usually have dinner outside. While eating, Dzul, Nurul (the mother) and I will take turns taking care of the two girls. Dhania now, will be happy if you give her something to draw. She will keep her self busy drawing. I always have some crayons stashed at home.
They will be moving to their new house soon at Denai Alam. I am so proud of Dzul. When he first came to live with me me, he was a typical rebelious young boy who worshiped Kurt Corbain. We had our problems. One of our biggest disagreement was about music. He was into grunge music and I am a Sharifah Aini and Uji Rashid fanatic. When I played my songs in the car during our travels he would hang his head outside the window. When he played his song, I got instant migraine. Some how or rather we managed, he got his degree and went on to do his MBA. Now he is an Asst. manager at Hei Tech Padu in charge of CRM. For an alumni of SM Jalan Cochcrane, he has done well. He is also a great father to the two girls.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Boss

The first time we spoke, it was over the phone. I was looking for a part-time job, and she was the Dean of the Language Centre. She was business like and polite.

She told me that I was a couple of weeks late as she had already hired some part-timers. Still she asked me to e-mail her my resume. A few days later she called to ask if I would consider a full time position in the coming semester. I said that it would be wonderful.

I never thought that this invitation would lead me back to my former career, which is teaching English in a university.

Lynne Norazit was born in England but moved to Australia at the age of sixteen. She married the Late Professor Norazit and made Malaysia her home. She is smart, warm, hospitable, and can be very funny at times. Her English upbringing comes across clearly when she works. She is precise, clear and upfront about matters. But she is the brassy Australian and the hospitable Malaysian when she is off her work mode and invites you for tea in her office. Her infectious laughter resonates clearly at the office in early evenings when she is winding down from her hectic schedule.

Having a conversation with her is almost like hearing the Reader’s Digest stories. She has vivid memories of her growing up days in England which include Cliff Richard and devouring scones by the beach in Brighton. Now she enjoys afternoon tea but with ‘karipap’ and ‘seri muka’. Next she will mesmerize you with stories of her late father in the Australian navy. Her mother ,who lives in Melbourne, Australia, is the focus of her life and Adam, her first grandson or “cucu” is the love of her life. She surprised me initially when she used Malay words like “songlap” and “ngorat”. She has acclimatized to the local jargons, thanks to her two sons.

As an academician, she is trained as a linguist. Linguistic is her forte and her passion. When she discusses this subject, you will know that she knows her stuff well. As an administrator, she is very considerate. One of her administrative staff, who is a new mother, commented that she is such an understanding superior. It is so good to have a woman as a boss because she understands the stress and demand of a professional woman who is also a wife and a mother. She went through it herself in her early days working in University Malaya.

Associate Professor Lynne Norazit is the Director of the Centre for Languages and General Studies at UNITAR. She is now my boss.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Special Student

There is something about Mary!

It was my second day at work in my new workplace which is a university. It has been a while since I worked in an academic environment. I was excited and happy to be back in a familiar surrounding. Classes, assignments, reading text, library and students are now the terminologies that are coming back to me. After almost a decade in a corporate environment, I realize that my calling is the academia. Students are my source of inspiration and I want to do what I do best, and that is teaching. I am a happy and a contented man. I am living my dream.

My course leader Far, short for Farah, came smiling to my room and announced that I will be getting two interns who will shadow me doing my lecturing. They are TESOL students who needed to do their practicum. I was excited and was looking forward to share my experience and to be a mentor to them. I want to inspire them. I have great plans for my interns.

Karla came earlier, she is young, beautiful and was full of life. We waited a while for my second intern to arrive. The glass door opened and Mary walked in. There is something about Mary! She is not like other students on campus. She is special.

Mary is in her final year. She started her degree in 2005 and she hopes to graduate in August this year. She told me that she is looking forward to her convocation in December this year. She goes around on campus carrying a big blue knapsack. In it, she carries her writing stuff, umbrella, tissues, snacks, and books minus the kitchen sink. It is big and has everything that she needs as a student. She wears round metal glasses that make her look scholarly and she ties her long hair in a pony tail. Yes she sounds like a typical hardworking student, right? Well she is in no way typical. Mary is in a league of her own.

You see, Mary is sixty one this year.

Mary went back to school to pursue her dream of becoming an English teacher when she was fifty-eight. She tried to be a teacher in 1968 but could not get into teaching college. So she worked for thirty-five years and after retiring as an administrator in the civil service she used her gratuity money to finance her education.

There is something about Mary that I admire. We have something in common. We both know what we want in life. We want to be teachers. We are both lucky to be in UNITAR.

Moral of the is never too late to live your dreams...

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have just watched AF 6. A bit confused. First 3 students are out but Yana is the one who is out finally. Poor Yana. I really thought that the nasyid singer should be out. No voice, no style and nothing, nothing worth remembering.

AC is trying really hard but I miss Aznil. Well it is only the first concert.

Before I forget, Saida looked great! If only she has more confidence. I like her. I like her a lot!

Ning was great too. Very good comments. Precise and straight to point. A true professional.

Love Ogy's outfit. So ala ala Chanel. This is one lady who knows her stuff well. You go girl!

My first online entry

I am now in Taiping. Sitting at the family dining table. I have just created my blog with the help of my good buddy Ramdhan. We had a a great dinner at Kamal Lodge at the foot of Bukit Larut. The service was slow but the food was glorious. My Mom and Dad really enjoyed themselves. I am so blessed to be able to be with them. It has been raining the whole day. Taiping was at its best, wet and cool. I love my hometown.