Sunday, June 26, 2011

Belated but better late than never

21 June 2011 – A friend and I attended “The Sound of Music” held in the KL Convention Centre. Here is my take on the performance :

Actors/Actresses (based on characters) :

Maria : The leading actress did a good job. It was a breath of fresh air to hear her singing the well-known songs that we all seem to know. She was convincing as Maria, a young lady who is finding her way in the convent and was asked to be a governess to 7 children. Her rapport with the 7 children was good. I enjoyed her voice. I enjoyed her seeming lack of confidence with her heart when she realized she was in love.

Captain Von Trapp : Christopher Plummer spoilt it for me. I cannot imagine a Capt VT who is any less severe and serious than Plummer’s version. Not that he did a lousy job. He actually did a good job. I enjoyed his singing, and I thought he looked handsome. But I just could not help thinking that his character lacks the oomph.

Elsa : She was beautiful and sang well. She looked a lot more pleasant than the character in the movie. Unfortunately I feel that her character was underdeveloped.

Max : Max is the family friend of the Von Trapps and Elsa. I do not particularly care for his acting and singing. I don’t know if it is the accent he was trying to fake or his voice that is almost growling. It was not very clear, especially during the first scene he appeared in. It got better along the way.

The children : I cannot have one commentary for every child. But I think the children did a great job overall. I still marvel at how a little child like Gretl (the actress, I mean) was taught and trained to perform in a musical that lasts 3 hours. Their acting and singing were wonderful. I do think, though, that Liesl is a little miscast. Perhaps it has to do with her being very tall and she looked a little gawky. But her singing was good. Everyone was generally good and did a marvelous job.

The stage / props :

The main backdrop is a very high, about 3 storey high backdrop which is used to depict the convent as well as the Von Trapps’ house. I like the fact that they were able to multi-use the backdrop, although at times it looked awkward.

As the convent or abbey, the focus was on the lowest level where the nuns would sing and chant, partially covered. The tree outside worked well as a place Maria would ‘hang out’. The elaborate staircase was used to run up to upper levels of the abbey when the nuns when looking for Maria.

As the Von Trapps’ house, the backdrop worked well as a 3 storey house. The ground level is where they changed the stage into a lounge area, Maria’s room, as well as outside the house. It was a little awkward that the tree was not moved as it was still there when it’s supposed to be inside the house, or even inside the abbey. The staircase was used as the main route to the upstairs rooms, etc.

The stage is actually not very big, hence, the problem of moving things about. I mean, compared to PGL which was held at Istana Budaya, this musical seems to be a little stagnant in terms of movement of props and even the cast members. The stage, though not wide, is very high. So the crew made full use of the height by constructing the 3-storey backdrop. Since they could not move much to the left and right, they moved UP.

The crew members who moved things about, I felt, was a little careless. There was quite a fair amount of noise when they dragged in some of the props in the dark. This could have been minimized with some oiling of the things, especially the heavier ones. That distracted the audience a fair bit.

For this opportunity to attend the opening night of the musical, I thank my dear friend, Rozida. Your misfortune became a blessing and a gift for me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Anti-semitism, anyone?

I am not promoting any anti-anything. Just a catchy title in the light of what I saw and heard in school today. To say I was angry would be an understatement. I was ready to start verbal diarrhoea with someone today.
I have never been one to have a very high opinion of all those penceramahs from somewhere else who come in to school to give talks to students or even teachers. All those fellows brought in by the counselling units - I have not had many good experiences listening to them. Most of them, I fear, were just there to earn some money off the school. They were there, wasting time because they had to justify how much they charged the school.
Well, today was no different. Well, maybe a bit different. The speaker today caused me to personally walk over to him and interrupt him and tick him off. That's a first, surely.
Many people wonder where our young children learn to be racist, to make racist comments, to over-generalise that people of a certain heritage are so-and-so. I tell you where. In school. Yes, in school. These people, so-called motivation speakers, so-called people-in-the-know, make untold comments about people of some races / religions / beliefs and say it is true. And they make our young kids think what they say is true.
How a speaker could come to our school hall and claim that all the GEJALA SOSIAL come from the BARAT & ORANG-ORANG YAHUDI is beyond me. How he can claim that KITA ORANG ASIA KAN ADA AGAMA DAN BUDAYA and insinuate that the western world did not, is something I wish I could personally ask him to explain. To claim TAU TAK, ORANG-ORANG YAHUDI NI BENCIKAN ORANG ISLAM, KRISTIAN, HINDU, BUDDHA DAN ADA SATU KONVENSYEN YAHUDI NAK MENGHAPUSKAN SEMUA ORANG NI is just plain unbelievable! I wish I could just call in someone and arrest him for making that kind of comments in front of 400-500 school children. Poisoning the minds of the young. Something that is so obviously biased and reek of racism and anti-semitism should NEVER be allowed in the school grounds.
Those who know me will know how I could not withstand that kind of people and comments. There was only one thing I knew I had to do. I had to undo the damage in one way or another. I marched to the front of the hall, interrupted him and asked him to not make untrue comments like that. He was probably shocked at the audacity of this woman. He insisted that it was not about religion since he said the same thing in a Chinese school the previous day. I told him it was not religion I was talking about. I told him what he said about the Jews were not true (should have said it was a LIE and he was propagating anti-semitic views) and therefore he should refrain from making those comments. All done in front of over 400 students and some colleagues. His response was, YOU RASA ITU TAK BETUL KE? OK TAKPE. I walked off after that. I could not take the smugness (I was told I had a smug look on my face too) from him. Just because he has spoken to many people in many halls and FELDA settlements, SO WHAT?
So I walked off. I refuse to have my blood pressure boil over this kind of people. I called my superior and told her what had happened. She was shocked and said she would go and speak to the man later. Told another superior too after that. She commented I had done the right thing. Most will not bother as we are all so CULTURED and do not like to make comments even when some people are so clearly wrong. Do I feel good about it? No. I wish that kind of comments on the Jews and the West had not come out instead.
It is so easy to blame one kind of people for all the sins and troubles of the world. I hope I don't ever meet this man again, especially if he is speaking to school children.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I am blessed

In many ways, I am blessed. Even when I complain and murmur about various things, I know that I am blessed. Although I often seem ungrateful when I whinge and whine, I actually am grateful. I have gone through too much to recognise the blessings amidst the tough times.
I am blessed with a family I love. I do not always enjoy them ... especially when I disagree with some of them, or when the kids fight and cause a ruckus, or when everyone takes me for granted (which happens quite frequently). But these people are the ones I will protect with my life.
I am blessed with a home. I am not a house proud person. My house is often in a mess. But it is not so much the house that makes it a home. It is the atmosphere, the feeling of being lived in that makes it a home.
I am blessed with a job, which is often not just a job. It is not a career, yet it is something much more. I am constantly reminded of my role in the lives of many people, of what it means to fulfill that role. I have not done all too well at times, but I don't think I have failed either.
I am blessed with friends and acquaintances who have, at one time or another, given me much joy. I hope they can say the same of me too.
There is much more for which I thank the Lord. And I do not thank Him enough. I need to remind myself daily how blessed I am. And learn to reduce the whinging and whining.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I am seriously tired. Physically tired as well as mentally and occasionally emotionally tired. Most of the tiredness is due to work, well, not the usual WORK work, but just all the things that need to be done.
For most of the week, starting from after my Chiang Mai trip, it was playing catch up with marking exam papers. Many wondered why I didn't try to finish marking before the trip. Well the answer is simple : I was too busy recovering from the tiredness from the period of preparing exam papers to all sorts of other WORK, and having D*starz compete in the NYD competition in Putrajaya (which we didn't win or get any prizes), then making sure they are okay for the cheer camp they eventually attended, and trying to spend time with my own children. All at the same time I was trying to complete marking my Literature paper.
It was tiring and the trip was something I wanted very much, just so I could GET AWAY from everything : work, responsibilities, and yes, even kids. Just for a few days. I know I sound like a terrible mother, but I needed the trip to get back the ME I seem to be losing. And once I came back, it was almost non-stop work, trying to complete the marking of papers in the fairest of manner. Some people mark really fast. I don't, well, not as fast anymore. I get tired easily. My eyes get watery really fast. And I try not to rush through the marking process so that I am fair to my students. Of course, my children who were on holiday also demanded my attention. How was I to neglect them when I neglect them enough during the school semester itself?
So school has started for a week and I scrambled like a mad woman trying to do everything and complete everything FAST! It didn't help that I now have to work out paper work for Cheer Club / the cheer teams and manage their finances now that cheer season is here.
Tshirts, CHARM membership forms, C3 forms, C3 fees, coaching fees owing, uniform money, claims, transportation issues, being with the girls during practices and competitions .... the list goes on. I have just come back from the SOX competition. I am disappointed that the junior team did not get a better placing. I can only see us ahead of the two new teams from the south. I thought we did better. But then, what do I know? I chose not to know. On one hand I was annoyed the coach did not help to prepare them for this competition. I know he wanted to focus on another competition, but they needed something of a smaller scale as a preparation for bigger competitions. If he had helped with a few things, I know the girls would have had a better placing. (Kayna, if you are reading this, I do not want you to repeat it to you-know-who) Well, it is too late to regret or be upset, so we just have to move on and look forward to the next competitions.
There is so much more of work ... WORK that is coming my way. So much of it is actually paper WORK and I am not looking forward to any of the paper WORK! Least of all is the one that is absolutely unnecessary but some people just want it done.
I am tired. Yes .... and I feel guilty. Because I often place WORK above my family. Not good. Not by choice most of the time but ... it happens.
I am tired. I shall try to rest now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chiang Mai

Thailand is known as a land of beautiful girls and lots of smiles. It is a beautiful country. I have not seen much of it but at least this is the third time I am in Thailand. From 5th to 8th June, I was in Chiang mai with 3 other ladies from my Cell Group. We basically went to have a holiday away from the family. It was a holiday to relax and rejuvenate.
I find Chiang mai different from Bangkok which I visited in 2008. It is also different from Haadyai which I visited in 1993.
Chiang mai, I find, is simpler. The traffic is not as heavy. The place is just different. The people, however, are just as beautiful and as friendly as ever. I encountered some really nice Thai people during those few days.

The photo above is taken from my room window. I was on the 22nd floor. Looking out of this window, we could see the hill that separates Thailand and Myanmar. The mist can be seen surrounding the hill sometimes.
This is Le Meridien Hotel. It is opposite the hotel I was staying in. But it is right outside my other window. Thought I'd take a picture of it.

This is my room. Rather nice actually.

Thought I'd add this photo. It is taken at a quaint cafe called Love at First Bite. Lots of cakes that look simply delicious. Tasted delicious too.
Thailand is a lot about food. This was not the main thing we all ate. We had lots of food. Just no time to upload the appropriate photos. However, I had time to upload these of me and some elephants though.

The naughty elephants (and their mahouts, actually), disturbed me when taking photos. It was a little scary when three elephants used their trunks to "pat" me.

Something impressed me. Their very clean toilets almost everywhere I went. This toilet is at the Elephant Camp. It is sooooooo very clean. Smelled wonderful too, as they used lemon grass aroma oil in the burner. I wonder when Malaysians will have that kind of mentality to keep the public toilets really clean.

I will try to blog about the 3 days we were there. Too tired to recall and blog now. Will update soon.