Flashbacks, Malaysia, Numbers

Nineteen & Thirty

I left my home town, Lahad Datu, when I was nineteen years old to pursue higher education. It was not a pleasant experience but it was necessary.

After returning from the United States and spending half a decade living and working back in Lahad Datu, I took leave again at age thirty. My second departure was less painful. And at the back of my mind, I was aware that I might never return ‘home’ to stay.

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Belgium, Flashbacks, Malaysia

Floods

The south east part of Belgium had endured some serious floods in the past days. So serious that it had cost more than 30 lives and enormous material damages.

Yesterday, it rained heavily again and parked cars were flunked around like rubber duckies in a bathtub.

Having lived in a tropical country, I am very aware of the danger and damage floods can cause. I feel sorry for these people who are at their wits’ end. Experience tells me that the floods are just the beginning of their troubles. When water roars through places that it is not suppose to be, it brings along many issues.

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Flashbacks, Malaysia

Annie & Siti

When I entered primary one at a local Chinese medium school in the mid-late 1970s, I only know how to speak in Cantonese and Indonesian Malay, which I have learned from my parents’ housekeeper. Because I cannot communicate with my Mandarin and Hakka speaking Chinese classmates, I gravitated and hung out with two Malay girls named Annie and Siti. If I still remember this correctly, they told me that they are sisters (not twins) born in the same year.

After a few months, as my local languages improved and my network of school friends expanded, the time I spent with Annie and Siti became shorter and shorter. My last memory of them was their surprised expressions when they found out that I have a Christian name. And that was in primary five when we were all registered to take our national examinations.

I have no contact nor any news regarding Annie and Siti after primary school. I should ask around. Some of my other primary school classmates might know. I am never known for making up imaginary friends, please let Annie and Siti be real people…

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Flashbacks, Malaysia

Spell Check

Two days ago, I sent a news article to a friend in Japan. She informed me that a software immediately translated the Dutch texts into Japanese, and that she had no problem understanding the article. Part of me was glad that the language barriers are low these days. That people do not have to go through too much trouble to share and understand information that are presented in foreign languages. But part of me is a bit sad that we do not have the need to learn each other’s languages.

When I was in my first year of college in Malaysia, I had an instructor who taught communication. The man cannot spell, even if his life had depended on it. One day during our lesson, a frustrated classmate spoke up and asked the instructor how he ever got through school and life when he never bothered with his spellings. The instructor shamelessly uttered two words: Spell check.

There you go. Computers, smart phones, AIs… We no longer need our brains?!

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Business & Creativity, Flashbacks, Malaysia, Numbers

Thirty & Fifty

In the year 2000, I bought a 21-year life insurance savings policy. It was a financial gift and commitment I gave myself in commemoration of my 30th birthday. My financial objective then was for this policy to reach maturity in the year I turn 50, thus becoming my birthday gift for the second time. 🙂

Today, I received the maturity sum in my bank account.

Two decades went by really quickly.

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Belgium, Flashbacks, Malaysia, Travels

Walk, Bike, Bus & Train

For most of my life and in all the places I have lived in, I have been dependent on the car for transportation. The only place that I did not need a car was San Francisco, and the reason is because I lived in the city and can walk to most places. Also, one can rely on the public transportation in most US cities.

Not in Malaysia though. Our public transportation system was downright shameful. Well, at least that was the case when I relied on the buses to get to school in the 90s when I lived in Kota Kinabalu. Public transportation did not exist in my home town when I lived there – and probably still not?!

The Belgians complain a lot about their existing public transportation. But for me, I have walked, biked, took the buses and trains in the past decade more than I ever did my entire life.

When one grew up in a third world country, one appreciates the freedom and security that public transportation in a peaceful and developed country such as Belgium.

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Flashbacks, Malaysia, Travels

I Miss Flying

I miss long distance travels. *insert big sigh here*

In the past decade, my trips back to Malaysia were more than just tropical vacations. These trips were often coupled with some ongoing projects I have been working on remotely, to be concluded back home.

Even my trips to the United States are more than just carefree holidaying, because I always seem to have some matters I need to take care of.

Despite the unpleasantness of air travels, I do miss flying?!

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Flashbacks, Food & Drinks, Malaysia, Numbers, Simplify

Hup Toh Soh

Today, I decided to use up some of the raw walnuts that I have stored in the refrigerator since last October. In keeping to the Chinese New Year theme, I made two jars of Chinese walnut cookies (hup toh soh), and a jar of candied walnuts. Admittedly, these are not the CNY snacks my family used to make back home in Malaysia. Walnut is not a common food item, and definitely not cheap, if available. Regardless of my past, I am a person who adapts to my surroundings, and can effectively handle the cards I have been dealt with in life. So far…

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Flashbacks, Human Nature, Malaysia

Assimilation

I grew up in the 70’s spending a great deal of time playing with half Indians and half Filipinos cousins. My parish priests were Irish, Italian and Dutch. My classmates and teachers were made up of the three main racial groups in Malaysia. Diversity and the sometimes difficult racial mix was a way of life for me. I did not and do not care a hoot about being “Chinese”.

Placing and identifying yourself as one sort of people is rather ludicrous. It is counter-nature, counter-intelligence, and counter-survival.

Why do you think Covid-19 is wreaking such havoc worldwide? The damn virus adapts and mutates into different variants in different areas of the world. In doing so, it bypasses immunities, vaccines and keeps on infecting and killing people regardless of skin colours.

Assimilation is key. “Resistance is futile”, and possibly painful…

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Malaysia

Unsung Malaysian Hero

While reading some online articles, I came across a person named Wu Lien Teh. What a life!

Even though I am okay learning about courageous ‘parang’ waving heroes, who stood up to the white colonizers; the story of the likely inventor of the predecessor of face mask N95, should not be silenced. Dr. Wu Lien Teh should be in our history books, so that Malaysian students may learn and be inspired by his life and work.

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