Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guarding The Curious Minds

Curious children will eventually find means and ways to bypass age requirements in virtual worlds that may contain violent or explicit content.

Many virtual worlds are for adults 18 year old and above.
But the posted age requirement is no barrier in stopping kids and curious teenagers to find their various accidental ways or otherwise.
Will the exposure of violence or sexually explicit material directly risked the children to disturbing behaviour? That's the question with the inclination of more 'yes' than 'no'.
The anonymity that avatars provide can encourage tween and teens to 'act out':
- A great passageway to automatically considered the most appropriate step to these curious minds.
Hope not, its the passport to simulated activities or violence.

Virtual worlds provide 3D environments for users to interact with one another in real time.
In no wasted time, these curious children will create avatars of themselves.
For heaven sake, we are responsible provider of our children's healthy environment.
Before unhealthy obsession creeps into our children's life, let us do our best.
In ensuring our children's best upbringing, spare some times to be in their world.
Check their visits to online worlds.

Hoping government will impose strict 'family policies' in protecting these children's growing years.
Companies behind these sites, please do more.
More age screening mechanisms to prevent our children from fraud registrations.               

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Losing The Human Essence

A guy, standing in the sardine-packed MRT with his feet firm to the floor but his head buried in a hand-held screen.

Most likely he will still be in his stationary position - Even when the train switch track or stop for outgoing and incoming passengers.
Most likely he's not aware of himself being accidentally knocked at or he knocked at others - It is as if nothing ever happened.
He's in his own world - Do not expect an apology - Just move away from him.

Technology has drawn many users and dependents entangled in its web - At home, doing office-work, while walking down the streets, waiting for train, in between meal, everywhere except the physical world.
Trees, lush greens, babies, advertisements and grand landmarks are camouflaged by almost all evolving device and apps.

This 'symptom', retreating oneself from the natural world is fast becoming pandemic - It is most evident in our own home, neighbourhood and society at large.
Has technology change the human essence?
Will information be solely depended on the Internet?
Will our ways of thinking and flows of idea be programmed then?

With roughly 1/3 of our lives spent interacting with screens - Be it computer, tv, handphone or devices, we are all stepping into becoming digital zombies, partnering with digital technology which we depend on and will eventually determine our lives (See one's reaction when losing just a small phone).

If... One day, by GOD's will, every computer system go bust, catastrophic?
Will humans blame themselves for being too dependent on it?

Can we then, walk upright and realised how we've lost touch with the real world? 


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Unseen Mighty Citizens

My husband and I were on our way to Lorong 39 Geylang on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year last Sunday when we stopped by Admiralty Road An-Nur Mosque to have our Maghrib.

The mosque was unusually crowded with Indian nationals or people from that region. Many Indian mothers, with children tagging along, performed their prayer - I asked myself what's so special about this Chinese New Year Day?

The 'maulid' session at Madrasah Al-Ma'arif ended at around 10.30pm. On our way home, we made a stop at Banafe opposite Hotel New York to have our usual take-away 'Nasi Ayam Penyet' (We've tried many places, except for the 1 in Pelita, Batam, no other 'penyet' beat this).

"Kak, ayam, ikan semua haaabiiis... Tinggal daging saja." Unbelievable - It's only past 11pm. Normally we can get chicken and fish even at 2am - I asked myself what's so special about this Chinese New Year Day?               

As we headed home, the sight of many cars being washed along Jalan Abdullah Tahir with their owners and families waiting, caught my attention - Sooo, these Indians are the people that made this Chinese New Year Day so special...

Only during long holiday as this Chinese New Year will then bring the observant foreign Indian Muslims closer to the mosque.
Only during long holiday as this Chinese New Year will then bring the Indian families together venturing out further from home for food.
It's only this long Chinese New Year holiday that the industrious Malaysian Indians working in Singapore managed to shower their car - A break from the madness of the Johore Causeway.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Repayment

The Chinese lady, Doreen, asked me if my mother could make frequent visit to her church, where she volunteers, which is just behind my mother's block. She pitied Mariam who's now the only Malay, most of the time, for her mornings gathering since her husband's leg was amputated. There's nothing to fear, she said. Halal food is ordered from nearby stalls if any Muslims are around.

Mariam and her husband used to drop by the church daily around 10am where they have their breakfast, mingled with nearby elderly residents, mostly Chinese, who have their daily breakfast there too, engaging in talks, karaoke or games and leave after lunch, around 2pm.

"We must make our elders active and engaging." Doreen said enthusiastically.

Well, that's not my mother's kind of life. She likes being alone with visits from children, grand-children, friends and relatives. Although bell is ringing loud that the elderly should not be staying alone, she's not bothered at all. She has books - Many, many books as companion. She completed the Quran, too, every few weeks.

Time and again my nephew, a medic, would relate to her how he encountered numerous lonely elderly's deaths island-wide - She insisted she's all well.     

Work fatigue is a blessing in disguise for Doreen. She realised many things are missing in her life. She may have her condo and going to work in power-suits  but she did not want to leave this world on her director's chair without enjoying the fruit of her labour and sharing it with others.
She took a long leave searching her soul that was long lost in the corporate world. She came back as a new Doreen, highly spirited.

She said her opportunity to fine her Mr Right had sailed away. She missed the relationship-boat due to work commitment that had rob away her eligible age.
She sold her condo to stay with her brother, give a helping hand to look after her cousins in order to be near to children and is now a church volunteer organising events for those elderly, in repayment of being too tied up with work when her parents needed her most during their old age and worst still, she's not there on their death-bed.

That's the regret in her life that she will always bear on her shoulder.         



Monday, February 8, 2010

Pity The Carless Ummie

Relatives and friends whom I occasionally met or accidentally bumped into, whenever moving around by myself in Singapore, would be surprised to know I commute between Singapore and JB by means of public transport.

"Why Ummie? Cars in Malaysia is sooo cheap. Go and get 1 now..."


"You don't have a driving licence? Learning to drive in Malaysia is sooo blardy cheap..."

Well, my husband did teach me driving -
Around ... Chinese cemetery area.

Best lesson learnt - Never ask your spouse to be your driving instructor and he believes I can never be a driving licence holder.

- I feel a sense of eeriness every time seeing big vehicles such as cement mixer with glaring big wheels.

- I have many friends with driving licence who fear the road.

- I have seen how many others scrimp and save (sometimes up to the stage of being stingy to oneself) just to have a car.

Excuses aside, I honestly enjoy Singapore's world's best, cheapest and cleanest public transport. It's reliable too, because its arrival is stated at the bus stops.

- Bus fare in Singapore costs me from as little as 19 cents (Yes, that's very,very true - I alight from my MRT ride at Bishan then take a 19-cent bus ride which is as far as 5 bus-stops that will take me to my mother's house.
The bus ride is the most convenient as I alight at the bus stop which is just behind her block.

- Two Singapore Bus Service (SBS) rides from Larkin Terminal to my mother's house which is roughly 30 kilometres away costs me around S$2.40 (It used to be S$1.90).

- There's fare rebates (around 50 cents) in between bus rides - The lapse of timing is up to 30 minutes. Enough time for me to attend a wedding invitation and go to another.    

Bus fare home in JB costs me RM1.80 - A 6 bus-stop ride away from City Square.

- But I would rather take a cab from Larkin market as bus drivers in JB are good hearted drivers - Often waiting for bus to be full before making its move or when there's traffic policemen on duty.

- I have many taxi drivers neighbours. You know, it's a very good feeling knowing whose pocket your RM goes to.

- I rarely move around by myself in JB. 

Maybe not having a family car is indeed, hereditary.
- Ask my husband why he's not buying one.
Answer is, he'd rather add another van to the already existing vans he has if the need arise - Car to him is more of a liability that depreciates in value whereas van is money generating transport. 

- My daughter, prior to having her driving licence, had warned both her 'emak' and 'ibu' (my sisters) never to expect her owning a car -She's driving a University Malaya (UM) rental car for her fortnightly research and fieldwork trip in Kedah.

As she was told by her prof, future car after her PhD ( God willing. She is always  a strong-willed person ) would mean to have it often parked at the airport.

- She always looks upon my architect brother as a good example in fulfilling her ambition in study and leading a more meaningful life.
Yes, not only my architect brother doesn't know how to drive, he doesn't even know how to cycle - He walks daily to his office in Raffles Place from Selegie.

But, just last week my son, who is currently taking his driving licence, was talking about car.
What will my husband say this time?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Big Little Red Dot

"Kak, boleh tunjuk arah ke Sentosa?" A young Chinese man seemed lost for direction in hot mid-afternoon.

"You sudah salah naik bas. Bas ini pegi Singapore." Sentosa to me is a place along Jalan Tebrau in JB.

"Yelah. Pulau Sentosa diSingaporekan?" Fortunately the young man could not read my mind.  

"O... Sentosa tu jauh." I wasn't sure myself how to go there. The first and last time I was there was during the late 90s.

"Tapi Singapore sebuah pulau kecil sahajekan? Naik 1 saje bas mane-mane pergi pun tak sampai satu hari sahaje."
So this is what the young man from Genting Highlands was made to believe. The almost 2 and a 1/2 times exchange rate of the Singapore dollar had led his strong willpower to travel to Singapore, for the first time, all alone by himself.

Not sure how to go about it, I accompanied him from Larkin Terminal right up to Woodland's Interchange, passed him to the officer-in-charge of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).

He was hesitant to be left there with so many parked buses and buses in operation - Not 'satu bas sahaje.'
I could not show him the way to Sentosa as I have matters to attend and, I do not know how to reach there. I pitied him for being  too naive  - He's still working at Genting and on his day off, and I doubt if he can be back to Genting that very night.     

As usual, what I can do is to pray that everything will turn out fine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

HE Who Reveals The Unknown

As I stepped into the reception area of the dental clinic in Larkin Perdana yesterday, 'the doctor', with a girl's mother were persuading the girl to have her teeth checked.
The preschooler was traumatised by power failure while undergoing the previous check. 'The doctor' assured her that everything will turn out fine - Power surge had cost the clinic more than ten thousand ringgits in equipments that need change. She had complained to Tenaga. I've no idea which power interruption she was referring to - Just too many  incidences.

Is that 'the doctor' who transformed her beautiful hairdo to completely cover it up and her once doll-up face to just light powder and lip gloss after her 2006 haj as was told by my husband? I guess so.
The hair cover-up and almost makeup-free face totally changed her outlook. I did not recognise her as she stood inside the reception counter while putting up with the small girl's tantrum. 

"Ummie, it's been a long time since I last saw you. How's life?" 'The doctor' asked in a very, very friendly tone. Now, I recognised her as I entered the dental room.

"Phobia." The word just blurted out.

Even though the clinic at Larkin Perdana is a family clinic, I insisted of changing to another doctor. My husband assured the doctor had changed since 2006 but I thought it was only physical appearance.

I was adamant of not wanting her service again. My refusal led me to call Dr Tay whom I used to visit when I stayed around town, only to find out that the doctor attends to patients only in the morning.
Then my husband sent me to Dr Hasanah and quickly drove away for his already late appointment. As I moved closer to the gate, a notice was put up that stated the clinic is closed for a month!
I did not give up hope and walked over to another dental clinic a few doors away and... The doctor will attend to patients, this time, only after 5pm.

After 3 failed attempt to change doctor, I had to admit God still wanted me to go to Larkin Perdana. My husband made his u-turn with his "There, I told you so..."        

"Ok its ok. You are here whenever you want to go for your haj. I can see that you are going again this year?" The doctor's soft tone really melt me.

Maybe this is the statement God wants me to hear.

Yes, I've been thinking hard about it these past days. I longed to be there again. But definitely not haj. I have to be fair to those first timer waiting patiently in the long queue. Maybe umrah Ramadhan. The last 2002 Ramadhan spent in the Holy Place left a great determination in me that the next time will be a month, God willing.

So my husband is right. She has changed - Not just appearance, but her tonation and choice of words too. I used to know her as a person who has 'authority' in her body language and command of words. Now everything is history.


As the doctor was about to finish attending me, my handphone rang.

"Oh my, that's Sudais isn't it?" She lowered her face, focused on the Quran recitation by the Grand Imam in Masjidil Haram till it ends.

"Ummie, I say it again, you are nearer there than here." She said, and grasped my arm, hard.

Yes, my husband is definitely right. Her 2006 haj had defintely transformed her physically, socially and spiritually.