Wednesday, December 01, 2010


What happened on the last week of semester would be a week I would remember for a long time to come. A group of students from Wiltshire, England came to KY for a week under the 'Leadership Conference' sponsored by HSBC. It was a program that transcended borders, religions, skin colours and age. As cliche as it sounds, it's true. We walked away from it, more alive than ever with new knowledge being gained and new friendships being forged.

We went to see bits and pieces of Malaysia; Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur and Pangkor . The Wiltshire students experienced a pretty big part of KY as well by being involved in some of the end of semester activities. From the Diwali Night to Christmas Party to End-of-Semester dinner as well as the epic basketball friendly match. We all had a taste of what each other had to offer.

And the people were just amazing. There was a nice blend of good humour, intelligence, sincerity and kindness in this group of people. And we were all just blessed to have had the chance to get together for a week.

A little note on each one of the Wiltshire peeps.

ESTHER. You're a beautiful girl who came to Malaysia with an attitude that I highly respect. You were determined and excited on trying on the different Malaysian foods and drinks, getting to know more of our local cultures and mingling well with the people in KY. I remember giving you the tour around the Islamic Art Museum and I was impressed by your keen interest on the Islamic and Malay culture that was on display. Made you all the more easy to talk to :)

VICKI (in the similar flowery maxi dress). Going shopping with you in Central Market and hanging out on the sandy Pangkor beach were probably one of the best moments we had together. You have such a good sense of humour and a bucket load of excitement and smiles. Make sure you're there to host me when I come around your town, someday =D

IMOGEN. Your laughters still ring through our ears. I've not seen anyone who could laugh as hard as you do! The sincerity and love of your friendship could clearly be felt and you're a dear friend we would all miss. Especially Zack!

ROSIE. You seem very quiet at first but behind all that quietness, there's that lovely girl who has the heart of gold. Your pretty hair-dos made the girls turned awe in envy. Please oh please, get yourself on Facebook so we can catch up on each other every day.

ROBYN. You have such an amazing voice! I love hearing you sing on the bus trips with the rest. You first struck me as Kelly Osbourne's doppelganger. Coupled with your bubbly personality, you've become someone so lovable. You're a good source for gossips too. Hehe ;)

EMILY. I loooveee your bohemian fashion sense. You're a bubbly girl as well and it's hard not to get along with you in a short period of time. Make sure you come back to Malaysia sometime soon.

BETH (in pink, on the left). Ohh, your non-stop chitter chatter and excitement kept us going for the whole week. It made me laugh every time you broke into never-been-heard-before songs like 'Chicky Chicken' and others (which I can't remember the names now). And missy, you need to get yourself on Facebook too!

VICKY (in white t-shirt). Vicky with the Y! I like how daring and spontaneous you can be sometimes. Your profile photo with you kissing the fish head cracks me up! I just wish I had spent more time with you to get to know you better. Next time, perhaps :)

ELEANOR. There's this harmonious relation between beauty and brains in yourself. Definitely so much more than just a pretty face. Go on and become a genius in the Science world so you can prove to everyone it's possible to be both; beautiful AND smart.

ALICE. You're such a talented musician. I wish you would have played the violin for us during your stay in Malaysia. And you're so sweet and adorable too! I wish you all the best in whatever you're doing. Next time you're here, make sure you play us some tunes okay?

LAUREN. You're a girl with a big heart. You probably had a rough life judging from the bits of stories you told us. But you turned out better than anyone in your situation would and that is definitely something to be proud of. Keep on going strong, girl!

TIMOTHY. Tim, oh Tim. You're so funny and full of expression! Your rendition of 'Telephone' is the best I've seen so far. You're different, stay that way. The world doesn't need another plastic around :)

BEN (the one being turned into a sand angel). Goofy. The first impression I had of you. I think that tall wizard hat you wore on the first night helped with the impression. Your jokes while at times were awkward, still made us laugh. Thank you for your goofiness :)

ETHAN. You can be a little too quiet sometimes but we still enjoyed your company throughout the week. We've found our version of Justin Bieber right about here. Do the Bieber flip!

WILL. It's a wonder how does a 17 year old know so much about a lot of things. I enjoyed our intellectual group discussions and you astounded me with the maturity of your thoughts. You look like someone who could end up on Downing Street one day. We shall keep an eye on that.

RHYS. What a cool, funny guy you are. It was such a pleasure working with you and I like how you are up-to-date on the current issues. Made conversations and discussions easier to flow between us. Thumbs up for that!

GREG. That 'Na na na na....Shifty!' tune has been stuck in the head for quite some time now. Thanks to you! But otherwise, you're a nice guy with a lot of wonders. Like a few others, I wish I had more time to get to know you better. More reason for you to come back next year then :)

CHRIS. You made talking about weather and snow a lot less dry and boring. You seem like a funny guy and I shall remember that cowboy hat you always put on. Keep me updated with the snow news there while I keep myself warm with the awesome hot Malaysian weather here ;)

And some photos from the week. In no particular order.

Farewell dinner at Headmaster's bungalow on the last night. Tears and songs accompanied our goodbyes.

Wet times on the beach in Pangkor.

Team Seamaster! Niesh, Will, Rhys and I.

Our topic of presentation: Overpopulation

Jumping high! With Qeela and Zack.

The whole gang at the Dutch Fort, Pangkor.

I love our bright pieces of clothing. Imogen and Vicki.

The climb up to the BOH Tea Plantation. Wasn't an easy one!

The Wiltshire basketball team

They played well against KYUEM

And ended up with such scores. Whooppss!

Enjoying the lush green view of Cameron Highlands

A trip to the Islamic Art Museum, Kuala Lumpur.

Queuing up for KFC On Wheels. So cool okayy! I never had my chicken directly from a lorry/truck before.

A shot before we went shopping around KLCC

Esther getting into the local culture by eating with her hands.

Diwali Night in KY.

Babes on the beach ;)

Showing off the biker henna tattoos they had from Diwali Night. Shifty Greg, Eleanor, Will, Rhys and Chris.

Cultural Performance brought directly from Wiltshire, England.

A photo-op with Cameron Highlands in the background.

We parted ways, wondering if our paths will ever cross again. Surely they will, one day. And if they didn't, there were these beautiful memories we had together to keep the paths lighted up. Till next time, peeps! :)


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Maths Anxiety

Maths and I never got along well. We're like peanut butter and tuna. Or Russell Brand and Katy Perry. I always made it known how I prefer to write 4 pages of essays then solve a page of mathematical questions. Mhhm, true fact.

My semester report by the teachers came in recently and Mr Alderson's comments summarized my relationship with Maths so poignantly. This was what he had to say:

" Zafirah seems to have a double battle facing her in this subject. One is the problem that all students face; understanding the mathematical ideas and applying them correctly to solve problems. The other battle is one of confidence and belief that she can indeed do this subject."

One of the other Maths teachers did say my real problem was not that I couldn't understand the theories of Maths but it's a psychological problem. A mental block that I have where I would try to block Maths in my mind and grow into despising it so greatly. Uh oh. If they had fears of heights, snakes and crowded areas, why not fear of Maths eyh?

That wouldn't be so much of a problem if I had stayed on to do Law. But an Economics degree particularly at university level requires a GREAT deal of Mathematics, it's not something that I can run from. So, the only thing left for me to do to survive my next 5 years would be to actually start 'loving' the subject.

To welcome it into my life, to embrace, to spend more quality-time with it and to love it so dearly in my heart. Basically, I would have to get rid of this mental block in me and see Maths as another fun, interesting subject like History and Economics.

I guess...

Ughh, I need to go to a shrink. And solve more Maths problems outside of class. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

In Loving Memory of Syazwan Asyraf

My previous post was about Syazwan Asyraf who was fighting for his life in ICU after his sudden fall during the 7.5km marathon. That was close to 2 weeks ago.

Today, we found out Syazwan had passed away in Selayang Hospital at 4pm after a well-fought battle of his life. Which came as a big surprise to most of us since the doctors said he was doing better and will wake up from his coma soon. But I guess it was time for him to go. At least he did fight for his life. Two weeks of battling took a lot of guts and courage and he did it. Only that God decided enough was enough for him. Time to put him to rest.

I remember when we first started out with the whole petbrother/petsister thing. Allahyarham Syazwan would write me letters signed as 'Chronos' and I would have to guess who he was before the 'Revelation Night'. He told me he had 5 siblings with him as the eldest. He used to go to a boarding school and he loved the colour black. I asked him in the letter what was he planning to become. Later on he told me he's under JPA scholarship to do Geophysics and a UK-bound lad.

He had a long way ahead of him with all these big dreams planned out already. I would say he's one of the nicest guys in college. His face was an image of purity and kindness, it's hard not to love him. My biggest regret with him is the fact that I did not have the proper chance to get to know him better. There were times when I was in a rush, that when he passed by I just gave him a quick glance and quickly ran off to my classes or to where ever I had to go to. Not even a small 'Hello' or a smile. *Sigh*

The morning of the marathon, we were all running (well I was walking, most of the time) when he ran past me on my left. He looked so determined to reach the end of the race. My last view of him was the back of his sweaty 'Silat Cekak Hanafi' t-shirt as he left me behind. That was probably 15 minutes before he had his fall and that was the last time I saw him, alive.

My parents and I went to his family home in Shah Alam tonight to pay our last respects. The mood was sombre but his family and friends were spilling out from the house, reciting Yassin for him and wishing his family the best. You could tell how much Allahyarham was loved by everyone and his loss would be felt tremendously. I'm amazed at how strong and calm his parents are, particularly his dad.

We were talking to his dad briefly and he said, "Syazwan harapan keluarga. Tapi nak buat macam mana...." (Syazwan was the hope of the family. But what to do....). His younger siblings lost their eldest brother but most importantly, they lost their role model who they could look up to. I just hope the family will get through this ordeal smoothly.

But you know what they say, only the good ones die early. At least there's an end to his pain and agony. Even if he survived there's no guarantee he could lead his normal life again, with the organ failures and what not. So yes, Allah knows better and this was probably best for him.

Keep him in our prayers. Cherish the people around us. Because we'll never know who will be gone next.

Al-Fatihah for Allayarham Syazwan Asyraf. May Allah bless his soul.

His last Facebook profile photo with his dad

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Precautions and Prayers

We had a 7.5km marathon around Lembah Beringin on Saturday morning, in conjunction with KY's Health Awareness Week. Unfortunately, the run was marred by a tragic incident that happened to one of us.

One of the students, Syazwan who is also my petbrother was just 10m away from the finishing line when he collapsed and fainted. When he got conscious he had a seizure attack and fast-forwarded to now, he's in ICU fighting for his life. There are different theories as to what exactly is the cause, ranging from heatstroke to kidney failure to some superstitious stuff. But let's leave it at that, out of respect for him and his family.

The damage on him and his body system is far worse than what I can describe on here and we're all praying for the best, hoping he'll recover quickly from this ordeal.

His tragedy resurfaced a few things that needed attention. While there isn't anyone who should be blamed for what happened, I just wished things could have been handled in a better manner, particularly the marathon.

First things first, I can't help to question why weren't there any paramedics, significant police force or more volunteers looking after the runners? 7.5km marathon is not exactly a short distance run. It's even more perplexing that there wasn't any professional medical help on standby throughout the day should anything harmful were to happen to one of us. I could only see a few policemen at one checkpoint at a place which wasn't strategically located.

And let's not even get started on the jungle trail. There was no one on guard along the jungle trail which should not have been the case. There came a point of time where some of us were running alone on the trail with no one in front or at the back. Imagine how dangerous this could be especially for girls. Anyone could just grab you into the bush and no one would notice a thing. And since it's a jungle trail, it did not discount the fact that there may be wild animals lurking in there, ready for attacks. I wonder if the organizer did not notice this matter.

What comes next might touch a raw nerve in some people but I just have to say it. Intense pressure. High committee of Houses, I plead to all of you to stop putting ridiculous pressure on your members to perform. Words like "Whatever you do, don't stop running. Just keep going." or "I'm expecting most of you to get Top 30 or Top 50" only put even more pressure on us to outdo ourselves particularly before a big run like this.

I know they meant well, that these words were supposed to act as encouragement for the rest of us. And perhaps, it's okay to push ourselves to the limits. But the problem is that most of us do not know where our limits are and tend to go beyond them. The intense pressure from the House doesn't help either. Running non-stop for 7.5km?!

Unless you're a trained athlete, you're just putting yourself in a high-risk position to get injured. If those trained runners can't take it sometimes, what more the rest of us? I saw one of the athletic guys running non-stop for 32 minutes and his face was so pale he could have passed as a ghost. There's only so much pressure and hard work your body can take.

I don't know if we did all these because we were medically unaware of the repercussions of pushing the body too hard or because we were too hungry to outdo everyone else and just come top in the competition. God knows.

Yes, what happened to Syazwan was just a case of 1 out of 300 that ran on that day. That everyone else managed to finish the race in due health and fitness. That his case was a rarity.

Well, perhaps not. He was medically fit, he played sports frequently, he was good in his studies, he was just like one of us. And we just got lucky that what happened to him didn't happen to us.

But are we willing to take chances? This post is not about pointing fingers and blaming anyone on the incident. Far from it. It's just supposed to shed some light, to plead the Student Council to review the guidelines and the protocols of the marathon and to implore the Houses to take things easy on the pressure they put on their members. Necessary precautions are needed to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

Because we can't take such chances. Not when it involves lives. Young lives. We've a long way ahead of us. So many things left to do, so many people left to love. We don't want some hiccups of the system to jeopardize any of this, do we?

Also, please keep Syazwan in your prayers. He's currently in Hospital Sungai Buloh, undergoing 24/7 dialysis while doctors try their best to speed up his recovery. He's doing his best to continue fighting for his life.

Now, let's do OUR best to be cautious, to stay strong and remember him in our prayers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's New?

The last 3 weeks had been pretty hectic. It was also my longest stay in KY without going back or without going out anywhere. It's surprising I survived it. Haha yeaa sorry drama sikit =p

Okay, brief updates on what has been happening in KY.

The first week after Raya break the college had this Raya Celebration, KY-style. Buffet was sprawled over on the field in front of New Block and everyone was dressed up in their baju kurung and baju Melayu. The food was good la, the closest thing we'll have to Raya delicacies in the jungle (satay, chicken rendang, cookies etc.) Though the wet field and the crowded block became a little uncomfortable for us to socialize around.

Next, there was Minggu Citra Budaya, a week where they held all sorts of competitions related to the Malay-culture. Ketupat-making, pantun, sajak and all that but the highlight of the week was the Boria competition by the boys. Hardcore gila diorang practiced. From 9pm till 1am for the last one month or so (?) and each house was rallying hard, making sure they gave their best shot. Topaz ended up getting second place for Boria and winning the overall place for Piala Citra Budaya. Hip hip horray!! =D

And then there was Evening with Topaz. Greek-style. It was pretty cool and I actually had fun bonding with the rest of the Topazians. What with our busy schedules and different classes, it was hard to catch up with everyone. But events like this made us closer to each other, juniors and seniors alike. Thumbs up for that!

Then came our first semester exam. There were History, Economics, Mathematics and Psychology papers for me. With 3 hours of IELTS paper too. Mentally exhausting. For the most of us, it was our first proper examination ever since SPM ended 10 months ago. It went alright and I hope the outcome will be alright too. *fingers crossed*

After having spent long weeks in college and then coming back home for the weekends, it never felt enough. My weekends at home (twice a month) seem very very short these days and it's no fun at all! There's hardly enough time for family, friends, shopping and what more for yourself. Is this what I have to succumb to for the next few years to come? =/

Ohh well, at least KY isn't too bad when I'm there. Amin to that.

KYUEM-ians during the Raya celebration

The girls with Irsyad and his fingers in his ears.

Nice shot of their laughters

The champion of Piala Citra Budaya: TOPAZ!

Rocking the Boria look with Fawwaz

Topazian boys doing their thing onstage. Wooot!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

When in Hong Kong

It took awhile for my parents and I to decide on our next holiday destination. I voted for Maldives or Seoul. Ibu wanted to go to *I can't remember where* and Papa opted for Bandung. But somehow we settled down for Hong Kong on the third day of Raya.

Hong Kong wasn't exactly what I expected. Not that I came here with a lot of expectations. I did expect the city to be ethnically-diversed, a little like New York City or London, perhaps. But that wasn't exactly the case, if you know what I mean. It's Hong Kong. Not that it would matter much just that it was a little shocking to me at first.

That aside, I love how the city flows. There are different facades to it and we're lucky enough to get a glimpse of those. We started off the trip by staying at Gold Coast, an area on the New Territory, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Waking up to the sight of the sprawling blue harbour surrounding our hotel was just amazing. It takes your breath away, every time.


"Macau doesn't sleep."
"It doesn't? What does it do then?"
"It gambles."

True enough. Macau is considered Sin City of the East and there are casinos scattered all around the city. Probably more casinos than shopping malls or anything else. We went on a day trip to Macau and since we weren't gamblers (duhh), there wasn't much for us to see. Did a little of shopping and just walked about on the streets of the Sin City. Traces of Portuguese influence from the colonial era could still be seen in the city in terms of the buildings and also, how most signboards had Portuguese translations on them.

After a couple of days relaxing in the suburbs, we stayed over at the city centre. Somewhere near the Kowloon area. Time to groove in the city atmosphere, Honkies-style. What a huge difference it was; Kowloon and the New Territory. Where Gold Coast was quieter and less dense in population, this part of the city had people all over, cars honking here and there as well as shops whether big or small were seen at every corner.

Hong Kong is a shopping mall on its own. It is THE place to shop albeit it being a little too expensive at times. There are street markets like the Ladies Market and Stanley Market where they sell various arrays of things from handbags to clothes to shoes etc. But one has to be very careful when coming here. The sellers can sometimes charge an exorbitant price for their things so be sure to start bargaining for 50% to 70% off. It gets tiring and annoying after awhile but it'll be worth it ;)

And if you're not into street markets and imitations, there's always the high end stores to scout for. Tsim Sha Tsui is probably the best place to do it. Imagine Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Dior and what not lined side by side on the same street. Crazy, ain't it?! You'll wish you were married to some millionaire at that time. Hehehe.

In terms of sightseeing, there is a lot to see in Hong Kong (besides shopping, of course). We managed to visit Aberdeen Fishing Village and saw a different side of the city. In the midst of the vast development of Hong Kong and the sophistication of its people, there's this village where the people made fishing as their main source of income and had boats as their abodes. The place used to be an ancient fishing port and it maintained some of those up until today.

I just looooveeee the sights of the harbour as well as Hong Kong's skyline at night. The skyline which is located at the side of the Hong Kong island gets very colourful and bright when night falls. It's even better than Manhattan's skyline. No kidding! And the harbour, oh my god! It's just stunning and you can't help but to be overwhelmed by its beauty.

Honkies appear to be pleasant and warm people. Somehow, we always found ourselves a bit lost when looking for places in the city and every time we turned to the locals for directions, they were more than helpful to us. And the people are usually well-dressed. The women have amazing fashion style while some of the guys can be pretty good-looking. Edison Chen-like guys ;)

Hong Kong, from where I saw it was like pieces of things I was familiar with. The street markets reminded me of the bazaars in Istanbul. The streets like Tsim Sha Tsui made me thought of NYC. Its airport had a resemblance of our airport, KLIA. But when those pieces are being put together, it becomes something new altogether.

If you want a short yet pleasant trip filled with a little bit of everything, Hong Kong is the place to go.

Just remember, when in Hong Kong, do as the Honkies do =p

Gold Coast from our hotel room.

Imagine waking up to this every morning, really.

Parents on the beach in front of our hotel

Morning dip at the beach

Ladies Market, Hong Kong. Remember, MUST bargain when you're here!


Had lunch at a Portuguese restaurant in Macau

Aberdeen Fishing Village. Those boats are also homes to some of the fishermen.

And somewhere near the fishing village, there's a Marina Club that docks all these luxurious boats and yachts. Toys of rich Honkies.

With Papa on our sampan ride across the village.

Behind us is the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. The most famous floating restaurant in Hong Kong.

Our first Halal Cantonese meal

At Stanley Market. The place seems neater and nicer than Ladies Market.

Repulse Bay in the background. Where a lot of rich Honkies reside in their beach homes.

Repulse Bay, again.

Tsim Sha Tsui. A famous shopping district in Hong Kong.

Try not to hyperventilate when you see this =p

Lantern Festival

Ahh, look at that. Hong Kong's skyline at night.

Hang Seng and the financial district is somewhere at the back of me.

Our last night in Hong Kong