Monday, 1 June 2009

Remember to stop and smell the roses

While I was walking the streets of George Town on Saturday evening, I got a call on my mobile asking if I could help a friend's niece who had been offered a place in USM but had difficulty logging on to the web to confirm acceptance. I told him to ask the niece to go straight to Unit Kemasukan (Adminission) on Monday morning to sort it out in personal. "Will they entertain her?", he asked. I said, "you tell her to go and demand to be entertained". "I will be on leave on monday, but she can call me if she has problems with the officers". Then the next day sitting down for dinner at Queensbay, my wife was on the free WiFI and top of the news was the havoc created by the so-called "technical error" in the offer of places for the new batch of students under the APEX programme. Apparently some idiot uploaded the entire shortlist of applicants (>8,000) instead of the actual successful list of candidates (numbering only 3,500). This morning the newspapers had a field day. The Chinese newspapers were especially sarcastic and vicious ("What APEX University?"). The parents and candidates are all angry as hell. USM offerred "unreserved apology" but I think an apology is not good enough. When we insist on moving too fast, we don't allow things to settle, we don't get enough time to learn, mistakes get amplified and can't be corrected satisfactorily. These poor kids were only given two (2) days to confirm acceptance. In my view, it was a total systems breakdown. And incompetence by those handling the system. The saving grace is that USM has told everyone in the University not to be defensive and to stay cool and calm. But I think the official response from the University is too dry in the mouth. We just can't blame it on a technical error. Why has university admissions come to be associated with so much stress for students and parents?

So, as the say, more haste, less speed. Slow down. Remember to smell the roses.

We were up early and was at the Mengkuang Dam again before 7 am this morning. These two ladies are in training for their August tour of Europe (well parts of it). The Mengkuang Dam is calm and placid with beautiful rolling hills and greenery. You can see ripples in the water as lots of water monitor (biawak) slither effortlessly in the water. We took the jungle path (actually old rubber plantation) to the other end. It took only about 20 minutes.

Yesterday I stopped to check a cobweb to look for spiders. Today my SIL found this giant spider. These are also in USM Durian Valley. The trick is to look for giant spiderwebs. This one was about 10 feet in the air.

This plant looks deceptively like one single species but is actually one tree (with small yellow flowers) and a creeper with red fruits. The yellow flower is very fragrant and if you pay attention you will be rewarded with free perfume.

This was from yesterday. The sign says no swimming, no fishing, no littering. The sign should also tell people to leave nature alone. When you feed the fish you are disturbing the balance of nature. Some species will become dominant and wipe out the other species. In this case, the fish won't even eat the bread.

After Mengkuang we dropped by the Bagan Ajam wet market to pick up some stuff. This is our favourite breakfast on Saturday mornings when we do our marketing. Char Koay Kak is made of rice (not rice flour) and steamed into a thick cake. Then it is cut into strips and fried with preserved radish (chai por), chilly, dark soya sauce, taugeh, koo chai and eggs. This is what hawking is all about - the father is in blue stripe shirt, now watching, having passed over the family business. When the son takes a break (too tired) the master takes over for the day. You won't find this in KL or elsewhere. The guy is filling up our tiffin.

This is the best char koey teow in Butterworth. Available only occasionally - when my wife decides to give us a home-cooked treat.

Evening, we are heading for the Botanical Gardens to see the Floral Fest and then for dinner at Gurney Drive, but not at the hawkers centre. They are all fakes. And they all use polystyrene foam plates and bowls.

Remember, stop and smell the roses.

1 comment:

PJ said...

i love the photo of aunty ai lin laughing so happily. haha..

i dun remember ever talking to you about crepes a few years after you visited me at uni. i still dunno if you liked the crepes. i remember stella made the savoury one with cheese and mushroom. stella's crepes is one of the best and lightest me thinks.

your student's so nice make you crepes wah wah!!!