8 January 2017

As I drove away from Semashur last week, there was a pang of sadness leaving Adam Farihin behind. It will be the first time he will be away from home for a prolonged period of time. Away from his parent, siblings and friends. Friends that he’d known since a long time. The first evening, we came to back to an Adam-less home. Every time I looked into his room I’d half-expected him to be there in front of his computer playing games for hours while balancing on the two legs of his chair. He’s not there anymore tonight. Instead his youngest sibling has decided to occupy his room and slept there almost every night. I also wondered when he’s gonna call, at least to tell us he’s doing okay but I guess he’s busy with orientation week. He did called us the next day although only for a few seconds. He asked us to bring a few more clothes, hangers and also his mother’s home-made tom yam. I reckon you’ll learn to appreciate your mother’s cooking now huh?

I guess this is a normal reaction for every parent who is parting from their children. I’m sure it will get better with time. Today we went to visit Adam in his school. We just waved at the security while driving in. I presume they saw our school sticker hence the smooth entry. I can tell Adam was glad to see us. He waited impatiently at the surau as we were 5 minutes late. We had lunch together and he related his experience during the first 5 days there. He said the food was okay, not as bad as I’ve been telling from my experience. He had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning though to shower because else he had to wait behind all the seniors.

Rumour has it they will leave the first formers alone first and the bullying will only commence during the second year. That’s what his senior said anyway. Although I was rather alarmed at first to hear that, I’m sure any kind of bullying is nothing serious and not physically abusive or else the teachers and wardens will be hearing from me. It’s part and parcel of hostel living and it’s quite common everywhere. Ideally nobody likes this kind of culture in an educational institution but it’s a vicious cycle. The seniors did it to the juniors and on and on it goes through the years. I wish they would put a stop to that but unless there’s some serious paradigm and culture shift by all the students and teachers involved, I don’t see it going away anytime soon. My advice to you son, if the seniors ask you to do something (or help them), just swallow your pride and play along. As long as its nothing humiliating or abusive just do it. If you think they have crossed the line somehow, don’t be afraid to let me know. It will deal with them accordingly, I promise.

The good news is Adam get to come home every two weeks starting next Friday. We can go pick him up as early as midday every Friday. I doubt these kids even get to feel homesick at all except for those out of state. Just consider it as an extended summer camp Adam except that you have to go all year round. With the kind of negative influence these kids can give you in and outside of school these days, we worry for you if you attend regular day school. Yes it will be tough at first but just like your mom and dad before you, we are sure you will get along fine. Hang on there kid!


5 December 2016

Even before the UPSR result comes out, we have proactively filled up application to MRSM and SBP  schools for Adam Farihin. For the uninitiated, those are the top two types of elite public boarding schools in the country. His mother went to MRSM PDRM in Kulim, Kedah while I myself went to SM Sains Machang SBP in Machang, Kelantan. Therefore it is only natural that we would try to enroll all our children into a boarding school as well following our footsteps. We believe boarding schools would enormously help our children to be independent, excel in academics and also prepare them for the real world where they will meet all sort of people, face challenges and problems and learn to survive all by himself.

Now applying is the easy part. Getting enrolled is another matter. I heard they have already called up the first batch of SBP applicants for an interview a few weeks ago. That could mean that either Adam didn’t make it or maybe he just didn’t make it for the first call up. Anyway I know getting into a premier boarding school like the SBP schools is no easy feat and the competition for places are stiff. Even if you excel in academics and score 6As, there’s no guarantee you will get automatic placing there. There’s extra-curricular activities to consider not to mention those with cables and connection with the right people. While Adam Farihin did pretty well in his academics, I can’t say the same about his extracurricular achievement. Aside from a couple of chess competitions that he took part (and lost), there’s nothing much in his CV to boost his chances. And I hate to beg to strangers to get my kid into any school no matter how much we want them.

Fortunately for us, we get to go to an interview for the MRSM boarding school. After SBP, it’s the next best thing there is. We applied for the SPMRSM IGCSE course which is a combination of SPM examination and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education which leads to IB and A-levels qualifications. I think Adam had a pretty good grasp of the English language hence why we applied for that course instead of the others. After a short getaway in Port Dickson last weekend, we went to an MRSM school in Kuala Kelawang, Negri Sembilan for the interview/examination. The school was one of about a dozen of test centers around the country and not surprisingly, we met hundreds of hopeful applicants just like us. I don’t know what to say our chances are, I mean Adam said he managed to answer all the interview questions and much of the tests. Time will tell whether he makes it or not.

Either way, while we plan for the best education possible for our children, we won’t be disappointed or anything should Adam failed to make it to any of those boarding schools. Like I said, competition for place is stiff and you’ve got top students from all over the country vying for entries into these prestigious schools. If Adam was meant to go to a local high school near our home, so be it. I know Adam is smart and hardworking kid and it doesn’t matter which school he goes, he will ace it anyhow.


26 August 2016

After using birth control pills for so many years, my wife and I decided to try a new method of family planning. We’ve tried that implant under the skin thing and that didn’t work out well for my wife. Her period became unstable, on and off intermittently which also suck for me. This time we decided to try IUCD and I paid just RM130 ringgit for the procedure at Klinik Jameaton.

The first 2 months, this contraception method worked great for us. Linda continued her menstrual cycle normally and there were no apparent side effects from the device. However from the 3rd months onwards, she started to experience prolonged menstrual bleeding. First it was over 2 weeks long. Then lately in the past 40 to 60 days it didn’t stop at all which is worrying for us to say the least. We returned to Klinik Jameaton to seek advice and the doctor prescribed some medication to stop the bleeding. It worked for a week or so and the bleeding continues. That’s when we made an appointment at PPUM (University Malaya Medical Centre) to see a specialist. Yes we tried to get a guarantee letter for one of Linda’s panel specialist hospital but they rejected it because of the word IUCD because that wasn’t covered under the list of illness. So PPUM it is, a semi-government hospital in Petaling Jaya. At least being a semi-private institution it would be more efficient and less expensive than specialist hospitals, or so we thought.

During Linda’s first appointment, the doctor tried to remove the IUCD device from her ovary but somehow she failed. Actually we went to see Dr Jameaton first and she tried and failed to remove the device as well. Hence why we went to PPUM. After that, the doctor set another appointment for hysteroscopy removal of IUCD in which they will insert a tiny camera into her ovary to look for the device better. Naturally this procedure won’t be cheap and Linda had to go for another appointment with the anesthesiologist. Plus the actual date for the procedure is more than a month away and I don’t know how Linda will cope with the incessant bleeding. When Linda could not stop bleeding for more than 24 hours, we decided to pay the emergency department of the PPUM one Friday evening.

Fortunately for us my mom was around to look after the kids. We arrived around 6:00 PM after work. The trauma & emergency unit is still bustling with people, a few patients but the bulk is made up of of family members or friends. Being a first timer there we went straight to the registration counter where the staff rolled her eyes and directed us to the triage counter. Okay she didn’t exactly rolled her eyes but we could sense the annoyance in her eyes. At the triage counter we explained our predicament and shortly after that we went to the secondary screening area. After that only we went to the registration counter.

From the registration counter we went to the waiting hall and waited for 3 hours or so for our number to be called. Yes it is that long. To be fair there were a lot of patients that day, around 30 numbers before us to like 3 attending doctors maybe? When our number finally came up the doctor interviewed us for like 10 minutes before sending us off to do a blood test. The blood test we were told is going to take at least another 2 hours to get the result. We took that opportunity to get supper in the form of nasi lemak at our favorite old haunt at Warung Rindu in Pantai Dalam. That was already midnight and when we come back 2 hours later our blood test was still not ready. I managed to doze off at the bench for a while until our numbers were called an hour later. The result says her hemoglobin count was low at 9 but not that alarmingly low as requiring admittance to the hospital or something. The doctor prescribed her some medications to stop the bleeding which was exactly the same pills that she had earlier. However this time the pills actually worked in lessening the bleeding and a week later her period almost totally stopped.

We got home around 3 o’clock that morning having spent over 7 hours at the hospital. Although I must admit the doctor’s service was top notch and on par with other specialist hospitals, it’s the waiting that I can’t stand. Would we get shorter waiting time at a fully private hospital? Probably. But the consultation and medication fees would be 4 to 5 times more than the RM68.90 that we paid at PPUM. I suppose the painfully long waiting time is the price we have to pay for the affordable fees at the hospital. Should have we avoided this situation had we invested in a medical card or something similar? Probably. But since we have our very own respective health benefits from our companies, paying for extra insurance seems like a waste of money. I’d like to put the blame squarely on PM Care who refused to release the guarantee letter for us causing us quandary in the first place.


12 August 2016

Remember the time I went for an interview at Sasana Kijang but didn't get the job? No? Well that's because I didn't exactly shout it out to everybody. Looking for a job while still working at another company is usually a secretive and hushed affair so I didn't tell it to anybody save for my closest family and friends. Actually I stumbled upon this job opportunity from Twitter, of all places. A guy I am following announced that he has an opening at his company for an IT executive so I thought why not give it a try. It's a prestigious company, an organization affiliated to the central bank of Malaysia. The minimum requirement they wanted was a degree in IT or Computer Science but my friend said just try anyway sending my resume and application letter. Who knows they might still consider from my decade of experience in the IT industry.

So I brushed up my dusty old resume that haven't been updated in 3 years and sent it along with my application letter to the company. Later that afternoon, the HR personnel called me up an arranged for an interview 2 days later. It all happened so fast. So in between the call and the day of the interview I watched a crash course on ICT and computers in general from Eli The Computer guy. Of course I already know much of what he's talking about but you learn something new all the time, especially from an industry expert such as Eli.

Come interview day, I made my way to Sasana Kijang at 3:30PM. I was dressed in my regular interview attire - long sleeve shirt, a tie and everything. With my bulging waist, I positively looked like a muffin top that day. Was I nervous? Absolutely. But at my age and experience, going for an interview is not really that intimidating compared to say 15 years ago. I just wing it and get it over with. The Sasana Kijang building is huge and spacious. After registering with the auxiliary police I waited for a few minutes for my Twitter friend to escort me to his office. I had to fill up some forms and 10 minutes later my interview began.

My friend did most of the talking and questioning. His soon to be retired Manager didn't ask much question although they were tough ones like do I know CMS or MySQL (which I must admit I didn't know much). They asked mostly about my experience and my knowledge and after like 20 minutes, the interview ended. I thought the interview went well but I didn't exactly have high expectations about securing the job. I'm certain they have also called other prospective candidates with better experience and qualifications. My chances are I think 50-50. Either I get it or not LOL.

They say they will let me know next week. 10 days passed and when I didn't hear anything from any of them, I DMed my friend on Twitter and soon enough he broke me the bad news. I didn't make the final shortlist. Like I said, since I didn't have much expectation in the first place, I wasn't exactly crushed for not getting the job there. Sure my ego and self-esteem took a little beating but its nothing I can't handle. This is not my first work rejection anyway and I've had a few of those in my life. I wasn't really actively looking for another job in the first place. It's just so happens an opportunity presents itself to me and I decided to grab it. It would have been nice though to be working at Sasana Kijang as an IT Executive compared to say a lowly Technical Assistant. But what's in a name? Nothing and everything.

As always I'm keeping a positive outlook in life. Whenever I missed an opportunity, it just means something much better is waiting for me in the future.


5 July 2016

One of the downside of having an all-malay colleague is when Raya is near, they all want to apply for leave at the same time. Last time we had a vacancy in IT support and guess who they hired? Yep another malay. It’s either they have a soft spot for malays or there’s nobody else qualified for the job. Fast forward earlier this month when the boss asked everybody to submit their leaves, everybody applied for the same 2 days before Raya. Me I would have applied for for the same dates as well but since my wife can only apply for leaves after Raya I relented and let the boys have their fun. Even then I thought my boss would reject one or two applications but surprise-surprise she approved everybody’s leaves. That means for the last 2 days before Raya which happens to be the last super-busy two days of the term it will only me and my manager who will be working in the entire ICT department.

And since we don’t hire any helpdesk person yet, I’ll be manning that position while my boss deals with all the tech support calls. At least that’s what she envisioned. In reality, she had to man the ICT office because a lot of the teachers will be returning their laptops and ICT equipments before leaving the school for good. In the end, it was me who was attending all the tech support calls and also manning the helpdesk. To add salt to injury, I was down with cold the entire two days so imagine my suffering at the office. Even then when all things are said and done, I survived the two days ordeal intact especially since they let us out early at 1:00PM. Seriously they should really hire more ICT staff especially for helpdesk. I mean how hard is it to get somebody from JobStreet really?

We left home around 2:00PM that afternoon. Our kids were already back home with their grandparent and uncles who took them along last Saturday. My wife was kind enough to drive for the first part of the journey since I was still sleepy from the cold and medication. I expected some heavy traffic the day before Raya but fortunately the road was surprisingly smooth with occasional bumper to bumper traffic here and there. We had dinner somewhere in Gua Musang and reached Tanah Merah after driving for 8 hours and 25 minutes. On a regular school-holiday or festival-free traffic we could reach home in 6 hours so that’s pretty fast considering it’s Raya’s eve. Two years ago it took us 12 hours to reach KL from Tanah Merah.