Occasional Inspirations

For 2014, I decided to follow some of the 365 writing prompts given by The Daily Post. Check it out. It was recommended by a turtle (Don't ask.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Visiting Sri Lanka - Day 2: Of Schools & Children's Smiles

We visited the school today. As we rode on the one-hour ride, I fell asleep while our tour guide, Fernando explained to us a brief history of Sri Lanka. Some fun facts I managed to catch: Sri Lanka is divided into 9 provinces, and Buddhism is a major philosophy that is practised here, as Fernando puts it. The green fields made way for scattered brick houses and barren ground before we reached the school.

Fernando doesn't know why the provinces are numbered in this order.

 It was a two-storey building surrounded a few small buildings. The school only accommodate 90 students, ranging from 7-year-olds to preteens. They gathered at the science lab, where all the tables were stacked to one side. The kids smiled shyly at us, staring with awe at the people who came in adorning vibrant baju melayu and baju kurung. While we waited for the Sri Lanka Malays Association members to arrive, we started chatting with them. One boy was called Rilwan. Some of the boys were in Grade 5. They all huddled gleefully together, watching their friend play games on abangs' and akaks' phones. Their mouths widened from ear to ear for the cameras.

 I broke away from the crowd to explore more of the place. I entered the class nearest to the lab. It was a small room, with small multicoloured chairs and tables. The wall on the back was full of papers with Tamils words scrawled on them. Placed underneath were handmade telephones, which made me smile. I rarely see this back home, where all the kids their age have smartphones glues to their hands, ridding them of their imagination and fun. I walked around farther, finding classes with only 5 sets of tables and chairs.

Spending some time with the schoolchildren made me ponder. They don't have much to call their own. Their school is old and unkempt. The books are scarce. They don't have any modern gadgets. And yet they are still able to smile and have fun. They don't complain about what they're lacking. The youthful spark is burning in them. It made me think of the times I moan bout not having what I wanted, and how we would sometimes complain about our 'outdated facilities'. If there was just one thing I was able to gain from today, it is the renewed sense of appreciation I have for what I have.

Fun Fact #2: Architecture in Sri Lanka is based on astrology, according to Fernando. It's similar to how the Chinese would refer to feng shui. Sri Lankan Buddhists would usually look at the blueprints of the houses to pinpoint its good and bad signs. For instance, it is never a good thing to place a well near the window, as it would allow your fortune to slip away easily. It's a good thing Malaysian architecture isn't as fussy.

That's it from me today. Remember to always count your blessings.

The science lab.
The girls performing.
The mosque next to the school. Note the lack of a dome.

It's amazing what you can make with imagination.

U'yun & Shazwan walking with Fernando the tourist guide.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Visiting Sri Lanka - Day 1: Settling Down

 Today’s the day we finally fly to Sri Lanka; the last stepping stone of our humanitarian project, Bridging the Gap. What is Bridging the Gap all about? It's basically a class project to help the people of Sri Lanka. You can check out more by visiting BTG's Facebook page here.

 I woke up late today. It would have been fine, if not for the fact that we had a flight to catch. And then it went slightly downhill. Our luggage exceeded the limit given at the baggage drop, resulting in us having to bring half of our bags onto the plane. I got half of my toiletries confiscated because of this (Don't blame me if I spend my following days looking dishevelled). On the upside, being in this situation really helps in teaching me to be patient and coolheaded. 

 The Sri Lankan heat blasted at me by surprise, though the welcome given which is just as warm was expected. It felt just like Malaysia. The sights that passed by the window on the way to lunch also had a kampong vibe which then gave way to a more Muar-like atmosphere. I was amazed at how much it feels like home. We then spent 6 hours dozing off in the bus as we set off for Hanbantota, the district where we will spend most of our week in.

Highlight of the day: When the plane landed, the air crew handed out arrival cards for foreigners to fill in and hand over to the immigration counter. As the steward walked through the aisle, he looked at me. I expected him to give me one, since I was a Malaysian.

He left, thinking that I was a Sri Lankan. *cries*

 And that’s it for me today. Take a look at the photos I took below. There'll be more posted by the BTG team at our Facebook page, so stay tuned. Pray for our success. Over and out.

Going to Sri Lanka on a hangul-covered plane.
The gateway to the rest of the world.
Oh wow, I've always wanted the chance to buy expensive Milo.
The girls having a photoshoot session while waiting for the others.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


 We all have friends. Friends who you hang out with. Friends who get into trouble with you. Friends who are there with you when you are happy. But do you have a friend who makes you feel very special, someone whom you can share all your darkest secrets with?

I do.

 The funny thing is, I never thought I’d be friends with him. AT ALL. The earliest memory of him was in 2011. I was being a busybody, visiting each class instead of studying. Then I heard someone calling my name. “Ash!” I was surprised to see him. He looked like what I call a gangster. Honestly speaking, he scared me. He wanted me to have a look at his story. He was soft-spoken, which took me aback. It was about Nazis and war and that mushy thing called ‘romance’. It was nice.

 And just like that, we clicked. I don’t remember how we got close, but Alhamdulillah, I’m glad we did. He was with me through the ups and downs of my school life. He was the reason I cried. He was the reason I laughed. We have loads of things in common; we’re both the eldest, we have similar names. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, he’s down-to-earth, and he’s wonderful. He is my confidant, my advisor, my John Watson, my shoulder to cry on whenever I’m down in the dumps. I would do anything for him, and he’d do the same for me.

He’s my best friend. And he is the best thing that has ever come into my life.
This year's present: a sucky-but-from-the-heart painting.

 To Ashraaf Danial Zakaria, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know that you are one of my closest friends. I consider you part of my family already. You will always be my best friend. I hope it’ll last forever (I’ll make sure of that.) I'm sorry if I have ever hurt your feelings. And I didn't buy you anything. :( But hey, the painting is sentimental. :) I hope you cry reading this, hahaha; it’s very hard to put this into words. And always remember that I have your back as well. I wish you all the best in life.

Ash and Ash. (I'm obviously the hotter Ash.) (The one at the left.)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

5 Items I Would Grab From A Burning House

First of all, I would like to say that the original title in the writing prompt was a bit different.

The funny thing is that the prompt title instructs and assumes that I would willingly burn down my house.

Gee, thanks, writing prompt. At least I can prepare myself in case it ever happens, not that I wish for it to be, good heavens no. Let’s start.

1) Identification Records
 I’m assuming a majority of you would dash for your shiny electronic gadgets at the slightest hint of danger, because we all know how social media is our life, and how we would die painfully should our social connections be severed by raging fire. I understand perfectly; I’m an addict. But if I were to think it through, it’d be a wise decision to save your documents (Birth certificates, identification cards etc.) first, because your life depends on your identity. And if you have no proof of whom you are, then YOU DEAD. :O Your life would probably be a struggle, seeing as how humankind nowadays is very much paranoid and sceptical with identities. It’d be hard to find a job, education, you get the gist.

2) Wallet
 Money logically comes after identification. Because...

Nothing in the world is free.
                                 – Someone who apparently has to pay to breathe air

 But seriously, you need these colourful papers to trade it for food and shelter, in other words, survival. You can always steal, but y’know, morals and so on.

3) Phone & Laptop
Yeah, there are two items in one. Hey, for all you know, they might be at the same place when the house burned down. *shifty eyes* Well, like I said before, gadgets are very important in at least my life, if not everyone’s. I thrive off online gossip and mindless chatter. I crave for social interaction. My hand feels lonely without my phone constantly glued to my palm.

Oh, and my work is stored in my lappy. I guess that’s a more plausible reason to save them.

4) Box of Memories
 Technically, my box of memories does not exist (yet), but thinking about all the small trinkets of the past I would be losing to the self-inflicted flames, I might as well stuff all of them in one container. Yesh, I am a sentimental person. I cling on to memories very dearly.

5) Books
I am a book lover. Must I elaborate on how I would do anything to keep my books?

So I guess that’s 5 items that I would save from my burning house. Truth be told, I never expected my books to be in the list. .___. I shall now have a day to look around the house and ponder about things that I could’ve saved from the fire.

So ask yourself: What would you grab from a burning house?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ushering In a New Year with A Letter


 Yeah, I know it's 4 days late. But hey, better late than never, I always sometimes rarely say. So how was the past few days for you all? I had gotten a friend's confession (Bromance, yeah~!) and catzoned within first two hours of the year, so I can say I had a pretty awesome start. It's different from all the 18 other 1st Januarys I had so far. (Of course, all of them are unique in their own way, but meh.)

 This year, I decided to start the year in a different direction. Instead of just ushering 2014 lazing about and grumbling about the distant fireworks, I thought it'd be nice to write a letter to someone special.

Handwritten letters are not my forte.
 Ha, gotcha. You'd really think I have a significant other? If so, then may your wish come true. Yeah so, I decided to write a letter to my future self. Scribbling down questions and hopes so I can answer them when the year gives way to 2015. Why did I write a letter until 2AM, resulting in the anxiety of a mother who woke up to find her son doing something silently in the wee hours of the day?

 I am not really sure myself. Probably it was the desire of walking down memory lane as I read the letter in a year's time stirring up in me. I just had the idea in my head out of nowhere. But writing down what I wanted to achieve in a year's time to myself did boost my spirit, even if it's just a little. It was partly due to not wanting to be ashamed of my past self.

 I know. Other people would just write down their goals and stick them on the wall where they could see it 24/7. But where is the fun in that?

While carrying out this project of mine, a thought crossed my mind. "Hey, it'd be nicer if there were others joining in this plan with you." And now here we are. I would like it if you, the awesome reader of this blog, wrote a letter to your future self. It'll be fun, I promise. And you won't be alone, for I am here, so you wouldn't feel bad about yourself should people call you a freak for doing so. Write your letter any way you want. Just as long as it's readable, and will be able to last a full year without disintegrating into tiny atoms.

 Tell me if you're also doing this; just write a simple note in the comments. Or any other ways possible, if you know me personally (I hear telepathy is the rage now.)

I'll be looking forward to hear from anyone.

Yeah, it doesn't have to be handwritten. You can type it out, fine by me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Giving In Ain't Defeat

 Hello there, people. I’m on a month-long break from the hectic college life. And you know how the average day is like when you’re on holiday: Wake up, pray, eat, take a nap, stare at your phones and lappies, not focusing on the telly, being cooped up at home, scared that the sunlight will burn your pale skin. What, your day’s not like that? Lucky you. I’m imprisoned in my own home. It’s not my family’s fault. My friends are just not on holiday like I am. And I'm just too lazy to go out on my own. Besides, being with family ain’t so bad. We bond over game nights.

You can really feel our bonds strengthening. RELATIONSHIP LVL UP

 And one of the things I have to bear with is Mom’s pearls of wisdom. Usually I’d just nod along to whatever advice she throws randomly. But most of them, if not all of them is very much helpful. Like that one time out of countless other moments my little brother and I scrambled for the front seat of the car. Yes, I know it’s childish. My mom noticed the disastrous scene breaking out and decided to pull me slowly out of the scuffle, letting my little brother enter. My heart was boiling, especially when I saw him sticking his tongue at me. I stared at my mom, waiting for an explanation.

 She said: ‘You’re 18 already. Just give in to your little brother. It doesn't mean you lost. It just means you’re thinking of others.’

 Now, I didn't read much into her counsel, because I was so full of emotions. But for the past few days, I finally see what she meant. To tell you the whole story in detail would probably take 2 to 3 pages, so I’ll just sum it up. One of my circles of friends is in what you can call ‘a negotiating period’ over a project. I became the middle person (I felt obliged to do so.) And what I witnessed was touching. One thing you have to know was that the main reason the group split into two very VERY stubborn sides was because of the disagreement of the location. And one girl, L was very enthusiastic over the initial location.

 But she decided to let her wish go, for the sake of unity. She was willing to change location, just so everyone would be in this together. ‘Oh, it’s just a small thing.’ I hear you sigh. I don’t consider a feeling of excitement and dreamy wonder to be a small thing. To give up something you wanted so badly for somebody else is not a foolish matter. My mom’s words vibrated in my mind. She was very mature in handling this problem.

 And now, I shall leave you a quote to ponder upon:

Giving in to people is not a sign of weakness. If it’s for a better future, it is an act of selflessness.

 Neat, huh? Wanna use it, cite it back to yours truly. Yes, I created it. Is it a sign of me finally catching up to my age? No. The day I will be considered mature arrives when I will not fight over the front seat with my siblings.

And that day will probably never come.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tell Your Loved Ones

 So recently, a tragedy befell Malaysian land. (Other than the increase of prices.) If you were nowhere near any source of information during the past two weeks, possibly due to a temporary allergy, let me catch you up to speed; a female Ambank officer was coldheartedly shot in the face bya security guard in his attempt to steal the money in the safe. Don’t be ashamed if you just found out through me; be glad that you didn’t find it out my way – Staring at the explicitly gory picture of the deceased as it popped up in a WhatsApp chat.

The picture found its way into my phone, not once, not twice, but THRICE. It’s as if people knew I deleted the horrid stuff from my phone and thought, ‘Hey, let’s send him a pic.’ Why people rush in sharing such a picture is beyond me. It’s just disrespectful for the deceased and her family.

 Anyways, that picture isn’t the reason why I wrote this post (I ain't here to spread gore). It’s this picture:

 For those of you who still hasn’t figured it out yet, that’s the unfortunate woman’s husband. What really struck me was this:

'I should have told her I loved her there and then. Now it's too late.'

 You can really feel his regret, caused by a decision that will haunt him for years to come. His words really hit home. And I cried as I stared at this photo. It made me realise my own lack of contact with my parents. It made me think about the times where I was too caught up in college activities to call them once in a while.

 Let this be a reminder that we don't live forever, and neither do your loved ones. Don't take them for granted. Don't ever think they'll always be there when you need them. Remember to always show them your love toward them, before it's too late.

 And a reminder to all; I beg you, please don't forward the horrific pictures and videos of the incident to others. It's already too much for the family of the deceased to handle her death. The last thing they need is a constant reminder of how she left this world. If you still have the urge to share something, share the picture above, and remind them to tell their loved ones how much they love them.

Al-Fatihah. May her soul be placed among the pious.