Celebrate … or else!

Next week is Independence Day in Malaysia, and the flags have been appearing all week.

There was an article in the newspaper saying that any business not displaying a flag will not have its licence renewed next year – hence the zealous hoisting of flags all over the country.

I was glad to see that my condo has at least 20 flags flying

So, we won’t all be evicted and the condo razed to the ground for non-compliance.

The police station across the road will also be staying in business –

 

Keen to get into the spirit of the celebration, I decided to make my own flag, from a free insert in the local paper.

As well as nice, clear instructions for assembling your flag, there is also an explanation of the symbolism behind the design

So I now know more about the Malaysian flag than I do about the Union Jack.

In best Blue Peter style, I followed the instructions to cut –

Detach –

and roll –

 

and hey presto …

Now all I need to do is enter the #raisetheflagMY competition and claim my prize, which could be a trip to Langkawi or dinner at the Sheraton.

According to the newspaper: The photos can then be shared on social media with the hashtag #RaiseTheFlagMY, with a personalised “love note” to Malaysia, a caption to capture the love for your country.

Just need to compose my love note – but as it’s been about 40 years since I last wrote a love note, it may take me a little time to dredge up the appropriate vocabulary.

 

please follow and like us:)

A week of firsts …

The new KL metro line has just opened, and we can now get a train directly into the city centre, which is very good news as the traffic can be appalling, particularly at rush hour.  So I went on my inaugural ride this week, to spend an evening in town.

There are very helpful notices, designed to encourage socially responsible behaviour –

and I couldn’t help wishing that a few of them could be displayed on the London Underground –

 

I also had my first bubble tea this week, bought by a kind friend who couldn’t believe that I’d never tried one, and to my great surprise, I loved it!

I spent a very happy 20 minutes on the train home sucking up all the chewy bubbles from the bottom of the cup, one by one, and making very satisfactory slurping noises – whilst all the time sitting under the MRT etiquette notice …

… whoops.

On a completely different note, I also started volunteering at the local orphanage, who put out a plea for English teachers to help the pupils prepare for their exams next month.

When I arrived, I was waiting in the foyer and a boy came up to me, grabbed my hand, smacked himself on the forehead with it, then let it go and wandered off.  Oh dear, I thought, I hope they’re not all mentally disturbed.  But then another boy did the same thing, and another, and another, and I finally realised that it’s their way of greeting people.  Some kiss your hand, and others take it reverently and place it gently on their forehead, but for a lot of them, it’s snatch, smack and drop.  Oh well, they are teenage boys, I suppose.

I’ve been assigned to Ammar

who’s in the centre of this photo, along with the Warden’s two children.  Deda, incidentally, is the only girl in the place, as it’s a boys’ orphanage.

We sat in the dining room and did exam preparation

The homework session is from 8.30 until 10 pm, which seems very late to be doing schoolwork when you’re only eleven years old, but because it’s a religious institution, prayers take precedence over prep.  Not all the boys are orphans, but all have lost at least one parent or come from a very impoverished background, and they are fed and cared for, sent to school and put through university, and can then return to their home town if they wish.

The past paper exam questions that we were working through looked very familiar in style to language exam papers in England, but the content was very different.

And I wondered what British teenagers would make of this boy’s preferred reading matter –

Ammar turned out to be an ace negotiator, and we came to an agreement – well, he twisted my arm, actually – that if he finished his work early he could watch a video on my phone, and I wondered what he would choose.  Despite his religious upbringing, he chose something called ‘God of War’ involving weapons, battles, monsters and heroes …

… whoever first said ‘boys will be boys’ obviously knew what they were talking about.

 

 

please follow and like us:)

Getting an inferiority complex from monkeys

I’m sick and tired of getting insolent stares from monkeys

I’ve always been under the impression that we evolved from monkeys, and not the other way around, so I don’t know what they’ve got to feel so superior about.

One minute they’re staring down their nose at you

or flaunting their crotch in a so-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it way

and then the next minute they’re scrabbling around in a rubbish bin with absolutely no self respect at all …

… I just don’t get monkeys.

And it’s not just the monkeys that try to make me feel inferior every time I go to the local park.  As I stroll lazily around there are people doing all sorts of active and/or energetic things –

some with large, dangerous looking weapons

and some without –

And then there are the men doing all sorts of manly things in the manly men’s area –

while the women sit around and watch.

But looking closely at this picture, I’ve noticed that the women watching have much the same expression on their faces as the monkeys usually have.  So perhaps it’s not disdain after all, just baffled incomprehension at the strange antics of another species.

please follow and like us:)

The reign of terror continues …

My three year-old terrorists were back under the table this week.

 

But this time they built a barricade of chairs to stop me getting anywhere near them.  It was just like a scene from Les Misérables … with me as Javert, obviously.  But I quite like the idea of playing the baddie – it’s probably why I went into teaching in the first place.

Anyway, I managed to lure them out with the promise of icing some cupcakes

They absolutely loved it, and spent ages on their creations – future Bake Off contestants here, I feel sure.

Watching them at work reminded me of how sensible my rule ‘never eat anything a child has made’ is.

Child A alternately sprinked decorations onto her cake, and then sucked another handful off her fingers, while child B licked the entire surface of her iced cake before adding any decorations … presumably to ensure that the icing was at precisely the right consistency for decorating.

I have now added an extra rule to my personal rule book: ‘if any activities involve sugar, make sure you do them at the end of the class, rather than at the beginning.’  Unless, of course, you’re writing a research paper on sugar-induced frenzy in small children … in which case you will have a lot of material for your thesis by the end of the lesson.

please follow and like us:)

You lumpish beef-witted puttock …

Life in the expat staff common room is certainly different.  Last week we were all given sheets of Shakespearean insults

and instructed to use them at all possible opportunities – presumably to underline our own Englishness and to enrich the students’ vocabulary.

And we all have to have our own boxing ring entry music.  This is apparently the music that is played when you – the professional boxer – walk into the ring in your shiny shorts at the beginning of the match.  It’s an unusual requirement for a language teacher, but at least I won’t have to waste time finding my signature tune should I ever decide to become a boxer in the future.

I’m currently swithering between Blue Monday, which has quite a swaggery, punchy feel to it, and The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, which would send my opponent the message that I’m not to be messed with.

Then this imperfectly copied worksheet turned up in the common room last week –

leading to much speculation as to what the picture is meant to be, and what exactly the words on the left say.  Any ideas anyone?

One of the teachers was going through a set of animal alphabet cards this week and was quite surprised to come across this one –

which is now pinned up on the wall.

Rather worryingly, one teacher looked at it and asked, ‘What’s wrong with it?  Is ostrich spelt wrongly?’

She obviously hasn’t watched enough David Attenborough.

And I’m very proud that there is now a photo of me on the wall in the reception area, in one of my most famous roles: wicked witch disguised as a poor old beggar woman –

Unfortunately poor old beggar women have to be brassy blondes, because that’s the only wig we have.

I was very disconcerted on Saturday when I discovered that I have something in common with small-but-evil child.  She arrived clutching a love letter, which she carried around with her all morning –

… crustacean fixation is obviously contagious.

 

please follow and like us:)