Saturday, October 31, 2009

The eve of Melbourne Cup week

Its the eve of the Melbourne Cup week, and most Melburnians are taking their weekend off for a short vacation. Just did a short walk around the city today to see what I could capture.

women with bicycle

man looking at bicycles.

going down the steps to the yarra.

looking at the rubbish collector.

chilling out with mobile phone.

black man reading

large woman looking outwards to the river.

man pushing rubbish bin

walls of glass

Display boards containing significant pictures from the AGE newspapers were put up to commemorate the races.

reflections of passersby

Thats all folks~

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The spokesperson

As I've said before, several people come by to read my blog each day, and expect to see some nice pictures. One of my friends, Kim (name changed for anonymity) comes by to read expecting something different. She compared my blog posts of today compared to two years ago, eg. 2005-2006, and noted that I have been progessively becoming less personal as the years go by.

Anyway, today, I'll shall talk about Kim, and how her story imparts something different into my life. I've asked Kim to start writing a blog about her own life, but due to her shyness and her self-consciousness of being inadequate in the English, this is not going to happen so soon. Hence I am going to take the liberty to write something about hers and how it inspires me, hopefully without any reprisals.

Anyway, Kim is your typical Chinese girl born and raised in a small town somewhere in Malaysia. Being the second child in a family of 4 girls and one boy, she was a talented figure in primary school. She joined numerous competitions singing, storytelling and debating competitions, and won many prizes. Ah.. innocence is pure bliss, isn't it?

Things took a turn when high school came along. Compared to her siblings, she wasn't very bright, and instead of going to a bigger school somewhere else, she went to the school in her own town. Her dad had a patriarchal character, and seldom allowed her (and her sisters) to participate in co-curricular activities. It was a segregated school community where the Malay majority did their own things and the Chinese minority hung out with their own bunch too without really knowing much about each other.

As a result of not being academically gifted, Kim was limited to a semi art-science education stream where most students would choose to be an accountant or basic blue collar worker. She took life easy, and skipped classes whenever she wanted (to a certain degree, of course). She struggled in most subjects, eg. Additional Mathematics and barely scrapped a pass in Elemantary Math. The pass was thanks to her dutiful father, who coached her everyday from 7pm in the evening till midnight, with the rest of the family paying attention to him.

When Kim graduated from high school, she didn't have much of a career path, so she went to a typical private college in Kuala Lumpur and enrolled in accounting. Without much guidance, Kim struggled through college. Her classmates had the typical Asian kiasu (fear of losing) mentality, which didn't help her much at all in her studies. So naturally, she failed her first semester.

Confounded with that stark reality, she had two choices; to study until she passed, or to quit college and get a job. She chose the latter, and left her college quietly without ever speaking to any of her friends about it for a few years. She now says she's in a better situation than her friends though - some of them are still struggling to graduate, while she has already 3 years of working experience.

Back in town, when she offered herself to work in her dad's company, he was overjoyed. Now he would be having a family member to help him with the business instead of doing it all alone.

If you're thinking at this moment that things would all go smoothly, it didn't happen that way. Some of her colleagues thought she was ditzy and tried to stab her in the back. One of Kim's superiors ill treated her and even brought the case in front of her dad. The backstabbing employee fortunately resigned, but it was too late to prevent the bad word from spreading all around her small town. There's never any justice in our society today, isn't it?

I was perplexed why Kim had to work long hours everyday including weekends. Well, she explained that her lack of education, and slowness in doing work had forced her to work longer hours in order to make up time for lost productivity, and she's fine with it. Life has been going on like that for her for the past 3 years.

Surprisingly, Kim isn't stopping there just yet. Despite persevering on with her job, accounting isn't really her thing, and she's successfully been given permission from her dad to go for make up courses in Singapore. She ultimately wants to start her own business and not depend on spoon-feeding from her dad anymore.

All of us have our own career gurus in the form of the rich and famous in the business world; those who've already "made it" and are now happily enjoying their lives many years after retirement. But all too often, God has granted people around us who're nobodies in our society, trying everyday to make ends meet and getting ridiculed at the same time.

In my case, Kim is one of them. She doesn't have a degree to rave about, beautiful looks (compared to her sisters), a relatively job which goes easy on finances, and alot more. Alot of guys in her town (and sometimes even elderly clients) try to hook up with her, and ultimately will get turned away.

I admire Kim for her passion to get what she wants, despite all the difficulties she's still facing in life. Hopefully this would be an inspiration for you to write about your fellow nobodies in your society. I guess once in a while, it doesn't hurt to give them some recognition, don't you think so?  ; )


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Festival Indonesia @ Federation Square

There was an Indonesian festival held at Federation Square last weekend.

Strangely, I feel proud as a Malaysian because Indonesian and Malaysian cultures are so similar. Of course, I regretfully state that the Indonesians do it much better than the Malaysians in terms of bringing forth our culture to the public eye. So next time if you'd like to see "Malaysian" Culture in style, visit the Indonesian Festival. You won't be disappointed.

Of course, both of our countries don't see eye to eye with each other, eg.

  • Excessive burning of farm land in Indonesia leading to the haze in Malaysia and surrounding countries a few years back
  • Abuse of Indonesian maids by Malaysian employers
  • Malaysian students staying in Jakarta threatened by angry Indonesians.
  • A tourism video promoting Malaysia supposedly depicting an Indonesian dance instead of being authentically Malaysian.
  • Indonesian batik manufacturers claiming their products are more intricate and original compared to their Malaysian counterparts.
  • Indonesia claiming Sabah and Sarawak as part of their estate during the forming of Malaysia in 1965
Anyway, lets move on to the festival pics:

A small traditional band playing melodies with Spanish influences were one of the first performers to start off the day.

A dance in Ultraman style. They're even dressed in red too!

ps: if you don't know Ultraman, shame on you :p

I can say most of the dances were sourced from the Kalimantan region of Indonesia which shares its borders with Sabah and Sarawak, hence the very noticeable Iban style dance. I reckon this will be one of the few chances I'll ever get to see any Iban dance this vibrant anywhere. The ones held in the Sarawak Cultural Village in my town are relatively tame compared to this one. I'm disappointed :s

The drum girls, Indonesian-style. They're awesome~

Another Indonesian dance in red.

The masked performer.

Bubbles.. and more bubbles

Tension before the point of contact. I like this one.

Kids never fail to amuse me

Another fan dance you'd probably see in West Malaysia.

The Indos have their own form of martial arts too - silat.

A more eleborate costume worn by an Iban warrior.

Another girl flashed me a smile. She seems nice.

This appears to be a dance with Portugese roots.

The Christmas tree is already up in the city.

Curry noodles - An Indonesian food perhaps?

Dancers chilling out an taking photos with the crowd before their debut.

A slower, deliberate and graceful dance.

Note their extremely colourful costumes.

A balinese styled dance, I reckon.

Festival Indonesia gives an interesting perspective on Indonesian culture, and is highly worth taking a closer look at.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Center

Melbourne in spring is so full of life.

With its temperate weather, fresh air and blue skies, you can just simply fall in love with this place for the next couple of months, until winter arrives.

As you stroll along the Yarra River past Crown Casino, you will arrive at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibiton Center (MCEC); Australia's premier convention center.

It is a really vast area, and some of the attractions include the Hilton Hotel, DFO shopping mall and the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum.

This is the first phase of the project. The MCEC is on the right side of the image.

This is the Polly Woodside Museum. Work has been going on for a couple of years (more than 2 I believe), so it would not be open so soon.

A view of the whole complex. You can see a partially renovated section of the museum on the left in the form of the shed-like structure. They're retaining it for heritage purposes.

The interior of the Convention Center. Everything is still literally brand new.

Unfortunately when I was here, a security personnel chased me away, with the warning "No photos allowed". What a turn off.

When I was there, a "magic show" exhibition was in progress.

Superb workmanship befitting a venue that would be used for international events

There's hardly any folk around at this moment, but I can imagine it would be pretty crowded in the months to come.

The deep eaves should provide more than enough shading from the sun and rain.

Huge panes of glass are utilised to let in natural light and provide views of the Yarra and the city skyline.

An absolutely stunning bridge is situated next to MCEC.

It provides a very nice pedestrian link across the river.

There are lots of ways to cross this bridge. Other than walking, you can cycle or use roller blades. They do make an awful lot of noise when you don't do it in a subtle manner.

Thats all for now folks.



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