My life has been full of stuff since my last entry. We moved house, first of all, which — along with the cardboard boxes and miscellaneous items still stashed in all 6 corners of my room — meant that I was internet-less. And I had to go back to the hostel that very night since we were leaving for BTN the next day from there. Hence, packing another suitcase while everything else is still unpacked, and hardly enjoying the new house at all.
Bored waiting for my mum, (this was after BTN, btw) and the only pieces of electronic equipment with me were a camera and cellphone. I sit like that and spy through my window all the time when I’m bored. Kim should know that by now, huh Kim? The last night spent in Akasia was … uh, internet-less, again, because my mum wouldn’t let me bring my laptop. (For safety reasons, because there’s no way I’m bringing it to camp, which means I’ll have to leave it in the hostel’s store room for a week till I get back. Nu-uh, not safe. ) I forgot what I did that night, really. Uh, SMS-ing Kim, and more packing, I think. Yeah. The next morning was time to actually give our house key back, fill in the Clearance form and everything, and I was really dreading that moment because…
I didn’t have my student card.
Nope, I never found it after I accidentally left it after Islamic Studies exam months ago. And I didn’t mention that fact on this blog, because … I’ve been using somebody else’s card all this while (thanks Sarah, heheh, she had an extra ID because she found the one she thought she lost), which I guess is against the rules as well , so just in case some random college-person reads that I’ve been pretending to be a “Siti Sarah” for more than a month because I didn’t want to pay RM30 for a new card — I might get into h-u-g-e trouble.
But thankfully, the guy at the office was just like, “Oh, well, they’ll probably ask about this, you know” (when he had to check “Not Returned” in the clearance form, under Student ID Card), and I was just babbling off, “Yeah, but I lost it after exams, so I didn’t think it was worth getting a new one…” so I’m hoping all is well and I won’t get a call from some high-up college officer one day seeking to fine me, or charge me with identity
(Am I worrying too much, again? )
Enough hostel talk. BTN stands for Biro Tatanegara, which is a government body that handles these … courses. The course I had to go to was Kursus Kenegaraan, which I really don’t know how to translate. Kursus = Course obviously. And Negara means Country. Kenegaraan means… uh, Countryship? Of Country? Countryness, etc., whatever. If I’m not mistaken, all students of Public Institutions of Higher Learning in this country are required to attend some form of this course. For us overseas-studying people though, the course is for 5-days, at various designated camp centres across the country.
In the bus on the way there. So. Our camp was at Kem Bumi Jati, Shah Alam, which was where everybody else from our college went to. (The place is very…. uh, village-like, my cellphone had almost no service and the trip there took 35 minutes, longer than I expected. The straight, narrow, palm-tree-lined roads leading there totally reminded me of my parents’ villages in Johor. ) Most of my programmates have gone months ago, because they have a different sponsor (the Ministry of Education) and the sponsor decides when you have to go. The 6 archies are the only PSD scholars in our programme, and we went with 60-something UK- and Ireland-bound PSD scholars from the A-Level Medicine programme. When we reached camp, it turns out we were joined by students from KMB (the college we archies were initially told to go to for our preparatory programme, can you believe that? They changed our course to A-Levels like two weeks before registration, though) and a few people from other places.
Overall, the course was… not bad. Not okay, not fine, didn’t become all patriotic like my senior Amin or seethed in frustration like Moon, but it was … an experience. I’m just gonna write about random stuff that I still remember from the 5 days:
Signboard. Pic was actually taken after Kembara, I hardly had the camera around before that.1) During registration, which was basically writing your details on this list that determines which dorm room you get, the pakcik who worked for the camp noticed on my Biodata form that my “State of Birth” is Texas, USA. He totally made a comment that sounded something like, “Ni penyokong George Bush lah ni” , and though it was obvious he was joking, and I just gave a light “heh, takdelah” — it was just such an *eyeroll* moment, you know? :\ The course had other such sweeping generalisations, which I’m not saying aren’t true, but yea, that’s what I felt the gist of the course was.
2) We collected our sheets and pillowcase next, and my (thick itchy brown) blanket had friggin’ HOLES in it. Yes, more than one. Like torn holes, more like rips. And afterwards, when we were all confused because the dorm we were assigned to didn’t look like it could fit us all (we discovered later that there were more rooms at the back, which you entered through the side of the dorm… *slow* ), I accidentally dropped my sheets and pillowcase … somewhere. Apparently on the floor in front of the dorm next door. Eheh. The 5 days were filled with other such Aneesah-isms, eg. “Where the heck did I leave my glasses…? ” , “Whose plastic is this? Is it yours? Yeah, it’s yours. Oh, eh, wait — it’s mine. Yeah, mine, sorry. ”
3) Being sick. Still. Oh man, you do not ever want to attend a 5-day course while sick. I did bring along my cough syrup (but no spoon, so I had to “borrow” spoons from the dining hall), bought just the night before we left for camp, but I guess it wasn’t that effective (all it did was make me cough up more icky phlegm. God knows how much tissue I’ve used up… oh, and how much water I drank. Uh-huh), and the nights were terrible. I’d like to apologise to my 9 dorm-mates for coughing throughout the night, it was uncontrollable. I had a few terrible cough attacks, where my stomach seemed to rise and fall rapidly and I couldn’t breathe and my eyes teared up pretty bad; some happened during activities (talks or video presentations) in the hall, with 128 other people and me trying to be as unnoticeable as possible (…and probably failing). And yea, having to talk during the LDKs (group activities) with my voice half-gone wasn’t convenient. Strepsils “extra strong” worked well, though; thanks to Izzah for buying it through our facilitators. (Izzah had a bad cough too, and we felt slightly drug-addict-like huddled near my bunk bed in the dorm (oh, I got the top bunk, like I always do ) sharing cough syrup at night. But trust me, I hate the taste of medicine as much as I hate most vegetables. Which is very much. )
4) We didn’t get much sleep at all those four nights; I’d say an average of 4 hours per night. I could’ve actually fallen asleep at midnight, so then I’ll have 5 hours of sleep (we had to wake up at 5am, lovely sirens made sure of that), but — a dorm with 10 girls, separated by another dorm of more girls by a mere curtain, equals lots of talking and chit-chatting. (Which I weren’t involved in. After my crazy nocturnal stint, sleep became #1 for me.) And they didn’t turn the lights off till everybody was in, add my coughs to the equation, and you’ll get Aneesah being one of the last to fall asleep. It’s okay though, I’ve probably paid off my sleep debt as much as I could these past few nights at home. On my new queen-size mattress, too! I’ve never had a queen-sized bed all to myself! (The bed isn’t actually here yet though, just the mattress. )
5) The bathroom wasn’t bad. At least it was big. I was afraid we’d have to shower in the open (well, not open open, inside the bathroom but in the middle of it, using the kolah, wrapped in kain batiks and getting everything wet — which a lot of girls did, but I just can’t … shower in front of people like that ), but showering in the stalls was quite okay (and wasn’t a first time anyway). They just have a long queue in the evenings, unfortunately. (Mornings are easier, you just wake up earlier.)
6) Day 1 and 2 were completely packed with talks. Ceramahs. About Tanah Air, Rakyat, Kerajaan and Kedaulatan. Whether the talks were sleep-worthy or attention-worthy seemed to depend completely on the speaker; some were good (humourous, spirited, though sometimes shouty) while others… not only gave more of those “raise-eyebrow” comments, but … yeah. I’m not sure if I fell asleep during the talks, but I did during the video presentations which they give after Subuh and Maghrib prayers. Gosh, that video interview of Tunku Abdul Rahman, though I respect him with all my soul for leading our country to Independence — just … couldn’t fight my sleepiness. I only slept for maybe a minute (or two) at a time, though. Hope nobody noticed.
7) We were supposed to pay attention during all the presentations because on Friday, there was an exam. The thing that you have to pass in order to be allowed to fly. (No, wait — I think it contributed to 40% of the total marks. Or somewhere around there. ) They told us though, on the first or second day, that there’ll be a book that we could study from, that contained all the stuff in the presentations (since some speakers had to skip slides due to lack of time, etc.), but… surprise surprise, turns out we didn’t get any books. Maybe they changed the system or whatever, but yeap, the exam had 60 objective questions and a few of it were stuff in the talks, most were general knowledge, and some were “I have no idea what the question is talking about ” kinda stuff. I did leave early for the exam though, but that was partly because I needed the loo. (Didn’t … er, do bathroom business #2 for the whole 4 days, until that Friday after exam. Apparently it’s called Safe Toilet Syndrome. )
Group 6 — Geb and the Girls. Click on the thumbnail, it links to an animated picture. 8) [Number 8 always looks like a smiley face, teehee.] Umm, soo… we were divided into groups; most of my group members were from INTEC, the medic students; people whom I’ve seen all the time but never quite caught their names, and there were 3 members from KMB. I actually got into my group by accident, because when the number came, I was #5, and another girl, Dee, was #6. But as I was just about to take a step along the row of seats, one of the camp ladies stopped me with her hand (she probably didn’t realise I already had a group number), said wait, and gestured to an empty seat way ahead. But I was already given #5, so I decided to sit at an empty seat right beside the (now-occupied by Dee while camp-lady stopped me) chair I intended to take, although I didn’t realise it was Group 6’s row. Another girl behind me in the line, Fatin, took up the empty seat ahead, which the lady previously gestured to me, but it was in Group 6’s row anyhow, haha. I was meant to be in Group 6, I’m tellin’ ya. Later I whispered to Dee, aren’t you supposed to be in 6, and me in 5? But she didn’t mind and it didn’t matter. Group 6 is … special. Initially there were 3 guys, the rest were girls. (There were far fewer guys than girls in the camp, I’d say because most are medic students .) But for some reason they switched people around till we ended up with 1 guy and 10 girls. Later they also formed another group, Group 12, which had 7 guys and 1 girl. I’m pretty sure it’s a weird experiment thing the camp people were doing. Oh yea, here’s how the conversation went when Geb (the sole guy in our group) was asked by our faci(litator) in the first session: (translated, because almost everything is in BM during BTN)
Kak Yatt: Geb, how do you feel, being the only male member of this group?
Geb: Oh, I feel … very lucky.
Ha ha. Typical guy answer.
The house we drew, supposedly to represent the one we’ve been assigned to divide between three families in one of the LDKs. Please do not judge my architectural drawing skills from this. 9) So Day 3 and 4 were filled with LDKs (literally translated: Activities in Groups). The activities were quite interesting, and full of analogies which you totally had no idea about until afterwards, where the facilitators would sum up and give the conclusions. For instance, if we knew what the rumah pusaka we had to draw on the whiteboard represented, there was no way my group would’ve “auctioned it off to the highest bidder” in order to give the money to the 3 families. But yea, we didn’t know (and I’m not telling you), and so the “right” answer was obviously to not sell off the house. Another game was 5-in-a-row tic-tac-toe, which involved our actual money and taught us about the process of uh… law-making in our country. They were all country-related, not necessarily politics-related, and sure, there was some of those *yawn* bangsa issues and expected … stuff, but mostly they were fun. Oh, and there was one where we had to carry a brick on thin mahjong paper, while all 11 of us were holding the paper taut, à la Rasulullah (s.a.w.) and the Hajarul Aswad. Apparently they gave marks for our participation and stuff in the LDKs, I don’t know how, but yeah. Our other faci, Ustaz Zaini, mostly kept quiet and observed until it was his turn to talk, or whenever he feels the need to interrupt. And Amin, we didn’t have that logo-and-slogan making activity, yo. I guess they replaced it. Oops, and one more LDK I wanted to mention; the last one with all the groups in the hall, involved several rules including not speaking, and those that broke the rules were tied up and mouth-taped like prisoners. I accidentally silently mouthed some words (after my group already achieved the objective, actually, so it was a stupid mistake), then one of the facilitators caught me, and because I didn’t think mouthing the words counted as “speaking” — I actually retorted, “Mana ade!“, yes, with my voice this time, which makes things completely double-stupid. Yea nowww you totally broke the rule, idiot. *bangs head*
10) I learned quite a bit from the LDKs, like … the fact that my BM sucks. My two-year A-Levels, being taught everything in English, and hanging around with Kim and Az who speak English most of the time, has made my brain think in English more. And my BM has never been great at all, mind you, especially with this icky KL slang which I subconsciously picked up since school (Kak Yatt, the faci, would tegur me every time I accidentally used the word gile, which literally means crazy, but is used as a substitute for “very” or “really”, eg. “besar gile” means “very big”. It’s definitely not proper Malay. ). I couldn’t even find the BM word for “influence”, at one point! How stupid is that? (The word is mempengaruhi, btw. Thanks pals. )
11) Erk. Number 11 already? Uh, let’s see… food was okay. They did serve us 6 meals a day, which is normal for camps, and though I skipped some of the suppers and the drinks (they had a lot of tea ), I think I got chubbier, like I always do at camps. But Kem Bina Insan at Lakeview Training Centre last year totally had the best food, though. I don’t know why. Great cooks, I guess.
12) Ah! Forgot to mention the uniforms. It’s in the rules that girls have to wear white baju kurung with black skirts, except for non-Muslim girls who may wear white blouses and black skirts/pants. The white baju kurung thing is so primary/secondary school uniform-ish, but I no longer have my old uniforms (gave them away, I think) so unfortunately we had to buy two pairs of white baju kurung tops. The black skirts? I wore my mum’s. (After safety-pinning about four inches off the waist, of course. =\ ) One of the skirts even had these embroidered flowers and stuff across the front; all sparkly and not plain like most other girls’ skirts, but oh well. Nobody minded. Another thing nobody minded — the fact that most of us re-wore the uniforms for at least two days ’cause there wasn’t much time for doing laundry there.
13) Ooh, one thing that I rather enjoyed were the little exercises in the afternoons. I don’t hate physical activities as a whole, I just dislike sports. Just … the balls, and competition, and practising… erk. But I love things like aerobics and stretching, which the whole group of BTN participants did almost daily. I’m not very good at that either though, my lack of coordination and … uh, just plain slowness made the poco-poco (however you spell it) dance thing really hard for me. I only got it right the final time, and that was cool. How (almost) everybody was totally in sync and having fun. They had this physical test too, which carried marks (in fact, most things carried marks ) and I kinda sucked at. It showed our physiological age or biological age or something, and I got the 2nd worse uh, range of age. One of it wasn’t fair at all, though, the skipping-rope-using-a-really-really-short-rope thing. I was the first person that the trainer handed the rope over to, didn’t get to see any of the participants do it, and totally tripped over the rope. And you only get one try! :shakefist: The other things that I did badly on were the pulse count (mid-range, so I got 5 points, not 10) and holding my breath immediately after all those exercises (again, slightly unfair because the other girls pinched their partner’s noses, when they should’ve just put a finger under the nostrils to feel if they’ve exhaled), I only got 20-something seconds, I think! Oh yeah, forgot to mention — because there were 85 girls, and everybody had to have a partner to help observe/assist each other in doing the tests, there’d be one odd girl, right? (The guys were all elsewhere, at the field.) And guess who was that unfortunate odd one out? ME. Totally unlucky, man! It just turned out that way before I knew it, and I ended up having the female trainer as my partner (except for the piggyback/fireman lift test, whoaaa that would’ve been impossible if I had to carry her on my back. No offense intended), hence extra strictness?
Crossing roads during Kembara; a reminder that we’re still in the “city” and not totally in the middle of nowhere14) One more physical test was to run 2.4km (though Amin’s blog entry said 2.2km, so somewhere around there anyway) in under 24 minutes, for girls. I think I gave up running after a mere 5 minutes. The stitch in my chest was just a bit much, and trust me, I haven’t ran in … MANY months before that, so no surprise there. I made it in 19 minutes and 30 seconds though, which is still pretty slow (well I did jog and walk most of the way ) , but hey. I passed. I also did 20 female-style push-ups for the above physical test with no problem, which surprised me, but then again, my shoulders probably didn’t go low enough, etc. On Thursday afternoon we had Kembara, kind of a jungle (or palm oil plantation ) trek thing. My ex-roommate told me about her Kembara early in the year, said it was physically challenging and she came back with bruises and all, but honestly… it was almost nothing. The only point of the whole thing seemed to be to dirty our clothes. The white arrows saying “kenegaraan” that marked our route.There was that barbed wire obstacle thing where you had to lie on your belly and move forward while being careful not to get your headscarf caught in the wire — totally browned our sleeves and pants. Then as we walked through the “woods” there were THREE waist-deep swamps that we had to trudge though. The funniest thing was, at the first swamp, while the guys (our group joined with the mostly-male Group 12 for Kembara) were struggling to get up the other side and all that, a herd of cows came charging through, just metres to our right, and then JUMPED across the swamp. Easily, in fact. Now I totally believe that the cow jumped over the moon. I think two cows fell into the water too, but they climbed up with no problem. Total inspiration, huh? At the end of it all, I threw away the shirt and pants I wore. Most of us did plan on wearing “disposable” clothing for Kembara, after what our programmates told us from their experience. I still had to wash my backpack, though (which I brought along during Kembara, and was filled with some of the girls’ water bottles and some bread we were given. The bag was thrown across the first swamp but carried on somebody’s back — we took turns carrying the bag — through the other swamps, so it did get slightly muddy).
My brothers and sisters in architorture waiting for the bus after BTN ended. L to R: Muhsin being distracted, PC looking like he’s holding in a laugh, Azmah probably still texting when the shutter went off, Icam either deep in thought or deeply constipated (hahah kidding, dude), Kim looking cute and cheery as always, and … me still in black and white (an after-effect of those uniforms )15) Alright, last point. This is getting much longer than I expected, heh. I guess, like I’ve said before, with any activity or programme, it’s not about the event itself, but the people you’re with, that make it a success or failure. My group was a great bunch of people and our facilitators were good as well (I think not as strict or preachy or picky as some others), and I had my favourite archies with me, so I was (mostly) happy. I learned a lot about … why things are a certain way, and refreshed my memory on Malaysia’s history, and realised how lucky we actually are. One particular video that’s etched in my brain, is one taken during a … violent demonstration in Indonesia, if I’m not mistaken. This dude was holding a gigantic parang and was totally slashing it directly at another dude, and all the police and random people and videographer were just standing around; observing. Until a circular piece of the bloody dude’s head was almost completely sliced off, literally hanging of the back of his head, and he was starting to collapse on the street from all the gashes, and then the police pulled him onto the back of the patrol truck and drove off. Like, what the — ?!?!?! Does the dude’s life mean nothing? Does freedom of expression include mangling a person to death, out in the open, for whatever reason that I can’t seem to comprehend right now? I’m not pointing fingers at anybody or any country or region, but all those … images of violence just saddens me, a lot. I’m sure it saddens others just as much, too. So if anything, it just made me very very thankful to God.
I intended on writing about ESQ, yet another course I attended (nothing like BTN though, and my mum sent me to this one, not the Government ), just the weekend after I got back from BTN, but.. this entry is too long already. Oh yeah, the reason I don’t have that many pictures for BTN was that they actually confiscated our cameras and phones, but returned them after Day 2. And we’re not allowed to photograph/record any of the official stuff, for BTN and ESQ.
So far at home, I’m just… the driver, picking up my brothers from school and driving my mum for errands at night, and yea that’s about it. Oh, when I got back from BTN/ESQ I was so desperate for my lovely internetness so I drove to a petrol station to get free Wi-Fi, hahah. From my Facebook Notes feed: (Sowwy, but Facebook totally rocks. Lemme know if you wanna add me.)
So. I am now in my (read: my mum’s) car, parked in front of the Petronas near my home, using their Wi-Fi connection. I have 92 unread e-mails in my Gmail account (it would’ve been 108 if I didn’t gatal tangan and read a few from my phone even though I’ll regret it later coz GPRS is expensive), 567 unread feeds in Google Reader (although you can subtract 300 from that ’cause it’s from a craft site whose unread entries have accumulated long before), and I haven’t checked my Yahoo Mail yet.
Can you believe I haven’t touched a computer for 9 days? Aneesah the internet addict, yes, me — internet-less for 9 days, what a record! For those who don’t know, even though my exams ended on 20th June, I’ve been amazingly busy because 1) we moved house that Sunday 2) I went to my wajib 5-day BTN kursus kenegaraan that Monday and 3) my mum signed me and Anas up for ESQ, a 2-day training thing, last Saturday and Sunday. So today, Monday, is my actual first holiday.
My new room at home is an incredible mess of boxes and plastic bags (not all of which are mine), but I decided to lari jap cari internet before picking my brothers up from school at 4:30pm. Oh yea, we don’t have internet because the new area does not have PHONE LINES yet! Stupid kan? That means our streamyx is useless and we’ll have to subscribe to a wireless broadband account (probably Celcom because Maxis doesn’t have it’s service here either) until TM decides to pasang the lines here. But yeah, until then, it’s probably curi-the-WiFi-from-Petronas route for me. =\ (And it’s not stealing anyway, they do provide free WiFi. ;P)
Okays gotta go read my 100 e-mails, taa people.
Aaah one more thing I forgot (this entry was written over the span of a few days, heheh) there was one more BTN moment I wanted to mention. So, during one of the gatherings in the hall, the Head Trainer was taking this kinda statistical survey thing, with questions like Who is from … Selangor? and a certain number of people would raise their hands and somebody will count. Okay, so when it came to birth places, the final question was Who was born outside of Malaysia? and turns out, only two people raised their hands. (One of them was me, obviously.) I was sitting kind of at the back, and when the guy asked, what country I was born in, I said “U.S.”, right? Well, the next thing I heard blasting from the microphone was “What? Sudan? *scribbles on notes* Wow, so what was your dad doing there? Was he a diplomat?” (again with the assumptions/generalisations ) and I was just … wide-eyed, shaking my head vigorously, (while sensing about a million eyes landing in my direction) and had to yell out, “U.S.!!” (which, in hindsight, kind of sounded like YOU A** ). I think he read my lips the first time, probably because he couldn’t here me, but dude. SUDAN? WTH? Then of course he was like, “Oh, US… United States of America? Haha, that’s quite far off from Sudan.” and laughed to himself. My mum said I should’ve probably said USA. I think I should’ve said America. But I dunno, I call it US most of the time. The other girl who raised her hand was from Singapore. (She said Singapura, though. The Malay name. Hehe, great. No chances of mis-hearing that. )
Alright, enough babbling, sorry for the long entry, I just can’t dismiss the details sometimes. (Just like my still lives too, when I draw from life, I tend to draw everything I see, which is BAD. ) Will be blogging again soon, taa!
P.S. Oh yea, I am no longer internetless; we do have a new broadband connection, but it’s very much like dial-up in the sense that only one computer gets to use it at a time (due to the external USB modem), and it gets disconnected / is problematic at times. So if you know how I used to be able to use YM while watching TV and all that — those days are probably gone.