Can you believe it? I'm already doing 2nd Year of uni. If there's one word that plays a significance in my approach to life this year, it would be professionalism. Working for my Dad at his construction site in Kanowit during the summer had been a great contribution to the emphasis to this word, in addition to an extra few pages to my book of nostalgia. Not only will I laugh when I reflect back on Dad's anecdotes and desparation for me to get a girlfriend, I would also nod in respect when I ponder on his words of wisdom.
Professionalism. What does it mean? As we step into the secular world, we are constantly pitted in a situation where we have to work with other people. And I think the professionalism in which we approach our tasks will affect the likelihood of our colleagues to refer to us in upcoming projects. Dad has taught me an important lesson, especially during my time at the site in Kanowit. We should do things in a way that we do not give others the chance to criticise us. The thing with the world is that everybody remembers the bad things you do, and they find it harder to give credit on the good things about you. Experience has told me that reputations were destroyed just by a single act. In the construction field, your work opportunities depend largely on your social connections. And it is in my best interest to keep these links intact. To have people look up to the quality of my work and social conduct would definitely have a boosting effect on my career chances.
And now that I am starting to earn my own salary. I should act as an adult and not ask things from my parents the way I would as a kid 4-5 years ago. I wanted a car. And I have to say, even though it's old, I still love my Camry. I even offered to buy it from Dad. Just like Mike. He bought everything from his dad. His phone, his watch, his bike. It sort of makes me realise how hard it is to earn a living. And I respect my dad for all the sacrifices he has made to come up with the funds to put me in Melbourne. Working for him during the summer gave me a renewed appreciation for money. It does not come easy. And therefore, shouldn't be spent sparingly. I always blamed my parents for not letting me have what I wanted when I was young. But now, I began to understand why. And I would probably do wo with my own children in the future. Now I know, how hard it is. Sorry mum, dad, for being so impatient and spoilt before.
More to come.....
Now being at the University of Melbourne, I had the opportunity of associating with the local Australians, which I never get to do last year at Trinity College, since it was an international college. After 3 days with them in my faculty's Orientation Camp, I have a totally different view towards them.
I had always thought that Australians were friendly, well-mannered, civilised...etc, but they are also beer-drinking, middle-finger-swinging, swearing people. They barely knew their collegues and after the first day at camp, I had heard of people sleeping with each other. This is nuts. The whole camp was bullshit. There were no activities. Participants were given free beer and were left to socialize with their new coursemates. What made me felt worse was that I was the only Asian there. It's like being the ugly duckling among the other chicks. For some reason, they have a low impression of Asians, and would not want to have anything to do with us unless there is something they want from us. The only time when the locals talked to me was when I beat the entire camp in table tennis. I'm not that good, but they suck anyway. I know Australians are very competitive in sports. Not able to trash an Asian, who they considered inferior, in front of the other chicks who were expecting them to must be the ultimate insult. Some acknowledged my skill (I told you I'm not good at it), some could not surrender to my superiority and start destroying the table tennis table, the balls and the bats. In fact, the camp site succumbed to the destructive force of alcohol-intoxicated fuckers who left everything in the games room and the gas tank beyond recognition. The look on the manager's face suggested that he'll never want these kids around again, and neither do I.
To catalyze this resentment, one of my friends was knocked down by a drunk truck driver and suffered from a broken ankle and brain unstability from the accident. The car I was travelling in was also nearly crashed into by another drunk driver some time ago. I'd seen drunk pedestrians wrecking havoc in the streets. What's with beer that most of the Australians can't let go of? You don't find people in Asia, who practises food culture rather than pub culture, beat each other up because of an excessive intake of fried noodles or Hainanese Chicken Rice. And because of this pub culture, most of the stores are close by 6 pm. Which is incredibly early for a person who comes from a place where shops are closed at 10 pm. I have to attend uni during the day and when I'm actually free to do some shopping at night, every store's not in business. The only place still open are, you guessed it, the pubs. Also, I can't do anything like paying my bills, sending a letter or depositing some money into my bank account on Saturdays because the execution of simple tasks like these are determined by the lazy work habits of the people in public institutions here, who don't usually work on Saturdays, and that's when I'm not tied down by academic commitments to do so. When do they expect me to be able to do the above if not during the weekends?
Australians, in my opinion, constitute a lower hierarchy of the Western civilization. Their ancestors were not colonists, neither were they imperialists or explorers. Australia was a prison camp for the British, and this could somehow explain the lack of class and sophistication in the Australian community. I don't know much about the history of this continent. They don't seem to have a definite culture, let alone even a history book. Speaking of food culture, there are also no cuisine that is traditionally Australian. Melbourne has heaps of food outlets serving dishes from different parts of the world. I have yet to see a stall selling 'Australian Food'. Those that I've met are rough, rude and have a rugged accent. The accent's fine with me, but what annoys me the most are the way they react towards me (an Asian). Racist? I had tried to be friendly on one occasion by asking a new classmate for her name. She simply told me to "Fuck off". Rude? I know I should not nake a sweeping statement based on one encounter like this. But until I meet a native Australian who would me more than willing to befriend me, I will stand by that judgement. I'm a full paying international student and a tax payer deprived from concession travel tickets. The government probably gets most of the income from us to subsidise local students with HECS. Can't they at least show a hint of racial tolerance? In addition, I would never look up to any Western wannabes who think it's cool to imitate the accent and sticking the F word in every sentence. If they think that is cool, try giving yourself a blowjob and see how that feels.
In this country of free speech, Australians love to stick their butts in other people's affairs. They protest at everything and anything. All for nothing. They blamed the Americans for starting the war against Iraq and accused them of trying to manipulate its oil industry. For their information, the oil in Iraq contains sulfur, which constitutes low quality material. And to think that the US would spend millions to bomb the nation just for third class oil? Go read more books guys. There's no doubt that innocent lives were the price the US had to pay to restore law and order in the imploded nation, but don't you think more lives had been unnecessarily ended under Sadam's tyranny? Like I'd said, go read more books. It was good to see the people of Iraq thanking Bush on national TV for driving Sadam out of power, ending decades of fear. That couldn't have silenced the Aussies more. I'm also not saying that the Americans are better people. If I get to know them, I'm sure I'll dislike them just as much.
As bad as I may have described, not all Australians fit into that category. I have met a few who put the skin colour barrier and cultural difference aside to become some of my best friends. Hmm....I may have my figures wrong. One of them is Italian, the other two are Ukranian. So no native Australian friends yet. But they have been here long enough to call themselves local. I think I may be too harsh on my language above. Maybe it's because of the lack of common interests with the locals. I love football, they like footy (aka Australian Football, which is basically football, volleyball, basketball and rugby put together), I drool over Toyota and Corvette cars, they drive Holdens and Fords, I drink Pepsi and Coke while they probably prefer Victoria Bitter and Jim Bean. Cultural shock maybe. I suppose I'm on the wrong side to criticise them without assimilating into their culture first. They could probably be saying the same things about Asians. I may have to observe for a little longer before I can make a more accurate analysis of those who would surround me for the next few years.
I've taken football to another level this year. Not only am I playing at a more competitive level, but I won my first foreign medal as well. I started off as a right wing back for my club and later turned into a defensive midfielder. However, right back still remains my prefered position, although I get a lot more of the ball in midfield. I could never kick with my left foot before. After I was placed at a more central position, my coach thinks it's more appropriate to be able to kick with both foot rather than just one. Now, proud to say, I can play on both sides of the field, increasing my flexibility and versatility greatly, although I still tend to kick with my right. We have to stick to preference, right? Playing with people from all over the world brings together a plethora of new tricks and skills, both for use during a match or just for show off. Having an arsenal of moves to get past defenders looks more impressive, but being a defender myself, I probably don't need them, but I have to know a few to be able to anticipate what opponents would do to get past me. It's still good to learn several tricks to show off though. I was also exposed to lots more playing styles and with the hockey pitch matches that I so often get, great technique skills are required in such tight space. Also, with street football like these (as some likes to call it), it's all about moves and rhythm, the humbling of your opponent with style.
Being away from home for a while now has not made me miss home more. It has, however, drew me closer to my family members and sparked a new appreciation for my identity as a Malaysian. I would never have dreamt going grocery shopping with my sister or commenting on the gown she bought for her ball. Neither had I ever thought of cooking her dinner when she doesn't feel well. The sense of interdependence is undoubtedly present and we learn to appreciate each other more. I would never be caught dead carrying a Malaysian flag. But that was a few years ago. Now, I would proudly bear the flag of my country at the back of my jacket which I did on August 31st. The people here loves to travel to Malaysia. They have such good impressions of the nation I was born in. And I've been, for the past 16 years, wondering why I was never an American. After reading Neil Humphrey's Notes From a Smaller Island in which he compared the Asian culture of Singapore (which does not differ much from Malaysia) and that of the ways of the Western world of UK, where he came from. He made a pretty good point about the food culture in Asian countries and the pub culture in the West. You don't see people in Singapore (or Malaysia) beat each other up because they had an overdose of Hainanese Chicken Rice. Neither would you hear someone who drank too much Teh O saying he likes a girl so much they would put their hands up her skirt. You won't hear me say this very often, but "Malaysia Boleh!"
It's Valentine's Day in 2002, the day I first set my foot on Melbourne's soil. Valentine's Day is just any other day when you don't have a valentine. It all doesn't matter to me at the moment. Who needs a valentine when you have yourself? All for yourself...and all by yourself.
"Yo, la kia! Excited, ya? No more Mum to tell you to feed the dogs or wash the car!" A friend had called before my 10-hour flight to Melbourne. There was a rare flush of elation in my veins at the thought. Yeah, perhaps he's right. No more fish tanks to clean, no one to blame me when there's something wrong with the computer, no need to put up with sisters again. Sisters are bad things to have. They are the reasons behind all those unnecessary surges of blood pressure and temperature. They destroy almost everything, my models, my toys, my computer...everything. They expect me to wash the car when they are the ones driving it. Not that I mind that. I have my share behind the wheel too, but I don't need that now. I can rule the world. Nothing could possibly shake my spirits that day. A "seventh heaven", my friend had exclaimed.
But it would not take long before one misses the routine of rummaging Sis' room for missing CDs and verbal battles with Bro whether to watch WWF on Star Sports (name changed to WWE) or WCW on ESPN. The list of 'no one' continues with no one to cook my meals, no one to do my laundry (the reason why most of my clothes have never seen an iron since arriving here), no one to drive me to school and worst of all, no one to mash the buttons of the second PlayStation 2 controller with (I have only one controller BTW).
Being on my own, it's the time of my life. I can work at my own pace. I can sleep whenever I want and work whenever I feel like it (a feeling that seldom reveals itself). Although I was able to juggle between play and books, a realization that my parents had trusted me to come this far, and that they have their hopes on me drives me to put the former aside and prioritize the latter. My BB Captain's words during the NCO Council meeting still ring clear in my auditory channels, "Set your priorities right, and your life will not be in a mess." I don't want to let them down, but most importantly, I'm not going to let myself down. This is the world we live in. It doesn't matter who you're standing on. All that matters is that at the end of the day, you have to be standing. Only the strong survive. There's no way I'm going to let myself be the ladder step for somebody else. I'm on top of the world at present and I'm going to stay that way. I was later diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from a housemate who's a 4th Year medical student. Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets gives a better example of what OCD is like. People with OCD usually have Type A personalities, which makes them more suspectible to heart diseases. If I'm going to die, I'll make sure I die with pride and satisfaction rather than regret and despair.
It's easy to get lazy once in a while. It just sipped into me through some strange osmosis. The effect seems to be catalyzed by the sight of Maths 1 tutorial sheets forming several Leaning Towers of Pisas. The irritating voice of my ex-Malay language teacher from high school, who enjoyed the thrill of messing up my then spiked hair, kept resonating in my eardrums, "Ung Kiong, mesti ingat buat kerja rumah, ya?" I was rebellious during her teaching periods, but this internal alarm had been a boost on my attitude towards my work. It's not because I respect her. I just want to be successful so that at the end of the day, I can step on her and laugh at her. Each time I tried to clear the incompleteness that had been responsible for countless sleepless nights, I wished that (although his omnipresence is a little annoying) Eddie McGuire would be able to offer me several lifelines of either 'Call Out' or '50/50' to answer the following MCQ: Which tutorial sheet shall I start with first? A)Binomial Distribution B)Hypergeometric Distribution C)Poisson Distribution or D)Normal Distribution? A correct answer won't make me a millionaire, but it will save me another half-an-hour lecture on the phone with my parents when they receive my progress report.
There were no such thing as Friday night-outs when I was in Sibu before, and it's a new thing to me. People forget about the world and get themselves intoxicated with alcohol on both Friday and Saturday nights. It solved the mystery of why the CBD is usually deserted on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I don't drink alot, but that doesn't mean that I don't drink at all. I remember the last time I had a heavy lot was when Brazil won the World Cup. Yeah, that was the day. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember something. I'll never step into the gambling world again. When I first had a taste of it, I knew why few managed to get out and why many were consumed by it. I had won a bet when Spain beat South Africa. When you win some cash, you want to keep winning it. But I lost a treble. Russia lost to Belgium, Portugal lost to Korea and USA lost to Poland. I knew I should stop then, but I was desparate to win what I lost back. I braved the odds by putting my wallet on the line on Germany against Paraguay. I couldn't bear to know that all would be lost when the score was still at 0-0 during the 88th minute. I would never forget Oliver Neuville for scoring the winner late...very late in the game. I got everything back, and vowed never to bet again, although I had a go for Brazil to win the World Cup. They won't disappoint me, not when Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo are on the same plane.
Being liberated from parents does has its advantages. The only thing that comes to mind would probably be no one to tell you what to do. Initially, that IS a good thing. But as I soon would realise, the crossroads into adulthood would be embraced my more hurdles without them around. It all started during a consultation with a real estate agent regarding an interest to purchase an apartment. Whenever I called, the agent had either just walked out the door or was attending a meeting! It wasn't very surprising since they had the subtitle 'The Hardes Working Real Estate Agents' under their company name. This was an apartment I'm talking about - not something I could just pick off from a shelf at Coles because I like the design on the box, ignorant of its contents. Moreover, it involved a sum of currency I never thought my parents would let me get hold of, and then again, this isn't some K-time Muffin Bars that I can throw away after a taste of dissatisfaction. It would be my home for the rest of my scholastic years here. Any mistakes in the purchase would have to be borne for as long as it takes. I never had to bother about all this before. I'm acting on my Dad's behalf, and believe me, it's a huge responsibility. It would be a totally different thing if Dad was here. "You got to learn someday!" he told me over the phone. It took several initiatives to visit the office myself, which costs several afternoons, before finding out that all negotiations had been futile because of visa requirements. What a waste of time, energy and sweat (I don't sweat that much here), blood...etc.
I haven't lost my passion for computer games yet. It's seem to have taken a new direction and purpose. I never dream of playing King Of Fighters, because I thought it sucked. I started playing it for a while. It was pretty addictive, but the game engine still sucks. I got an arcade emulator from a friend and some ...SF roms. I'd been playing the Street Fighter series since it first came up in the Micro Genius platform. And I'm still playing it now. But I stopped playing at a competetive level. There are too many arcades especially along Rusell and Bourke. I'm a little sick of the classic joystick twirling and button smashing, and had switched to using the keyboard. There are Cyber Cafes along Elizabeth and Russell too for LAN games, but I don't play that much anymore. I had to reduce the frequency of my visits to these places which had become the enemy of my fast depleting bank account. I have my entertainment, all at the expense of my housemates' sleep. I generally sleep late now that my parents are not here to monitor my playtime. The constant sounds of beating flesh and micro vibrations would be my housemates lullabies for a long time. I'd received complaints, but who cares? They have attitudes and conducts that did not please me at all and I didn't say a word about it. But life's not just about independence, but also interdependence. It's better not to step on a tail. The body attached to the tail might just come in handy someday.
My sister would be here next year. Sisters can get upset about the wierdest things.
"I can't go downtown"
"Because Barbie hasn't decided what to wear yet."
Then, I have to bear the fear of being seen walking to town with my sister in one hand, and Dermit (another of my sister's imaginary friend) in another. What's worse is that after a while, I started to believe in Dermit too. That was a few years ago, but what difference does it make? It's going to be a nightmare. Alright, maybe I have to be a little more responsible as a brother, solely to keep her from revealing to Mum the truth behind the semi-divine figure that I convinced her I was.