Saturday, 16 September 2017

Pesantren - Pondok Madani - a religious school with a difference.



Image from : http://www.satumedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cinta-pesantren-gontor-indonesia.jpg


I have been neglecting this blog for quite a while it seems. it is easy to put the blame on a writer's block. I guess I have run out of memories to write here. Korea, done. Bandung, done. Plymouth, done. I should go travelling again. If only it is as easy (to pack your bag and go) as ABC....

So, I feel like writing about something completely different today. But still on the topic of education.

I am single. I don't have kids. But if I were married and have kids, what kind of education do I want them to go through?

Let say Child number 1. I would like him or her to go to SK and later to SBP to experience all that he can and also for him to develop his social skills. I might rethink the SBP option if it's a boy since he may not adapt well to a boarding school. Since I used to study at MRSM, I feel that a girl would be comfortable and adapt more easily to the culture and pressure of an SBP. I hope the child would further his or her studies locally, or overseas - like what I did eons ago. But realistically, with the economic downturn, a local university seems the best option. After the child has graduated, I hope he can secure a stable job that will sustain his life and future family.

Child number 2. I would like him or her to go to a Chinese school so that he will learn Mandarin and be fluent in it. Since it is hard to get a job now, the best option is to let him have a advantage over other job applicants - a third language. Government jobs may be limited and hard to get, so a job at any Mandarin-speaking company is the second best choice. Being multi-lingual in multi-racial Malaysia has its own advantages.

Child number 3. I would like him or her to go to a Religious or Tahfiz school that gives more attention to the child's spiritual development. Since the parent is not that knowledgeable in Islamic  and Quran studies, I hope that the child would be able to learn and grow under the guidance of a wise and qualified teacher. I hope the child will later become a good human being that gives back to the family and community in terms of Islamic or universal contributions. A mother would be happy to see her son leads the prayer or recite the Azan or even, say a prayer for his family.  I realize that his future is uncertain, by not having a proper or modern education like the other siblings but I believe that everyone has his own destiny and rezeki. Perhaps, he would work as a teacher in the future, or start his own business. Who knows. What is more important at present, is arming him with skills that he can work with. Being a Hafiz is also a worthwhile skill. They are called to aid in many stages of our life - birth, marriage, sickness, death, etc....

The image of a good Tahfiz  that I have in mind is like a fictional modern pesantren in Inodesia, which is the setting of a novel - Negeri Lima Menara by A. Fuadi.  Even though the pesantren, Pondok Madani, focuses on Islamic studies, other curricula are not neglected either. The students there play a lot of sports, learn a lot of English and Arabic through lessons and competitions and are still required to memorize the Al-Quran and understand the content thoroughly. I recommend you to read this book to see the advantages of a religious school if run and planned well... The writer of the book is actually the product of a pesantren but succeeded in furthering his studies in the field of Journalism in USA. You never know where your education can take you.




As I said, this is only my so-called dream.  A wishful thinking on my part. You may or may not agree with me. We all have different perspectives of life, based on our own experiences on this earth. So, instead of criticizing the kids or the parents that are involved in the latest tragedy, let's work together - you and I, the government, the NGOs, the Islamic departments - to ensure that their places of studies  will always be safe for them....

Saturday, 20 May 2017

20-YEAR TEACHING ANNIVERSARY

Teaching is my life...



I returned from UK in July 1997. I started my teaching career in October 1997. I received a letter from JPN Kedah instructing me to report for duty at a secondary school in Kedah but it did not state the name of the school. So, I went to JPN to find out and they informed me that there was a vacancy at SMKTSR Jalan Kuala Kedah. The previous English teacher had just transferred to Kulim after her wedding.... I was surprise because I thought I might ended up in another district. It wasn't easy to get a school near your house. It is about 15 minutes by bus. People asked if I had a 'large' cable but I told them it was pure luck!

This school was quite familiar to me since I had done my teaching experience here in 1996. The girls in my area would study here while the boys went to SMKTL. Later, many girls and boys studied at the new SMKSP.  The common public transportation for the students was the Kuala Kedah public bus which came every 15 minutes. Since I did not know how to drive or ride a motobike, I had to resort to using the bus as my main mode of transportation to and from school. I chose the 6.45 am bus than the 7.10am bus to avoid the heavy crowd. Still, the bus would be full, carrying students to SMKTL, SMKTSR, SMJKKH, MM, SMKSNC, SAS and KSAH. My students were my busmates. This went on for about 5 years - rain or shine - before I could actually afford to buy a Proton Iswara and also get a driving license.

I like the fact that SMKTSR is an all-girl school. The school compounds looked pretty and neat, even though it is quite old. It only contains single and double-storey buildings. It was opened in 1963 under the name of SM Perempuan Telok Chengai before it was offcially opened by YTM Tuanku Abdul Rahman in 1968 and the name was later changed to honour his wife, Tun Sharifah Rodziah.

My first Principal was Miss Mak Sooi Jee who used to be the Principal of SM St Nicholas Convent, Alor Setar for many years. Her Senior Assistant was the late Hj Hashim Samin. They made me the Head of English Panel even though I was a greenhorn! After Miss Mak retired, she went on to teach at Sim Min Private School.. I wonder if she is still teaching there... She seems to be in good health. Altogether, I have worked under 9 Principals, all female of course. Arwah Shariffah Asma Syed Ahmad Barakbah passed away sometime this year. Al-Fatihah...

The next Principal was Pn Faridah Abdullah, followed by Pn Hafdzah Ahmad, Pn Azizah Nasan, Pn Ishah Saidin, Pn Rahmah Yusak, Pn Rogayah Talib and the newest Principal who came to this school on the 3rd of May this year, Pn Che Rokiah Md Isa, whose house is located just opposite the school...! We seem to change  our Head quite often. Perhaps it is because the school is a popular transit before they retire or have their post upgraded. Different Principals have different style of administration but all of us try to adapt to the new style as best as we can and move forward together.

A teacher is also many other things. My roles have changed, increased and evolved during the last 20 years. My happy moments include getting APC twice, finally getting dg44 and later dg48, managed my Meranti Sports House to victory, seeing my ex students becoming English teachers, getting C2 in the CPT test, being the English lang. Emcee for HAC and District level drama competition, accompanying students to represent Kedah in KL for Celcom Youth Contest, being involved with MUET Speaking Test and ULKCP as an examiner, bowling with colleagues, and accompanying the sixth form girls on university visits, to name a few........ 😉

On a personal level, I was delighted to be offered a free trip to Seoul, Korea by the Korean Tourism Organisation in 2015. I joined 13 other international winners for 3 nights, 4 days travelling around Seoul, and Gangchon. It felt surreal. Kamsahamnida KTO and Hana Tour, and my Korean-mad chinggu- Vera from Singapore, Tere from Indonesia, Lucky from the Phillipines, Nat from Thailand and also the Japanese and Taiwanese winners..

2015 also brought sadness to my family and I when my dad passed away... He was a teacher for more than 30 years. I wonder, would I be able to match his experience and knowledge...? Al-Fatihah...

Most of the teachers in SMKTSR have known each other for more than 10 or 15 years so we are actually a strong and close bunch of teachers. It could be quite difficult for a new staff to adapt to our school culture but as time goes by, he or she will fit in comfortably.... Insha Allah. Our favourite shopping and travelling destination is Hatyai but ever since Ringgit is down, Hatyai seems so far away now...

The English Panel consists of friendly, happy, ceria teachers - led by Mastura and the previous head, Mazlina. Liyana is the youngest but in a few years she would be ready to take over the post. Puspadevi and Chuah Bee Lan are our senior sisters. Datin Izzatul, as we call her and Marlinda are responsible for the youngest forms while yours truly is known for being the only teacher who studied TESL in UK but love all things Korean.  Alhamdulillah.... Our English panel is always lively. I am grateful for the friendship and I hope it will last forever. Some of our English teachers who have retired or transferred to other schools include Pn Nurul Aznim who is now the Senior Assistant at SMKAJ, Pn Mimi, the owner of the famous  original Rojak Mak Bee, Pn Lim Siew Kah, the late Hj Hashim Samin, Miss Mak, our ex-Principal, Pn Hidayah Rushdan, Pn Fazlina Shuib, whose post I took over, Pn Lilian Wooi, Pn Chye Siew Chen and Pn Daisy, to name a few. Two cheerful and hardworking trainees were also with us temporarily - Nasharil and Siti Fatimah. Forgive me, dear colleagues, if I have accidently missed out some names...

I moved to my own house in Mergong in 2009. My family now lives with me. The old house in Kuala Kedah stays empty. Its fate is still unknown. Now, I drive my Almera to school everyday. I usually arrive quite early, before 7.00 am. It is a habit that I cannot break. i guess things would be different if I were married and had small kids. Cest la vie.



My first batch of sixth form students were in 2003. Many of them stayed in the hostel where I was a warden. That brought us closer and since everything was new, we went through it together. They are now working, they are somebody's wife or mother. So technically, that makes me a 'grandmother'.. ;) I love teaching MUET to the sixth form girls because they are young adults who feels more like a sister than a daughter. The age gap then wasn't that big before but now, I am probably closer to their mother's age.

One sad fact was that later, a student by the name of Rohaya, met with an accident and died. Years earlier, the teachers got together to help her further her studies in UMS. This act of kidness was led by Pn Azizah, who is now teaching in Kuantan. Other sixth form teachers who used to teach here  include Pn Siti Aminah, who is now back in Johor, Pn Puziah who has retired, Pn Supiah who is now at SMKHK, Pn Mashitah who is in SMKAK, En Azman who is now a lecturer at IPDA, Pn Fatmawati who is now in Trengganu, Pn Nor Shuhada who is now the Principal of SMKAJ, En Ahamad Fauzi who has retired but is still painting and drawing actively, Pn Husna, Pn Shobihah, En Ahmad  and Pn Azilah, who no longer teach Sixth Form. How I miss our old days together... At present, the sixth form teachers include our new PK T6 Pn Nooriani, Pn Azura, Pn Azira, Pn Chuah Bee Lan, Pn Lily, Pn Lim Choon Shiang, Pn Rodziah, myself and the three gentleman- En Mutalib, En Nasrul and En Sharuddin.

We are actually waiting for our fate. This school is phasing out sixth form to make way for a single-session school since we don't have enough classrooms at present. I wish we have a new academic building, a new hostel and a proper field... Our 'middle-age' school is also in dire need of re-wiring and refurbishment...

Will we, the sixth form teachers, end up at SMK Hutan Kampung or SMK Tunku Abdul Aziz or remain here, in SMK Tun Sharifah Rodziah until we retire? Only 2019 will tell.....




Rodziah, Azira, Lim, Nooriani, Mutalib, Nasrul, Sharuddin, Jasmidar, Lily, Bee Lan, Azura









Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MARJON - PART EIGHT

SISTERS FOREVER....








I was glad that I was not the only one going to UK to do TESL at the young age of 18 years old. There were 30 of us altogether, with half going to Bognor Regis in West Sussex while our group was destined for Plymouth, Devon.  When we arrived, our seniors were already in their 3rd year. Throughout our stay there, more Malaysians came and went as they completed their postgraduate studies there. We also welcome a few batches of TESL Twinning Programmes trainees from MPIK Kuala Lumpur. At Marjon, we were surrounded by many International and home students.

My mates and I spent 6 years together. We went through thick and thin and supported each other like sisters. Most were of the same age as me except for a few girls who were one or two years older but everyone was on first name basis with each other. We laughed, we cried, we got angry, we sulked, we regretted our words and actions, we forgave one another and we were good friends again. Some secrets were shared, some were hidden until we came back to Malaysia, some we lost contact with, some we still haven't met, some turned up for mini reunions but almost all still keep in touch through social media groups.

I am the only one from Kedah. I studied at MRSM Kuantan for 5 years before going to UK. Now I am teaching MUET to sixth form girls at SMK Tun Sharifah Rodziah, Alor Setar. I have been there since October 1997! I did my Master's degree at UUM and graduated in 2008.

Yana hails from Perlis.  She married a fellow Perlis man but now they reside in Dungun, Trengganu as she lectures at UITM. I have met most of the girls except her. She rarely came up north now since her parents have passed away. I miss you, Yana. How your girls have grown!

Mas comes from Temerloh, Pahang.  She met her future husband in UK, Zaman. Now, she is an active member of BAKAT at TLDM Teluk Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu. She is a proud mom of 3 boys and 13 cats at present! She has completed her MA and is a teacher at a secondary school in Sabah. She is an avid runner and has climbed Mount Kinabalu with her family.

Zeti is a Kelantanese who used to study at Zainab School, Kota Bharu. She met a French-Algerian and later they got married and now they have 3 beautiful kids who are multilingual - Malay, English, French and Arabic. She used to live and work in Algeria before settling down here in Malaysia and is now a manager at ELS centre.

Nikki is also a Kelantanese. She has done her MA and used to teach at a secondary school before marrying her British hubby and now resides in Cornwall. She met him online. They fell in love. The rest is history. She divides her time between her work at Exeter university  as an admission officer and the beautiful garden around her house.

Amy is from Taiping, Perak and is the only child in the family. I think she is the most ladylike in our group back then. She probably still is. She has a pretty daughter. She is now a lecturer at USM and has completed her PhD. She just moved to a new apartment in Penang after many years travelling to and fro from Taiping! That is pure dedication, Amy...!

Ija is also from Taiping but is now living in Penang. She has also completed he PhD and is now teaching at Penang Matriculation college. I salute this independent mother, wife and career woman whose husband is based in KL. She balances her career and her responsibility towards her 2 daughters and 1 son well. Ija is the only one who got first class degree from Marjon.

Tara hails from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. She did her PhD in New Zealand and is now a lecturer at UNITEN and is also an avid jungle-trekker, cave explorer and hill climber. She is married to a Kedahan. Her three children are impressive.

Niza who comes from Ipoh, Perak is also married to a Kedahan. She is teaching at a secondary school in Rawang and has done her MA. During our studies, I discovered that she had the largest vocabulary in English among all of us. She would use low frequency words often when the rest used common everyday words. I admire her for that. I am happy that she has a son.

Za comes from Kajang. She is a lecturer at UPM and has completed her PhD. She has three children and the daughter is also the spitting image of her. She met her hubby, Ijan in UK and their wedding was the first among us TESLians. She was probably the most hardworking girl among us. She would leave for the library early in the morning and would only come back in the late evening. We all wished she got a first class degree...

Kecom is from Johor Bahru, Johor. She is the tallest and slimmest! She is now a lecturer at UKM. She met her hubby in Australia while pursuing her PhD. Her wedding in JB was our first big reunion.

Jida is from KL. She left the education field to work as a PR. She is currently free-lance and also an agent for Public Mutual. She has an adorable daughter who spends her time between nursery, her grandparents' home and her mom's apartment. I think  Jida is a strong, independent, single mother.

Siti is from PJ, Selangor. She used to work for EON before leaving for Corporate Comm. She is now attached to the Energy Commission. She is a mother of two cute boys with big hairs (not anymore, I think - the hair, I mean).

Leen hails from KL but now lives in Mauritius after marrying her hubby. Her two girls are the spitting image of her hubby and herself. She regularly updates her FB, showing her busy life there. She has completed her MA and now works as an HR manager there. She wishes she could come home more often.

Yati Aziz, from KL,  is currently M.I.A. We think she is living in UK.  We always wonder about her life. I hope we will meet again some day.

Tharu is our course mate from Maldives, along with Iku and Fatmath. Since Tharu lives in Malaysia now, we manage to keep in touch and meet up for reunions. She is now a busy mother of two. Her husband, Jalal, accompanied her to England during her studies. We envied her for this. She is famous for her spicy tuna balls which she serves during Hari Raya and other special occasions.

Kak Jay is our Malaysian senior who did her Master's degree and PhD at Marjon. She likes to cook and regularly fed us. This is one of the reasons why she was popular among International students, especially a certain handsome Uruguayan student who clearly looked up to her.... She is now a Professor at UNISEL after leaving UKM.

There are many other individuals whom I met there whose friendship I valued. I have lost contact with many of them but some I have met again on FB... :)

Thank you, chinggu, for your everlasting friendship and love. I heart you guys!



First row - Tony Wright
Second row - Sue Parker, cikgu Midad, Yana, Jida, Katy Salisbury, Mas, Tharu
Third row - Niza, ..... Yati, Za
Fourth row - Kecom, Siti, Tara, Ija, Amy, Jane Spiro, Zeti
Fifth row - Liz Robbins, Leen, Nikki






Sunday, 16 April 2017

MARJON - PART SEVEN

TEACHING PRACTICE - UK VS MALAYSIA


The view of Fal River in Falmouth
 (Google Image)

 As part of my TESL course, I had to complete 4 teaching practices, 2 in UK and 2 in Malaysia.

Part 1 : 1-week experience in a primary school in Plymouth
Part 2 : 2-week experience in SMK Tun Sharifah Rodziah Alor Setar
Part 3 : 1-month teaching practice in Falmouth School, Cornwall
Part 4 : 3-month teaching practice in SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Kuantan



The map of  Falmouth in Cornwall ( and Plymouth in Devon )


Part 1

All of us TESL trainee teachers started our practical training at a primary school in Plymouth where each teacher was required to teach a few different subjects. Team teaching was a common practice there. We were assigned different classes and were asked to teach English and also to introduce certain aspects of Malaysia to the young students. Our finale was presenting  and teaching traditional dances and songs to them. We even brought telekung, baju kurung and baju melayu for them to wear as part of our introduction. We even prepared some food for them to try. The kids were curious and willing to try anything. At first, they were quite shy and distant but after a few days, the ice was broken. They were inquisitive and asked a million questions. They had no problem in speaking their mother tongue but had some problems in writing and reading. It was an area where we could offer some help. This experience had opened my eyes to the importance of class management and discipline. It was an area that I definitely need to improve...

Part 2

During one semester break which lasted for 3 months, we returned home to Malaysia for a long holiday and also for our teaching experience (it is called ROS nowadays) in a school near our homes. So, I decided to do my practice at SMK Tun Sharifah Rodziah, Alor Setar for 2 weeks. I chose it because it is an all-girls' school. Little did I realise that I would be coming back to the school as a permanent teacher and staying there until today. Our lecturer from INTEC, Liz Robbins, came to Malaysia to monitor our progress. She went to all the schools in various states, including Kedah. I was planning a lesson for her to observe but at the last minute, my lesson was cancelled because the school was holding a religious celebration for all students. I had to apologize to Liz for cancelling the lesson and offered her to observe me the following day. Unfortunately, she had to go to another state and we said goodbye after I had taken her around the school compounds. I taught lower secondary students back then and they were definitely different from the kids in the Plymouth school. The SMKTSR girls were shy and less interactive, even though they were of similar age. They had low to medium English language proficiency and I had to use both English and Malay in my class for them to understand. I also made friends with the other teachers there, especially the English teachers there. After I finished my short stint there, the principal offered me a temporary position if I were to come back again. I thanked her for the offer but that was to be my last practice until 1997, when I came back from UK for good and started my career at this same school. This was pure luck. No cable whatsoever.

Part 3

Marjon is a well-known teacher training college, especially in sports. All students had to undergo teaching practice or TP at a school around Devon or Cornwall as part of their courses. The education officers there had selected some school for us TESLians to do our TP and even looked for accommodations for us to stay. Norhaniza and I were chosen to go to Falmouth School in Falmouth, Cornwall and we would be staying at a farmhouse in Flushing, Cornwall. We had to ride a boat early in the morning to cross the Flushing river to get to Falmouth town and be ready to return by 3pm or 4pm in the afternoon. The boat ride was an adventure but the farmhouse was definitely a challenge for us! The landlady informed us a few rules for us to follow and most were okay except for one. The house heater was set to a certain temperature and we could not turn it up or down. We discovered on our first night there the coldness had seeped into our bones. Even several layers of clothes could not protect us from the freezing cold of the night. So we made the decision not to return to the house the week after. We had to inform the college of our situation and they were willing to find us another house in town. Thankfully, they found us an accommodation near the school. The landlady was friendly, (and so was her cute dog. We did our best not to accidently touch it and kept the door to our room closed all the time. ) She would serve us breakfast, it was either bread, cereal or kedgeree... rice, served with smoked fish. Yummy.

We were given a class each to teach Literature. There was no English language subject like in Malaysia. Activities were planned around the events in the book chosen. We also observed other teachers at work. In one class, which was held in the ICT room, the students were busy writing  fictional newspaper reports on the computer, about the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Some classes have a teaching assistant (ancillary) to aid the special needs students.  She would be sitting beside the child throughout the day and helped him or her study. I recall the day when I was observed by my lecturer. During that particular lesson, I was feeling very anxious because besides my lecturer, the teaching assistant and the original teacher were also present...! Alhamdulillah, the lesson went well and immediately after it, my lecturer, Sarah North and I reflected on the lesson. There were some good points and also areas that needed improvement. Besides teaching Literature, I also had to introduce Malaysia to the students since most kids here didn't know much about this country. All in all, it was a rewarding experience that offered me insights into a different approach to teaching and learning. We didn't have a lot of time to discover Falmouth since the time not teaching was spent mostly on planning and preparing the next lesson... t'was a pity.

Part 4

My final TP was in the summer of 1996, in SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Kuantan for 3 months. All of us were assigned to a few school but we managed to rent a place and stayed together. It was a shoplot which had been renovated into living quarters. There were some good and bad memories there which I would rather not say here. This would remain our little secret, my TESL friends... 😂


SABS Kuantan
(http://www.panoramio.com/photo/13549508)


I was asked to teach form Four and form Six students. That was the only time I taught co-ed classes. For the past 18 years or so, my clients have been females and 3/4 of it has been spent on teaching the sixth form girls. My mentor was Pn Wahida who had helped me a lot throughout my TP. I remember she had to teach Literature to a student outside school hours because the subject was not offered at that school. I wonder where she is now. I wonder if she has retired...?

I had two supervisors. The first was a lecturer from Semambu Teacher Training College who came to observe my lessons. Unfortunately, he was not pleased with my methods and the way I wrote my lesson plans. You see, back in  the UK, the lecturers there were not very rigid and they did not ask us to write our lesson plans in detail. So, I became a bit disheartened and upset. It was my own shortcomings and I was thankful that I eventually passed the local supervisor's evaluation later.

The other supervisor was our own college lecturers who took turn to come to Kuantan for a month to monitor all of us. They were happy to be in Malaysia. We often spent our weekends at Telok Chempedak beach together to relax our mind and ease our tension.... I felt more at ease with them compared to the local lecturer. Perhaps, it was because we had known them longer and was on first-name basis with all of them. But, I was happy to meet several teachers at that school who took us under their wings and treated us like their younger sisters. We spent time shopping and dining together. Their friendship certainly helped reduce the awkwardness and first impressions. You guys are in my Doa tonight...

Since we were in Pahang, we managed to squeeze in some time to go travelling to Tasik Chini with our lecturer, Dr Katy Salisbury. Masliza was our unofficial guide since she hailed from Temerloh. We visited the Orang Asli village by riding a sampan. We tried the Sumpitan and chatted with the villagers. On the way back, we stopped by at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere . I was shocked to discover that the price for a plate of nasi goreng was around rm6.00. Remember, guys - this was still 1996. Not 2016.


Dr Katy Salisbury
(Image from marjon.ac.uk)


Now that I have experienced both systems of education, I can honestly say that each  has its pros and cons. One thing I really like in UK is that teachers can wear anything they like to school, as long as it it decent. Here in Malaysia, there are guidelines that we teachers must follow. How I wish I could just wear trousers or jeans and blouse to class instead of baju kurung most of the times... :p





Friday, 14 April 2017

MARJON - PART SIX

EID MUBARAK... !

I always looked forward to Hari Raya back in Plymouth. I think I had celebrated raya without my family for 5 years.... Instead, I would celebrate Hari Raya with my Marjon friends, my Plymouth Uni friends and my Plymouth CFE mates whom I still keep in touch with until today.


Our reunion dinner last year.....  The Marjon families have grown!  ( Literally and figuratively..hehehe)



Our  Malaysian friends from Plymouth CFE and Plymouth University


Photo from Irman's FB

Ramadan was easy during winter but harder during summer. The reason being fasting was shorter during winter and we usually broke our fast around 5pm where it was already beginning to get dark. In summer, we could be fasting until 8pm or 9pm.... We took turn to cook dinner and if we had to break our fast during class, we would prepare a light snack first like sandwiches, chocolates or fruits. Then after class, we would go back and start cooking. My specialty was fried pasta since it is easy and fast.  ;)

At first it was strange to see other students on campus eating but after a while, we adjusted to the situation. Fasting wasn't very difficult since the  balmy weather made it bearable. The cold made us forget our thirst. But the cold also made us crave food like chocolates at times...  :P

       
                 Photo by Rose Ariffin @ Na'e....

When it was near Hari Raya time, I would start blasting Lagu Raya from my cassette recorder / player over and over again. That was when I missed my family the most. I would leave my window open and so, Sudirman's , Saloma's and P. Ramlee's songs could be heard by people walking passed my village house.... On Hari Raya and a few days after that, I would play the recorded Takbir Raya continuously to ease my longing for my family. The takbir heard in UK is just not the same as the one heard in Malaysia. The latter suited my situation perfectly. 

We performed Terawih prayer from time to time in an annexe in the college. It was too far to go to the one in the city centre. Our Terawih prayer depended on whether the Imam was available. One year, our Imam was an International student from Yemen, if I am not mistaken. His name is also Ramadan. After prayer, we would have a small more, consisting of hot tea or coffee and some kuihs or snacks.

The college would usually grant us a day off for us to celebrate Hari Raya. On that  raya morning, we would go to the designated place in town to have our special prayer. One time it was at Plymouth Uni hall and at another time, it was in unused old church. The gathering was an eye-opener for us. We met Muslims of different backgrounds and races and we were the only ones wearing telekung for the prayer. The Pakistani  and Bangladeshi women were in their colourful punjabi suits while the Bosnians were in t-shirts and jeans. But, regardless of our choice of clothing, all of us prayed in the same direction towards one God. 

After prayer, there would usually be a small feast shared by all. Usually, an Indian restaurant run by a Muslim would prepare rice biryani and some sweets for those attending. Then, we would disperse and return to our college or visit a Malaysian family  who organised an open house for other Malaysian students. This was the time when we could taste the raya delicacies like sate, rendang, nasi impit and cookies. This was also the time to wear baju kurung and baju melayu. We also visited the CFE and Plymouth Uni students at their houses and ate some more.

The Marjon students would also prepare a feast for the Muslims at the college. We would invite our lecturers,  and other Malaysian and International students as well. We would delegate the food to be cooked and later have the feast in one of the annexes. Tharu, our couse mate from Maldives, would make her delicious spicy tuna balls.  Our MA / Phd senior, kak Jay @ Jamilah Mustafa (now a professor at UNISEL), would also invite us to her house since she usually cooked delicious food for Hari Raya. One year, I went to visit my Kurbani boss and his family. They served me Bangladeshi food and sweets which included sweet vermicelli.... that was something new to me since I was more familiar with the savoury fried vermicelli.


photo from kak Jay's FB


Of course Raya in UK was not the same as Raya in Malaysia since we were not with our loved ones and missed all our favourite food. But, we had to make do with what we had and luckily for us, we had close friends and understanding lecturers who helped make the celebration a joyous one. 

How I miss those moments, mates...!  :)










Pesantren - Pondok Madani - a religious school with a difference.

Image from : http://www.satumedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cinta-pesantren-gontor-indonesia.jpg I have been neglecting this ...