CLT will always be a special chapter of my life.

I’m ending my internship here in CLT next Tuesday…and truth be told, I will miss this place dearly. It will always hold a special place in my heart, for it is at this place and time that I have met so many special people who constantly touches me in one way or another.

My boss, Madam Baghya is the founder of the organisation. To date, CLT is 12 years old, and from here it is obvious that only someone with a determination of steel will be able to not only grow but nurture a non-profit to be what it is today. It has been the greatest privilege to be able to work so closely with such an inspiring person. Working with her helped me to see her as a very humble and tough lady. She had accomplished more in life than many people her age, but she could still endear herself to young people like us. Despite the fact that it can be tiring when she makes changes to what we have been working on over and over again, I’ve never found it in me to complain about it because I am constantly grateful for the opportunity to work with such a special person. I truly learnt a great deal from her. Her patience, optimism, and humility is something which is worth emulating.

Malini joined CLT a few weeks after I did. Like me, she is a newcomer. I’ve never thought that a short foray into her home to borrow an adaptor could lead to an almost sisterly relationship. She is the one I air all my grouses to, and she has always been there tru all the good and bad days I had in India. Now that I have gastritis, she even asked her mom what I could take to relieve it! What a golden person. While my own housemates don’t even bother to ask about how I’m feeling, she sends me texts day and night to ask about how I feel. Today, she brought me a container of fresh veges, and went to the market to get mint leaves so that the lady who cooks for us can make mint juice (what her mom said I should drink) for me. Saying that I am touched is probably an understatement. I’ll never forget such a special person…and I do hope that she will find meaning in what she does in CLT, and that she’ll have a baby soon! She will be sorely missed when I return to Singapore.

Nazia is a youngster like me. She is one problematic person, having been diagnosed with OCD. Many people find her wierd and, honestly, in the beginning, I did too. Slowly tho, I realised that she is simply lost, and having been friend-less all this time, it probably caused her to be the wierd person she is . Afterall, ‘wierd’ is merely the result of not conforming to society. She calls me her ‘sister’, which I’ve never brought myself to say, not wanting her to get too attached. Afterall, I will be leaving soon, and this is sth I can’t change. She has been the nicest person too…bringing me medicines and text-ing me and all that when I’m not well. She was actually the person who kept saying ‘Don’t worry, no one can hurt you while I’m here’ after I got so paranoid as a result of the snatch theft incident. Maybe I felt safer too, owing to the fact that she is a boxer. Although my Sg’rean friend has said that she will delete her off FB, to me she is  someone I will never forget when I leave. Her ‘wierdness’ is what makes her who she is.

Latha and Vismitha are two people who abruptly walked out CLT this week. I am still confused why…altho this has made me realise that sometimes still waters do run deep. Latha is the first colleague who invited us to her house during a new year festival in April. I enjoyed my time there, and the only pictures on FB of me wearing a saree is testament of that. I will miss her kindness a lot. Vismitha left yesterday after a highly dramatic incident. I’ve chatted on countless occasions with her especially when we meet after work (she sits in another room, so I couldn’t talk to her at work), and altho she gave me the impression that she is a very sheltered young girl, she is a very nice person. She’s always gay and bubbly…and almost a fashionista! She’s one girl who loves dressing up! I will miss her too…and I hope that, even if she will have to marry a man her parents choose in the future, that man will be good for her.

Shree Devi is like my ‘mommy’ here. She takes care that we get proper meals, and she’s always asking after me. Sometimes I feel like calling her ‘auntie’ as this is more endearing than calling her by her name. She’s a wonderful person, very tall, with a dazzling smile. I love her smile. Ive had the opportunity to talk to her a few times, beyond work and the ‘what’s for breakfast tmr’ talk, and I realised that she hasn’t ever been out of Bangalore, and that she is a real mommy. She has kids who are as old as I am but she doesn’t look a day over 30! I wanna always stay pretty like she does =) I hope that the time I was here didn’t bring her too much of a trouble, and that she will miss me too (like I will).

All my other colleagues are people that I will miss too, altho, I feel that many will merely be part of some long-forgotten memory in the future. But then, this is life isn’t it? We close a chapter and move on to the next, and we take whatever good things we read about in the past chapter and learn from the bad.

In the end, all the different experiences will stay as a part of us, and that’s what makes each of us unique.


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Bharat Bandh

Yesterday was Monday, yet it was a state holiday. No, it is not because of some famous dead person’s birthday or even their National Day. It was a day when all shops were closed and all public transportations were halted in protest of the rise in fuel prices. They called it the ‘Bharat Bandh’, a state-sponsored strike. For me, it was simply another stay-at-home day…

Then I wondered…wouldn’t this affect the people who depend on their daily wage to survive every day? For example, the auto drivers would not have any income for the day. People who own small pushcart stalls and such would be affected as well. I wondered how they survived yesterday…and I wondered too, about the effectiveness of such a strike. Or is this simply something with a political agenda, since it was the opposition party who organised this. Oh well, I do hope that not too many people had to go hungry yesterday while the upper echelons of society who organised this strike feasted on good food in the comfort of their homes. And I do hope that the strike will bring about some change because rising fuel prices would cause everyday grocery items vital for the sustenance of many to increase in prices.

I have 3 more weeks here…exactly 21 days. How do I feel, I wonder? A cocktail of different feelings, I suppose. I’m not sure, sometimes, whether I’ll be happier  leaving or staying…

There is happiness that I will see my dearest friends and loved ones again. I miss my mom and my bro. I kinda miss my dad too. I miss my bestie and cant wait to do stuff with her and go try out all the food i miss with her. I miss fatty, and cant wait to see him again, and to explore Shanghai and Beijing and to try out all the food I’ve been hearing about with him. I miss my friends in Sg and Melaka, all who have been with me one way or another throughout all the good and bad times I had here in India. I miss all of you, and can’t wait to see you again…

There is also a slight sadness that I will be leaving some dear friends behind. I will miss the kindness of the people here, their hospitality. It is incredible how a complete stranger can let another hold her baby in an overcrowded bus. They probably never realised that they are teaching me a great deal about life.  I see strength in the most common of people here, and I derive strength from the fact that I have so much more, and shouldn’t complain. I learnt optimism and open-mindedness. Even the snatch-theft incident did teach me something – forgiveness.

Also, I will definitely miss the carefree life I lead here…a life without CORS, exams, assignments and many other responsibilities. It almost feels like the moment I reach Changi, my life would change in so many ways that it would be a different life altogether, and India would simply be a dream.

I will also definitely miss the authentic Indian food which I have come to love so well…my favourite being Idlis, chutney, vada, sambar, chappati, briyani, bisebelebath (a rice thingy), kababs, and all the food enjoyed by the common people here. One thing which I still can’t tolerate tho, is butter milk. It still tastes like milk gone bad to me =/ I’ve never thought of learning how to cook Indian food…and in fact, I’ve often considered such food my least favourite. But now, I find myself browsing through webpages and googling for Indian recipes, and for once, try to make sense of the long (and I mean…loooooong) list of ingredients and spices. I’m even worried that I wont be able to find the spices I would need when I return to Singapore. Also, whether you believe it or not, I’ve started googling for proper restaurants which offer Idlis and such in Little India since 2 months ago…although I have a feeling that it wont be the same. Better than nothing tho…=)

Isn’t this mouth watering? The breakfast I look forward to everyday!

I suppose we can’t have everything in life all at once. There is a time for everything, and while my time in India is almost up, I’ll cherish this experience forever, and move on to the next chapter of my life.

One thing for sure, tho, I’ll come back to India…after all, it is already a part of me…and I’m proud of that.

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WTHMID?

Sometimes I wonder…what the hell am I doing?

And it’s not funny…

Sigh…

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I’m not Malaysian…I’m Asian.

Today, on my way home from work, I wondered about many things, but mainly about how I’ve been to so many different places in these three years.

Back then, while many of my peers have gone to different places, I’ve never actually thought that I’ll get to a foreign country so quickly at 19, especially since my parents have been drumming it into our heads that we’ll NEVER go overseas (or even to a local private institution) for studies unless we are good enough to get a scholarship. They’ll never be able to afford it. So, going overseas was obviously the farthest in my mind.

But I took a risky path and studied Sixth Form, and so I was accepted into NUS.

Truth to be told, I’ve never had a passport until I saw the need to – which is to go to Singapore to further my education. I suppose I have the M’sian education system to thank for this. I still remember the feeling I had when I first held my passport. I suddenly realized that what I hold in my hand was the very thing that is going to allow me to see for myself things that I’ve only been able to read about in the encyclopaedias which i absolutely love. I could tell people about the different cultures of the world which has kept me fascinated ever since I could read, but never that I’ve actually experienced them myself. Having that passport changed everything. It gave me my freedom, like a bird being given the key to its cage.

And so, I stepped into a foreign land for the first time, although it is merely across the causeway. Singapore is similar to Malaysia, yet, it is still different in many ways…my life would be different. For once, I have to do everything for myself, not that I haven’t ever been independent. I have always been an independent person, in fact, but starting a new life in a new country is completely different. I have so little knowledge of how things work in Singapore. I’m basically leaving my friends and family and everything I am familiar with for a place where I’ll need to learn anew where places like supermarkets are and how much things cost.

Looking back, however, it has been a great learning experience. I suppose I grew up really quickly then.

In these 3 years, I have also been to the Philippines where I have fond memories of. Without realising it, now I have a ‘foster’ family there who calls me their daughter despite the fact that I’ve merely stayed there for 3 days. I’m going back in December this year. Although this might be the last time I’m returning to the Philippines for a long time to come, I’m content that at least I have the chance to return, and this time I’ll be leading a new team of people there. I’m sure it will be more challenging but I’m also sure that the fun and camaraderie which I will experience will be doubled if not tripled.

And now, I’m in India…and my 6 months stay will almost be up in a couple of months’ time. India is also a whole new experience for me, especially having gotten used to the comfortable and clean surroundings in Singapore and Malaysia. This place and how everything works can get so chaotic and frustrating sometimes that you could easily throw up your hands and give up trying to adapt. But adapt I did…mostly because I was forced to. I think that if I am here merely for a holiday, I probably might not find this place so demanding. In fact, I will only see the beautiful things and taste the delicious food. I wouldn’t be craving for chicken rice, asam laksa and char kuey tiow in the middle of the night, knowing fully that I’ll never be able to whip those things up even if I am a master chef.

India is, and will always be a wonderful experience for me. I’ll never regret that decision to sign up for this program although I know that I’m signing up alone. Living and working here (especially in an NGO) has opened my eyes to entirely different sorts of people (very sensitive guys, the good auto drivers, the bad auto drivers, and the list goes on) and entirely different levels of poverty altogether. Now, I appreciate what I have more…and I’m determined not to ever complain for long about all the inadequacies and the difficulties I have in my life. Most people here have so little (especially those who share the bus ride with me every morning), yet they do everything in their power to keep life going. They innovate, they persevere and the spirit of ‘Jugaad’ lives on in every Indian. [‘Jugaad’ means to improvise]

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, but unfortunately, life doesn’t always give you any sugar and water. So what will you do?

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Bangalore, the not-so-IT city

Time certainly flies, especially when you know something will end very soon. As of now, I have about 9 weeks left in India, and 9 weeks more of a pretty carefree life. Soon, I’ll be flying back to Singapore (alone, by the way…and it’s gonna be the first flight I’m gonna be taking by myself..so I’m pretty nervous). Once I’m back in Singapore, things will start getting crazy. It’s not even June (and i’m flying back in Aug) yet the first 3 weeks of August in my planner is pretty much taken up.

But anyway, since I’m in Bangalore – the IT City of India, I thought I should describe a bit what I read today with regards to the IT industry in India. Apparently, it has been rapidly expanding with regards to GDP but surprisingly, this trend does not apply to the rate of employment in the IT sector.

Although Bangalore is an IT city, infrastructures are still rather poor in most parts. One of my colleagues mentioned that a lot of the drainage systems and basic infrastructures could be dated back to when the British ruled! As it is too costly to undertake a major overhaul, they are simply repairing wherever is necessary. The waste disposal system is not helping either…people dump rubbish anywhere, and this always clogs up the already poor drainage systems. On days with heavy rainfalls, the roads could get flooded in just a few minutes, and because a lot of things are under construction, the piles of sand and soil by the sides of the road makes the tarred road looks like a mud path.

Public transport is not very convenient too…although admittedly, they are very cheap. A bus ride from my place to my workplace is only 11 Rupees (about 50 cents). The bus ride is about an hour long. However, the busses don’t go just anywhere. As for taking the auto-rickshaws,  I think I would rank it as one of the more unpleasant things I have to do for the day.

Taking an auto involves:

  1. ASKING if the driver would take you to the place you want to go to

  2. If he says yes…then whether or not he will be willing to charge you according to the meter (sometimes they will try charging you exorbitant prices).

  3. If he says no, sometimes I can be stuck there waiting for one who will be willing to take me.

But anyway, I’ve done it so far…so another 9 weeks should be pretty painless.

And the highlight of my story today is this: this morning while walking down the stairs of an overhead bridge, I saw a man (not a boy, a man) peeing less than 5 metres away from me. I could almost see the colour of his urine. At that point, I did not know which way to turn…should I look? (because I would have to if I intend to still walk straight without falling off the stairs or stepping on a banana skin). Should I pretend that nothing happened? Is he even embarrassed that 2 young foreign girls has just seen him peeing? If he isn’t, well…I think at least i feel embarrassed for him. Although I see this scene pretty often, seeing it up-close is an entirely different matter.

And now, I don’t even care if I step on the ground someone just pee-ed or spit on. When it rains, I’m sure everything gets mixed up anyway, although sometimes I’m worried that someone with tuberculosis or similar diseases would spit near me and the germs would have a field day attacking my airways too. But oh well, since I can’t possibly predict that, I’m just careful not to step on very apparently fresh piles of cow dung…

And it’s raining now…very heavily…gosh…I really hope I’ll get back home safely later…

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Revival of my blog!

I haven’t had the time (when i have the mood) or the mood (when I have the time) to post anything up these past weeks. But since I’m ahead of schedule now…and it seems that typing burns about 67 calories per hour, I see no harm in posting. =)

Gosh…so much have happened lately. Where do I even begin?

Lets start with  my newest fascination with calorie-counting. A friend of mine in Singapore is putting in lots of effort in losing weight, so some of his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. He introduced me a website. It is good. It allows the user to use it as sort of a food diary, and it automatically calculates the calories and breakdown of nutrients in that particular food. Also, the food database is extensive! I could even find Indian food in it (which is a great thing because now that I’m in India, I’m eating Indian food on a daily basis…the food r delicious by the way =D ). Besides that, it allows you to input the type of fitness activity you did for the day. It will then take away the calories you burned! This website is http://www.livestrong.com =) Maybe you can use it too!

Shopping! I shopped the other day at Commercial Street. Due to the fact that I’ll need an Indian Costume for the NOC India appreciation dinner, Swetha’s wedding, and being the last to even think of getting one among the seven girls made me just go and get one. And I did! I shopped at this place called ‘Soch’. It is a very nice place…and the salespeople are extremely helpful. That is probably why in the end, I left the shop with a feeling of guilt – I spent $150 on a harem pants (which I plan to get more) and a punjabi suit. I think they call it Salwar Kameez. Regardless…I do feel satisfied with the shopping trip! It is something I haven’t done in a long time…haha.. =) I can’t wait to put it on for Swetha’s wedding which will be held in June!

Fatty sent me this necklace from Henan. I loved it! =)

You probably cant see it, but it’s got a rice grain inside. There are words written on it. One side is my name…and the other is 3 very sweet words =)

Now I’m sipping my first cup of Milo in three months. Oh..it is delicious! It’s true they say…When things are rare, they taste nicer! I can’t even remember all the times in the past when I used to take Milo for granted. Speaking of rare things, the other day, I actually saw durians at the fruit stall at Brigade Road. We were so excited about it, and really wanted to buy it. So we asked about the price. The shopkeeper pretty much ‘whispered’ to us, as if he’s trying not to startle the other customers at his stall., and no wonder! One durian costs 2000 rupees! That is equivalent to about SGD60! So we laughed and moved on…another story to tell…

I shall leave out all the crisis stories and all the unpleasant stuff to another day…for today, I think it’s best to just dwell on the good things in my life. My friend told me today that I’m so positive in my thoughts that I’m like a light bulb…haha…=) That’s a pretty huge compliment considering the fact that some pretty stressful and unhappy stuff has happened.

Well…it’s all in the mind isn’t it? =)

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A relatively better Sunday =)

Yesterday was a pretty good day…

Finally, my digestive system is not misbehaving, and I hope it stays this way =) We often take for granted the fact that we have normal bowel movements and digestive functions until it starts malfunctioning. I should never take it for granted ever…and of good health in general.

Anyway, I went out to Matteo yesterday. It’s a cafe in Brigade Road which is quite a nice place. The coffee there is alright, and the atmosphere makes me feel like I’m back in Singapore/ Malaysia. It’s a nice place to chill and to read a book, or to meet up with friends and chat over a cup of coffee. I went there on my own, and met up with my housemates and my landlord-turned-friend. He’s a pretty nice guy, and it was nice to be able to chat with him.

After that, we walked to Garuda Mall. It is like an average small-sized mall in Malaysia, with a cinema and a pub in it. I bought an adaptor suitable for India. I wanted to buy one which is universal, BUT I couldn’t have afforded to spend 3000 Rs on anything right now. I only have that much to survive on for the next half a month, so frugality is key at the moment.

After that, my friends wanted to go someplace else for shisha and shakes (which is apparently quite expensive) so I decided to head home by myself. The auto driver turned out to be a really nice guy. He kept asking me stuff about Malaysia (after asking me where I am from), and he didn’t even try to cheat me by going the longer way. In fact, he showed me the shortest way back home. I was so glad that I gave him an extra 5 Rs (which I normally wouldn’t) in addition to my customary ‘thank you’. =)

I’ve spent quite a bit during the weekends and so now it is back to being thrifty.

I hope fatty isn’t having a real bad day now…he’s so busy nowadays that he doesn’t even have the time (or energy) to talk to me. I miss him…as always…

And I wonder if my bestie is better now…but I think she had a swell time being in PD with her friends. Gosh, I wish I could have such fun too, but somehow, I get bored very easily being with my housemates. I suppose that means we don’t click? Oh whatever, I just hope to get on PEACEFULLY with them (they are radically different people, with different wants, habits, needs – basically a different whole package)…and if by the end of all these, we are still friends, then I’ll be content.

Walk with me…

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