Privileged, but . . .

I came across a video today about the obvious truth about people and privileges and it got me thinking about a few things. First was on how interesting life is, that every single minute, even the uneventful minutes, once it has passed there’s no rewinding it back. It’s sort of like writing a book but without an eraser. Then, it got me thinking how blessed my life is and all the privileges that I was born with yet probably took it for granted too many times.

Looking back, I feel that everything has been arranged so beautifully that every life is a masterpiece of its own. But then, similar to the creation of a forest it’s beautiful not because the forest have not been through any rough days, rather its the opposite. We only say it’s beautiful because it has unfold its stories, faced through storms and grew back from the start, the flowers bloomed and fell and bloomed again until it grows to become a huge land of trees and nature from just being a single tree. I guess life in a way works that way too. If we focus on one event, we only see the negative or demotivating side of it. But when you see it from a different viewpoint, a much bigger one you’ll learn to understand that life has been arranged in such a way that you learn and continuously experience something that is needed for your growth. It’s not always sunny days because even the rainy days are sort of a blessing in disguise; something you don’t want but it’s probably something you need. Life is such a beautiful creation because its a combination of your efforts and the universe.

I don’t know, maybe I’m seeing this in such a positive manner because I’ve never went through the different troubles in life. I’m not sure if my thoughts would be like this if I was born in an unstable country, growing up facing gunfires and bombs instead of being in school. I probably won’t be as positive, or maybe I would realize it even earlier. That is why, when we listen to others talk about their problems, no matter how trifle it may be to you, please don’t judge their problems. It’s fair for you to give opinions and listen but to belittle others problems, I think that’s not something we are entitled to do because what each of us face in life is different and making comparisons would be unfair to all.

The thought about life also made me think about privileges. I always hear people saying things like this person was born rich, obviously they have better chance at surviving this world. Indeed, it is true. I cannot even try to disagree with this statement because if you have the means and can afford the world, then you will be given the world. Thats literally how the world works. And it’s not anyone’s fault that some people are privileged. But do we just not do anything about it ? I thought real hard about how lucky I am to be blessed with such supporting family. I was given additional support in education when I felt like the school syllabus wasn’t enough for my understanding. It’s probably why I am able to score good grades in school. I didn’t have to worry about working part time to support myself while studying. Everything I needed, my parents did their best to provide it for me. So do I feel proud when success is what I got in return? Those who don’t have the same privileges might question your success or wouldn’t take it as serious. And I understand fully why they would feel that way, it isn’t a fair opportunity for everyone.

But while agreeing to this, I must say that it’s not right when you say there’s nothing you can do about it. You can, to be honest. Make good use of your privileges and with those privileges, create opportunities for those who are not as privileged. Some people work for the money, some desperately work because they need the money. While you’re happily enjoying the big monthly salary, maybe some are struggling to meet ends. So with that power you have, you help them. Its fine to help in monetary form but we are not santa claus. Instead, help them grow so they can reach out to more opportunities. Help them grow in ways that you are able to help. Don’t make them feel dependent but assist them so they can stand on their own with the privileges you’ve obtained thanks to life’s doing. You were born with privileges, they are yours but that doesn’t mean they are only meant for you. Its there so you could help those who needs it. When we’ve got more than what we need in life, giving back is only natural. Because who else would right ? What we thought is ours by right, is probably true but it comes with a bigger purpose than just for us. So use that as a tool to make changes, to help and to grow.

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a continuous chain.

Today was one of those hectic days with so many people to catch up with and running errands in between everything. I drove to a few places today and as usual, traffic’s always bad especially now the weather has gone gloomy most afternoons. So while I was carefully driving the car, making sure I don’t accidentally ‘make’ an accident, my mind was wandering about my favorite topic ; sustainable living and it sort of started with me being thirsty in the car but I forgot to bring my water bottle today. I made a mental note to always bring a bottle with me wherever I go. This is so that I can avoid purchasing plastic bottles repeatedly. But then, because I’ll be away from home for the next 3 weeks, staying in a dormitory of sorts I started thinking how is it that bringing one bottle of water is enough? I probably or most likely will need to purchase plastic bottles and even stock them up (what a nightmare!). It’s different when I am at home, I can boil the water and refill the bottle as much as I want.

But what if I’m at a place that doesn’t have such electrical facilities? The tap water in Malaysia is clean, but is it safe for consumption?

I am not entirely sure about that but even if it claims to be, I prefer to be on the safe side and boil the water first usually. This means that even if I want to reduce plastic bottles consumption, I may not be able to do so under certain circumstances. It’s similar like how we preach about reducing the usage of air condition, but you know very well that most of the offices and buildings are air conditioned the whole day, some even until at night which is definitely more than the daily air condition usage in an average household. Also, at the same time we can’t tell those buildings to turn off the air condition because how will they circulate air in the buildings?

You can’t have your employees in suits and blazers in an enclosed office with no air condition. Its not easy, especially if the buildings are huge. So, in cases like this they have no choice but to use airconds.

Then, what? Do we tell ourselves its okay because we can’t help it?

At the same time preaching to others about reducing the usage of air condition? It is difficult and I do agree pushing forward the concept of sustainable living is not easy and some might even say its impossible because of situations like this. It’s good that we spread words about reduce usage so we contribute less to environmental problems but a bigger solution is needed in the long run and it has to be feasible.

A main concern on the long run innovation is change. Some might be afraid of change, or its probably not a good investment for them in terms of monetary point of view. For example, if you want a to drive a green car, you need to change your existing car with a new one and that’s not something everyone can afford to do. Lets say a household has 3 cars and these are bought within a time span of 10 years. For them to change their existing cars to green ones will require them another 10 years or more since its new technology, therefore more expensive. That itself is a big question mark of when will we fully shift towards a greener lifestyle. But then, what happens with the old cars? Do they send it to the junkyard for scrap metals? Some of the components of the cars will go to waste landfill.

If every household does the same thing, evolving to a green environment may cause the landfill to be overcrowded, pushing the need to create more landfills for waste. By then, we need to be ready by creating an efficient waste management efforts if we don’t want to lose more lands to fill it with just toxic waste. It is indeed a major concern especially when it comes to properties and development. There has to be a balance of reusing the existing technologies with the new green technologies. While it is great to encourage reduction of consumption that contributes to pollution, we also need to come up with solutions for the longer run.

Coming back to my earlier remark about water bottle, we could look into supplying clean and hygienic water so that even tap water is okay for us to drink. It may have started in Malaysia, but there are many factors that needs to be taken into account when you talk about clean and hygienic water. Its not just about the filtration but the condition of the pipeline, the condition of the water when it comes out from our taps at home. I’m sure Malaysia is progressing towards that, though this is still a main factor as to why people consume plastic bottles daily. So it’s not just about reducing plastic bottle consumption by bringing our own bottles but also finding ways for us to have access to water without the need to purchase it off the shelves. We also need to think about the shift to using our own bottles, what happens then to the plastic bottles that have been produced? Do we just discard them and if that is the case then how do we intend to do it without further harming the environment? Do we put it to good use for other things or reproduce it to create something else?

There are so many factors that need to be taken into account when we touch the subject on sustainable living and development. I’ve only used plastic bottles as an example here but what about plastic toys, how do we allow usage of air condition without polluting the environment? I doubt companies would want to put in fans in their sky high buildings, especially those where the workplace requires them to wear suits daily. What about the components we use to build houses? Houses today are not made of wood which is easily reused and recycled, so then there’s a question about how do we minimize waste in that perspective. Even fashion is a contribution towards environmental pollution which I did a specific post on how it affects the environment. We can’t replace everything to achieve sustainability because then we’ll have new problems on where to dump all this waste now.

The subject is so vast that every day you learn something new and every day you realize that the more you focus on it, the more you can tell how the issues are all linked together and therefore, the problem solving needs to be done by looking at the whole chain, moving together towards a bigger solution simultaneously rather than focusing on just one part of the big issue. I do applaud Malaysia’s initiative on the 2018 budget to set aside fund for research in sustainable development and their participation with other countries in tackling climate change and other environmental problems. I do hope that in tackling environmental problems, our creation not only leads to replacement of something better but also finding a conducive way to shift our existing products to a greener technology without having to replace it all together and of course reducing and reusing what we have which is one way that is commonly practiced by individuals so we can help lessen the problems on environment we deal daily.  The shift between creation, innovation and reduction needs to move together in order for us to make an actual impact in making sustainable living something more than just an ideal concept.

And on a side note, don’t ever think that as an individual you cannot bring about an impact. You can by utilizing the different platforms available and it’s not impossible. What truly matters is you taking the first step to educate yourselves about your surrounding, opening your eyes to the problems that are right in front of your eyes and actually doing something about it. Ignorance is always easier but we can’t just ignore the bad things that happens in our own home.

our eyes, do they really see?

A brief summary of how I started my day today – woke up, made breakfast, helped dad take care of his pets then went to try out body massage at this shop run by the Malaysian Association for the Blind.

It was, I would say a pretty ordinary day except it wasn’t. Instead, it’s an eye-opening experience for me with a mixture of realization and self-reflection later on.

I went in the shop, was greeted by a man and nothing was out of ordinary until the person who was in charge of massaging me came in. I automatically knew she was blind because her eyes was not focusing on me but she was so friendly, greeted me with a smile and even made small talks. It’s all normal until she started massaging and what hit me first was, wow this is actually really good. She put in just the right amount of pressure during the massage and gave extra attention to areas where the body is tense. Not once she made me feel uncomfortable and touched me inappropriately, in fact I feel that she knew what exactly she was doing which totally amazed me. So while I was really feeling relaxed I was also thinking how amazing it is that another human being who doesn’t have all five senses unlike us, can still move and do things perfectly. I’ve been to a few massage spa throughout my life and I started this since young so I’ve experienced quite a few different kinds of massage and spa treatments. I’ve had only one that I was really satisfied with so far and now that I’ve discovered this place, it became my new favorite.

It’s surprising isn’t it?

You come in with a skeptical mind, thinking how are they even going to massage you if they have no sight? What if they touched wrongly or pressed too hard? All kinds of imagination comes to mind mainly caused by fear about their imperfection.

Then they do it and prove you wrong.

I started becoming curious about them, their lifestyle and how they cope with everything. After I was done, I went to the counter to pay and I saw the person who massaged me was sitting in front of the cashier and smiling at me. She told me the price and while I was taking out the money, I kept on thinking how do I pay her? Do I tell her which note is which or what? Afraid that they don’t know how to determine what notes I was giving, I took out the exact amount and paid her while repeating the amount to her just to reconfirm. I saw her fingers feeling the notes slightly for a while and then she nodded saying her thanks. I walked out of the shop, feeling dazzled. How on earth did she know if that was the right amount? What if someone gave more or less? I told this to my mum and she said that our notes have patterns on it so disabled people can determine the amount of the notes.

That bit of information smacked right at my face and I felt ashamed instantly. How is it that in my whole life, from the moment I learned how to count to the day when I first held my first pocket money in the form of notes up til now which would sum up quite a few years of using and having my own money, did I not know this fact?

Was I really that ignorant and clueless? Ashamed was one word to put it.

But also realization about my limited interaction with disabled people which would have caused me to be ignorant of things like this. Not once did I ask myself how are the disabled people adapting to the environment. It made me see the importance of educating ourselves beyond what we learn academically in school. I also realized how important is it to understand what it actually means to live in a community.

As part of the community, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the people we live together and that includes a wide range of spectrum such as the disabled, gifted, elderly, children, youth and even adults. And this sort of education should be in our school syllabus because where and when else should we start if not at school. It makes our children understand better the people they live with and starting early means that our children will grow up to be more aware of the needs of the people, not just the majority. The lady who massaged me told that she took a Grab instead of the train to work and I was so impressed how these people are adapting so well despite the challenges they have to face.

It was my first real-life experience talking to someone without sight and listening to her stories was so humbling for me. I’m used to seeing disabled people by the streets in the city, as they beg for some extra coins we have in our pockets and it was something I see often it just made me feel indifferent about the whole situation. But this, seeing and talking to her was definitely an eye-opening humbling experience. It got me realizing that we should learn about them, about the difficulties they have to face and how we can ease their challenges and include their needs when one day, we become leaders and we are the one providing services to the community.

I feel that disabled people should be given a chance at jobs just like any of us. They should be given the opportunity to enter schools like other children, not opting for a special school and separate them from the rest because reality is, these people will be entering the outside world when they’re older and we should not be ignorant about it. It is not in our place to limit their potential but it’s our duty to help them nourish their potentials just like how we nurture and polish our youth.

As leaders, if we are to provide for the community it also means providing for everyone.

That means giving access to facilities that are user-friendly. We can’t have bus stops by the roadside of a highway because would that really be safe and accessible for everyone? The bus stops in towns should all have at least some shade and seats and a clear walkway so even people with wheelchairs are able to go to the bus stops. We can’t just give excuses like ‘there’s taxi, it’s better if they use a taxi’ because when providing the facilities, the choice isn’t ours to make who we want to provide it to. And these are just some of the concerns about the welfare of our community that we don’t see and emphasize enough.

Which is why I feel it’s so important to educate ourselves on these issues. That way, we’ll be more aware of our surrounding and understand why certain things are the way it is. So, yes it’s time to be more community-oriented and be more educated about the community we live in.

 

p/s: The structure of my content in this post may not be organized I’m not sure if you even understand what is it I’m rambling about but the urge to type this down was so strong I just poured everything out straight from my thoughts so they are, I must admit a bit messy but I hope you do get my point. 

Nature calls.

My first trip to something as close as calling it a zoo visit was the Sunway Lagoon animal park back in high school. I remembered going to the park in Sentosa Island when it first opened but did not recall much about it except the pink dolphin show. It was the ‘not so’ huge cage belonged to two tigers that got me hooked as I passed by to enter Sunway Lagoon theme park. It was my first life experience being close to a wild animal, fascinating yet wrong in so many ways. The tigers are beautiful creatures, I figured what was shown on TV were indeed true and more I was a mix of excitement and awe to see something real and right in front of my eyes. But, a part of me was curious about the whole picture.

Why is the tiger so quiet and lazy?

How do people feed them?

Aren’t tigers supposed to be running around?

Growing up in the city, I don’t have the luxury of seeing animals as often as I liked and because my hometown is also a city, I don’t have that countryside home to go back to during the holidays. What I knew was limited to the information I obtain from books and what I see on TV. So, it was a bit odd to see two passive tigers in Sunway Lagoon right in the middle of an urban place. So many questions popped in my mind and I was telling myself over and over again this is not how it is based on the TV shows I watched before this.

It was since then I started having interest in animal protection, specifically tigers. I loved them when I was young, I love them still but now that I’m older I learned there’s so much more about them, especially the importance of protecting instead of using them as a profit-making tool. Because tigers were the animal that first got me into thinking about animal protection, it’s only natural that they hold a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist or an eco warrior, but I do believe in the cause and all the efforts to protect nature. I didn’t start acting on it though until only recently. In fact, it was back in college when I visited Malaysia’s National Zoo for the first time in my life and while I left feeling dazed about seeing them in such close proximity, the feeling that it’s all wrong became stronger.

Even then, I wasn’t too sure what I could even do.

I know I couldn’t go out there and be a volunteer to protect them or physically participate in movements as I was restricted by many rules at home. I read and keep on reading and on days where the news reported animal abuse or yet another death caused by humans I can’t help feeling disturbed and helpless. The urge to help was boiling but I didn’t know what to do, where to start, who to talk to or how do I even help.

I believe that many of us would feel the same way, especially when we weren’t exposed to animal protection awareness campaigns , organizations or education about it.

It was when I studied in the UK that I saw ways I could help and contribute within my capabilities. I started reaching out through fundraising activities, hoping that with the little amount that I collect, I would create a ripple effect in instilling awareness among my friends and family. Raising money was a way I could help and it’s something I enjoy doing too so I focused on that, putting whatever experience I had to good use and hoped that it would have eased the struggles of volunteers in the front line who actually go out of their way to protect the nature.

Along the fundraising journey, I also realized many other things about the effort to protect and conserve our environment. I think it’s easier to give up than fight for the cause because often, you meet a dead end or you hardly see any actual impact. There are so many barriers it almost feels like it’s impossible.

You’re not only going against people who sees the environment as a mean to make profit but also tradition and culture.

For example, when I visited Phuket I was so difficult to convince my family not to go to the elephant show because their argument was that it’s part of the culture and so many other people go as well. There’s also the other side of the argument that elephants and the people there have a long history of relationship. The Thai people worships elephants and take good care of them according to the history and bond they have between them for centuries. But there are also cases where the animals are abused while in training. I would say that it is probably a similar case to how our farmers use buffalo to plough their plantation field. Back in those days elephants too were used as a mode of transportation in Thailand.

The concern here is that today, some people are abusive towards their animals and we don’t have to use wild animals such as elephants or tigers, it can even be our pets.

So, yes despite only exploring a small part of this fight, I find myself giving up many times, defeated in arguments and it was almost useless when majority’s voice was not on my side.

But this also made me realize that the cause of this issue is mostly due to lack of awareness. Education in this area is not enough, it’s probably out there but it’s not reaching to everyone in the community. We read an article today about an animal being abused or a forest burned down due to the impossible hot weather in some area but it stops there for us. We would be sorry, feel sad about what happen, wished things didn’t turn out that way, we got angry and frustrated, grumbled to our friends about what we read in the article but we weren’t taught on what we can do to stop it from happening again. We don’t see ourselves being involved more than just reading it and that, I believe is where education comes in. When we educate ourselves about our surroundings, about our rights, our law and country we also learn how we, as part of a bigger society could act on situations like this. We may not realize that we were being ignorant which is why education and awareness in this area is very much needed to be emphasized and instilled.

Which is why, despite seeing more dead ends than impacts I still want to fight with those who believe in this cause. Because I feel that it’s a responsibility we carry as part of the society. Creating an environment that is livable, isn’t that something that involves us the primary users of Earth? How we manage it reflects our ability to remain in existence and I think that duty lies in everyone. I know I can’t do much, but I also know that continuously changing, educating and improving our lifestyle will eventually lead to bigger impact.

I started from the most famous organization that’s available in almost every country which is WWF. But there are also many non-profit environmental organizations that we could refer to. Some do research work, some focus on certain areas such as government policies and many other specifications. Here are some websites I usually check to get updates on environmental issues and learn more about the nature in my country.

Sometimes, we are aware of all the environmental issues happening around us. Social media and the news update us regularly. But it is taking that next step is what’s important here. Most of the time, we don’t know what we can do. Believe me, we can do so much more if we take one step further. You can change what you are angry about. Work within your capabilities. Just because you can’t go down to the field or be at the front line to protect nature, that doesn’t mean you are not capable of contributing to the cause.

We can’t all be farmers or fishermen. Some need to be seller, some as buyers and many more. Only then the economy will be moving forward. This concept applies to this cause as well. You could be working in terms of changing policies, becoming an eco ranger, promotes recycling, a trendsetter for green lifestyle and many more other options. You just need to act on it. It may be late as we have so much to work on, but it’s never too late and you’ll never know what you can achieve unless you try.

So try, and bring positive changes. You can play a role in this too.

 

p/s: I’m already all pumped up about crowdfunding for my tigers. Hopefully I will have the time as I wish to make it an annual affair rather than just a one time thing. Hope this write up will make you explore on how you can personally contribute to this cause too 🙂

positive gestures

It’s been two months since I’m home for good and I realized that being away for three years taught me some things I never noticed before this. This isn’t a post about being overseas is better than Malaysia. I truly love home to be honest and I know it for sure that we can go further with some improvement on our social culture and values. We don’t have to live abroad to be in an ideal environment, we can always create one for our society and future children.

It can be an act that is as simple as holding the door for the next person to come in after you. I used to just push the door open and walk off without looking back. Little did I know that it’s considered impolite in some countries. So I learned to hold the door and look back to give a brief smile to the person behind me. Also, to make sure that the door doesn’t slam into the person’s face. I actually had that before, the door slamming at my face because the person just walked off. A simple gesture such as that could definitely prevent someone from injuries and it shows that we could be caring even to strangers. Such polite manners are golden.

My personal favorite gesture is how amazing the customer service is when I’m abroad. People give simple greetings and smile cheerfully before attending to your needs is something I really appreciated. It can definitely make you feel better about your day when you go inside a cafe for your morning coffee fix, greeted by a cheerful barista asking about your day or just commenting about the weather or even how you look! It probably make you feel like you should grab few muffins on your way out simply because you;re off to a happy start.

And the simplest thing of it all, discarding rubbish at the place they should be instead of littering. We take it for granted here in Malaysia by throwing rubbish everywhere or doing it in an unhygienic manner. I’ve seen people throwing plastic bags of rubbish with liquid dripping from the plastic all the way. It gives off unpleasant odor and not to mention attract all kinds of insects. I think cleanliness reflects a lot about your values. How you keep yourself and your surrounding clean is important. It’s so easy to throw your rubbish in a proper manner at a designated space provided for rubbish. It also helps the people in charge of collecting rubbish to do it efficiently and without any problems. I know for sure that I would hate collecting rubbish that’s poorly discarded, I feel it’s only right that other people don’t have to do what I disliked.

Then, there’s also the part where people take those who work in public services with respect and adoration. I personally love thanking the bus driver because I know that working as a bus driver with all the hectic schedule and crazy traffic during peak hours can be stressful. Showing your gratitude, telling them a simple thank you would make them feel better about their job. Sometimes, we tend to forget that people can get tired of doing their work repetitively, especially if you’re stuck sitting doing work on your desk for hours non-stop. Before raising your voice to complain and make a scene, consider yourself to be in their shoes. Yes, you may address the problem but that doesn’t give you the right to verbally abuse them. It’s crucial that we learn to address mistakes in a proper manner. Mistakes does not give us the right to disrespect people and this is what we Malaysians should practice more.

I love the working culture abroad, I’m not saying that for all workplace. I’m sure there are bad working culture abroad too but mine was simply lovely. Of course, the workload, the stress and problems are part of working life but what I enjoy is how I converse with my colleagues. We would talk about the current issues, the five cat my colleague takes care, the general election, the weather, exciting weekend trips, many interesting ongoing things about our lives and what I realize is the lack of gossip, be it about people we know our celebrities gossips. It gave me a new perspective about conversation, like there’s a broad range of topics we can talk about during small talks instead of discussing who’s cheating on who this week. People are polite and they respect your privacy as well as your time.

There’s more than just this but this are some of the examples I could think of. I’m sure there are many Malaysians practicing good social values and even do more than the basics. But it’s also sad to see how some people are still being verbally abused and spoken to with much disrespect. It’s distasteful to see how people would stare with no shame at something humiliating instead of lending a hand.

I honestly think giving out positive vibes is something we Malaysians take for granted. It’s so easy and if we could practice it more often, I’m quite sure that we’ll be able to agree on many things and bring the country forward and prosper in more than one way.

Remembering you.

I’ve been caught up with family matters for the past few months and I know the routine by heart already now. As I was doing my rounds to check everything is in order and the doors are locked, I walked pass by my parents  bedroom. With the room door slightly open, dark and empty the house suddenly felt so quiet. I feel so alone. Staring at this computer, I wanted to blog something here about what I feel but then it’s all messed up . I took some time to think of a suitable way to express my thoughts and realized that the best way is to remind myself of  the memories I share with my dad. I want to remember the memories, and all the feelings that came with it. I’ll visit every memory I have with him and walk through it one by one hoping that I’ll never lose it.

I don’t think I can recall the first few years of my life but I remembered the day I started kindergarten. As a child, it probably is frightening to be in a crowd of strangers. I guess despite the excitement, I was also afraid of being alone in a class surrounded by people I don’t know. I can’t remember how it happened but I knew my dad sent me to the class on my first day.  It was all good until he left. The moment I looked back and see that he is not outside of my classroom, I cried so bad all I wanted was to go home. The teachers had to call him back and when he came back, standing there it was all fine again. I felt safe. It went on for two weeks. I don’t remember exactly how many days but I knew he accompanied me every day and I would learn in class and look back every few minutes or so. Every time I looked back, he was there smiling and just standing there looking at what I was doing. Even when I think about it today, I can tell how I felt back then. I felt safe knowing that my dad was there looking after me and he’s just a few steps away.

Another time when I was in kindergarten as well, there was this concert and I had to dance chinese dance. I was dolled up in my cheongsam and red lipstick. Although I can’t remember the dance or who my partner was, I remembered looking at the audience finding my parents. The moment I saw them, standing by the door because there wasn’t any places left and it was so crowded but they were still there, I smiled happily. During the closing ceremony, we played Christina Aguilera’s song ‘I turn to you’ and it still got me all teary up til today because I remembered how they were being squeezed by other audience just to be there for my performance.

I remember the days when we would go to Lake Garden cycling and have picnics after. I was still using the tricycle and dad would be cycling by my side making sure that I don’t fall. Oh, there’s this one trip we went together which I think was one of the few outings I did only with my dad; a visit to the National Museum. I recalled seeing this huge crocodile and I asked my dad if it was real because it looked so real I thought the crocodile was alive! It was also the first time I learned about our culture and the ‘kampung’ life. I can’t recall any activities similar to this one, it’s probably the only museum I’ve ever visited with my dad. Dad was a strict person. He gets annoyed easily if things are not as how it expects it to be. The family would often argue because of the differences but he always wanted the best for us. I know he shows his love in ways that sometimes nobody understands. He gets protective to the point that it’s frustrating but only because he loves his children. We used to watch TV shows after dinner together and I often fall asleep halfway because I get sleepy so easily. Dad would usually carry me upstairs then and put me to sleep. Sometimes I was half awake but I let him carry and tuck me in anyway before dozing off.

Between all the memories, one thing I’ll always remember is how dad accompanied me to the sea every single time we visited the beach. I love the beach although I can’t swim. I like being in water and just watch the waves. I wasn’t afraid of drowning, probably because every time the tide pulled me, I would find my dad’s hands and hold onto them. Even when the tide pulled me and I lost my balance, dad’s hands would magically pull me back up. We had so much fun when we were younger, my siblings and I especially when we’re at the beach.

So much memories, so much feelings attached to it as well. There were also a lot of fights and tears. I was a difficult child. I wanted freedom, but my dad was always worried of my safety. He is so used of protecting his only daughter that even when I’m old, he would do his best to take care of me. He’s the one person that I could be in the same space and not talk for a long time but never gets awkward, just a comfortable sort of silence. I never really understood his way of loving but as I grow older, I learned to read between the lines or in his case, his attitude. He never knew how to raise a daughter so he kept me as sheltered as possible. He made sure that I had everything I needed, including discipline and manners. He tried his best to make sure that I don’t have to go any hardships while I was growing up . He made lots of mistakes as a father, but I know that being a father doesn’t come with a manual. He got me angry, sad, happy and all kinds of feelings before and despite not being a perfect father, he was the father I needed. He loved in his own ways and did his best to be part of the children’s lives.

I tweeted not long ago about how I felt hopeless and yet still very hopeful. I feel hopeless in a way that I cannot help him be better but I am hopeful, hopeful to God for him to be safe and return back to being healthy. I wish that my kids would one day have the chance to meet dad and have the privilege of being loved by him just as how he loves me. He taught me that as a child, we don’t choose our parents and we learn how to adapt to their ways. He also taught me that a father is also human who does mistakes and have flaws of their own. And for that, I would forgive him for his unintentional mistakes and love him always in my own way too.

Green.

I can’t say for everyone but I do believe that there is a time in our lives that when we read articles about environmental efforts, we wonder if it’ll actually make a real impact. I know I always ask myself that. In fact, the disturbing thought will always be there when environmental discussions come up. It’s because with one effort we campaign, there are a thousand more that’s contributing to environmental problems. There’s also the dilemma of wanting to help, but can’t help contributing to the environmental issues because of various reasons. This dilemma is a personal struggle I fight every single day and I have no solution yet for it.

Last weekend, there was an event called the Cooler Lumpur Festival; a fest with forums, discussions, workshops and many more on shaping the future of our beloved capital city, Kuala Lumpur. It is my first time attending this sort of event in Malaysia and I must say that I am impressed with everything. They had good programmes going on for the weekend, not leaving out activities for kids and also small entreprises/home businesses. I attended 2 of the sessions, one on sustainability and discussion towards a greener future while the other was about writing across differences. While it is amazing to see Malaysian citizens coming together to tackle environmental issues, it is without any doubt that more needs to be done. And perhaps, even our focus ? The discussion on sustainability was attended by 5 experienced individuals; the person who initiated zero waste campaign in Malaysia which has over 4000 members in her zero waste community today, Aurora Tin, Angelia Chin who is actively involved in the Lost Food Project where they collect commercially rejected food and put them to good use, Danni Rais, a youth politician whose focus is on national empowerment, Tun Jeanne, wife to our fifth Prime Minister that encourages planting of trees movement and lastly, the famous Malaysian eco-activist, policy change-maker and a true eco warrior Gurmit Singh. Each of them had a lot to talk about on sustainability and their efforts in helping the environment, be it planting more trees, tackling food and waste management, nation empowerment and even policies.

Throughout the discussion, I realized that if I never attended the session in person I’ll never know the existence of these campaigns or efforts. For example, the Lost Food Project collected over 140 000 tonnes of food that is perfectly edible but rejected due to the appearance in the last 18 months. This is collection of food at certain state or areas, not even our whole country. To be honest, I was also taught to pick food before buying them especially fruits and vegetables. It did not occur to me that those fruits that weren’t pick by consumers would be thrown away instead of consumed. This project is amazing in the sense that it helps with the redistribution of food to those who needs it like orphanages, our food for homeless movements and many more. The zero waste campaign on the other hand, was impossible to believe at first but after the talk it got me thinking about how it could be done, what part of our lifestyle we can change to reduce our waste such as the choices of our snacks, the wrapping paper to our favourite chocolates and many more.

The session left me with a lot of questions and thoughts on how to change our lifestyles to eco living. Gurmit passed a remark to the audience about how those in the session knows the importance of saving environment but still, probably drove to Publika (where the event took place). It got me thinking if there was a way to go there by public transport but I had no clue whatsoever on any public transport that pass by that area. It then strike me that there’s a few problems in this thought itself. First of all, I can say that I was partly ignorant of the whole situation. Because I was carpooling with my friend, I took the easy way out and settled for the car, instead of googling the route using public transportation. In our daily lives, this is probably the case for most of us. We take the easy route because we own a car and it’s really more convenient going places with cars as you don’t have to walk under the extreme weather or share a space with people while travelling. We might know the fact the vehicles are highly related to global warming due to the contribution of carbon emission but because we don’t see with our naked eyes that it emits carbon dioxide we assume it’s okay. It is one thing feeling the rise in temperature but it is another to constantly notice and be aware of what causes it. Second, if I did took the public transport to the place of event on that day which is a combination of LRT and bus or commuter from where I am, I have to allocate about an hour or two for the commute while driving takes only 20 minutes or so. Now looking from the point of opportunity cost, not many of us would be willing to leave two hours before for the commute when we could be there in less than half an hour by car. Perhaps we are willing too but we may not have that much time to spare as we have other engagements to attend to. Even if I did take the public transport, there’s no way of knowing that I will arrive on time or if there’s a delay unless I’m at the station itself. So does this mean that driving is justifiable in this circumstances? For whatever our reasons are, one thing’s for sure that the moment we drive our cars it emits carbon dioxide. So even if we are fully aware of the situation, we may not be able to opt for public transportation due to various pressing reasons. For those who are well aware and are concern about the environment, they might do what they can to reduce environmental issues, but what about the general public? If you give a person these two options as means of travelling what will motivate them to choose one over the other? Some may argue that the role of a car is to take you to respective destination in a more convenient manner and at a faster speed too. So why opt for a less convenient method? Some may not even have the luxury of opting to commute because they need to be in few places in a certain period of time. Of course, I am sure that there are many people too willing to commute instead of opting for convenience at the expense of our environment but there’s always two sides of looking things the way they are.

Which then made me realize, that yes a car’s role is definitely to make our lives more convenient. What’s the point of owning a car if you need to commute for hours right? But then, using the public transport is also more convenient in the sense that you don’t have to worry about traffic or vehicle accident, though of course there are then other concerns relating to public transportation. My point is that, perhaps instead of focusing only on reducing the usage of cars, we should start thinking of how to develop green vehicles. I know some brands have their own hybrid cars but it may not be affordable for everyone and maintenance is probably costly too because the demand is not as huge as the normal vehicles we purchase. Also, since it’s a new technology there are still so much improvement to be made to bring down the cost and providing consumers with better quality. But this is definitely a technology we should focus on especially on making it affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Even when we commute using the public transportation, we may still take the taxi or Uber or Grab to go to certain places. For example, you commute to go to your workplace and it’s fine if you’re all sweaty because your office have shower facilities but what about when you go to a meeting? Are you planning to ride a bicycle to a meeting in this weather? Chances are, you probably opt for taxi or Uber or Grab if there is no direct public transportation services to the meeting area. But that’s still contributing to the emission of carbon dioxide. If we instead have a taxi service that provide green vehicles maybe that will be a win win situation for both the environment and ourselves. Let’s not forget that we also use vehicles to transport goods. How are we planning to change that? We most likely can’t transport all types of goods using public transportation. So there has to be a real change on the supplier side too. I know it’s a long way to go when talking about innovation and green technology but we have to continuously encourage people to focus on tackling environmental issues from the perspective of suppliers and make them aware that this is also one of the methods we can approach to help the environment. As a consumer we can put pressure by stop using the products, but as a producer we can change people’s lifestyle through our production. It has to be the effort of both sides. Only then, consumers will not be in a dilemma whether to choose convenience over our beloved environment. But anyhow, I am amazed and truly humbled by the level of dedication some people put to help conserve the environment. Such efforts should be appreciated and in a way we do not want all these efforts go to waste. So, start today by thinking what’s your role in the society and how you can help in your current position. It always starts with yourself and what you can do.

(to be continued on dilemma on public transportation – user friendly ? a personal experience)