Showing posts from June, 2008

Government Sanctioned Porn

Melaka might just be my favorite place in Malaysia. It was the Malaysia I hoped I would be living in before I left America. Multi-cultural, cheap, historical but modern, and in possession of the greatest museum the world has ever seen.

The Malaysia Royal Customs Museum might not have a flashy acronym (MRCM doesn't exactly roll off the tongue), nor can it boast being enough of an attraction to merit charging admission, but it was due to this last point (Free!) and the availability of AC (also free!) that had Sarah and me charging past the reception desk worker busily playing flash computer games. We were not to be disappointed. The great thing about this museum is that the people who conceived of it clearly knew what they were doing:

Customs Officer 1: "Hey guys, we need to make a museum about our jobs as customs officers. But it needs to be interesting. Ideas?"
Customs Officer 2: "We could just make it about all the illegal stuff we had to seize from smugglers. …

Seeds of Dissent

A few notes on biting the hand that feeds me:
Since I only meet with any one class once per week now, I get a week of mileage out of my lesson plans (if you can call an idea a plan). This week's lesson was about the perfect high school. One of my classes asked me to talk a little bit about my high school experience, which I would have to say, differs importantly from Imtiaz in several key ways:

1. Less memorization of the Qu'ran.
2. Less classes.
3. Less living at school.
4. More hippies.
5. Less hitting of students by teachers.
6. Less fish.

Given these differences I asked the students to take it upon themselves to design the perfect high school. It was an easy sell, since, as teenagers already enjoy criticizing things they don't know anything about, it stood to reason that they'd take even more pleasure in criticizing things they know a great deal about. Turns out I was right.

The Qu'ran, English, Friends (probably their classmates, possibly the American sitcom)

Keep Moving Forward

Last Thursday I didn't know what to do for my class without being boring, so I decided not to fight it and do a class on boredom. It went pretty well. I gave them each a piece of paper and said that they had to use it to keep themselves entertained for the class period.

Honestly, I was really impressed. Those kids made some super impressive origami, drawings, and paper airplanes (the latter of which I accidentally through into the ceiling fan... definitely not boring). It felt appropriate because even though it wasn't grammar, or conversation, or remotely connected to what I'm supposed to teach, I connected pretty solidly with my time here. The lesson was basically the one that I've been trying learn myself here. That if you're bored, it's because you're boring. It's not up to the world to entertain you, it's up to you to be entertained by the world.

This comes into play since we're now out of all the good TV, and all the TV factories seem …

I think I might be the devil

It occurred to me as I was driving with Mr. Fix-it that I might react differently to news than the average Terenganu-ite.

He was telling me that over the last vacation he got to meet with his special girlfriend and brought her a cheesecake. She's not from Terengganu so they don't get to see each other that often, and the conversation made my day because:

1. He was was really happy. Mr. Fix-it is kind of reserved (except in his ebullient text messages, oddly enough) so it was great to see some relatively strong emotions.
2. A cheesecake might be the perfect gift for reuniting with a special girlfriend. It's touching in an innocent way, since the thought is completely there, but it's an unusual gift. It feels like what a boy might give a girl in kindergarten, which might be enough to make me cry a little.
3. He said "special girlfriend." Even if he had other girlfriends, this one's different. This one makes him happy. This one he brings cheesecake to. T…

Gold Medal Slacking

Three weeks of travel ended last Friday and I'm back at Imtiaz... at least my body is, which is really all they care about. Yesterday my schedule got gutted. Turns out 7 hours of class a week was just too much for me, so now I'm down to 3.5. A good thing too, as I'm sure I was about to crack under the pressure of having to work one out of every 5 hours I was at school. Really, the stress was just killing me. Of course, like the good proactive American I am, I complained to my mentor who in turn took my grievances to the woman who made the schedule, who will take her grievances to the principal, who will get back to me. Since I haven't worked for an organization this big before (more than 10 people), it's hard to know which parts of the bureaucracy are systemic to the country, and which parts are systemic to organizations larger than 10 people. I have a sneaking suspicion I can't blame Malaysia for all of this.

As I was telling Anna's family, the Swind…

One Dollar


They use dollars. American dollars. Greenbacks. Which, somehow without my knowledge are now purple in some cases. I like to think that some of the dollar bills have the beginnings of consciousness and so they think that Cambodia is America. $7 that I'm taking back with me to the States will be super confused when they hear everyone speaking a version of English that hasn't been chopped up and run through Khmer several times. On the other hand, maybe these bills came to Cambodia after a year in the states, hitching a ride with some blond frat boy turned backpacker and were spent on a massage or a can of Angkor. Maybe they'll be shocked upon their return to the land of opportunity to find they can buy much less here than they could when they left. I hear it's tough to be a dollar in America these days.

Cambodia should be proud to know that its taxis, beggars, and salespeople of all kinds are by far the pushiest out of any I've encountered in all of my …

New Photos!

Enjoy albums of Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Thailand! All rights reserved until I think of something to do with them.

Chicken Blaster

Break Dancing with Buddhas